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Art Shines in Jackson and Muskegon

By Kathy Gibbons

Mural by Joshua Santos Rivera CREDIT Clay McAndrews

A benefit of attending an out-of-town event is experiencing a taste of what the local community has to offer. In Jackson and Muskegon, visitors will find public art front and center.
In its fourth year, a public art initiative in Muskegon has seen the installation of six out of 10 works of art called in for the project. They range from sculptures to murals, with the next addition, slated for fall 2023, being a 12-foot bronze sculpture that will pay tribute to the history of the Muskegon Heights Marching Band. Project Director Judith Hayner says Muskegon already had about four dozen significant works of art in its downtown area before the current initiative, with some pieces dating to the 1800s.

“There’s been a tradition in Muskegon of valuing public art, but this project is helping people see all of it,” Hayner says. “The new pieces have allowed the old pieces to shine as well.”

Jackson’s volunteer-driven Bright Walls Mural Festival has hosted artists from around the globe and sparked creation of more than 70 murals in the city’s downtown district in the four consecu- tive years the event has been held. The murals completed this year included a four-story depiction of Alice Cooper, a chrome dog, and a 3D work by Greek artist Stathis Tsavalias.

“The goal has always been to drive arts and culture in our town and make art accessible for all,” says Clay McAndrews, the festival’s founder and co-director.