July is target for mural installations

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More art is on the way for downtown Tecumseh with three building-sized two-dimensional murals about to go up on the side of the Boulevard Market in the next couple months. Paula Holtz, Economic Development Director for the city of Tecumseh, is coordinating the process, which is meant to add to the presence of art in the community.

Installation of the murals may be completed by the end of July, pending the third of four grant payments from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, according to Holtz.

“We talked about how to expand our art program,” said Holtz of her work with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA). “We’ve been talking about what to do for a year and a half.”

The idea of murals was high on the DDA discussion, but painted murals are labor intensive and stay up for a long time. The group really liked the response from the community to the changing sculptures on the yearly Art Walk, and decided to find a way to make the two dimensional art project vary every year as well.

“People really look forward to the different designs,” Holtz said.

Artwork printed on movable murals seemed like a perfect fit. The advantage is, unlike the sculptures, the murals would be owned by the city of Tecumseh, allowing for use in different locations.

“It’s new and different and always changing,” said Holtz. “We liked the idea to rotate the art. It just made sense for us.”

Continuing an art focus in Tecumseh was an easy addition to the DDA’s application for funding to Michigan Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Sage Foundation. The next step was to pick a location and put out a call to artists.

The DDA’s desire to improve the foot traffic of the Evans Street corridor was part of its request to John and Erika Aylward to put the murals up on the Boulevard Market building. The size of the building would allow for three very large panels of art to be displayed.

“We want to create more interest in the Evans Street Corridor,” Holtz said. “The Aylwards have been very gracious in saying ‘We trust you.’”

“We want art to be in the community,” said Erika. “Art shouldn’t be limited to metropolitan areas.”

The process of selecting the artwork has been time-consuming. The first call for artwork brought 80 submissions.

“We had multiple phases,” said Holtz. “It’s been a good process. Our ultimate goal is to use the pieces elsewhere.”

It was decided to work with three pieces on the wall of the Boulevard Market. The DDA wanted the pieces to be unique, but also work as a group.

“We found pieces by two artists that worked together,” Holtz said.

There will be two designs by one artist and the third by a different artist. The original artwork will be produced on a large piece of fabric called a scrim and then mounted on the building.

The future of art in Tecumseh is not set in stone, but Holtz hopes to use art to highlight points of interest. A current focus is to get the artists’ studios in the old Carnegie Library functional, bringing more artists to the community.

Holtz would like to see residents also have the opportunity to bring out their inner artists. “One thing we would like to see is a community chalkboard,” she said. “It would read ‘I like Tecumseh, because’ and people could express themselves.”

Art is often a point of conversation, something the DDA and the Aylwards think is important in the community. The response to new art pieces in the community has always been positive, even if individual pieces are not always liked by everyone.

“It’s really nice to see Tecumseh embracing art,” said Holtz. “We really wanted to get people to talk.”

“Art inspires conversation and community spirit,” Erika said.




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