This design shows the proposed mural that artist Maxwell Jurcak created and that Utica has approved to go onto a building in the downtown area.

This design shows the proposed mural that artist Maxwell Jurcak created and that Utica has approved to go onto a building in the downtown area.

Image provided by Thom Dionne

Utica to partner with second artist to paint additional mural

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published August 30, 2019


UTICA — The city of Utica has agreed to partner with another mural artist to create a mural on a second building in downtown Utica.

At the July 25 Downtown Development Authority meeting, the DDA members discussed painting a mural on a building in the downtown area with an artist they had invited to attend the meeting.

Local artist Maxwell Jurcak spoke with city officials and presented two works of art. One showed a classic car with the words “The future is now” above it, and the other showed a man with wings playing the violin.

The DDA chose the artwork of the man with wings playing the violin and agreed to work with Jurcak and have him paint a mural.

Currently, the city is having a mural artist paint a mural on the WeatherTech building in downtown Utica.

At the Aug. 13 City Council meeting, the council discussed the mural and agreed to enter into an agreement with the artist.

“The DDA will enter into a contract with Max, and the city will enter a contract with the building owner leasing that wall for $1 per year,” said Mayor Thom Dionne.

Chuck Cuddington, a City Council member, voiced his concerns during the meeting about the possibility of rushing to get the murals.

“I know we started talking about the idea of the murals starting last year, and (artist Wendy Popko has) done a fantastic job on the one that’s there (on the WeatherTech building). My concern is that are we not rushing it? Why not one a year instead of trying to get them all at once? Just because the DDA has some money, do we have to spend it all at once?” said Cuddington.

The mayor, who is on the DDA and the City Council, said that the DDA has saved money drastically this year, more than any other year, due to not having a $70,000 festival or spending $30,000 on an ice festival.

“The idea is to work today, bring progress immediately. Shuffling your feet could happen, I guess, but the DDA sees fit to do this project that brings some interest to our downtown district. If you look at a Friday, Saturday night throughout the town, you’re going to see hundreds of people up and down the street. I spend every Friday night here in downtown — there’s hundreds of people walking from the gas station and the ballfield, so while they are walking back and forth, they can certainly appreciate these works of art,” Dionne said.

“My opinion is that I would like to keep moving forward with it,” he said.

Perry Sylvester, a City Council member, agreed with Dionne’s opinion to continue to bring murals to downtown Utica.

“I would be supportive of that as well, too. I think that the public mural project is affordable, doable, and I love this design and the fact that you’re Utica born and bred,” Sylvester said of Jurcak.

The mayor said the project has been endorsed by the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Brad O’Donnell, a City Council member, said the worst-case scenario would be that the city hates it and then paints over it. He complimented Jurcak’s work and said that the city should feel privileged that the artist is willing to paint for the city.

The city is working on getting a grant for this project and finding a location that would like to have the mural. The building owner cannot advertise in the building windows and will rent the wall to the city for $1 per year. Also, Jurcak must obtain proper insurance before work can begin.

All members of the City Council voted in favor of the second mural except Cuddington.

For more information, call the city at (586) 739-1600.