Stop by, look closer and learn more about La Porte County — all 108 feet of it

Bob’s photos above show the ribbon cutting as well as some he took in July when assistant artist Billy Pozzo was working on the mural.

WNLP story and photos by Bob Wellinski
“You can’t ignore this. It’s big. It’s powerful and it’s attractive.”

That’s how La Porte Mayor Mark Krentz described the city’s new mural in Plaza 618 following the ribbon cutting and dedication Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019.

“This is a dream come true for me and for the (city) Visual Arts Council. I mean we had a vision of a mural and here we are today,” said Krentz.

Members of the council are: Laura and Thaddeus Cutler, Gregg Hertzlieb, Laura and Mark Krentz, and Beth Shrader.

The mural was the creation of noted artist Tom Torluemke and assisted by Billy Pozzo.

Nearly 75 attended Wednesday’s ceremony to get a better look at the very detailed mural that depicts the history of La Porte. Scenes of the city’s beginnings on the wall’s north side depict two Native American’s looking over the site where the former Woolworth’s building once stood. At the wall’s south side has a larger-than-life Mark Kabacinski throwing darts. Sandwiched in between are notable people and scenes of La Porte throughout the years, from a log cabin under construction to an oil pull tractor. A detailed city maps provides a backdrop for county historian Fern Eddy Schultz, who seems to be juggling portraits of notable LaPorteans.

Julie West-Schroeder beamed as her late son, Jake, was immortalized within the mural.

The three months of painting was short in comparison to the 6 to 7 months of research Torluemke put into the project. He said Schultz was invaluable with his research in gathering the history of the Maple City. He said he was nervous because there were so many portraits, and many are still living, that he wanted to make sure they were happy with their likenesses. It was one phone call that put him to ease. He said he received a call from Jim Burden’s wife, Karen, who said she loved it. “It was golden for me that the wife approved of the portrait of her husband.”

Burden, who led the city band for 45 years, is centered and conducting the mural’s story.

It’s that caring, compassion and attention to detail that brings the artist’s work to life. Both Torluemke and Krentz agreed murals like this are important for the community. It educates all those who gaze upon it the history of the city. They said it’s important for people to know where our roots are. And from that, it helps build community pride. When people see who we are as a community, people take pride in their community.

Both Torluemke and Pozzo said being part of this project has left an impression on them and brought them closer to La Porte.

“The community was superb and very supportive. I met all kinds of wonderful people,” said Torluemke.

They admitted this was probably one of their biggest projects. With a blank “canvas” of 108 feet long by 18 feet tall, the two had their work cut out for them … especially when the largest brush they used was only 1 inch wide. But gazing closely at each scene or portrait, the detail seems to make it come alive. And the more one looks at the mural, new details seem to emerge.

Torluemke and Pozzo both thanked the Visual Arts Council and the community for entrusting them to do the project.

Krentz said that because of this mural, the Visual Arts Council has been contacted by others who have expressed interest in doing something similar.

“I think it’s going to create some ideas for other things … We’ve only just begun,” Krentz said with a smile.

9 Responses to “Stop by, look closer and learn more about La Porte County — all 108 feet of it”

  1. Keith E. Hyatte

    Sep 12. 2019

    Congratulations to La Porte and the artist Tom Torluemke and assistant Billy Pozzo, and all who worked to make the mural. A gorgeous tribute to the history and the people who made La Porte. Happy to see that the indigenous inhabitants are featured.

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  2. MM

    Sep 12. 2019

    INTERESTING LAPTOP IN PIC 2…

    Reply to this comment
  3. Missy Burden

    Sep 12. 2019

    Love the entire mural!! What a great tribute to LaPorte and it’s history. And so happy to see my dad up there conducting. So many childhood memories of going to the concerts when I was young, to years playing in the band while he was conducting. So proud of him, and thankful that his years of love for music and for the City of LP are being recognized.

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  4. ILUVLP

    Sep 12. 2019

    Fantastic mural. Thanks so much. Who are the gentleman in the 14th picture (3rd pic from bottom)?
    I know everything couldn’t be put into the mural, but Garwood’s Orchard would have been a nice addition.
    So glad Fern is on there. She deserves it. A wealth of knowledge
    Sorry Belle, you didn’t make the cut.

    Reply to this comment
  5. lawman

    Sep 12. 2019

    stopped by again today. great addition to town!!!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Tim

    Sep 14. 2019

    Beautiful addition to our downtown! Just wondering though who is Mark Kabacinski?

    Reply to this comment
  7. MeNotYou

    Sep 14. 2019

    Belle is represented in there in the cart by the bicycle rider.

    Reply to this comment

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