Alpena DDA Seeking Artists For Third Year of Fresh Waves the Downtown Mural Project

May 7th, 2021 | Written by Kingsli Kraft

Artist Applications are now open for the Alpena Downtown Development Authority’s (DDA) mural project, Fresh Waves. Applications are due on May 25th, 2021 by midnight.

2019 Artists Aaron Golbeck & Chad Bolsinger sit in front of the mural they completed at 211 S. 2nd Ave.

This is the third year the DDA has facilitated the public art initiative. Fresh Waves started in 2019 when Alpena native, Aaron Goldbeck, brought the idea for a mural project to the Alpena DDA’s Promotions and Marketing Committee. Aaron Golbeck and Chad Bolsinger painted the first mural that summer on the side of Family Enterprise at 211 S. 2nd Ave. In 2020, two more murals were painted. The first mural of 2020, titled “Wave Journey” was painted by Mark Piotrowski of MARKed ARTs, an artist out of Bay City, Michigan on the side of Salon 125, at 125 E. Chisholm St. “Together Again” is the second mural that was painted in 2020 by North Carolina-based artist, Britt Flood, on the side of Thunder Bay Theatre’s warehouse at 400 N. 2nd Ave.

The purpose of Fresh Waves is to celebrate art as art, for art’s sake. Fresh Waves is meant to honor creative freedom and bring fresh new fine art to the downtown landscape. Art that exists for its own purpose, to make you feel something, to make you ask questions. There is no “theme” that drives Fresh Waves, but instead a mission to bring beautiful, one of a kind artwork by professional artists to the downtown. 

2020 Artist Britt Flood works on her mural “Together Again” located on Fletcher St. on Thunder Bay Theatre’s warehouse

In 2021, the Alpena DDA is changing up the location of the project. This year, the Fresh Waves Murals will be painted on free-standing structures at the entrance to the City of Alpena Boat Harbor, pending official approval from the City. 

The structures will be 4’ wide and 8’ tall and will feature two panels affixed to posts sunk into the grass. Four to eight structures will be erected in the grassy stretch between the sidewalk and harbor parking lot on Prentiss St. 

When we started talking about Fresh Waves again at the start of this year, I started thinking about two main things as priorities for this year’s iteration of the mural project. The first thing was how we could use this project as a tool to bring a little color and beauty—and hopefully foot traffic—to specific areas of our downtown district that are in need of a little revitalizing. The second was how we could adapt Fresh Waves to increase the number of artists participating and make the project more accessible to more artists.

Fresh Waves is one of my favorite projects that we get to work on. The arts have so much power to transform physical spaces and inspire community pride and investment. When you think about what man-made things have lasted the longest in our world, that have lived through the ages, most of those things are works of art—the Sistine Chapel, Van Gogh’s Starry Night, the Mona Lisa, The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, The Two Fridas by Frida Kahlo, and so many more.

One of the biggest takeaways I learned in all of my Urban Planning and Architecture classes in college is that the buildings and infrastructure that are the most sustainable, that are most likely to be preserved and be around a long time are both functional AND beautiful. Human beings are drawn to things that are beautiful. They invest in and preserve objects and structures and artifacts that are beautiful. Although art and beauty mean something different to everyone, they have the power to unite people and inspire communities of all sizes. When you look at the buildings and structures that have stood the test of time and inspired people worldwide, they are beautiful places with elements of artistry in their structure. Places like the Acropolis of Athens, the Colosseum, St. Basil’s Cathedral, the Pyramids of Giza, Casa Mila, Dome of the Rock, and so many more.

When I think about Fresh Waves and my hopes for this project, I hope that with Fresh Waves we can bring a little bit of that energy into the community. That we can use art to transform spaces that so many of us see everyday, spaces that have may have become ordinary or mundane. I hope our mural project inspires those within our community and those who come to visit to invest in our downtown and Alpena as a whole. I hope it inspires people to find new joy and energy in the familiar.

Over the last three years, our Promotions and Marketing Committee has had numerous conversations about how we can be the most intentional and impactful with this project. We have thought a lot about how we can use this project to have the greatest impact on a specific area of our district that could use beautification and drive foot traffic to other outside areas of our district. We also talked a lot about how we could use this project to elevate the voices of extremely talents artists while also making the project more accessible to more artists.

Combined with the natural beauty in our area, art has the power to inspire preservation, investment, and care of our community. Art promotes community connection and beautiful spaces are more likely to be cared for and respected. I hope that this project continues to revitalize and grow our community. I hope it brings joy to people and inspires us all to find beauty in familiar spaces.

Artists interested in applying can find the application on the DDA’s website, at www.downtownalpenami.com/fresh-waves-mural-project. In addition to filling out the application, artists must provide their resume, up to four potential concepts for the mural they would like to create in 4×8 ratio, and at least one reference from a past commission, if they have completed mural art for a client in the past. Past mural painting experience is preferred, but not required. 

For more information please contact, kingslik@alpena.mi.us or call (989) 356-6422.

Kingsli Kraft wrote this article for Blog Downtown Alpena. Kingsli is an Alpena native and a graduate of the University of Michigan. She now works at the Alpena Downtown Development Authority as the Marketing and Outreach Coordinator. She volunteers on Thunder Bay Theatre’s Board of Directors and is a dedicated advocate for the arts and environment. She enjoys reading, writing, yoga, hiking, caring for her numerous house plants and all things coffee. You can follow her on Instagram here.

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