Wells, Wildey chosen to design Art Alley mural

Julie Wells of Harrison (pictured here) and Al Wildey of Mt. Pleasant (not pictured) were the winners of the mural design for the east side of the American Cleaners building in the Art Alley project.

Julie Wells of Harrison (pictured here) and Al Wildey of Mt. Pleasant (not pictured) were the winners of the mural design for the east side of the American Cleaners building in the Art Alley project.

By Pat Maurer
Correspondent

Another step in the process of making Clare a truly unique destination is underway.
May 16 two winning artists were announced for the design of the new Art Alley mural on the east side of the Clare American Cleaners building, a community project to enhance the assets in the alley behind the businesses on the west side of McEwan and create an inspiring path for both the community and visitors.

Designs were submitted by April 28th and on April 30th a special Design Committee met to review the entries and determine the final design winner. Two designs were selected and they were “rolled into one.”

The winners are Julie Wells of Harrison, an artist, teacher and historian whose design incorporates the significance of the railroad in the development of the area; and 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.

Other area artists including Lesley Smoltz and Shelby Mercer, also contributed to the final design making it the culmination of a variety of ideas.
The final design will now go to the Clare Downtown Development Authority for their final approval on June 5th and the next step is a Public Education session on Saturday, June 13 at 11 a.m. at the 515 Gallery to explain the process for putting the design on the wall. This session is free and open to the public, but those planning to attend should call 989-386-2442 to pre-register with the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce or email them at manager@claremichigan.com to ensure there are enough materials for everyone.

Construction and painting the new mural project is scheduled to begin in mid-June.
According to an earlier interview with Pam O’Laughlin, Manager of the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce, “The Art Alley is the first piece of a whole plan to enhance the alley as a visitor’s destination and will also tie it to several other art and architectural projects around Clare to create “Art-Traction, a bike-able, walkable tour around the city that will give both visitors and community members a greater arts and culture footprint in Clare.”
The mural project is funded in part through a grant from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

This new mural is the second beautification project for the alley. A beautiful mosaic design already adorns the back of the 515 Gallery, inspired and completed by Mrs. Kim Kleinhardt’s art students at the Clare High School just a couple of years ago.

Volunteer and materials are needed for the mural project, O’Laughlin said. “Whether you have a full can or a partial can of latex paint, any color, we will be happy to accept your donation.  These can be dropped off at the Backdoor of The Venue during Revive Business Hours only.  Please alert Lauren that you are dropping off paint.”

She said ceramic, glassware and jewels are also needed for the mosaic portion of the design. They can be dropped off at the backdoor of the 515 Gallery.

Exterior concrete finishers and construction experts will be needed to prepare the building surface to accept the design and monetary donations are also being accepted and can be made to the Clare Area Chamber of Commerce with a designation to “Art Alley.”

O’Laughlin continued, “The Art Alley represents an opportunity to showcase the talent of the many individuals in our community who contribute to this project. We thank them for their support of this cultural endeavor.   She added that Kim Kleinhardt of the 515 Gallery has been instrumental in making this project happen.

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