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Fort Wayne's Public Art Commission unveils new mural downtown

Smiley mural
Tony Sandleben
Ephraim Scott Smiley III speaks at the unveiling of a mural depicting him, and Omowale Ketu Oladuwa, two men who have dedicated their lives to helping disadvantaged youth find success.

On Thursday, Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and city officials dedicated the fourth installment of the Faces of the Fort project, putting the faces of two new community leaders on a building downtown.

The ongoing project by the City’s Public Arts Commission is an effort to both beautify the city and pay tribute to influential citizens.

This one, next door to the Starbucks on Jefferson Boulevard, features Ephraim Scott Smiley III and Omowale Ketu Oladuwa, two men who have dedicated their lives to helping disadvantaged youth find success.

Smiley, better known as Coach, works to support the community primarily through youth sports programs..

“I just want to thank Rena, Faces of the Fort, City of Fort Wayne, all those who voted, nominated, Mike Johnson for painting this wonderful painting here, this mural," Smiley said.

This new mural is in Councilman Geoff Paddock’s district. He said after initially not knowing what exactly the plan for Faces of the Fort would look like, he feels it helps community morale immensely.

“You see this, not only tremendous artwork, but it’s honoring individuals that have done so much for our community,” Paddock said.

Smiley grew up in a stable home and says he owes everything to his parents for giving him high standards to live up to. He said he went through struggles growing up with a stable home and feels if he struggled, kids with one or no parents certainly will. That’s what he said drives him to give back to the community. A youth sports coach, Smiley has founded two organizations to give guidance to kids and said he’s been seeing the impact at work for years.

“Two of the young men that are now on our City Life staff were former players of mine who are now part of Character and Skills Basketball which I founded," Smiley said." So, they’re getting to do the same things that they were a part of and reaching back to the next generation. So, that’s been pretty cool.”

This mural is the fourth installment of Faces of the Fort. The other three can be found in the 1500 block of St. Joseph Boulevard, the 4300 block of South Anthony Boulevard and the 1800 block of Bluffton Road.

Tony Sandleben joined the WBOI News team in September of 2022.