Foot traffic on the Tepe Park basketball court along South Garvin Street bustles as neighborhood residents have all been drawn to the vibrant, full-court mural of the geometric symbol the Flower of Life. The Evansville natives behind the colorful painting — Corderro Stith, Merrick Korach, and Austin Maxheimer — say creating an enhanced community space was the goal all along.
“I wanted to lend my ability to the community in such a way that inspires most to follow their dreams,” Stith says. “The Flower of Life symbol is … a thing that all living beings share, so I figured it’d be a perfect symbol for what we were trying to do.”
Maxheimer, neighborhood revitalization director, and Korach, former neighborhood champion, for Community One, a neighborhood organization that partners with Tepe Park through a program called Love Your Neighborhood, trace the mural’s origins back to 2017. Tepe Park residents were invited to share improvements they wanted to see, and many responses included a desire for more public art.
Maxheimer and Korach connected with Stith, artist and founder of ArtIsLife Studios, in 2019. When COVID-19 stalled progress, Stith worked on a design concept, while Community One secured a $5,000 grant from CenterPoint Energy managed by the Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana to pay for materials, design, and project management.
“It was an idea that we’ve had brewing for a long time, but once we had all the pieces lined up, we literally had less than two months to get that thing painted on the court,” Korach says.
Completed the last week of August 2021 with help from neighborhood children who marked the court with their handprints, the mural was ready for the annual 3-on-3 basketball tournament held there every Labor Day weekend.
“We need more examples of this type of direct investment in neighborhood leaders for them to execute their vision for change,” Maxheimer says of Stith’s contribution. “Encouraging more community partners to make similar investments into people so that they can change the warranty in the neighborhood would be really great.”