Artist Mary Gilhuly points at a part of the “Share the Trail” mural at the Community Center.

Artist Mary Gilhuly points at a part of the “Share the Trail” mural at the Community Center.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

New mural proves that city’s public art isn’t trailing off

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published June 16, 2023

Featured Gallery (Click to view)


STERLING HEIGHTS — You can’t walk on it, but residents can check out Sterling Heights’ new “trail” inside the Sterling Heights Community Center.

Oak Park artist Mary Gilhuly recently combined her talents with those of Sterling Heights residents and community members in making a mosaic mural called “Share the Trail.”

The city held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its completion June 6. The finished mural is located on the Community Center’s first floor, by the Community Room.

According to city officials, over 130 community members contributed to the final piece through a series of 12 workshops. The community members helped rearrange glass tiles to make designs for 30 mosaic panels. The overall mural presentation not only features a mosaic depiction of a trail, but it is also accompanied by a mosaic of the city’s logo.

Gilhuly is part of Song and Spirit, an interfaith group based in Royal Oak that is devoted to education, the arts and community outreach. In an email, she also said she and her husband had a graphic design business for over three decades, and she has been a professional mosaic artist for 15 years.

“My first mosaic art commission was a Donor Recognition Wall at a synagogue in Oak Park, (Michigan), that was completed in 2008,” she explained.

According to Sterling Heights, Gilhuly originally was assigned the mural job in late 2019, but the work was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruption. In December 2022, the Sterling Heights City Council voted to allocate $34,000 toward the project via the consent agenda.

Gilhuly said she didn’t visit many Sterling Heights trails prior to designing the mural. But she said she visited one in the city, among other metro Detroit trails, during the pandemic’s first year.

She noticed during her journeys that some trails have signs reminding the public to “share the trail,“ and that attitude inspired her.

“It seemed to remind folks to be polite, share the space with walkers, riders, cross-country skiers — and wildlife, too!” she wrote. “I felt like it encouraged pleasant exchanges and generally asked people to enjoy themselves safely, be respectful of the environment and neighborly toward those they meet along the way.”

Gilhuly explained that, for practical purposes, the mural needed to consist of multiple boards of varying sizes. That influenced the mural’s aesthetic and theme, in which participants “shared” a trail by making one through art.

“Creating a path or ‘trail’ that would travel across 30 panels seemed like a way to engage people of all ages in the creative process with the same sort of enthusiasm they might explore their community,” she wrote.

Jeanne Schabath-Lewis from the Sterling Heights Arts Commission said she attended one of the first mural-making sessions and made a yellow fish, which she named Lewis in honor of her husband. She added that she was amazed to see the community’s participation and cooperation on the project.

“The community really enjoyed being part of this art piece,” she said. “You could see every age group (helping), from a 2-year-old all the way to seniors.”

Learn more about the Sterling Heights Community Center, 40250 Dodge Park Road, by visiting or by calling (586) 446-2700. Find out more about Song and Spirit by visiting