On the stairs, from the left, Jaclyn Goldsborough, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership digital marketing and public relations manager, Brooke Vanderpool, CEO of Manchester Alive, and Claudio 'Remix 1' Rico present the new mural in downtown Wabash on Thursday. Staff photo by Rob Burgess
On the stairs, from the left, Jaclyn Goldsborough, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership digital marketing and public relations manager, Brooke Vanderpool, CEO of Manchester Alive, and Claudio 'Remix 1' Rico present the new mural in downtown Wabash on Thursday. Staff photo by Rob Burgess
On Aug. 31, the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership, in collaboration with Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, announced the 11 artists participating in Make It Your Own Mural Fest, which occurred Sept. 8 to 18 across Northeast Indiana’s 11 counties, according to Kate Virag, vice president of marketing and strategic communications.

“The regional mural festival concept, the first of its kind in the state, is an innovative, creative activation of the Make It Your Own brand intended to enhance the region’s efforts to drive talent attraction, talent retention and tourism by investing in quality of place assets and public art,” said Virag.

Over 11 days, the 11 artists each installed a “high-quality” mural – one in each of the 11 counties of Northeast Indiana.

Claudio 'Remix 1' Rico – from Wichita, Kansas – was selected to paint Wabash County’s mural, which was designated as the eastern wall of Selleck Shoe Repair & Western Wear, 214 E. Main St., North Manchester.

On Thursday evening, the mural was unveiled at a street party featuring food, music and activities in downtown North Manchester.

On the steps affixed to the outside of the building, Brooke Vanderpool, CEO of Manchester Alive, said the planning for this moment began last December.

“It’s been a process this year,” said Vanderpool.

Vanderpool said Rico was selected by a jury of four, which included herself, local artist Susan Ring, North Manchester Public Library programming coordinator Heidi Lovett and Manchester University associate professor of art and department chair Ejenobo Oke.

“We knew nothing about them,” said Vanderpool. “We didn’t know who each other selected. They all selected him.”

Vanderpool said Rico arrived late in the evening of Sept. 8 from New York City.

“He said, ‘The one thing I want to do if you can make this come true is I want to milk a cow,’” said Vanderpool.

Vanderpool said Adam Penrod, town manager, made that dream come to life when they took Rico on a tour of his family’s farm.

“He giggled through the whole thing,” said Vanderpool. “He drank fresh cow milk. He said it tasted good.”

Jaclyn Goldsborough, Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership digital marketing and public relations manager, said she was inspired by Rico’s passion.

“His understanding of the technical aspects of being an artist and doing this as a businessman really, really inspires me to learn more about the power of public art,” said Goldsborough.

Rico said when he told friends where he was doing his next mural, they were skeptical.

“At first they said, ‘Why are you doing a mural there? You’ve been in many big cities around the world. You have traveled a lot. You’ve been in Finland, Germany. You’ve been commissioned by big brands,’” said Rico. “It’s a really cool place, but it wasn’t until I was riding here that I realized it’s really small. But, the thing is that people said what are you going to find there? I found so many amazing things here. I found friendship, loyalty. … I found all of this hospitality that people have shown me here. People are always really smiling. … You’ve also got amazing tenderloins. They’re so cool. They’re huge.”

Rico said he was proud to bring this contemporary art piece to an unlikely location.

“They’re really glad to have this contemporary art here,” said Rico. “This is definitely a big treasure for me. You can’t find that in a big place where they are used to having this type of stuff. This is much more of a matter of quality not quantity.”

Rico said the entire mural was completed in five days. Rico said he is on track to complete 40 murals this year, with more planned for New York City, St. Louis and Kenya, to name a few.

“Probably the biggest thing you can take from this is when you’re hungry for achieving your dreams, there’s nothing that can stop you. No matter what you can get the stuff done. There’s not a single obstacle that can be in your way. You’re just going to find a way to achieve it,” said Rico. “If you find a way you can get the best from every single situation that happens. … I’m always traveling. Living this dream of being an artist is kind of crazy, but it’s possible. If you’ve got friends or kids or someone that wants to be an artist, you should know that they can make it. You can make it possible no matter what.”
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