Art Alley project underway

July 31, 2015

Working on the mural are Jill Simons, Kim Kleinhart and Karen Wittich. They are shown with sponsor Isabella Bank President Steve Pung.

Working on the mural are Jill Simons, Kim Kleinhart and Karen Wittich. They are shown with sponsor Isabella Bank President Steve Pung.

By Pat Maurer

An press release from Art Alley organizer Kim Kleinhardt says, “The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” This Pablo Picasso quote epitomizes the development of Clare’s Art Alley located just off McEwan Street in Downton Clare. From color and line, to shiny broken glass, the aged backs of the businesses [in the alley] are creatively coming alive. Not only are the cement wall revitalizing, but community involvement is also. Night after night, volunteers gather to paint and adhere broken bits of dishes to the public mural designed by artist Julie Wells.”

Kleinhardt said, “Isabella Bank is generously sponsoring our Art Alley development. Their motto, ‘Say Yes to a Better Life’ has become an active element in the public art project, enriching our lives and making our community a better place to live.”

And now Phase I of Clare’s Art Alley project is well underway.

A large portion of the southernmost portion of the American Cleaners Building is now sporting part of a beautiful new mural, consisting of painting and mosaic work.

Designer Julie Wells of Harrison, is an artist, teacher and historian whose design incorporates the significance of the railroad in the development of the area. Other area artists, including Lesley Smoltz and Shelby Mercer, also contributed to the final design making it the culmination of a variety of ideas.

Artists have been working on the American Cleaner’s mural nearly every day, said 515 Gallery owner Kim Kleinhardt. “It is the beginning of the Art Walk through the community.”

The Community Portrait, which will fill a five foot square space on the side of the building, will be made up of 100 six inch by six inch tiles pieced together. Each tile will be made up of 100 “selfie portraits.” Seven hundred selfies were submitted by many members of the community.

The project was designed by Al Wildey Professor of Photography at Central Michigan University, Mt. Pleasant, and world renowned photographic artist, whose design is an advanced photographic technique that blends photo elements of the people from this area.

Costs of the Art Alley project are funded through a donation from Isabella Bank. The committee is also selling a limited number of six inch square “composite tiles.” Only 100 will be sold for $20 each. The tiles will show the finished portrait of the community of Clare.

Volunteers are welcome to participate in the Art Alley project and can contact the Clare Area Chamber or Kim Kleinhardt at the 515 Gallery in downtown Clare.

With the completion of the building mural and the “Community Portrait,” on the east side of the building, and the earlier completion of the back of the 515 Gallery, Phase one of the project will be complete this summer.

Kleinhardt said, “Come join us Thursday, August 20 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. to celebrate the Art Alley unveiling. See how art has washed the dust off our souls and creatively enhanced our community – Picasso would be proud!”


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