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Geometric yet Organic

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ART: Fettingis applies masking tape to the wall with the help of a pair of assistants.
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THE MURALIST: Sandra Fettingis takes a break from working on her mural on the eastern wall of the Gem City Junction on Jackson St. in Frankfort
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GEM CITY: Fettingistypically uses highly geometric designs in her artwork.

By AARON KENNEDY - akennedy@ftimes.com

Sandra Fettingis has spent the last few days transforming the eastern wall of Gem City Junction at 63 E. Clinton St. into a work of art befitting of “The Gem City.”

A prolific muralist from Denver, Colo., Fettingis’ work can be found in communities all over the country. A few months ago, she was chosen by the Tippecanoe Arts Federation and a panel of community members to create a mural in downtown Frankfort. The mural is coordinated by the Tippecanoe Arts Federation and made possible by a grant through Wabash Heartland Innovation Network and funds from the Clinton County Community Foundation.

Established in 1976, the Tippecanoe Arts Federation is an umbrella organization and arts council for 14 Indiana Counties (Tippecanoe, Benton, Carroll, Cass, Clinton, Fountain, Howard, Jasper, Newton, Montgomery, Pulaski, Tipton, Warren and White). Jamie Anderson represents Clinton County on TAF’s advisory council.

“One of the things that (TAF) agreed on is that we wanted to put a mural in each county,” Anderson said. “This summer, I went to (TAF CEO) Tetia (Lee) and thought I had to fill out a huge grant, but WHIN had a lot of money they were giving out for things like this, so Tetia spearheaded it. We got a committee of locals together, and Tetia showed some people who had worked with TAF before and had a great portfolio, and we chose from that.

“Sandra had a really great resume,” Anderson added. “Everyone we looked at has great mural experience.”

Fettingis describes her work as “large-scale geometric public art.” She painted her first mural in 2007 and, by 2013, she was working on murals with consistency. The mural she is currently working on in downtown Frankfort will be her 36th.

“The piece is meant to reflect the nickname ‘Gem City,’” Fettingis said. “Upon reading about it, I read that, back in the day, at night you could see Frankfort for miles because of the new electric era. This piece is going to be white. The shapes themselves reflect faceted gems in a bright white pallet to sort of reflect that idea that I read. You could see Frankfort for miles because of the lights. But, also, it is an organic composition. At the end, it will feel both faceted, geometric and gem-like, but also slightly organic. I wanted it to sort of nod to the surrounding rural community. So it kind of has a plant-like feel as well.”

NHK and John Stewart loaned a lift for the production of the mural, and Fettingis has been working with volunteers who assist her with the work.

“It has been really cool,” Fettingis said. “It has given me the opportunity to connect with the community and learn about Frankfort more than one can gain just from reading about it online. I have worked with all ages and people who have had their hands in different matters in the community. So, I am learning multifaceted aspects of Frankfort, from a high school student to Jerry (Lafko) who has sen a lot here and been a part of the community for quite a while. We are up there just chit-chatting away while we are working, and I learn a lot. It has been awesome.”