Construction isn’t the only activity taking place in the $135 million second phase of the CityWay project on the southeast side of downtown Indianapolis.
International street artists Nick Walker and Kelsey Montague are each adding their personal flair to the neighborhood being developed by Buckingham Cos.
Walker, from Bristol, Great Britain, has been involved in street art since the early 1980s. Denver-based artist Montague, 33, is younger and newer to the game than the 50-year-old Walker, but a couple of her murals have gone viral on Instagram thanks to pop star Taylor Swift.
Swift posed in front of two Montague murals that both featured a pair of wings—a Montague signature. One was Montague’s first mural, a pair of angel wings, painted in 2014 in New York City. The other was of butterfly wings painted in Nashville, Tennessee, in April 2019, that Swift commissioned and used to promote a new single and video.
Montague’s work in Indianapolis, which she completed last week, consists of two pieces. One includes two pairs of butterfly wings with hidden images in them relevant to the Indianapolis community. That one, 15 feet high and 30 feet wide, is along Delaware Street, across from The Alexander Hotel.
The other mural, 20 feet by 20 feet, features a flock of fireflies. It’s behind Qdoba and Acuity on Delaware Street.
“When people see my work, I always want it to be a gift,” Montague said. “I want to inspire people not only to use social media in a positive way, but to share what lifts them and to show something that’s inspiring to their communities.”
Walker, known for his graffiti-inspired art, is painting a 140-foot mural on the east side of the 14-story CityWay Tower. The nearly completed tower has a parking garage on floors 1-6, 70 apartments on floors 7-13 and seven penthouse apartments on floor 14.
Walker’s mural will be visible for miles from the east, including from interstates 65 and 70. The mural includes Vandal, a Charlie Chaplin-like character he created in 2006. As the story goes, Vandal jumps from city to city, no one knowing who he is or where he came from. He spreads a message of love and pours colorful paint on famous buildings and monuments.
“For something on a grand scale, which pretty much will be seen for miles, it has to be something that’s good for everybody,” Walker said. “It has to be a universal concept, not just be about me.”
Walker works on the mural at night, roughly from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. He paints the concrete wall in the dark so he can use a projector to display an image on the building that he uses to guide him.
Walker worked on the first phase of the CityWay project in 2012, painting about 20 smaller pieces featuring Vandal in the garage connected to The Alexander. He said the goal was to introduce Vandal to the public in Indianapolis.
This time around, Walker has the opportunity to paint tower mural and around 20 more smaller pieces in the garage below the tower. His current project title for the paintings in the garage is, “The Mutations.”
Walker’s goal with his art is to provoke emotion in people, whether they love the work or hate it. If someone stops to take a look at his art, he has done the job properly, Walker said.
Jim Smith, Buckingham’s creative marketing director, said the second phase of CityWay will be mostly finished in October. The project includes about 400 apartment units, nearly 29,000 square feet of retail space and 19,000 square feet of office space
The first thing to be finished will be the CityWay tower in September.
Smith said existing CityWay apartments exceed at least a 90% occupancy rate, reaching as high as 98% at times. He said he expects the same demand for the new apartments. Including the CityWay tower, four new apartment buildings will be added.
The project also includes a CVS Pharmacy at the corner of Delaware and South Street, and a Taxman Brewing Co. restaurant just north of the CVS on Delaware.
Smith said CityWay is close to finding an office user for the 10,000-square-foot office space, however 20,000 square feet of retail space is still available that could be used by two to three tenants.
See below for the locations of the murals.