A new frog-filled mural has been painted on Jiffy Lube in Kendallville as part of the company's statewide public art program. Staff photo by Andy Barrand
A new frog-filled mural has been painted on Jiffy Lube in Kendallville as part of the company's statewide public art program. Staff photo by Andy Barrand

KENDALLVILLE — When you drive down U.S. 6 in Kendallville, something may look different when you drive by the Jiffy Lube.

Six days of long, hard work produced a wrap-around 16 feet by 912 feet mural of frogs of all different shapes and sizes called “A Froggy Forest.”

Bryan Ballinger, the muralist who did the painting, graduated from the Columbus College of Art and Design in 1990 with a degree in illustration. After college, he began to work with some of the world’s top companies. A few years after working different jobs, he went back to pursue his masters in fine arts from Lesley University in 2005.

From freelancing for Nintendo Power magazine, to illustrating software for kids at Microsoft, Ballinger has done it all. He even was the 3-D design lead for five years at Big Idea Productions, the studio that created the popular children’s TV show “Veggie Tales.”

In addition to being a freelance artist, Ballinger also writes and illustrates children’s books and is currently a professor of digital media arts at Huntington University.

Ballinger heard that Jiffy Lube Indiana was starting a mural project and decided to apply. Having experience painting other murals, he thought he would be a good fit.

Five years ago, the Jiffy Lube Mural Project was started as a way to cover up graffiti sprayed onto the company’s chain of auto service garages, according to the Jiffy Lube website. Since 2015, the project has completed 15 murals all across Indiana, with the newest one here in Kendallville on 317 W. North St.

Ballinger has been painting murals for the past three years. Two of his murals are in downtown Fort Wayne, both located downtown next to popular restaurants J K O’Donnell’s and 816 Pint & Slice.

After he was offered the mural commission, Ballinger wanted his painting to be something fun, bright and silly that would appeal to both adults and children.

“I really like frogs and I thought a bunch of frogs of all different shapes and sizes and having them just hanging out there would be something that looks different for the area,” Ballinger said.

Kendallville has two large murals in its downtown, one depicting some of the city’s history on the wall of the former Kendallville Party Store and another, newer one inside The Alley next to The Strand  Theatre.

Ballinger hopes that the community seeing the mural brightens their day and opens up more opportunities for public art.

He spent more of his budget than he was planning on to buy special paint by California company Nova Color.

“They make really awesome paint for murals,” Ballinger said, “They’re great colors and it’s really durable and stand up to UV light really well.”

Ballinger said the staff at the Jiffy Lube was awesome to work with.

“They were really helpful,” Ballinger said, “They gave me access to the building so I could store my painting supplies and a place to clean my brushes.”

For Ballinger’s next project, he hopes to be selected as one of the artists to take part in MuralFest coming to northeast Indiana in September.

MuralFest is a partnership between the Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne Inc. and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership.

The event will take over eleven days starting Sept. 8 where eleven murals will be painted.

According to its website, MuralFest is the first of its kind and will help grow regional pride and bring attention to the counties.

Noble, Steuben, LaGrange and DeKalb counties will all be receiving a mural as a part of the project.

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