Around every corner: Public art making a scene in Midland

From murals, to sculptures, to volunteer projects, to event-themed community pieces, art has taken center stage this summer as part of the city’s landscape.

Studies have shown that public art engages citizens in conversation, transcends cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds, makes public spaces more approachable, contributes to a community’s identity and attachment to place among many other benefits.

Whether it is outside of a restaurant or along a trail or path, your eye is sure to be drawn to some new artistic scenery this season.

Even a simple drive through town is an opportunity to catch a glimpse of several displays of extraordinary talent, like the new sculpture in Grove Park. Public art continues to make growing impressions throughout our community, and thankfully it’s a trend that doesn't seem to be fading any time soon.

Here is a look into some of the new pieces you will see this year on display in the community.

Origami in the Garden runs through September 29 at Dow Gardens

Dow Gardens: Origami in the Garden
One of the best things about strolling through the pristine Dow Gardens is that it is never quite the same as the last time you visited. Realizing the impact that public, outdoor art can have on a community, Dow Gardens has partnered with countless artists and exhibits over the years to bring additional beauty to the gardens through sculptures.

Origami is the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures.

The latest exhibit, Origami in the Garden, features enlarged sculptures replicating origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures.

The entry piece at the front of Dow Gardens.

The sculptures are created by Santa Fe-based artists Jennifer and Kevin Box and feature a combination of both original design and the designs of other distinguished origami artists.

The exhibit is included with the cost of admission to Dow Gardens.

The metal sculptures portray a variety of objects and scenes, including airplanes, boats, butterflies and birds. The exhibit is included with the cost of admission to Dow Gardens and will be available for public viewing from through September 29.

The sculptures are created by Santa Fe-based artists Jennifer and Kevin Box.

In spirit of the sculpture series, Dow Gardens is hosting an Origami in the Garden Photo Contest through September 30th, 2019, inviting shutterbugs of all ages to capture their favorite moments, angles, features and perspectives of the exhibition.

The metal sculptures portray a variety of objects and scenes, including airplanes, boats, butterflies and birds.

Participants can submit up to ten original images at www.dowgardens.org/origami#OITG-Photo-Contest for a chance at a grand prize of winning a mini sculpture, with additional prizes for 2nd and 3rd place winners.


Tee'd Up features 18 different and colorful sculptures in Downtown Midland.

Tee’d Up Summer Sculpture Series, a nod to the Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational

What comes in a group of 18, decorated with all colors and mediums and located around the city? If these clues sound familiar, you’ve surely noticed the Downtown Midland Summer Sculpture Series: Tee’d Up.

Each one will be signed by an LPGA player before being auctioned off.

This public art display is made available through the Downtown Development Authority of the City of Midland. With the goal of fostering a dynamic downtown environment that promotes walkable exploration and social interaction, this year’s series does just that and is the perfect complement to the inaugural Dow Great Lakes Bay Invitational which will be held at the Midland Country Club on July 15th-20th.

On September 19 at 7:00 p.m., the sculptures will be available to purchase at a public auction held at The H Hotel.

The sculpture series features 18 unique pieces. Local artists were challenged to design a 42 by 20-inch fiberglass sculpture to look like a golf ball on a tee. Artist experience levels range from professional to novice, and include individual submissions as well as entries submitted by groups and businesses.

The final entries were chosen to complete this summer’s sculpture series, and the impressive designs display the unique talents of each artist. You can read more about the Tee’d Up series here.

The pieces were completed by artists of all capabilities and ages.

Most of the sculptures are placed along Midland’s Main Street, with a few nearby on Larkin Street and also near Dow Diamond. At the end of the season, the sculptures will be judged and awarded. Special recognition will be given to a Peoples’ Choice winner and a Judges’ Choice winner. The sculptures will also be signed by LPGA players competing at the invitational.

Proceeds of the auction for the 2019 Sculpture Series will be used to fund the 2020 Summer Sculpture Series.

On September 19 at 7:00 p.m., the sculptures will be available to purchase at a public auction held at The H Hotel. Proceeds of the auction will be used to fund the 2020 Summer Sculpture Series.


Space Midland owners Peter and Mary Soler created this mural on their own.

Space Midland’s Murals
Looking for Midland’s newest Instagram-worthy spot or a place to host your next event? Check out Space Midland at 1006 E Carpenter. Founded in November 2018 by Midland locals Peter and Mary Soler, Space Midland is dedicated to providing a creative atmosphere for artists in the community.

