Bubbly downtown mural promotes diversity

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Elizabeth Wertman of Holland paints a community mural on the Kerstiens Building in Jasper on Monday.


JASPER — Bright blue and bubbly, Jasper’s newest mural is officially complete.

The larger-than-life interactive art piece — which is located on the side of the Kerstiens Building at 215 Mill St. — has transformed a formerly gray and white wall into a fun-filled canvas that promotes diversity and togetherness.

“At a fitting time, I believe ... we need this,” said Elizabeth (Bartelt) Wertman, the Holland-based artist who was selected by the Jasper Mayor’s Youth Leadership Council to complete the project.

You can see the display clearly while driving east on Third Avenue, near the road’s intersection with Jackson Street. Big, translucent bubbles dot the baby blue background of the mural, with two oversized bubble wands offering spots for a fun photo opportunity.

Surrounding the bubbles, the word “Welcome” can be found spelled in more than 15 different languages — representative of all the languages spoken by students at Jasper High School. Hindi, Swedish, Arabic and many more can be found in addition to English and German.

Elizabeth Wertman of Holland paints letters that spell the word “welcome” in different languages on the community mural on the Kerstiens Building in Jasper on Monday.

Each bubble is shaped differently, further exemplifying the theme of diversity, and Wertman explained that members of the local youth leadership council liked her design because of its multi-person aspect.

“Because diversity takes more than one person,” Wertman said.

The Council put out a call for artists in late March. After she was selected to complete the work, Wertman began painting on June 1 and finished the massive depiction about two weeks later.

It isn’t her first mural — her creations can also be found on the big shelter house at the Holland Park and inside the Gaslight Pizza & Grill in Huntingburg. She also has a passion for photography and has graphic design experience.

She picked the color palette because it creates an inviting feeling — one that is warm, happy and welcoming. Situated near the sites of the Jasper Farmers Market, Jasper River Centre and future Thyen-Clark Cultural Center, Wertman hopes her downtown mural brings people together.

“Whether they want to interact with a stranger in doing it, or just doing it with a friend,” she said of the artwork’s interactive element.

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