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 Concept art for the new outdoor mural by Jennifer Ramirez depicting wildlife found in the city of Madison Heights. This will be the city’s second outdoor mural. This one will span the walls of the concession stand building at Rosie’s Park.

Concept art for the new outdoor mural by Jennifer Ramirez depicting wildlife found in the city of Madison Heights. This will be the city’s second outdoor mural. This one will span the walls of the concession stand building at Rosie’s Park.

Photo provided by Mark Bliss

Madison Heights begins work on second outdoors mural

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published July 1, 2020


MADISON HEIGHTS — The spectacularly colorful mural adorning all four walls of the Jaycee shelter building at Civic Center Park was a huge boon for Madison Heights, garnering statewide attention that made the local Arts Board a finalist in the Michigan Municipal League’s statewide Community Excellence Awards in 2019.

Looking to continue that success, the city has now approved the creation of a second mural by the same artist, Jennifer Ramirez, a resident of Madison Heights. As of late June, it was anticipated that the painting would begin sometime in July and take about eight weeks to complete.

The new mural will span the entire concession stand building at Rosie’s Park, located at 1111 E. Farnum Ave. The mural will depict wildlife that one may encounter walking the park trails, including such animals as squirrels, rabbits, deers, foxes and more. The city is considering the addition of educational signage to supplement the mural, featuring trivia on the various animals that it depicts.

The title of the new mural had not yet been announced at press time. Ramirez’s concept was chosen by the Arts Board in a blind selection process.

“We received four complete proposals, which was down a bit from last round, due to the pandemic, but all four proposals were strong, making it a tough choice for the board,” said Madison Heights City Councilman Mark Bliss.

Ramirez’s original mural at Civic Center Park is titled “The Power of Imagination,” and the shelter building it spans was originally donated by the Jaycees, a community group in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. It was funded entirely with private donations, through such means as the sale of art-themed T-shirts and calendars featuring pictures taken for a citywide photo contest.

In funding the second mural, the Arts Board had planned several fundraisers. However, these plans were scuttled due to the pandemic. It was thanks to a donation of more than $5,000 by local business Holistic Industries that plans for the mural were able to proceed, Bliss said.

“The Arts Board and I are very appreciative of this generous donation that allowed us to still move forward with the mural, despite not being able to fundraise due to COVID-19,” he said.

He said the Arts Board is also developing other initiatives, including a concert in the park, another photo contest, a second annual Pumpkin Walk, an arts-themed trivia night and adding small interactive murals in each park, although due to social distancing requirements, “plans are a bit shaky without knowing where we’ll be at,” Bliss said.

In the meantime, the new mural will serve to boost the city’s image.

“Public art is an important aspect of a growing community,” Bliss said. “It doesn’t just inspire people or provide a backdrop for cool photos — it helps with place-making and creates an identity that transforms a park into a memorable experience. Also, statistically speaking, cities with public art attract and retain residents at a higher rate.

“I’m so proud of the Arts Board,” he added. “The volunteers who’ve made up this board over the past couple of years have done what many told me was impossible when I first proposed this board. Without any initial funding or city resources, this group has done an incredible job of bringing art and energy to our community. After only a couple of years of existence, our city will now have murals that span entire buildings in both of our largest parks. That is a huge change in a short time, and I’m thankful to the board members for their hard work, the generous donors for making it possible, and the community for giving us the support and encouragement to make a difference.”

Arts Board Vice Chair Amber Platzke said that she’s excited about the new project.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the second mural come to life in Madison Heights. My own family and so many others enjoy spending time at Rosie’s Park, and I’m looking forward to seeing how much people love this new mural,” Platzke said. “The artist is so talented, and the concept will give parents like me a new way to educate our children on local wildlife. I’m excited to see her finished work.”