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Tattoo Taints Larry Bird Mural


There's a new mural in Indianapolis of Larry Bird, Indiana basketball legend.

DAVID LINDQUIST: You know, kind of a fun, sassy image of Larry as a very young man.

SIMON: Back when he played for Indiana State. But something was off, according to IndyStar reporter Dave Lindquist. There was...

LINDQUIST: ...A spiderweb tattoo on one of his shoulders, a Boston Celtic shamrock on his bicep. On his forearm is the script Indiana.

SIMON: Larry's name is on his fingers, a basketball on his palm, a cardinal on his face and, for some reason, on his arm, two bunnies.

LINDQUIST: These are the mating bunnies with one smoking a cigarette.

JULES MUCK: I've been working for, like, 30 years painting every day. So keep producing became kind of my logo. And the bunnies symbolize that.

SIMON: That's muralist Jules Muck from Venice, Calif. She signs her work MuckRock. Ms. Muck has been painting murals across Indianapolis this summer. Some citizens complain she just doesn't get Indiana or Hoosiers. And then Larry Bird saw the mural.

MUCK: Actually, the first time anyone's ever reached out to me about a portrait of them and said they didn't like it and could I please change it.

SIMON: The Hick from French Lick, as Larry Bird is called, a 12-time All-Star and Hall of Fame player, does not like the tattoos.

MUCK: One of my things was, well, I'm not going to just remove all the tattoos 'cause I don't think it's an interesting mural.

SIMON: MuckRock was able to work out a deal. The spiderweb tattoo gone - the Shamrock done - the busy bunnies benched - but she's keeping the one on his forearm, Indiana. Muck is ready to move on. And Dave Lindquist says, just in time, too.

LINDQUIST: For these past few days, just the resounding pulse of the community has been enough already. It's probably time for her to leave town.

SIMON: The artist is back in residence in Southern California. Maybe she'll return to Indiana one day and paint a mural of BJ Leiderman, who writes our theme music.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE ROOFTOPS' "A LAYER FITS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.