A proposal for a public art mural installation project received an enthusiastic response Monday from the Monroe City Council.
Woodrow (Woody) Hoffer and City of Monroe Economic and Community Development Director Mark Cochran presented the PLNTING SEEDS proposal to council at its Monday meeting. Designed by Stephanie Zorn Kasprzak, executive director of the Monroe County Opportunity Program, the program includes five murals, four of which would be installed at locations around town and a fifth at the Monroe Public Schools Administration Building in the Township of Frenchtown.
City murals are said to be at Orchard Center High School, Tiffany’s Pizza, Monroe Beer Cooler, and the ALCC’s Opportunity Center. The MPS Administration Building, Orchard Center High School, Tiffany’s Pizza, and Monroe Beer Cooler murals would be painted on the sides of the respective buildings by famous Detroit-area artists, while the Opportunity Center mural would be a painting by – mural of numbers overseen by local artist Amy Arnold and painted on a walkway adjacent to the building by members of the community.
Cochran said the city had been in discussions with Hoffer and Kasprzak about the project since before Christmas. While there are still a few logistical details to be finalized before PLNTING SEEDS is officially approved by the city, the plan is to begin installing the murals in conjunction with the grand opening of the Sharing Garden at the Opportunity Center on June 18. and wrap up the initiative with a neighborhood party on July 16.
“I think it’s an exciting opportunity to approach the city, to approach it in a new way, in a new way, compared to what we’ve done in the past,” Cochran said. “I appreciate that Woody and Stephanie have reached out to the city to try to partner with us and find a way … to come up with a defined program structure, a defined program, while identifying multiple sites this year and how move this forward.”
Hoffer said the inspiration for this project was the mural that was installed last summer inside the Opportunity Center gymnasium. He said the success of this project “kinda started the conversation between Stephanie and I about what we’ll do next, how will we continue to bring and showcase art and culture in our community.”
“This is where PLNTING SEEDS was developed,” Hoffer explained. “It’s really about cultivating growth and empowerment through art, culture, and community. This initiative is a collaboration between myself, the Monroe County Opportunity Program, and the Center opportunities and the great community of Monroe.
“It is truly designed to be the seed of creative arts-based revitalization across the community, emphasizing diversity and inclusivity while cultivating growth, empowerment and inspiration for residents. and visitors.”
City officials will have the opportunity to review mock-ups of the planned murals before installation begins, but the hope is to keep them out of the community’s eye to preserve surprise. The city will also need to work with organizers on an agreement that prevents the murals from violating the city’s signage ordinance and determine who will be responsible for maintaining the murals.
But the administration and the board expressed optimism on Monday that those logistical hurdles could be overcome.
“We know that murals and public art bring a sense of quality of life and community pride, culture and enhancement of the artistic community in the areas and communities in which they thrive,” Cochran said.
While the council was short of three members on Monday – councilors Brian Lamour and Andrew Felder and councilor Paula Whitman were excused – the council members present expressed their enthusiasm for the project.
“I think it’s wonderful,” Councilwoman Deb Staelgraeve said. “I think it’s fantastic. … I can’t wait to see this, absolutely.”
“It looks like a nice program,” Councilwoman Kellie Vining said. “I can’t wait to see how it goes.”