‘Play’ picked as theme for Gladstone mural

GLADSTONE — Hot on the heels of the official unveiling of Manistique’s second mural created through the “Power of Words Project” earlier this week, the theme chosen for a new Gladstone mural was officially announced during Business After Hours. The Gladstone mural, which will also be created through the Power of Words Project, will be painted on the east-facing wall of the Rialto Center and themed around the word “play.”

The Power of Words Project was started in 2012 by artist and former Iron Mountain resident Mia Tavonatti. Each of the murals included in the project are themed around a single word meant to represent the futures of the communities they are painted in, and these words are chosen by members of these communities.

“We had about 700 people vote here,” Tavonatti said.

With its theme chosen and announced, Tavonatti said work on the mural has begun.

“We’re getting ready to start transferring part of the design today,” she said Thursday.

According to Tavonatti, she has created the basic layout of the “play” mural. She is now working to finish designing the mural, which will focus on the visual motif of circles.

The “play” mural will feature recreated photographs of multiple Gladstone residents. As is the case for some of Tavonatti’s other murals, it will also incorporate interactive elements for people taking photos; for example, Tavonatti said there will be a spot where people will be able to look like they are “dribbling” a basketball while standing in front of the mural.

“It’s going to be a whimsical wall,” she said.

A significant amount of funding for the Power of Words Project has been provided through CUPPAD’s Artplace grant. Additionally, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently matched $20,000 raised through a Patronicity fundraiser in support of three Power of Words Project murals.

Tavonatti is working with three visiting artists, five local students and four local artists on the “play” mural. She said she would like to work with one or two more skilled local artists who have time they would be able to spend working on the mural.

“If they’re out there … I really would like to have more to draw from,” she said, noting some grant funding is available for this work.

Local artists interested in getting involved with the mural project can reach Tavonatti at miatav@yahoo.com.

The artists working on the “play” mural will be onsite throughout the month of August. The official unveiling of the mural has been tentatively set for Aug. 27.

Patrick Johnson, who co-owns the Rialto Center along with his wife Suani Nieto, said he is pleased Gladstone’s new Power of Words Project mural will be painted on his building.

“I think it’s an honor,” he said.

Tavonatti said she would like to create more murals in Gladstone in the future.

“I don’t want this to be a one-hit wonder,” she said.

For more information on the Power of Words Project, or to donate to the project, visit the website powerofwordsproject.org.