Controversial mural OK’d

Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Despite differing opinions among councilors, a mural planned for City Hall will go forward pending the approval of two city boards.

The mural project, spearheaded by the Downtown Development Authority, is to feature an “arts and crafts style” nature scene by Wyandotte artist Brian Melvin along the entire south wall of City Hall.

Concerns were raised over the location and content of the mural during a presentation for council approval Monday. The mural is planned for completion by late November, pending approval by the city’s planning and design commissions.

Councilman Todd Browning raised concerns that the $2,000 price tag for the mural – $1,500 of which would be covered by the DDA – would be wasted on a building that is set to be demolished after a planned move of City Hall next year. The remaining funding for the mural would come from The ‘Dotte Arts Project, which promotes local artists.

DDA Director Natalie Rankine and DDA Chairwoman Patt Slack told councilors that they planned to either preserve the wall featuring the mural or auction off pieces of the demolished wall as a fundraiser, depending on the city’s plans for the building.

“This building is going to sit for at least two years,” Slack said. “When City Hall leaves it, it’s going to be another white elephant. So better it be a beautiful attractive billboard than an empty shell.”

Some councilors also wondered why the project was not sent out for bid, and why other area artists were not considered.

Slack said that bidding for art installations is usually reserved for projects with bigger budgets that encompass larger spaces. City Attorney William Look said the project is considered a service and bids are not required for it.

Councilman Daniel Galeski, the only councilor to dissent, cited issues with the proposed artwork, saying he would prefer something that reflected the city’s history.

“People won’t come to Wyandotte to see a picture of Wyandotte because you’re already in Wyandotte,” Rankine said. “Art is subjective. It’s meant to evoke a good feeling and a bad feeling and whatever you do, there will be people that don’t like it.”

Slack also said that many of Wyandotte’s public art pieces also focus on the city’s history, and the mural would provide some diversity and help market the city to younger demographics.

“We need to diversify,” Slack said. “We need to be a young, hip, up-and-coming town, not just a senior citizen home.”