The City of Saginaw installed murals at three intersections along Court Street, a major downtown corridor running through the Old Town neighborhood of Saginaw. Overseen by the Great Mural Project, a local public art collective, the project included decorative crosswalks at Court Street and Michigan Avenue, and full intersection murals one block to the south at N Hamilton Street and then across the Saginaw River at Ezra Rust Drive and Fordney Street, at the entrance to a popular city park. By using art to tie these three intersections together, the team looked to support local businesses and draw visitors downtown, while also celebrating the city’s diversity. To accomplish this, an application and interview process was help and one or two primary artists were selected for each of the three intersections, with all three of the designs incorporating a butterfly into the artwork as a unifying theme.
A City Invites Its Community to Paint the Streets
“I think the biggest victory is that we showcased the incredible amount of talent that we have in Saginaw. The advantage of public art is that everyone can enjoy.”
Jamie Forbes, Saginaw City Councilperson
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Best Practice Highlight: Paint-A-Thon
With over 13,000 square feet of artwork spread across three intersections, the 4 lead artists brought approximately 20 supporting artists to help complete the mural installations over one weekend, to limit the need for additional traffic diversions. On this first installation day, the City hosted a “paint-a-thon” event inviting community volunteers to participate in the artmaking. Participants were given fabricated stencils to paint butterflies on the sidewalk across the bridge connecting one intersection with the others, which allowed for many people to be involved simultaneously while socially distancing. The event included five musicians, food from nine local restaurants, and games including corn hole, Jenga and Connect Four to create a unique festive atmosphere in a time when many public events are on hold. To ensure safety during the pandemic, the organizers posted signage requiring social distancing, provided masks and hand sanitizer and took the temperatures of participants as they arrived on site. The team completed nearly all of the painting on Saturday alone, with the artists returning on Sunday morning to complete the job by Sunday evening.