Murals fill Wenonah Park with art, but their purpose goes much deeper than beauty

Public art is on the rise in the region, including inside Bay City’s Wenonah Park.

Recently, two separate mural projects brightened Downtown Bay City. This week, Route Bay City highlights a project coordinated by Studio 23/The Arts Center to create murals inside Wenonah Park. The Wenonah Park murals are a joint project of Studio 23, City of Bay City, Downtown Bay City, and the Downtown Management Board.

During the unveiling of the Wenonah Park art in August, Megan Koch, Executive Director of Studio 23, pointed out that public art is about much more than beautifying an area.

Public art activates the imagination, encourages people to pay attention to their environment, stimulates learning as well as thinking about arts and society, and even raises awareness about community issues, Koch explained. In addition, art stimulates the economy, creates jobs, and attracts tourists. Public art improves safety while helping establishing communities as unique and culturally active places.

In many instances, art gives a voice to marginalized and disinvested communities, Koch said. Art is a way to communicate on a direct, confrontational, and intimate level. Art expresses community values, enhances our environment, transforms landscapes, heightens awareness, and questions assumptions.

Finally, art allows artists to show talent, passion, and creativity, Koch said.

The Wenonah Park murals were created by several different artists.

The murals are bringing visitors to Wenonah Park.
Bay City Greetings

Kayla Peake-Trautner created Bay City Greetings. Her design includes fish, a spin on the popular walleye and rainbow trout in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

Peake-Trautner, who has a background in graphic design and who specializes in typography, is a sign painter and muralist based in Saginaw. She owns KP Originals.

Murals fill Wenonah Park with art and color.

The Art of Questioning

The ArtRocks team of Marielle Bibiana Wilson, Trinity DeCaire, and Marcelo Jourdan created The Art of Questioning.

Wilson, a Delta College Honor student, is a professional mixed media artist with a mission to bring boldness and color into the lives of everyone she meets. Wilson, a single mother, is inspired by the joy and creativity of motherhood.  Wilson hopes to eventually pursue a Doctoral Degree in Art Therapy. She considers Wenonah Park to be her home away from home.

DeCaire, also a Delta College student, is working to create a portfolio that combines art with psychology, sociology, and self-perception. You can find her work on Instagram.

The final member of the ArtRocks team, Jourdan, says he is driven by emotion and curiosity. He was encouraged to express himself creatively from a young age. Today, as Jourdan creates his artistic identity, he commits to his core values of the power of emotion, the audacity of experimentation, and the resonance of color.

Vibrant colors fill one of the Wenonah Park murals coordinated earlier this summer by Studio 23 and several city organizations.

Connection was created by Jazzmyn Zylina Benitez. They feel called to a higher purpose and that art helps us through tough times in life. Benitez says their personal journey includes learning the “perspective of the present.” Benitez hopes their art inspires others to sip in the present and take steps to enjoy life. Their mural in Wenonah Park is a collection showcasing pieces of their last seven years of work.
Some of the Wenonah Park murals, coordinated by Studio 23, are fanciful, such as Flight of the Rabbits created by Jordan Taylor.
Flight of the Rabbits

Flight of the Rabbits is the work of Jordan Taylor. Taylor is a self-taught artist based in Midland. Taylor works as a tattoo artist at Black Ball in Midland, but also enjoys working on community art projects. 

On a wall near the playground, angel wings encourage portraits and selfies.


Sean Gallagher, who created Wings, hopes his work inspires others to look more carefully at the world around them and discover beauty in unusual places. Gallagher is a U.S. Air Force veteran who earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Art and History Education from Saginaw Valley State University and a Master’s Degree in Humanities from Central Michigan University.

Gallagher teaches in the Unionville-Sebewaing Area School District and at Studio 23. You can find his work on Instagram.

Gallagher outlined the wings. Then, Koch, Amy Gibas, and Misty Coss, each from Studio 23's staff, colored in the wings.

Blue and white flowers on the side of the World Friendship Shell honor the community's Polish heritage.

Zalipie is the creation of Shannon Hardy, a Bay City resident who specializes in printmaking and decorative painting. You’ll find her work at Ocean Jasper Wellness Spa in Bay City and at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center. The ornamental floral designs she created on the band shell are inspired by the painted village of Zalipie, Poland. In the 19th Century, young women in Zalipie used decorative floral paintings to cover cracks and soot on their homes. Soon, the art became a tradition with flowers adorning homes, barns, dog houses, and more.

The work also honors Bay City's Polish heritage, including Hardy's grandparents, Carol and Dick Hardy. Carol and Dick Hardy were volunteers in the early days of the band shell's construction.

A sign in the park guides parents through conversations about art with young children.
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