With community support, a movement gets its footing in one of Detroit’s well-known historical neighborhoods.
At a convergence of railroad steel and currently out-of-commission viaducts sits an area so steeped in history, it’s still soggy with faint memories of busy streets and booming business. The first ever factory owned and operated for Ford production looms overhead in an eerily quiet neighborhood, behind which stand buildings crawling with cracks that give birth to more greenery than actual stone and mortar.
Round the corner of Brush and Piquette Streets and you’ll stumble across part of Detroit’s playground for graffiti artists. What seems like an endless stream of spray paint, wimpy black thin strokes and a bold array of colors unite to lead passersby down a tunnel of tags or, essentially, artist’s signatures – that tell a story of those who have been through before them.
A bridge breaks up the stretch of Beaubien from Piquette to Milwaukee. Under that bridge you can find the first example of what Friends of Milwaukee Junction (FMJ) strives to do within over a square mile of neighborhood in need, in an area that deserves so much more.
Let’s face it, Detroit has experienced mass emigration within the past decade that has left most of its neighborhoods frozen in a state of disrepair. But under that bridge the first completed project of FMJ, partnered this time with Summer in the City, shines a blue-and-white-striped hope that maybe a decline in tagging is on the way.
The art mural project is inspired by the Grand River Creative Corridor. Maybe if we create something beautiful and hopeful that local artists can have pride in, it won’t get tagged over. At least that’s the goal. Under that bridge is years of dreaming, weeks of hard work, planning and community involvement. Who can’t respect that?
We can’t do it alone
“This is cool, who did this?”, said an impressed local, Quiana Long-McCrory, while biking through the area with a friend just after the project was completed in July. Summer in the City got the credit for the art, and the word was spread that easily. The next time people admire one of the murals in Milwaukee Junction, we want them to be saying the name of another artist looking to make a difference.
Now we’re extending the invitation to local graffiti artists, groups and individuals who want to experience Detroit the way we do: thriving, approachable, succeeding. We want your help to spread the word and the spray paint. As Mike Gidley, Program Manager for FMJ’s multi-year mural program puts it, “People aren’t going to change their perception of Detroit if this (tagging) is what they’re seeing. We’ll give you this wall, you can create a beautiful mural instead.”
The next project will be on a door-wall on the Beaubien side of the Piquette Plant, a mural looking in on the plant in its heyday. As far as the future? We are quickly gaining space thanks to local businesses donating walls. In the works are big goals. With capable hands and experienced friends, a limit to what we can do has yet to be seen.
“Everyone at FMJ is really excited about the mural program. It will give us the opportunity to turn these graffiti liabilities into assets, and engage Milwaukee Junction’s art community in an innovative way and on a huge scale,” said Dave Biskner who heads up FMJ.
Join the team or find out more about opportunities to create art in the area! Interested in creating a mural or freestanding outdoor art installation? Contact Mike Gidley via email or call (313) 556-2073.