SOUTHSIDER VOICE PHOTOS BY AL STILLEY Artist Jeff Thomas, Principal Ruth Hurrle and facilitator/artist Bernadette “Bernie” Price stand in front of the interior of the main entrance at Central Catholic School. Significantly painted on the wall above the entrance are the words, seek, serve, persist, excel, love, also in Spanish for the growing number of Spanish-speaking students.
Central Catholic pre-k students, from left, Emily Mendova, Benito Delgado and Gael Romero-Vidal admire one of two paintings on the old exterior north wall that is an interior wall after completion of two new classrooms and a secure main entrance.
Lesly Tiunajero, Geraldine Acuna and Jose Garcia-Colorado stand in front of one of the new paintings by artists Jeff Thomas and “Bernie” Price in a hallway at Central Catholic.
By Al Stilley Senior staff writer
Central Catholic students can find their favorite color and meaning when they look at two paintings in the newest hallway at the school. Artist Jeff Thomas and facilitator/artist Bernadette “Bernie” Price utilized two panels for colorful artwork that depicts the history and growth of six Southside parishes. Thomas painted a sturdy tree with artistic leaves spread on top.
“I like to show the spiritual side in all my work and show a three-dimensional world,” Thomas said while students checked out the artwork. “Everything we do is geared for the kids. The colors are bright kid colors.”
The paintings are on an interior wall that used to be the exterior north wall at Central Catholic before expansion added two classrooms, a resource room and a secure main entrance. Students can reach and touch the paintings because each one is covered with “graffiti sealer” for enhanced protection. St. Patrick,
Sacred Heart and Holy Rosary are on one painting and St. James, Good Shepherd and St. Catherine on the other painting. Central Catholic serves students in pre-kindergarten and kindergarten through 8th grade.
“The idea to paint trees shows the strength of the schools,” Thomas said. “The letters spelling out each school hang vertically from the tree.’ Students, parents and patrons first see five words (seek, serve, persist, excel, love) also in Spanish above the doorway inside the main entrance.
The cornerstone of the school, originally St. James, built in 1952 is preserved in the lower corner of the new hallway.
“This is better than we ever hoped for,” school principal Ruth Hurrle said. ‘We wanted to bring art and color into the new space and tie our heritage into the existing school.”
The new addition opened Nov. 16. Thomas and Price began planning the artwork immediately the next day.
“We couldn’t wait for the builders to put their hammers away, so we could get started,” remarked Price, who serves as CYO girls athletic director. A hallway across from the main office features a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe adorned with red roses that has drawn praise from parents who enter the school.
Thomas, who lives in Greenwood, began his artistic career in 2001 as a sculptor but began painting in 2013 which has led to doing several murals throughout central Indiana. Thomas and Price turned their first wall into a mural in 2017 at Santorini Greek Kitchen in Fountain Square.
Since then, their artwork adorns the main entrance of the Biltwell Event Center on the near-westside, murals at Holy Spirit Catholic School and Spalding Jewelry in Beech Grove, Manor House Antique Mall, and four murals, “The Hills of Framosa,” in the dining hall of the CYO camp in Brown County.
The mural at Holy Spirit features stars and the moon on each side of a statue of the Virgin Mary. During the upcoming spring break, Fisher and Price will return to Central Catholic to paint an exterior wall mural. A permanent display of the artwork of Thomas and Price is at the Biltwell Event Center, 950 S. White River Parkway W. Drive.