If you live in Terre Haute, you have seen her work, but you may not be familiar with the artist. Becky Hochhalter was kind enough to indulge us with a Q&A session. We hope you enjoy getting to know the person behind the paints!
When people hear the name Becky Hochhalter, what would you want to come to their minds? When people hear my name, I’d like for them to think of the positive impact that my artwork has had on their community, or their own personal life. I want my artwork to bring people joy and improve their sense of place. Did your art develop as a hobby and turn into a profession or did you always know you wanted to be a professional artist? I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t creating art. From childhood on, I knew that I would have a career involving art. Originally I was interested in graphic art, starting my senior year in high school at a local ad agency (fun fact - nationally recognized local sculptor, Bill Wolfe was the art director). This quickly became computer graphics with the inception of computers and Adobe applications in 1988. I taught myself how to use the applications and had a career in computer graphics for 28 years. In 2011 I decided to pursue a career as a professional artist focusing on fine art, so this is now my second career. What do you love about what you do? I love the constant variety of work that I do, and the challenge of pursuing new types of projects. I love the flexibility of schedule too. Make no mistake, though, my boss is no pushover! She has me working twelve hour days in the heat right now, but I wouldn’t trade that to go back to a cubicle for anything.
Who inspires you? I’m inspired by people who chase their dreams and don’t wait for them to fall in their lap! I’m inspired by communities that strive to improve a sense of place for the people who live in them and seek out creative ways to do so. How do you like to spend your time when you're not creating visual art? I love to spend time with my family and taking trips with them. I enjoy the outdoors a lot including going for hikes, swimming, taking photos of nature, fishing, painting en plein air. I love reading, watching movies, and any shows about the natural world, history, paleontology or archeology. As a Terre Haute native, what do you love about Terre Haute and the Vigo County area? I love the vast number of parks and green spaces that we have in the city and the county. We have so many beautiful places in the Wabash Valley! Another favorite would be downtown. I worked at 6th and Ohio when I was just out of high school, and I really fell in love with the downtown atmosphere. I would love to have a workspace there. I also love the campuses of ISU, Rose-Hulman and St. Mary-of-the-Woods. Such beautiful and inspiring places.
How have you seen the art scene in Terre Haute change over the years? The art scene in the area has grown so much over the years. We are a small town, but we have a big city appreciation for art! We have the arts corridor which has now officially been named the 41|40 Arts and Culture District by the Indiana Arts Commission. What an honor for our city, and what an impact this has on a community! You have a vast portfolio of work, but let's focus on your public art. Where can people find your work in Terre Haute and Vigo County? There is quite a lot of my work in the Terre Haute area now - and more to come yet this summer! Here are most of them: - Terre Haute City Parks mural, Deming Park on the train barn - Crossroads Plaza music mural, Sky Garden Parking Facility on Wabash - Stiffy Green mural, J. Ford’s Black Angus, 7th and Walnut - Charlie’s Pub & Grub murals, (three murals in the beer garden) 1608 Crawford Street - Clabber Girl Welcome to Terre Haute billboard restoration, Hwy 40 and Hunt Road - Team of Mercy mural, Building 812 (PARQ) on Maple, Twelve Points - Seven of the painted Coke bottles for the Root Family Foundation Birthplace of the Coke Bottle campaign: Corner Grind bottle - 7th and Wabash First Financial bottle - 1 Financial Plaza, 6th and Wabash Pi Kappa Alpha bottle - PIKE Fraternity, 7th and Locust Miracle on 7th bottle - Haute Maison, 7th and Walnut C.A.V.U. Ops bottle - 2500 Prairieton Rd Brown Veterinary bottle - 909 S. 25th Street Goodwill bottle - 2702 S. 3rd Street - Eleven large -scale photography pieces on aluminum - waiting rooms on all four floors, UMG Medical Office Building on the campus of Union Hospital, 1429 N. 6th Street - Veterans Memorial Mural, Terre Haute Veterans Museum, 1129 Wabash Ave. - Indiana Bicentennial Bison for Vigo County, Griffin Bike Park, 10700 Bono Road - 41|40 Arts and Culture District/Heritage Trail mural, Dixie Bee Elementary, 1655 E. Jessica Drive - Ross Elliott Jewelers feature wall, 55 West Honey Creek Drive Where else outside of Terre Haute is your public art featured? I have murals in numerous other cities in Indiana and Illinois including: - Alabama Bar and Grill mural, Brazil, Indiana (I’ve painted this one twice now, first a Coke mural, latest is a Pepsi mural!) - Wing’s Etc. Murals, Brazil, Indiana - Interior Fixtures mural, Knightsville, Indiana - Key Bank murals (three panels), Noblesville, Indiana - Nickel Plate Trail mural, FPD building, Fishers, Indiana - MyPath Trail System/Spencer Coffee House mural, Spencer, Indiana - Northeast North Elementary mural, Farmersburg, Indiana - Brett Eldredge Mural (current project), Paris, Illinois - Indy Arts Fest mural (coming Labor Day weekend!), Indy Auto Man, Indianapolis, Indiana - Indianapolis Motor Speedway Welcome Race Fans 2020, my art was projected on the nine-story IPL building on Monument Circle for the months of May and June 2020 as well as on billboards around the area, Indianapolis, Indiana What unique challenges are involved in your public art, specifically your mural work, versus easel and digital painting? Most of my public art has been painted in an outdoor environment, which takes the difficulty of creating a mural to another level. Dealing with temperatures (both hot and cold), wind, sun, rain, bugs (17 year cicadas loved me this year!), dehydration, street and pedestrian traffic…. The list goes on! I’m painting in constantly changing conditions on rough old brick walls (some over 100 years old) or concrete in the sun and wind that is drying my acrylic paint so quickly it’s almost impossible to blend. Just the sheer scale of some of these projects is very challenging. Keeping the artwork proportions correct, operating a 40ft boom lift or a 20ft scissor lift, or climbing scaffolding. None of these are problems that I encounter when painting the the comfort of my home studio! Is there a particular piece of art that when you see it or think about it, brings a smile to your face? Why? That would have to be my very first mural; the Terre Haute City Parks mural. Because it was my first mural and includes so many of the parks and green spaces that I love, but more so because both of my daughters are in it! Of all of your commissioned work, what has been the most challenging (and why)? What has been the most unique (and why)? The most challenging would have to be my current project, the Brett Eldredge mural in Paris, Illinois. Creating a 33ft tall portrait of a very recognizable person on the roughest surface that I’ve ever worked on in extreme heat (up to 111° heat index!) in the direct sun all day, where sun and wind are drying out the paints almost faster than I can lay them on the wall. The most unique would be the “Blazing the Trail” mural in Fishers which included a memorial portrait of a FPD K9 killed in the line of duty in 2019. I invited the K9 handler officer and his wife and two sons to come paint on the portrait of their beloved family pet and K9 officer Harlej. I have never invited anyone to paint on one of my murals before.
If you can share, what are some of your next projects coming up? I am currently finishing mural number six for the summer of 2021, which is a mural of country music singer Brett Eldredge in his hometown of Paris, Illinois. Following that I will be painting a mural during the Indy Arts Fest at Indy Auto Man in Indianapolis over the Labor Day weekend. That mural titled “Child of the Universe” is themed around the poem “Desiderata” by Terre Haute native and poet, Max Ehrmann. The next project is my largest mural yet and will be right in the heart of downtown Terre Haute on Wabash Avenue. I can’t disclose where yet, but it will include many well known Terre Haute people and architectural elements.
Check out Becky's website at www.beckyhochhalter.com.