State of the Arts
Sometimes a small idea snowballs into something big.
Steve Sanner, owner of Jiffy Lube of Indiana, recalls a small idea that came up during a conversation more than five years ago. He was talking to colleagues about different restrictions on signage that local governments can place on businesses.
“We would talk about things like sign restrictions. You can’t get a pole sign on a lot of places these days,” Sanner says. “We joked about maybe we should do art and didn’t take it seriously.”
A short time later, in 2016, Sanner was speaking to a friend after someone painted graffiti on one of his stores. That friend put Sanner in touch with a local art collective, called The Department of Public Words, which specialized in replacing illicit graffiti with art.
“We just hit it off, and we started brainstorming,” Sanner says. “What would it look like if we did a mural on this store? How would we go about this process?”
The snowball collected momentum. After that first project turned out well, Sanner and his leadership team decided to go all in to bring high-quality art to their buildings.
The Jiffy Lube Mural Project has been producing impressive pieces from local artists ever since. The Americans for the Arts organization recognized the project with a National Arts and Business Partnership Award in 2019.
“We’ve now done 18 of these, we’ve got seven more planned for this year,” Sanner says.
The success of the project is due to the care, resources, and attention to quality that Jiffy Lube of Indiana has placed into the mural project.
If Jiffy Lube of Indiana was going to cover their building sides with artwork, it was going to do it right. This isn’t like asking a friend to throw some paint up on the wall. It’s also not meant to be an advertisement for the store. It’s a display that serves professional art, and Sanner says that was a decision made early on.
“We told the artists that they could not do anything that had to do with cars,” he says. “Because we wanted it to stand out as purely being public art, and not being tied to the business. And that really resonated with the artists community.”
The process is well vetted as well. Sanner’s team partners with the Arts Council of Indianapolis to select artists and promote the work. They put out an initial call for artists, compile bios, and have multiple meetings to narrow down finalists for that year. The artists are paid for the commissioned work.
Once the work is finished, Jiffy Lube of Indiana works with contractors to promote the projects on social media and local media, creating videos and helping to spread the artists’ ideas behind the pieces.
Look at the 18 works already completed, and it’s clear they’ve succeeded. The collection is bold, colorful, and unique not just to the quick maintenance industry but for any commercial property.
While the direct goal of the mural project isn’t shop advertisement, it’s still good for business. No question that the artwork will help passersby remember their local shop.
In addition to adding public art to communities, Sanner says that the project helps them establish relationships, both with customers and artists.
“It’s really helped us tag in and work back and forth with the arts community to grow the business, grow the brand, and have people feel good about Jiffy Lube,” he says.
The pieces are also representative of the communities. Lonnie Hinkle, chief operating officer at Jiffy Lube of Indiana, says that the mural that went up in his neighborhood did just that.
In the suburb of Brownsburg, where Hinkle lives, residents were grappling with new developments that were replacing some of the historical buildings in town. There was debate around how much development was too much.
Around the same time, an artist was commissioned for a mural at the Jiffy Lube shop in town. The piece, called “Brownsburg is Developing,” depicted a photo developer hanging up old photos of historical Brownsburg buildings. It reflected that appreciation for historical Brownsburg.
“Our artists that painted our Brownsburg story mural used that as a way to pull everyone together to bridge the divide, so to speak,” Hinkle says.
At the time of the interview with NOLN, Jiffy Lube of Indiana was building its 51st service center. While every building’s exterior wall isn’t suited for artwork, Sanner says they are going to place as many pieces of art as they can. And after a decade, they’re going to start over again.
“Murals last for no more than 10 years,” Sanner says. “So once we get through, we’ll go back and start doing them again.”