Lafayette Vignettes, Part 2: The Works on the Walls

Biggie & Cobain!

Scene from an alternate timeline where Biggie Smalls and Kurt Cobain lived to cover “Ebony and Ivory”.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In addition to our annual road trips, my wife Anne and I have a twice-yearly tradition of spending our respective birthdays together traveling to some new place or attraction as a one-day road trip — partly as an excuse to spend time together on those most wondrous days, partly to explore areas of Indiana we’ve never experienced before. We’re the Goldens. It’s who we are and what we do.

Once upon a time in 2019 Anne decide she wanted to celebrate her birthday with a jaunt around the city of Lafayette, an hour northwest of our Indiana home. She cobbled together a short to-do list of things she wanted to see, not lengthy but enough for a leisurely afternoon — a bit of Indiana history, a bit of downtown tourism, and a bit of healthy walking…

Once we escaped Purdue’s Homecoming weekend crowds, we headed east across the Wabash River to downtown Lafayette, where we simply wanted to walk around and take in the scenery. While most locals and students busied themselves with the main event across the river, downtown was deserted except for a small farmers’ market that was wrapping up their morning shift by the time we walked up.

A mile or more from the center of Purdue’s campus, we found copious parking in this area, no one charging $20 for event parking at that distance. We pulled inside a deserted garage that promised relatively low rates. Later we got an unbeatable bargain when we found the garage arm stuck in the raised position, the payment machine out of order, and nary an employee in sight. We didn’t like the idea of sneaking out like thieves, but there was nothing else to insert our ticket into, no working card reader, not even an honor-system cash box to leave money securely.

We parked. We walked. Downtown Lafayette is all about the sort of idyllic Midwest small-business architecture we’ve found in many an Indiana town, here prettied up by local artists in years past. A few were abandoned, but several were actively inhabited by shops targeting those prized college-student demographics. Shoppers were scarce, but art was everywhere.

The following is a selection of the murals and other installations covering the sides of various storefronts. I’d love to credit individual artists, but I couldn’t find a visual guide online.

hidden fish!

The life aquatic, peeking out of an alley.

computer dinosaur!

8-bit dinosaur curates its own mini-gallery.

computer dinosaur 2!

Competing 8-bit dinosaur leans more heavily into the abstract.

Jerry Smith!

Tribute to a beloved Lafayette street sweeper who passed away years ago.

dog with glasses!

A dog with glasses because why not, and…that’s probably not an Adipose from Doctor Who.


Someday I will yell “OF COURSE!” when I find out who this guitarist is. It’s not Mark Knopfler, is it?

yellow parabolas!

A happy field of yellow parabolas.

flying birdies!

Among the few credited murals, these birdies were signed in 2017 with the usernames of students from a Tippecanoe Arts Federation After School Arts Program.

Lafayette Nighthawks!

The largest painting we saw was an homage to Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks with touches of local color and value-added non-local celebrities.


More homage presented by YOUR FACE and a kitty.


The YOUR FACE HERE Trio demonstrates the art of the selfie, in case you’re unsure what to do when you find art in the Instagram era.

mixed media music!

This mixed media music box hangs in an alley so narrow that a non-diagonal, head-on shot was impossible.

Renaissance and king dog!

Art movements duel across the centuries: the Renaissance versus animal memes.

hat-skull and stick figures!

Hat-skull and stick figures. Not everything has to have pop-culture captions.

cartoon dudes!

Cartoon dudes! Many young male artists have some in their repertoire.

Statler and Waldorf windows!

From a pair of third-story windows, Statler and Waldorf judge all passing pedestrians.

And these were just the downtown walls…

To be continued! To be continued! Other chapters in this MCC miniseries:

Part 1: The Astronaut Alumnus
Part 3: Drifting Around Downtown
Part 4: The Legacy of Tippecanoe
Part 5: Prophets and Poultry
Part 6: The Birthday Menu

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