The indoor mural was completed by Selena Ashley of Selena Ashley Designs.

“Our goal is to host more workshops and foster fellowship within the walls of Space,” says Mary. “We love community over competition, art, small business, and supporting local people. Space is the perfect opportunity to invest in all of these.” As a local photographer, Mary explains that they also cater to photographers and the growing need for creatives to have a studio space.

Space Midland is also home to two beautiful murals. The exterior wall of the building features a colorful geometric mural painted by Peter and Mary themselves. They saw a blank white wall and “we just went with it!” says Mary. The mural provides a stunning backdrop for outdoor photography and a public invitation to all creative minds passing by.

“I love mural artists like Kelsey Montague, Alise Burke and Ouizi. I’m pretty much just obsessed with floral murals in general,” says Ashley.

The interior mural at Space Midland is a floral piece created by local artist and graphic designer Selena Ashley. Space Midland found Ashley in search a fun accent wall at the new space.

“I love mural artists like Kelsey Montague, Alise Burke and Ouizi. I’m pretty much just obsessed with floral murals in general,” says Ashley.

Using inspiration from her role models and conversation with Mary about her vision for the mural, Selena created and executed the concept. Her floral design covers one interior wall of Space Midland and offers another one-of-a-kind backdrop for photos and gatherings.

Space Midland has a third piece in the works...stay tuned.

As the owner of Selena Ashley Designs, Ashley hopes to provide inspiration and positive vibes in the community. “I hand letter inspirational quotes, design logos and business pieces, provide wedding calligraphy, wholesale prints/products to businesses and teach hand lettering classes,” explains Ashely.

You’ll see more of her hand lettering work at Midland’s Alignment 8 Yoga and Cycle. In Bay City, her talent is on display with a hand lettered mural at Infinity Bridal and a floral chalk wall at Feme Boutique.

Keep your eye on this Space Midland. “We are in the process of adding another piece of art as well as a fun door!” says Mary.

For more information about the creative energy at Space Midland, contact Mary at spacemidland@gmail.com. Check out selenaashley.com or follow Selena Ashley Designs on Facebook or Instagram for some truly inspirational works of art.


Mark Piotrowski, the man and brush behind MARKedARTs.

MarkedArts – New murals in Midland

As the Midland dining and entertainment scene continues to expand, so does the opportunity for public art. If you’ve spent time in the tri city area, chances are you’ve seen the work of local artist, Mark Piotrowski of MARKedARTs is responsible for transforming spaces throughout the community with vibrant mural work. School murals, public murals, studio painting, specialty painting, corporate projects, Mark has done them all.

Piotrowski is thrilled about the continued push for public art in the Midland Community. “There’s a cohort of people very excited to bring art to Midland in a big way. It’s great to be a part of it!” he says.

Piotrowski speaks on the value of public art in a community by saying, “You can look at neighborhoods that have turned to revitalizing the community with art,” he says. “Art has the power to transform a space from something that was once a passing glance to a space where people want to gather. It creates a vibe. It’s a reflection of good things going on in a neighborhood.”

Upcoming projects are underway with Aaron’s Gifts. Newly located in the Midland Mall, Aaron’s Gifts works to send gift boxes to service members. A patriotic themed mural by MARKedARTs will decorate their space. You can see the plans and progress of Piotrowski’s mural here.

Also in the planning phase, is a mural for Midland’s new Molasses Smokehouse + Bar located on 201 E. Main Street that Piotrowski will start in the coming weeks.


Public Arts Midland kicked off in 2018 inspire connection and build community.

Public Arts Midland
Public Arts Midland is an online community of local artists, art, and art enthusiasts with a belief that “art connects, heals, inspires, and builds stronger and more vibrant communities.” They encourage both enjoyment of and involvement with art by offering a platform for sharing ideas and inspiring creativity.

The mobile cranes were individually folded by volunteers.

They are also the group behind the many crane mobiles you will see around town at various places of business. Each crane on the mobiles were created by local community members with the help of many volunteers and art committee members.

Head to their Facebook page to see photos and to find more information about new and unique displays of art in the Midland community. You’ll also find information on how you can contribute to the cause.

Check out Public Arts Midland on Facebook for more information.

If you’re interested in supporting and partnering with the community to bring more opportunities for public art, visit www.midlandfoundation.org/fund/public-art-beautification-project-fund-110.

Here you can make an online donation to the Midland Area Community Foundation to help provide for the continued design, development and implementation of public art and beautification projects in Midland County.

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