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September 18, 2013

Community can get involved in upcoming mural

By Joshua Gordon
C & G Staff Writer

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The Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce commissioned a local artist to create a mural along West Nine Mile Road in spring 2014. The mural will include aspects of the diversity that Ferndale has to offer and the people who live there.

FERNDALE — The Ferndale Area Chamber of Commerce has commissioned a local artist to paint a mural on the side of a building along West Nine Mile Road to welcome people into downtown Ferndale and serve as a fundraiser for the chamber.

Huntington Woods artist Howard Fridson will begin working on the piece in spring 2014, but he has already drawn the design after spending time in Ferndale and talking with several people in the community.

“I can’t include everybody, because there is so much diversity, but I tried to come up with a concept to include young people and old people, employed people and unemployed people and people who are off the edges of mainstream,” Fridson said. “I spend time in Ferndale, I walk around, and I see people and I talk to people, and I have my favorite places to go. Some of it will have to do with my own personal style as an artist and things I’ve always liked doing.”

Chamber Executive Director Jennifer Roosenberg said the chamber didn’t want to dictate what Fridson incorporated in his work, but members of the chamber, as well as members of the city and Downtown Development Authority, met with Fridson to give him some ideas.

The mural is meant to help expand the work already being done by the DDA to enhance the downtown area, Roosenberg said.

“First and foremost, we wanted to revamp some of our fundraising efforts and make sure whatever we chose was not another event, as we are already event-heavy and there are a lot of events in Ferndale,” she said. “We wanted something that spoke to who Ferndale is and something that would stimulate the quality of life and economic development. Public art is something important in this community, and with the efforts of the Ferndale DDA on the West Nine Mile projects, this ties in and helps to enhance everyone’s efforts.”

The mural will be an 8-foot-by-20-foot project, but it will be painted in grids to incorporate the fundraising aspect.

A 30-inch-by-76.5-inch replica of the mural will be installed right next to it, with 1,000 1.5-inch squares. Each square can be bought for $20, and the buyer can inscribe anything on it they like, or buy multiple squares to put a bigger inscription on it.

Roosenberg said the inscription can be as simple as the donor’s name, or could be used to memorialize someone, or could even have a company logo on it.

“We wanted an easy donation that a lot of people could make, and with the Ferndale community having a lot of supporters of art, I think we will have a large number of people interested,” Roosenberg said. “We also wanted to reach out to the residents and the community, and not necessarily go to our member businesses. As a nonprofit, raising money is vital for our organization, but we wanted to make sure we provided something back to the community as a thank-you for their support.”

Fridson said he would begin the project by drawing the mural on the wall before painting. But, he also wants to help get involved in the community fundraising by offering up opportunities for the community members to add little personal touches to the actual mural.

“I told (the chamber) that I had to reserve the right to add details or texture, and hopefully that will give me some of the creative impulse that I need when I’m working,” Fridson said. “I’m hoping I can accommodate people if they have some personality they want to offer up. There is a scene with people and a wall behind them with a movie poster, so if someone bought those squares, I could let them choose the date the movie comes out on.”

The mural will be painted at 837 W. Nine Mile, near Pinecrest Drive. Roosenberg said that location serves as an entrance of sorts to the downtown area, and the mural can be a welcome sign.

“We targeted two areas, but the West Nine Mile corridor made sense because of the enhancements already being done by the city and the DDA to improve the streetscapes and increased walkability,” she said. “We felt the location was a gateway to the downtown area, and folks traveling east into town will see it, and it adds to the sense you are now in downtown Ferndale.”

To learn more about the mural project, or to donate money by purchasing a square, visit www.ferndalemural.com.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Joshua Gordon at jgordon@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1077.