Whether you love them or hate them, there’s no doubt that colorful wall murals in the local downtown areas are something to talk about.
Community murals are a mode of expression for artists in every graphic style imaginable. Most recently, murals have become community center pieces that bring people together to celebrate the heritage and history of their hometowns.
Murals add color to building walls and streets that would otherwise go unnoticed, which is a treat for locals and tourists alike. Murals attract new local businesses, help bring customers to pre-existing locations, and boost the economy of an area.
Murals encourage motorists and pedestrians to slow down and admire their surroundings. They also create important conversations and expand thought. Community murals add value to neighborhoods and business districts while also encouraging dialogue about how individuals can preserve and respect the environment, culture and history.
One of the first murals many people saw in the city of Fenton is on the side of CycleFit on N. LeRoy Street. That mural, featuring cyclists from a century ago, provides a visual look at the city’s rich history.
The side of Linden City Hall is the location of another colorful mural. In the summer of 2014, local artist and educator Gemma Amendola, along with Linden High School students, local businesses and community volunteers, came together to create a whimsical mural in historic downtown Linden. The mural was a collaborative effort between the city and the schools to bring art and culture to the community.
More recently, the exterior of El Topo’s building displays the creativity and expression of artist Kevin Burdick of Holly Township. The Fenton Arts Council sponsored the project and conversation piece. The inspiration for the mural included colors from the Mexican flag
— red, green, and white. The eagle is symbolic of Mexico City and also has a connection to sightings of eagles in Fenton.
Burdick also painted a mural in the village of Holly in May of 2018.
In order to highlight the village of Holly’s rich railroad history, Randy Redmond of RHL Group Investments Group commissioned Burdick to paint the mural on his building at the corner of Battle Alley and Broad Street. It depicts a steam engine rounding a bend in the track, flanked by a pond on one side and a car racing along beside it on the other. The horizon is all trees and farmland and the sky is dotted with hot air balloons.
At its Thursday, June 27 Planning Commission meeting, Beth Anderson-Harvey, owner of the Ivory Loft, a bridal shop at the corner of S. LeRoy and W. Shiawassee in Fenton, was approved for the floral design mural featured on the side of the building that faces S. LeRoy Street.
Burdick also was the artist for the Ivory Loft design. According to Madelyn Allor, a bridalist at the shop, the owner chose the floral design because she wanted something unique to the Ivory Loft and to bring more awareness to her business.
“Beth was inspired by different murals she has seen around Fenton and in other communities,” Allor said. “She noticed that people go to these places to see the murals and take pictures with them.”
Allor said there is a spot on the mural where a bride can pose and become the stem of the flower. “Beth didn’t want anything too flashy or bold,” she said. “She wanted something simple, elegant and classy.”