An unfinished Wabash Walls mural has some asking: Who is the man in the mural?

The Wabash Walls graffiti mural project is making progress after just one week of work. But an unfinished portrait of a man has some wondering what the end result will be.

Posted: Aug. 13, 2018 12:38 AM

Lafayette, IND. (WLFI) - The Wabash Walls graffiti mural project is making progress after just one week of work. The Tippecanoe Arts Federation is in charge of the project. Its goal is to bring art and color to the empty walls of downtown Lafayette.

News 18 introduced you to the head curator of the project, Cameron Moberg, last week.

Since then, the underpass where Wabash Avenue and 2nd Street reads “Wabash Walls!” in colorful block letters.

Those who pass by the art are excited to see the transformation happening.

“I think they are beautiful because it helps improve the atmosphere,” said Susan Long of Lafayette. “Plus it shows off everybody that has artistic ability.”

Just up the way from the underpass is another mural. What once was a run down wall that faces the train tracks that runs parallel to Second Street, now depicts the portrait of a man with the trains reflected in his eyes.

But who is this man in the mural? Multiple people passing by stopped to find out.

“I’m thinking Malcolm X,” said Kelley Cook of Lafayette. “But he had glasses so that’s not going to pan out.”

Noticing that the man in the portrait isn’t wearing glasses.

“I asked him if it was Martin Luther King whenever he was first drawing the face,” said Long. “Some people asked him if it was Obama.”

Andre Cobre of Argentina is the artist for the project. He has been painting professionally for five years now, but it has always been a hobby that came easily to him.

“In high school, I was painting. While I was at university, I was painting,” said Cobre. “It has always come naturally.”

Now you can find his artwork all over the world, including Spain and all corners of his home country.

But this is his first time doing a mural in the United States.

“Tippecanoe Arts Federation called me and said hey, do you want to come here to Lafayette to paint a mural and I said absolutely,” he said.

He decided to draw on the towns locomotive industry for his painting by creating a train worker with a face blackened by soot. So why did he end up writing “This is not Obama! Wait for it!” next to his portrait?

“It looks a lot like Obama, so who is it going to be then?" asked Cook excitedly.

Only the artist has that answer.

"I'm painting a mural about a train conductor,” he replied. “Because I know this area is pretty influenced by the train stuff and for me this is kind of a monument to all the workers."

There are certain steps that he needs to take before his portrait really starts to come together.

"Let's say you have three steps: the dark color, the middle color and the highlight. I have to paint the dark color first, as a base," he explained.

As he started the early stages of the portrait, the appearance of the portrait was deceiving to those passing by. And after receiving some negative comments, he began to worry for his artwork.

"People in the cars started yelling to me 'Hey don’t paint Obama, paint Donald Trump’ and I was starting to get a bit afraid of somebody throwing a bucket of paint on the wall,” he said. “So I decided to write it here just to show them it's not what they think. It's just somebody, a regular guy."

Cobre said he still has about six days before his mural will be complete, and he is eager to see the community’s reaction to the final product.

“It’s amazing how fast he works,” said Cook. “In just 20 minutes he had turned one of the eyes into its own artwork.”

He says while you can't please everyone with art, he's not trying to offend anybody with his portrait. Just trying to properly reflect this community. But he is enjoying the challenge this mural is bringing.

"It’s a bit of a challenge for me because it's my biggest portrait so far,” he said. “But I am enjoying myself very much here."

He said the only other time he has traveled to the United States was to go to Miami, Florida. However he felt something was missing in that previous experience. He said he is finding what Miami lacked right here in Lafayette.

“I see the red barns and the big trucks and it’s just like how it looks in the movies,” he said with a laugh. “And everyone is super nice and is having fun with me.”

More artists from around the United States are coming on Monday to work on the other mural locations. Cobre says he is excited to learn new techniques and styles from these artists.

To see more of Andre Cobre’s graffiti work, go to his Instagram page @cobreart.

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