New Mount Clemens public art celebrates play in unexpected spaces

The future of downtown Mount Clemens certainly looks bright. A new art event, designed to encourage Macomb County residents to celebrate local works, saw the downtown area showing off four new public art installations on Saturday.

Families enjoyed free activities, performances, demos, and installations at SUPER SatARTday, an event hosted by the Anton Art Center and partners. The four new projects are part of the vision of the KaBoom! “Play Everywhere” grant challenge to bring playful concepts to everyday spaces.

KaBOOM! CEO James Siegal says the Play Everywhere project can make community spaces friendlier and help develop a sense of place in cities. "Neighbors become more connected, kids learn and grow, and previously neglected spaces become safe and vibrant," he says.

Metromode took a closer look at Mount Clemens’ new designs.

Wendy Popko spent months, and braved bad weather, to create her Mount Clemens mural.

Sterling Heights artist Wendy Popko created a colorful staircase leading to the Clinton River from northbound Gratiot Ave with vibrant tones and images of native fish. The published children's book illustrator battled weather challenges and curious local geese to paint her work and was inspired by the Dr. Seuss book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" and the city's past.

“After reading about Mount Clemens rich history, and how it got its nickname 'Bath City', I knew I had to incorporate the river itself—in colorful way—to represent what it was once known for: healing,” says Popko.  

The mural is also based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education, so the artist included mathematical equations on each step, and an overall code puzzle, for inquisitive young minds to solve. It's a challenge both children and adults can't seem to resist.

The Cherry Street alley work was created by Mount Clemens mother and daughter team, Angelika Wynes and Alana Wynes. They say they wanted to develop a scene that draws attention to the city’s past and “reveals the history of the city and all its wonders".

Outside the Macomb Family YMCA a compass-style hopscotch board encourages a playful interaction with the city’s services.

Picture frames on the sidewalk in the Richard and Jane Manoogian Art Park, near the Anton Art Center, are designed to encourage chalk ark and residents can make the most of being a public artist with their own designs. Anton Art Center executive directer Phil Gilchrist says public artwork can play an important role in placemaking.

"Beautification of public spaces in this way can help to build a sense of community, develop a community's character, and even drive some economic development and local tourism," Gilchrist says. "As a community-based arts organization, supporting our community in efforts like this is one way that we enrich and inspire people of all ages through the arts."

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Kate Roff is an award-winning freelance writer and journalism educator, currently based out of Detroit. She is the managing editor of Metromode and Model D. Contact her at