A local resident would like to see the concrete walls of a railroad underpass on Seymour’s west side be decorated with murals by high school students showcasing pride in the city.

Matt Nicholson, who is running unopposed for the District 3 Seymour City Council seat in the November general election, pitched the idea on his personal Facebook page late last month to get the dialogue started.

And he has received a lot of support for the idea so far.

More than 140 people have liked the post, and 30 have shared it.

“I don’t even know if it’s possible, but I thought it would get people talking,” he said of the idea.

His suggestion is to add murals to the concrete abutments below the underpass on Community Drive, not the steel trestle on top, which is tagged by the graduating class every year at Seymour High School. The school and city do not sanction that graffiti. The tagging has become an illegal tradition, however, over the years.

By being able to paint the concrete walls, Nicholson said, it might deter kids from painting elsewhere and be safer.

“The west side of the underpass could be for the odd number classes and the east side for the even,” he said. “The junior class gets to design and paint it during their junior year, so it rotates every other year.”

By having students design and paint the murals, it gives the youth a visual way to show pride in their community, Nicholson said.

“This gives our kids some ownership of Seymour and also could help create community spirit,” he said. “Think about a visiting team having to drive past two murals designed by the opponents.” 

He said it could be an opportunity for the school’s art department and other youth-related groups to get involved, too.

Nicholson, who coaches youth softball and is the director of Read Jackson County and owns B2 Bikes & Boards, said he has visited other communities and seen murals that have made him stop, look and admire the artwork. He thinks the same could be possible here.

Although he doesn’t think there will be much resistance from the city, Nicholson said it will likely be the decision of the railroad company, CSX Transportation.

“All we can do is try,” he said.

Kay Schwade of Seymour said she think it’s “a fabulous idea.”

“Every year, the overpass gets painted at the risk of injury or criminal charges,” she said. “Let’s make it something memorable, beautiful and offer an opportunity for our youth to express their creativity and make it safe.”

Because of his many commitments, Nicholson said he would like to see 5 to 10 people come together to make the idea happen.

“I have time to help but don’t have enough time to be the group leader on it at the moment,” he said. “Every project needs a voice.”

One of those who has stepped up to lend a hand is Darnell Dukes, executive director of Southern Indiana Center for the Arts in Seymour.

Kay Fox, a local artist and instructor at SICA, also plans to be involved, as does local artist Kyle McIntosh, who specializes in mural and graffiti art.

McIntosh said he doesn’t see anything blocking their way, just challenges to overcome first.

“Anything can be done with the right determination and leadership,” he said. “This town needs more public art.”

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.