Writer // Janelle Morrison Photography // Courtesy of Kelle Knabe

During the grand reopening of the Carmel Clay Public Library Main Branch, patrons and guests entering the library from the second level of the all-new parking lot will be greeted by a spectacular 12-foot-wide and 7-and-a-half-foot-tall artwork commissioned by CCPL and created by nationally acclaimed Indianapolis-based artist Walter Knabe.

The work of Walter Knabe

Walter Knabe is an American multidisciplinary artist. As a painter and screenprinter, Knabe’s work is versatile and includes original paintings and limited edition artwork, fabrics, wall coverings, exclusive lifestyle and interior decor and licensed designs. His work can be found in the homes of top musicians, athletes, former presidents, directors and Hollywood actors and at exclusive retailers and private companies.

Knabe earned an MFA from the University of Wisconsin and for more than 40 years has built a wide and varied portfolio that includes projects such as being the official artist of the Indianapolis 500, collections licensed to Fieldcrest and Hallmark companies and bespoke design work for Harrod’s department store in London.

His early projects included collaborating with American art icon Thomas Hart Benton on one of his last murals in Joplin, Missouri. After earning his MFA, Knabe moved to New York and opened his first painting studio in Brooklyn in 1982.

Walter Knabe

After building a national reputation, Knabe and her family moved to Indianapolis, Indiana, in 1994 to raise her children while continuing to expand her work and brand image across the country and beyond.

“I landed here [Indianapolis] over 20 years ago,” Knabe explained. “About 15 years into my career, I had established a national reputation, and my late wife and I had our children by then. It was incredibly expensive raising them in New York, so we moved to Indianapolis, and I remember being concerned about still being able to “connect” to customers, etc., but we took the risk, and everything went very well .”

Knabe and his current wife and business partner Kelle [Knabe] have been married for five years and have known each other for many years. Knabe shared that Kelle was a former client.

“Our studio is located on E. 54th Street, right next to the Monon [Trail]”, Knabe said. “It’s the very first studio I’ve had that’s open to the public. Kelle runs the shop at the front of the studio and all the business part of my studio. people come into the shop and the studio and tell me how much they love my work and how ‘positive’ they think it is – and that’s my goal.”

Walter Knabe

When asked which artists had influenced Knabe throughout his career, he replied, “Robert Rauschenberg, certainly with imagery. I learned screen printing in New York, and had the privilege of learning from guys who printed Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns. Their talent was simply amazing.

Additionally, Knabe was influenced by the work of Sam Gilliam, who passed away last June.

“Sam did some abstract work that was beautiful,” Knabe said. “And even someone like Cy Twombly, who is known for doodling, influenced me. My work is very narrative. However, I put doodles and writing in my work. I think it’s a very human thing to do, and I like the uniquely human elements. I bring those [elements] in my work.

Walter Knabe

The unveiling of Knabe’s CCPL piece

As of press time, the date for the highly anticipated unveiling has not been set in stone, but is expected to be set in time for the grand celebration of the Main Library’s reopening on Saturday, October 1.

Knabe expressed his humility and gratitude for being commissioned to create an exceptional work of art that embodies the spirit of community and inclusiveness – two elements that CCPL is proud to have developed and nurtured throughout its life. existence.

“I was introduced to CCPL by a few people from the CCPL Foundation who know my work,” Knabe explained. “I am very humbled and grateful for this opportunity.”

When asked what his thoughts and feelings were in that room, Knabe thoughtfully replied, “The first word was ‘community.’ I have to tell you that even though the piece is narrative, there is an abstract element to it. While I certainly don’t want to list all the things you can do in a library, I’ve made references to different things and have a few “library” quotes that I really like.

Knabe described the piece as having imagery that depicts the library as a space without borders or limitations – much like the universe.

Knabe concluded, “There’s also an overall human element to it – it’s definitely a positive element.”

For more information on Walter Knabe and his studio/boutique, visit walterknabe.com, and for information on CCPL’s upcoming grand reopening, visit carmelclaylibrary.org.

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