INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — For local artist Andrea Townsend, her work with a brush in her hand is a labor of love. And when she spent a day this week painting a mural of beloved Indianapolis businessman Chris Beaty, she was amazed at the level of love for Beaty that people shared with her during her day of painting.
Beaty, a former football player at Cathedral High School and Indiana University, was killed over the weekend in violence that spread throughout downtown Indianapolis following a night of protests. Beaty, 38, apparently left his downtown apartment to help two people being mugged when he was shot multiple times.
He was a well-known night club owner and businessman who had thousands of friends and always had a smile on his face. Townsend and her friend Anna Martinez captured Beaty perfectly in their mural that's on Vermont Street between Pennsylvania and Delaware streets.
Townsend has a studio in the popular Circle City Industrial Complex and does murals and commissioned paintings. Townsend and Martinez did this 8-foot by 12-foot mural at no charge, and it took about eight hours to complete.
Townsend said she got a call the night before about doing a mural, and having known Beaty a bit from their paths crossing in downtown, she was all for it.
It turned out to be a special, emotional day for all involved.
"We talked to all kinds of people all day long, all ages, all races, just a lot of downtown people coming by and watching and thanking us,'' Townsend said. "One guy told us a story about how much Chris changed his life, and it was stories like that all day from people talking about how much Chris influenced them.
"I got here at 10 a.m., and then there were people here all day long once the word got out about what we were doing. Everbody knew him and loved him. It's amazing how deep his connection was. We're grateful to be able to have honored his memory, because he was so important to a lot of people.''
All day long, people dropped off flowers and took pictures with the mural. Throughout the day, there were dozens of people at a time at the mural site, and the crowds never stopped coming. It's been the same every day since as well.
"It's just so tragic, especially when you hear about the circumstances and those final few minutes and what he was doing to try to help,'' Townsend said. "It's just so crazy to see people coming together over this. It makes us feel good.
"I'm glad that people have a place to go right now and sort of share a moment with him. His influence definitely spread far and wide.''
Townsend doesn't know how long the mural can stay up at this location, but they are sure it will find a nice permanent home somewhere. "We've reached out to the family and I know a lot of his friends have ideas about what to do with it, too,'' she said.
Townsend used a photo of Beaty as her inspiration for the mural, and they sketched it out and went to work. They bought four paint colors, and mixed and matched a lot "using a lot of color theory'' to get it exactly right.
"Drawing big like this, it's different. You do something and step back and check it out to make sure you got it right. Having two of us helped a lot. It was fun to do it together. We worked off that picture, but a lot of people talked to us about how much he loved IU, so we changed up his shirt to make it an Indiana shirt.''
The two artists were thrilled with the final product, and they remain humble in their role in honoring Beaty. "I don't want us to get attention for this, it's all about Chris,'' Townsend said. "He has touched so many lives, and I'm glad that we've been able to play a very small part in it.''
Beaty's closest friends get emotional seeing the finished product as well as the constant stream of people who come by to see it and pay their respects to their fallen friend.
"It makes me overwhelmed with joy to see and witness how much love the community, friends and family had for Chris,'' said James Waldon, a popular Indianapolis DJ and close friend of Beaty's. "It's just really a blessing to witness all that love.
"He had a really big heart. He was a servant and a giver, and he would do anything for you. He was an active listener, too. He always helped. He would do anything for me. For anyone.''
Scholarship Fund in Beaty's Name Reaches $94K
Chris Beaty was proud to be graduate of Cathedral High School and Indiana University, so his family has created a "Chris Beaty Memorial Scholarship Fund'' to benefit students at both schools. A GoFundMe page to launch the fund has raised more than $94,000 in the first two days, a testament to how much the Indiana community loved Beaty.
"We have been overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support for Chris since his murder over the weekend. It has not been a surprise because Chris lived and loved passionately every day of his 38 years on this earth,'' said Jared Thomas, Beaty's nephew.
"From his time at Cathedral, to his four years as a student-athlete at Indiana University, to his dedication to making Indianapolis a better place, down to his last moments when he put his life on the line and became a hero, Chris was someone who always put others before himself. He truly was one-of-a-kind, with a giant heart filled with love for everyone he met, consistently working to break down racial barriers.
Thomas encouraged others to live like Chris, to love others boldly, to stand up for what’s right, and to live every day to the fullest. He also used the #LiveLikeChris hashtag at the end of this statement.
For those wishing to continue Chris’ legacy, we have set up this GoFundMe for donations in his memory Chris Beaty Memorial Scholarship Fund that will benefit incoming students at Indiana University and Cathedral High School, his alma maters which he loved so dearly.
More than 1,100 people have made donations thus far through Friday morning.
The latest stories on Chris Beaty
- FUNERAL DATES SET: The memorial service and funeral dates for Chris Beaty have been set. CLICK HERE
- CHRIS BEATY'S FINAL MOMENTS: Friends talk about Chris Beaty's final days and how he died helping someone else, which is what he was all about. "He died trying to help others.'' CLICK HERE
- INDIANA'S CHRIS BEATY KILLED: Popular Indianapolis businessman and former IU football player Chris Beaty was killed Saturday night. CLICK HERE
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