Lansing mural brings community together
By JULIE GARCIA
Oct. 30, 2017
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — As soon as Diane Harte sees a flash of a peacock's multi-hued tail feathers, she is brought back in time to seeing her daughters' faces light up at the Potter Park Zoo.
Harte hopes that Lansing's newest mural on the railroad underpass at Pennsylvania Avenue near the zoo will be a reminder of fond memories, but also a draw for people across the city.
"(Murals) make art accessible to all ages, all levels of society, every demographic," said Harte, project organizer with Tiny by Design. "On one day, you might experience it one way, but on a different day, it might feel and look very different to you. That's what art is about. You get to engage with it in different ways every time you visit it."
The mural, known as #Penn4People on social media networks, is part of the Lansing Economic Area Partnership's Engage Placemaking Pilot Program to enhance Pennsylvania Avenue.
At the community painting day, neighbors from the Holmes Street School Community, Potter-Walsh neighborhood, Scott Woods and Clifford Park and volunteers gathered at the underpass to paint-by-number an original design by Tracie Davis, founder of Tiny by Design.
"Those neighborhoods have really come together and said, 'You know, Pennsylvania Avenue needs some work,'" said Andi Crawford, Lansing neighborhood resource coordinator. "It needs to be a corridor that doesn't divide all these great residential areas, but actually brings them together."
In late summer, volunteers cleaned up the area by the train tracks, which was overrun with brush and litter, Crawford told the Lansing State Journal . The cleanup created a "great pallet to create a very cool artwork," she said.
Meetings between community members, LEAP and the city culminated at the zoo to decide what to do with the public space. When the decision was made to honor the zoo's animal population, Davis and Harte spent time taking photos of them and creating an original design.
In addition to the mural, volunteers have planted flowers alongside the roadway and in medians. There will also be a community leaf cleanup in Baker neighborhood in early November.
"What they really talked about is this being the family-friendly destination of the city," Crawford said. "The River Trail is here, the river itself, beautiful Sycamore Park and Potter Park Zoo."
#Penn4People is the third project in LEAP's Engage program, said Josh Holliday, tri-county development and placemaking manager. The first was bringing pianos to downtown Charlotte followed by installing original artwork by Lansing artists near the riverfront.
"From a placemaking perspective, we know that in order to create great projects, it's about the people at the center of it," Holliday said. "So many people have wonderful ideas, but they don't know how to make it come to fruition."
The Tri-County Regional Prosperity Initiative sponsored the public artwork, Crawford said. It's the first in a number of larger public art projects happening around Lansing through the Mayor's Neighborhood Advisory Board grant program.
Information from: Lansing State Journal, http://www.lansingstatejournal.com