A gateway mural in Berkley near 12 Mile Road and Coolidge Highway was painted on the wall of Tootie and Tallulah’s to welcome visitors to the downtown. The mural was a collaboration between the business, the Downtown Development Authority and artist Zak Warmann.

A gateway mural in Berkley near 12 Mile Road and Coolidge Highway was painted on the wall of Tootie and Tallulah’s to welcome visitors to the downtown. The mural was a collaboration between the business, the Downtown Development Authority and artist Zak Warmann.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Downtown gateway mural welcomes visitors to Berkley

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published August 11, 2020

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BERKLEY — The city of Berkley is adorned with murals around its downtown, but its newest one, commissioned last year, specifically was created to act as a gateway for residents and visitors alike.

Near the intersection of 12 Mile Road and Coolidge Highway stands Tootie and Tallulah’s, 2600 12 Mile Road. The mural is easily visible to a driver entering the city from Woodward Avenue.

Tootie and Tallulah’s owner Jeri Brand said she approached Berkley’s Downtown Development Authority about having a gateway sign on that wall. A contest was created sometime afterward to get designs from artists.

The artist of the mural was Zak Warmann, of Detroit Sign Painters. He, along with Tony Suzio and Ash K Guzman, completed their work late last year. Warmann said the idea for the mural’s design was a collaboration between himself, the DDA and Brand.

Brand said what she wanted most from the mural was that it looked like a “ghost sign” — something that was new but looked like it could be 100 years old.

“I didn’t want something real fresh and whimsical,” she said. “I wanted something that, in 50 years, you don’t know when it was done.”

The mural features the words “Welcome to Downtown Berkley” along with a classic car that Warmann believes is an early 1940s Ford Deluxe coupe. The inclusion of a classic automobile was intentional to honor the Dream Cruise and Berkley’s own CruiseFest parade.

“We’ve got some really cool old cars that came out of our state,” Warmann said. “I’m a big car guy. I was really excited to be able to incorporate the Dream Cruise and Berkley’s importance to Woodward Avenue and to the main scheme of the design.”

While Berkley houses a little more than a dozen murals, DDA Director Jennifer Finney said this one was unique, as some of the others are more “artsy” and don’t match the businesses on which they’re featured.

“This mural obviously is public art, but since Tootie and Tallulah’s has such a big wall and presence going into one section of downtown Berkley, we definitely wanted to create a welcoming atmosphere with this mural,” she said. “In working with (Warmann), this was definitely more of a focus of how can we welcome residents and outside people into the downtown, encompassing the feel of downtown Berkley in a very cool, authentic way.”

Take a close look at the mural, and you might see a familiar sight in the background.

“If you look closely, that’s actually the Berkley Theatre, the outline of the marquee sign and a mirrored image on both sides that I sort of snuck in there; you know, another little tiny homage to the city,” Warmann said.

“I kind of kept that to myself,” he continued. “I don’t even remember letting the city know if I was gonna hide it in there, to be honest. I think I just went ahead and snuck that in for my own fun.”

Brand said the finished product of the mural was “awesome” and a great way to use the space of the building.

“It’s timeless. … It’s got the car. It’s got the trees. It ... represents Berkley really well,” she said.

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