Downtown mural project in the works

ALPENA — The Alpena Downtown Development Authority is in the process of planning a new event this summer that will include the creation of a new mural and a community gathering to unveil and celebrate it.

At Tuesday’s DDA meeting, Executive Director Anne Gentry said she was contacted by a mural artist who expressed interest in doing work in the city. She said there are many building walls which could be prime candidates for the mural and DDA will begin reaching out to property owners to see who is interested.

Gentry said that if the event, and painting, turn out as expected, it could become an annual event where artists from the Alpena area and beyond submit mural proposals and then DDA would select the feature artists from among the proposals. The same would be done for locations where the art would be located.

“It would be once a year and we would commission a mural for a building for late July and we would host an event for the dedication of it,” Gentry said. “There would be music, food, drinks, and (it would be) held at an adjacent property. This is something I have seen a lot of other communities do and it would help us achieve two of our goals for creating more public art and having another summer event.”

Before work on the mural will begin, a meeting between the artist, property owner and DDA would take place to be sure everyone is on the same page before the painting begins.

“We would want to make sure it would fit with our architecture or with something related to Alpena,” she said.

DDA board member Chad Esch said he supported the idea, but did have some concerns about what would become of the mural and any maintenance to it, should the property be sold. He wondered if DDA would be liable for it and what the cost may be if it was.

“What if there becomes a new owner and they want to cover it up? What if, for some reason, it deteriorates after five years? Will it be up to the building owner? The DDA?” Esch said. “Plus, how do we choose who gets a mural and who doesn’t? Will we have a lottery system in place?”

Gentry said she will research the answers to those questions.

Gentry said the new mural event will cost DDA about $5,000 for the community event and an additional $7,000 and $10,000 for the mural itself. Gentry said the money would come from next year’s budget which begins July 1.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached at 989-358-5689 at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com. Follow him on Twitter @ss_alpeanews.com.