A mural honoring the life of Mposi ‘Posey’ Mishale Tolbert, a local DJ and IndyStar photojournalist, was missing Monday evening from the Broad Ripple business where his homage had stood for the past 16 years.
Tolbert’s likeness, painted with angel wings and leaning over a turntable with the bright Indianapolis skyline behind him, was gone. In its place Monday was a barren white wall, a blank space devoid of any life or color.
IndyStar reached out to LAVA, a hookah lounge serving American and Middle Eastern food in the 6300 block of Guilford Avenue, concerning the mural’s disappearance but received no response from the owner Monday evening before this article’s publication.
The Broad Ripple mural was created in 2007 by BRIDGE (Beyond Redefining Individual Dreams & Gaining Exposure) members Matt Lawrence and FAB Crew a year after Tolbert died at age 34.
“Posey was amazing,” said Brian Presnell, 51, of Indianapolis, a longtime friend of Tolbert who collaborated on the mural project. “He was like this warm hug you needed at the end of the day. That mural meant a lot to his mother and her family. She lost her other son, Posey’s brother, in a Blackhawk training accident a year after Posey died.”
Born in Philadelphia, Tolbert freelanced as a reporter covering Philly’s breaking news and vibrant music scene, according to Indy Arts Guide. He joined the Indianapolis Star at age 26 where his wide-spanning career captured rescue workers sifting through the rubble of the World Trade Center after 9/11.
Tolbert’s creative efforts included dropping beats as a DJ at a Broad Ripple nightclub playing reggae and Brazilian music, according to Indy Arts Guide. He maintained a studio in Fountain Square, where he also displayed his photography.
A second mural honoring Tolbert’s life remains in the Fountain Square neighborhood.
Presnell lamented the decision to paint over Tolbert’s mural, saying he played an important role in documenting Black music, such as hip-hop group The Roots, and photographed daily life in Indianapolis with a tenacity that left an impression on everyone who came into contact with him.
“I can’t stress enough how much Posey meant to people,” Presnell said. “He mattered. He was really good for our city when we had him, and that mural was testament to that.”
John Tufts covers evening breaking and trending news for the Indianapolis Star. Send him a news tip at JTufts@Gannett.com.