Pass by the James Dean Gallery at 425 N. Main Street in Fairmount Indiana, and you will be in for a big surprise. And, we mean BIG! Standing nearly 12 feet tall, you can’t miss the latest gallery installation on the lawn. It’s a full color cut-out mural of legendary actor and cultural icon, James Dean, created by artist John Cerney. The gallery contacted John Cerney during the summer of 2021 and commissioned the gigantic cut-out mural. Cerney installed it himself on November 12, 2021.
From Salinas, California, John Cerney considers himself a muralist. Yet after years of painting murals, he began to feel confined by painting exclusively on walls. The evolution to cut-out murals was gradual and small-scale. Eventually, the paintings became larger. Now, these giant pieces are almost exclusively found alongside the highways of California and in the Midwest, easily seen from passing cars. Painted on plywood, Cerney has created and installed over 300 cut-out murals in 22 U.S. states. The James Dean piece is the first and only John Cerney cut-out mural in Indiana.
Fairmount is James Dean’s hometown and final resting place. Established in 1988 to chronicle Dean’s worldwide impact during his short life, the James Dean Gallery collection contains thousands of James Dean artifacts and memorabilia. This extensive exhibit is James Dean archivist, David Loehr’s private collection. The variety of display items include photographs, yearbooks, personal effects, clothing, movie posters, books and magazines. The gallery even features a screening room where you can relax and watch film clips from several of Dean’s early television dramas, screen tests and interviews. Open daily 9am-6pm, visitors can explore the gallery and the legacy of James Dean. Admission is free. New items are added continually, so visit often.
As part of the gallery, the Rebel Rebel Collectibles gift shop offers a large inventory of 1950s and 1960s collectibles including lamps, ceramics, books, magazines, clothing and other nostalgic items.
In Fairmount and Grant County, James Dean’s life and legacy are celebrated year-round. However, every fall coinciding with the anniversary of his death, the annual Remembering James Dean Festival is scheduled the last weekend in September. During the festival, you’ll step back in time to the 1950’s when saddle oxford shoes, black leather jackets with pegged-legged jeans and poodle skirts were cool.
Classic and custom cars, 1950s entertainment, James Dean look-a-like contests, a carnival, dance contests and many other James Dean-inspired festivities will fill the weekend.