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Art professor and students unveil Melba mural

On Friday, August 12, four members of the Batesville community unveiled their latest work at the grand opening of the historic Melba Theatre.

The unveiling followed four hard weeks of work by local artists Dustyn Bork, an art professor at Lyon College; Carly Dahl, his wife and director of the Batesville Area Art Council’s Main Street art gallery; and Lyon students Benjamin Elton and Morgun Henson. The piece, inspired by a 17th century Baroque sky, was created as a part of the renovation of the Melba.

The artists became a part of the project after the restoration process revealed an old tray ceiling in the theatre’s foyer.

“Nobody had seen this tray ceiling,” said Joe Shell, one of the four co-owners of the Melba. 

“It had been covered up for 60 to 70 years. And when I saw it, the first thing I thought was that it’d be the perfect place for a mural. I thought it would be a great space for something unique and creative.”

The mural combines a cloudy Baroque-inspired sky with the historic colors of the Melba, referencing the burgundies, deep reds and blues of the building.

“We’d choose one color, work with that for a bit, and then if we felt like something was missing, we’d mix in another color to see how that worked,” Elton said. 

“We just took it one day at a time.”

A collaborative effort from all four artists, the mural incorporates several visions into one cohesive idea, with each artist adding a piece of his- or herself to the work.

“When you have individual artists that all have their own sense of what something should look like, it’s an interesting dynamic, especially when keeping to a common vision throughout,” Bork said.

“Everybody had a moment where one of their clouds wasn’t working, and everybody had a moment where it was like, ‘That’s great, let’s do more of that.’”

With the Melba now fully renovated and open for business, the mural is bound to turn the head of every person who steps into the foyer—and Shell couldn’t be more excited.

“A week and a half ago, I’d been working outside,” Shell said. 

“I was very hot—it was a hot day—so I came in, I lay down on the floor, and I looked up. And just like you do on a real summer day, I was looking at the clouds, and all of a sudden these images were appearing. And it was just exciting. I’m so excited to look at this mural every day.” 

Posted by Alexandra Patrono-Smith at 8:04 PM