- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

KOKOMO, Ind. (AP) - Incorporating numerous elements from the history of Kokomo and Indiana into his latest mural outside of Walt Moss Barber Shop, Cedrick “Doc” Fields remarked that the tree-shaped homage to his hometown pays respect to the past while looking toward the future.

“Trees always represent growth, and this is definitely a growing city,” he said. “Coming back here, it’s nice to see that it is growing. Where I was coming from in New Mexico, basically everything is painted. When I came up here, that’s not so common, so I wanted to bring that element back up here.”

Fields left Kokomo for a little more than a decade. Upon his recent return, Fields began to notice some of the changes to the city’s downtown.

The Kokomo Gas Tower he fondly remembered greeting him coming from Indianapolis was no longer there, but many of the new businesses and redevelopment happening in the city were welcomed additions.

Returning to his hometown after an 11-year stint in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Fields couldn’t shake the feeling that the walls of downtown buildings and businesses should be more attractive while also embracing the history of the City of Firsts.

That’s why Fields, who has been practicing art in a number of mediums since he was a child, has taken to downtown business doors and walls for what he refers to as a “beautification” project.

Fields is in the process of completing his second piece in the downtown after painting the door outside of Crystal Wand Creations on North Buckeye Street for owner J.R. McIntire, the Kokomo Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/ZWqjeC ).

His latest mural pays respect to the symbols of Kokomo’s past: The old Kokomo Gas Tower that was torn down in 2003, Elwood Haynes’ first car and the Seiberling Mansion. The gas tower was created in the shape of the state of Indiana, with the branches and leaves above it outlined as a map of Howard County. It also includes the state bird, the cardinal, and the state flower, the peony.

“We wanted to do something that represented Kokomo, in general,” Fields said. “I’m from here but I visit a lot. The gas tower would always let me know that I was coming home. When they took it down, I had so many people talk about the gas tower being a part of Kokomo.”

The mural, which is nearly complete, has been a pleasant surprise for Walt Moss Barber Shop co-owner Leon Organ, who, along with co-owner Doug Newman, hired Fields to do the piece after they had seen Fields’ work at Crystal Wand Creations.

Organ left the concept and design up to Fields, but suggested he do something that wasn’t related to a barber shop or a tattoo parlor, which neighbors Walt Moss Barber Shop and is owned by Fields’ brother, Dee.

“We told him to do what he wanted to,” Organ said. “You don’t mess with the artist. I really like what he’s done. It shows a lot of the good that there is in Kokomo.”

Fields said he is grateful for the opportunity to have an impact on the artistic side of Kokomo’s downtown. That opportunity came about after speaking with the Kokomo Art Association, which encouraged him to visit the site of a mural painted by the late Sara Smith that had been vandalized.

While visiting the site of the mural, the family of Smith encouraged Fields to get in touch with McIntire at Crystal Wand Creations, who was interested in having his business’ door painted.

Fields responded with a door painted in vibrant green and purple with a wizard that reflects the mood of the store.

All along, Fields said, he has been trying to put his own stamp on things while following in the footsteps of his brother, who got him into drawing as a child.

“I really like a lot of fantasy art, so the high fantasy stuff is what I’m really into,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to paint mountains and trees, but I like to make something that makes people say, ‘How did you think of that?’

“I’m just trying to put my little spin on things here and let people know I’m here at the same time,” he added. “Hopefully we can bring some more beauty into the city.”

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Information from: Kokomo Tribune, https://www.ktonline.com

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