Permanent DIA mural coming to downtown Rochester

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published May 26, 2021

 A mural will be painted on the blank white wall — owned by DTE Electric Co. — on South Main Street in downtown Rochester, between Annie’s Beauty Corner Nails and Goodyear Auto Service.

A mural will be painted on the blank white wall — owned by DTE Electric Co. — on South Main Street in downtown Rochester, between Annie’s Beauty Corner Nails and Goodyear Auto Service.

Photo by Mary Beth Almond

ROCHESTER — Downtown Rochester will soon be home to a new, permanent mural, thanks to a partnership between the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Paint Creek Center for the Arts and the Rochester Downtown Development Authority.

The project — run through the DIA’s Partners in Public Art program — is fully funded by the DIA to give back to communities for supporting the tri-county arts millage.

The Partners in Public Art program was created by the DIA in 2018 to help people explore, express and build a stronger sense of community through a communal art experience.

“The Partners in Public Art program is a collaboration between the Detroit Institute of Arts and communities, organizations and municipalities throughout southeast Michigan to co-create community-driven, highly visible public works of art to express the unique stories and interests of each community,” said Charlie Garling, the director of studio programs for the DIA. “It’s one of the many ways that we engage with communities throughout southeast Michigan.”

Rochester’s public art project has been in the works for over a year now.

Last spring, pre-pandemic, the project partners sent out a survey to Rochester residents asking for input on what kind of public art they would like to see in the city.

“The takeaway from that was that people really wanted a mural, as opposed to a sculpture,” PCCA Executive Director Beth Chilton said.

Residents were also asked to provide input on what themes they would like to see incorporated into the piece — which Chilton said included representations of family, community, the history of Rochester, diversity and nature.

From there, the PCCA came up with a list of local mural artists they thought would be a good fit to create the art. The list was sent to the DIA, which is currently in the process of narrowing it down and selecting an artist that it feels will be able to best implement the vision of the community.

“That process has just started, so there is no artist yet, but there will be,” Garling said.

Once an artist is selected, they will be required to submit a minimum of three different compositions, including some of the themes from the community survey.

“The artist isn’t necessarily going to appropriate all of those. I think they are just going to use those as inspiration,” he explained.

Once a design is selected, the mural will be painted on a blank white wall — owned by DTE Electric Co. — on South Main Street in downtown Rochester, between Annie’s Beauty Corner Nails and Goodyear Auto Service.

The wall, Garling explained, was of high interest to the DDA and to the PCCA for the mural.

“They thought that would be a wonderful place for a mural that represented the community because of its location — it’s right downtown; people pass by it all the time … and, for the most part, it’s unadorned. That was the No. 1 place that our partners wanted a mural to go,” Garling said.

DDA Executive Director Kristi Trevarrow said the DDA is excited for the opportunity to bring artwork to the downtown.

“For the first mural in downtown Rochester, we wanted to make sure that it would be in a prominent place so that it would get attention and, hopefully, start bringing demand for more murals and more artwork in the downtown area,” she said. “It’s something that we’ve been hoping for and dreaming of.”

The DIA, the PCCA and the Rochester DDA hope the mural will enrich the lives of not only Rochester residents, but also those who visit the area.

“Public art transforms places into spaces,” Garling said. “This program helps communities tell their unique story. Every community is different, and people have a lot of pride in their community, and it’s wonderful to be able to see their ideas displayed in a prominent place.”

The project is expected to be completed within this calendar year, weather permitting.