Painting the town
Muralists in Ann Arbor love to spoil us with an ever-changing cityscape. Everywhere you look, beauty abounds. Prepare to behold.
Coneflowers and colors
Louise Jones (née Chen), aka Ouizi, is best known for large-scale floral mural installations like this gorgeous piece at 200 S. Ashley, commissioned by the Ann Arbor Art Center’s (A2AC) Art in Public program. The Detroit-based artist depicts site-specific plants and animals, and the techniques are uniquely informed by her education in drawing and printmaking. In 2020, one sculpture and 10 new murals were created by the A2AC Murals project around downtown Ann Arbor.
Artist Pat Perry’s mural graces the Grizzly Peak building’s north side near South Ashley Street. The atmospheric landscape shows a storm rolling in as a man holds a small wind chime. Perry “breaks the frame” with the larger-than-life figure. Actual trees that surround the site appear to be part of the picture. The 2018 commission was part of the Ann Arbor Art Center’s Art in Public initiative and was made on behalf of 3Mission Design and Development (Grizzly Peak Brewing Co.).
Mathew Sharum’s 2020 installment on the back exterior of Potbelly Sandwich Shop on State Street represents a new artistic take on the convergence of university life and the year-round culture of Ann Arbor. The Instagram-friendly piece is 15 feet tall and features a three-dimensional element unlike traditional murals. Sharum showcased notable landmarks throughout Ann Arbor, family activities, and collegiate athletics. Oxford Companies commissioned the piece,
Jason Polan was still an art student and Borders Books still existed when he painted the Ant Alley on its back wall in 2004. Polan, whose illustrations have been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and elsewhere, died of cancer in 2020. He graduated from U-M in 2004 with dual degrees in anthropology and art and design. He was just 37 when he died.
Artist Cathy Gendron created this 3,600-square-foot mural that spans the lower wall of Oxford Companies’ downtown headquarters to the adjacent property owned by Magellan. The piece depicts what Ann Arbor is best known for: a peaceful, flowing river and a colorful cast of characters. All are entwined by leaves and a tree representing the deep roots that connect members of the Ann Arbor community. Oxford and Magellan commissioned the piece.
The Trees at Tomukun
This stencil mura by Rebecca Arends serves a dual role in the alley next to Tomukun’s outdoor patio on Liberty Street. It’s decorative, yes. But it also reduces tagging. Ann Arbor’s Downtown Development Authority provided anti-graffiti funds to cover the cost of paint and other supplies. The Ann Arbor Police Department supported, as well. Volunteers, including teenagers who were busted for tagging, helped paint the stencil mural and received community service credit.
TreeTown Murals completed this vibrant 10-story work, “Challenge Everything Create Anything Mural” in partnership with Destination Ann Arbor and Wickfield Properties. The small figure in the bottom left corner is challenging the giant empty wall with a splash of paint. The piece celebrates human creativity, ingenuity, and curiosity. Danijel Matanic designed this lively shrine to creative desire. Look for this mural near the intersection of Main and Huron.
He’s the man
Just in case you wanted you to see the man with can at the lower corner of the mural . . .
shur! Public Mural Project
Community members painted this June 2014 piece as part of the “shur! Live, Work, Play Better” series. Founder Omari Rush collaborated with artists Mary Thiefels of TreeTown Murals and Danijel Matanic, who designed and executed the mural, using a paint-by-number layout to guide the 49 volunteers who painted it. Look for this mural near Liberty and State.