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Mural taking shape in downtown Esky

Alyssa McCloskey | Daily Press Artist James Finlan and art student Kaylee Hubert paint parts of a mural Thursday in downtown Escanaba. The mural depicts the Upper Peninsula with the silhouette of the Sand Point Lighthouse against it.

ESCANABA — A local artist is bringing the exterior wall of a downtown business to life. A mural of the Upper Peninsula and the silhouette of the Sand Point Lighthouse is being painted on the outer wall of De Grand, Reardon & Hall, P.C. Law Office at 517 Ludington St. According to artist James Finlan, the Upper Peninsula represents the community and the lighthouse is a beacon for people looking to experience what the area has to offer.

Art students Kaylee Hubert and Tyler Welch are assisting Finlan with the project — supported by the William Bonifas Fine Arts Center. The arts center received a grant from the Prosperous Places Placemaking Mini-grant Program, which has donated $1,500 for the project. The grant is made through the Regional Prosperity Council and administered by Central U.P. Planning and Development (CUPPAD).

“The stars just kind of aligned. There was a demand among business owners and in the community and the opportunity came together to facilitate it (the project),” said Irina Bruno education coordinator for the Bonifas Arts Center.

“We are looking to make Escanaba more culturally significant and beautiful.” said Bruno.

She said there is a trend of using mundane urban features — like a blank wall — to make an artistic statement that tells the story of a community.

“All these things came together serendipitously,” she said “Todd let us know there were empty walls we could use and we knew Jim and his team would be willing to do this project.” Jim Finlan has been gaining local recognition for his talent for painting murals.

“The mural is for the community and the tourists, people that come here for the flavor of (community) pride, the beauty.” said Finlan. The state’s motto will be written in Latin towards the top of the mural, and he plans to add imagery from the state emblem as well.

Finlan was the lead artist that worked on the Michigan wildlife mural at the local Department of Natural Resources office unveiled in June.

Finlan worked with local junior high and high school students on the project.

“It was scary at first, beautiful, frustrating, all of it” said Finlan adding, “I challenged them, tried to get them out of their comfort zone.”

He is excited about being involved in the the lighthouse mural project. “Its not just about the art, its putting in the energy, the mistakes, it brings people together.”

The project is also being supported by De Grand, Reardon & Hall, P.C. Law Office, which provided access to the wall and $850 for supplies, Escanaba Downtown Clean up for providing materials, Bosk Equipment Rental which supplied the scaffolding, and the Delta County Historical Society Sand Point Lighthouse Preserve for use of the image. The unveiling of the mural is set for Aug 22 at 11 a.m. in the parking lot next to DeGrand, Reardon & Hall, P.C.

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