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Neighbor of the Quarter: Tom Egan
July 14 @ 8:00 am - 5:00 pm
Neighbor of the Quarter
Tom Egan, The Plaza
Tom Egan says the new mural on the wall of The Nook building on Central Avenue is a product of fate, even if he actually spent nearly three years working on it in fits and starts, and it’s hard to argue that there was plenty of serendipity involved in how it all came together.
Egan, a former Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association president, was introduced to artists Matt Moore and Matt Hooker nearly three years ago in the hopes that he could coordinate a mural project in the neighborhood. The artists were eager to find a good wall, and Egan was excited to bring some cool art to his neighborhood. Still, back then, the options were limited.
It wasn’t until a couple years later that Egan found himself working for a group that owned The Nook building, and they were open to the idea of a mural on the five-story brick facade.
“In my mind, I’d always thought it would be a good wall for a mural,” Egan said, “but really, that building wasn’t even an idea at first.”
The building’s owners had funded a few other murals in the area, and they were happy to give Hooker and Moore their canvas. Putting the project together, however, was a bigger job.
Hooker and Moore were willing to do the mural at a reduced rate because they love the neighborhood, Egan said, but they still needed enough revenue to cover supplies, time and other expenses. That’s when Egan got the idea to involve the entire community.
Egan, who lives on The Plaza, reached out to the neighborhood association and the merchants association, and he helped coordinate a fundraising campaign with neighbors to support the project. In the end, he helped raise more than $10,000 in funding.
“It was my pure desire to have [Hooker and Moore] get paid for their work that brought me to build those relationships,” Egan said. “I think it was good to have everybody connected to it, to be part of the mural and have some ownership.”
With funding in place and a canvas at the ready, Hooker and Moore started work in early March. The mural, a statue of Neptune, was selected as a symbol of the community’s unchanging strength amid waves of change. Egan found it utterly appropriate.
“I love seeing it,” he said. “I don’t look at that building the same way anymore. I see it as part of the neighborhood. It really fits into its context now.”
Hooker and Moore credit Egan as the motivating force behind the project, which wrapped up in mid-April, with donations from more than 50 neighbors among funding provided by Egan’s bosses, PMNA and the merchants association.
Egan’s work hasn’t stopped there either. He’s actively involved in the plan to bring bike lanes to The Plaza, and he’s working with the Merchants Association on ways to add planters and seating throughout the commercial district.
Still, the mural stands as a lasting image of Egan’s efforts to beautify his neighborhood, and his hope is that it’s just the start.
“I love that it’s right there where almost anyone driving through Plaza Midwood will see it and we have a strong artistic presence in our neighborhood,” Egan said. “Hopefully it’s genesis of other murals in our neighborhood.”
Our Best of Plaza Midwood series runs quarterly, with each new issue of The Spirit newsletter. Have a suggestion for educator, merchant or neighbor of the quarter? Let us know at email@example.com.