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 Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli and his daughter, Lina, 7, paint tiles at the Detroit Institute of Arts Feb. 9. The tiles are part of an art project that will adorn the front of the renovated Sterling Heights police station.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli and his daughter, Lina, 7, paint tiles at the Detroit Institute of Arts Feb. 9. The tiles are part of an art project that will adorn the front of the renovated Sterling Heights police station.

Photo by Sean Work


Police paint tiles at DIA for station mural

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published February 15, 2019

 Artist Nicole Macdonald, right, helps retired Sterling Heights Police Department administrative assistant Karen Herman paint a tile at the DIA Feb. 9.

Artist Nicole Macdonald, right, helps retired Sterling Heights Police Department administrative assistant Karen Herman paint a tile at the DIA Feb. 9.

Photo by Sean Work

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Officers and families of the Sterling Heights Police Department have been breaking out their brushes in order to leave an artistic legacy at the police station.

According to Sterling Heights city officials, a new public mural display will result from a partnership among the Detroit Institute of Arts, the city of Sterling Heights and the Sterling Heights Police Department. The new mural will appear on the police station’s exterior side wall and feature clay tiles painted predominantly by SHPD officers and their families.

City officials say the 18-by-22-foot mural will decorate the police station as part of a broader renovation effort.

According to the DIA, Detroit-based muralist Nicole Macdonald crafted a 4-by-5-foot painting that will be transferred to the overall mural composition. The mural will be professionally installed and will feature an estimated 100 tiles, according to the DIA. 

The DIA hosted three SHPD mural tile-painting sessions at the Detroit museum, and its final session was Feb. 9. Vito Valdez, the lead artist for special projects at the DIA, lent a hand.

“The DIA is proud to support local law enforcement and to help recognize the important work of police officers who serve our community,” DIA Director Salvador Salort-Pons said in a statement.

Sterling Heights Police Lt. Mario Bastianelli said that when DIA officials reached out to the SHPD, they wanted to get the Police Department and its members personally involved. So that meant inviting police families and supporters to help create the mural painting.

“They were clay tiles that people could design, and there’s paintings in them, tiles with different designs and messages for the community,” Bastianelli said.

Bastianelli said the mural work should be done sometime in 2019. He estimated that around 20 participants were at each of the DIA’s three tile-painting sessions. He attended one of the sessions, and he described the tile that he made.

“Me, personally, I did a couple of different badges on it, and it was more of a family-oriented thing,” Bastianelli said. “I have family from law enforcement also, so I incorporated that.”

Sterling Heights Police Chief Dale Dwojakowski said the DIA has been doing similar community art projects throughout the metro Detroit area, and Sterling Heights was picked for the next project.  

He confirmed that “almost all” of the tiles were made by police, retired police officers and their families. And he said that the artwork will allow them to “leave their fingerprint on the whole project for decades to come.”

“In part, this mural is going to be a great welcoming sign for everyone that visits our Police Department,” Dwojakowski said. “It’s going to show inclusivity and service. That’s what our officers do on a daily basis.”

The mural will be one more public art display in the city’s outdoor collection. Recent examples include sculptures such as “The Seed” at Utica and Dodge Park roads, and the large Golden Corridor ring outside Lakeside Mall. Murals on the Sterling Heights Public Library, a gas station near City Hall and an M-53 underpass also were finished last year.

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor has been a longtime advocate of public art in the city.

“This project is personal and meaningful to the Sterling Heights police community because they played a leading role in its creation,” he said in a statement.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterlingheights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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