‘Play’ mural unveiled in Gladstone

Clarissa Kell | Daily Press The mural painted on the east-facing wall of the Rialto Center in Gladstone was unveiled during a ceremony Friday. The mural was themed after the word “play” and was the biggest mural painted so far in the Power of Words Project.

GLADSTONE — The Gladstone mural, which was created through the Power of Words Project, was unveiled during its grand opening ceremony Friday. The mural, which is painted on the east-facing wall of the Rialto Center, was themed around the word “play.”

Various community members attended the unveiling of the mural, which took place at 5 p.m. Friday.

“We want to talk about how excited we are about the expansion of the Powers of Words Project. This is the eighth mural in the U.P. It is also the biggest mural in the U.P.,” said Heisdy Maldonado, one of the artists who traveled from out-of-state to help paint the mural.

The Power of Words Project was established by renowned artist Mia Tavonatti, a native of Iron Mountain, and her Svelata Foundation in an effort to have public art inspire growth and focus in a community.

The mural in Gladstone was the second of three murals completed in 2019, along with Manistique and Marquette, which is still being worked on. The three murals this year will bring the total Power of Words Project murals to nine in four counties in the Upper Peninsula.

“There is five in Iron Mountain and two in Manistique — there is one currently in Marquette that we are working on,” Maldonado said.

The artists that worked on the mural came from all over and are of varying ages.

Two local artists were Lee Peacock and Stacy Berg, both of Gladstone.

Visiting artists were Tavonatti, her sister Tera Tavonatti, Maldonado, Catherine Kaleel, Jamie Hider, and Michelle Earle.

Some students worked on the mural as well. Those students were Halle Gustafson, Kelly Ansell, Paige Chouinard, Joyce Barron, and Adaline Neto.

Ken Benson, who helped with some of the painting and housing of artists, explained during the ceremony that the people and items depicted in the mural were local to Gladstone. He noted the man windsurfing is Rick Elrod and the baby is the artist Berg’s grandson.

Ken’s wife, Lorna Benson, spoke at the event, as well.

Lorna gave thanks to the generosity of the organizations and businesses that made the mural possible, but also the businesses and citizens that supported the artists.

The Gladstone mural was made possible with an Artplace grant through CUPPAD, an MEDC Public Spaces for Community Places grant, and the generosity of our many donors and sponsors including Svelata Foundation, Water’s Edge Chiropractic, State Bank, mBank, VanAire, Visit Escanaba and Thrivent Financial. The Gladstone Downtown Development Authority also approved of a facade grant that allowed the preparation of the wall to get done.

The businesses and citizens that supported the project and the artists by providing housing for the visiting artists and meals during their work days were: Al Stotz, Allison Desotelle, Ann Jousma Miller & Ralph Miller, Bay Bank, Bay de Noc Lures, Brampton Bike and Ski, D&M Subs, Dairy Flo, Delta Business Solutions, Delta County Chamber of Commerce, Delta Deli, Delta County EDA, Dew Drop, Dr. Maria Nagano, Dr. John Skellenger, First Bank, Gavin Murzello, Gladstone Square Pharmacy, Jackie French, Jan Gustafson, Jerry’s Service, Kathy and Jeff Gudwer, Laurie Alwordin, Louis and Beverley Martin, Lorna and Ken Benson, Main Street Pizza, mBank, MICA Enterprises LLC, Nancy Smith, Natasha Dedic, Northern Insurance, Northwoods Rehabilitation, Pat’s Foods I. G. A., R Gym, Reverend Catherine Rafferty, Rob Morrow, Scott and Pam LaFleur, Sherry Makowski, The Frame Farm, The New Image, Tom and Shireen Mclaughlin, U.P. State Bank, Visit Escanaba, and Water’s Edge Chiropractic.

For more information about the Power of Words Project, visit powerofwordsproject.org.