Officials unveiled the new mural on the side of Advia Credit Union by artist Samar Salam Aug. 20.

Officials unveiled the new mural on the side of Advia Credit Union by artist Samar Salam Aug. 20.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Royal Oak credit union unveils Woodward-themed mural

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published August 25, 2021

 Samar Salam, 29, of Dearborn, paints a mural on the side of Advia Credit Union, 27100 Woodward Ave., north of West 11 Mile Road.

Samar Salam, 29, of Dearborn, paints a mural on the side of Advia Credit Union, 27100 Woodward Ave., north of West 11 Mile Road.

Photo provided by Jonathan Houghton

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ROYAL OAK — On Aug. 20, Advia Credit Union unveiled a Woodward-centric mural by Samar Salam on the side of its building, 27100 Woodward Ave., north of West 11 Mile Road.

The 950-square-foot mural, composed of masonry and spray paint, pays homage to the past and present of Woodward Avenue with a collage that includes a map of the Woodward Dream Cruise route, the Royal Oak Music Theatre marquee and a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air.

With an abundance of flowers in full bloom, it combines Salam’s love for nature, bright colors and architecture. It also features creative lighting elements constructed by Hunter Electric.

The unveiling aligned with the Woodward Dream Cruise, which took place Aug. 21.

Salam, 29, of Dearborn, received a bachelor’s in fine arts from Wayne State University and has completed more than 40 murals. She was born in Ohio and spent her formative years in Lebanon before moving back to the United States in 2013.

She credits her grandfather, a self-taught painter in Lebanon who passed away before she was born, with inspiring her passion for painting, which she began cultivating at a young age.

“Because Beirut, Lebanon, is subjected to a lot of war and political problems, and I experienced a lot of those problems which are going on, I always had a thing for painting pretty things,” Salam said. “Around me, I grew up with destruction and people who lost their homes.”

On May 24, the Royal Oak City Commission approved the public art project as recommended by the Royal Oak Commission for the Arts.

During a May 17 Commission for the Arts meeting, Advia Credit Union Vice President of Marketing and Public Relations Nancy Loftis said the wall was previously blank.

“We noticed that on this particular part of the wall we could contribute a little more to the Royal Oak community by adding some beauty into that space, so just this spring we started reviewing potential artists that do murals in your area,” Loftis said.

Salam said she was glad the credit union reached out to her about the project. She began work on the mural in July. The only setbacks, she said, were excessive heat and rain, but she finished on time.

“I’ve been taking my time with it. I had a long time to work on it, so I didn’t want to pressure myself,” she said. “I’m very pleased. It looks great, and people love it, especially around the neighborhood.”

Throughout the process, she said, nearby residents complimented her on her progress.

“I really appreciate Advia giving me this opportunity to showcase my work, not only to be able to teach people a little more about the history, but also to add life and vibrancy in Royal Oak,” she said.

Through Sept. 13, Advia will donate $25 per photo in front of the mural posted to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #AdviaMural to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, up to $5,000.

“The Woodward Dream Cruise is a rite of summer in Royal Oak, and this year we wanted to do something special as we unveil Samar Salam’s eye-catching new mural,” Advia Credit Union CEO Cheryl DeBoer said in a prepared statement. “We’re excited about the opportunity to give back to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and support their good work while having some fun on social media.”

To view more of Salam’s work, visit samarsalam.com.

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