SPEEDWAY, Indiana — A Speedway-area artist has a unique creation commemorating this year's Indy 500. Those paintings, reflecting the pandemic, are now in high demand.
In his West Washington Street studio, Audwynn Newman creates art that captures the essence of a place, its people and their passions.
Many of his paintings are on wood, in the shape of a state, featuring towns and teams like IU Bloomington, the Pacers' Boomer, the Butler Bulldogs and the Purdue Boilermakers.
"The art that I do identifies, meaning it identifies you or you identify it," Newman explained. "One way or another there's a connection."
So it's fitting that his latest project features Indy's most beloved event, with a 2020 twist.
"I thought this could really be iconic for this year because I featured the Borg Warner trophy and I made the decision to put a mask on his face and it all just came together," Newman said.
Using his signature graphic novel style, Newman — who used to work for Marvel and DC Comics — is painting the "pandemic Indy 500." He's selling 104 limited edition images in honor of the unique 104th running of the race.
"I think people are looking for nuggets of things to hold onto that are not bad," Newman said. "That's what I wanted for this piece, and I really feel that's how people are accepting it. It's that synergy between the moment and the art. And I'm just so blessed and appreciative that I not only have the talent to use, but that I'm using it and it's just everything's meeting together at the right time."
The artwork details everything we love about the 500. It features a Marmon Wasp leading a pack of more modern IndyCars, plus the pagoda, the Borg Warner trophy, the balloon release and the Blue Angels flyover. And one segment of the painting required a last-minute change. It originally included race fans.
"Literally when I was about 8 hours from finishing the image, the word came down that fans were not going to be included," Newman said. "If I point it out, you'll see in the clouds oh yeah! That's a grandstand with fans, but I got really creative and made it look exactly like it's supposed to."
Newman's sold more than 60 of the paintings in just a few days. He said he got a big boost after IMS President Doug Boles shared his work on social media.
He's getting orders from all across Indiana and the U.S. He even got an order from a race fan in New Zealand, who normally travels to Indianapolis for the 500 each year.
Customers said they want something special to capture this most unusual year at the track. It's a handcrafted connection to Indy's greatest day.
"You know I don't have a ticket that's there. I don't have selfies with the people in the stands I'm usually going to sit next to, but I've got this," Newman said. "I'm hoping everyone who enjoys that really enjoys this piece."
Newman said he already has an idea for next year's images -- showcasing the Snake Pit, the people-watching and everything we'll look forward to getting back to for next year's race. The pandemic Indy 500-themed paintings are online-order only and cost $45, plus shipping.