Grosse Ile looks to activate downtown business district with new murals for Art on the Ile

What’s happening: As Grosse Ile readies the second year of its Art on the Ile public art initiative, the uniquely Michigan island community on the Detroit River has launched a crowdfunding campaign to help reach its goal to install 33 permanent and rotating public art works along Macomb Street, the community’s downtown business district.

What it is: With the stated objective to enrich the community through public art, the Grosse Ile DDA’s Art on the Ile initiative first launched in 2022 and wraps in 2024. The project aims to install a mix of 33 murals, rotating and permanent sculptures, historical markers, student artworks, and crosswalk paintings over the course of 2022, ‘23, and ‘24.

So far: In 2022, organizers successfully installed two murals, six rotating sculptures, and one permanent “G.I.” sculpture – the latter of which stands for Grosse Ile, natch. The murals were painted by local artists Dustin Cook and Michelle Tanguay.

What’s to come: This year, the Grosse Ile Downtown Development Authority has plans to complete three more murals downtown, including Camilo Pardo's mural on the Grosse Ile Hardware Store in June; Jesse Kassel's mural on Lloyd’s Bar & Grill in July; and Beau Stanton's mural on Zubke's Plumbing in August. Each artist will be on hand at their respective Island Nights events on June 15, July 20, and Aug. 17.

How they’re doing it: The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has accepted Art on the Ile into its placemaking initiative, Public Spaces Community Places. As part of the initiative, should organizers successfully raise $29,500 through a crowdfunding campaign, the MEDC will contribute a $29,500 matching grant. Funds raised through the campaign will support the program’s mural installations, corresponding events, and associated costs.

Art on the Ile 2023 has until Monday, July 24, to meet their crowdfunding goal, the campaign of which is being hosted online via the Michigan-based Patronicity platform.

Why it’s important: “The Grosse Ile Downtown Development Authority is excited to collaborate with MEDC’s Public Spaces Community Places program to bring public art and placemaking to Macomb Street,” Grosse Ile Downtown Development Authority Community and Economic Development Director Ross Querro says in a statement. “With their help, we’re bringing an overall identity to our business district, by utilizing murals to reflect the character of our island community.”

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.