Artist Arlene Bragg has made it easier for residents and visitors to find Grand Ledge’s main points of interest, thanks to a recently installed mural on the downtown Ledge Craft Lane building.
Bragg, who teaches art classes at Ledge Craft Lane, said the mural was funded by the Downtown Development Authority, whose only instructions were to include thirteen points of interest in the city, such as Ledge Craft Lane, the opera house and the library, along with a few annual events.
“We entered into a public-private partnership, if you will, to create a mural that would serve as a wayfinding for significant points of interest throughout the community,” said Grand Ledge City Administrator Adam Smith.
Bragg said the mural is 8-by-8 feet and made of two 4-by-8 foot panels, which were set on sawhorses for her to work on in a home owned by Mayor Pro-Tem Keith Mulder.
“I’d go in there and I’d turn my XM radio on really loud and I’d just really get into it,” said Bragg.
There was some last-minute stress caused by changes requested by the city a few weeks before the mural was set to be completed, said Bragg.
“From the concept stage, the mural appears as it was envisioned and there just may have been, if I recall, a handful of technical corrections that needed to be made,” Smith said.
Bragg said she was most surprised by issues with her depiction of the American flag in one part of the painting. It was originally blowing the wrong way, according to the prevailing winds, which she thought would be better for the composition of the picture.
However, said Smith, there is a U.S. flag code which dictates depictions of the flag, and they asked that it be “honored and reflected accordingly in the mural.”
Bragg said she had to do some extra research and make a phone call to the paint company to make sure the added layers would not look lumpy on the finished product.
“If you go down there and look at it, that sky is a little bit different,” said Bragg. “I didn’t make it just go out like a big rectangle, I just kinda made it hanging there.”
Bragg said it is a hard thing for an artist to make art for other people because it is always subject to their approval, but “you’re really very personal with your artwork and you want it to say something about you.”
“I don’t want to make it seem like it was a real drudgery because I actually had fun doing it,” Bragg said.
She said she added two points of interest that she thought were important to the community – the water tower and the Michigan Princess boat, which is used in the annual autumn Color Cruises.
“It’s a nice city thing to have,” said Sue Jonas, who works at Ledge Craft Lane. “People will be able to look at that, so it’s just a nice reference thing for anybody that doesn’t know where they’re going.”
Bragg said she has seen people stop on their way to the river trail to look at the mural.
“It made me feel good to think that it was actually being used the right way,” said Bragg.
Smith said the cost of the mural, which included a $1,500 artist fee and $1,000 for materials, was funded through the Downtown Development Authority. It is one of several works of public art in Grand Ledge, though not all of them are funded by the DDA.
“Each piece is unique in itself as far as how it comes to be,” said Smith.
The city recently installed a series of three interactive bike racks throughout the city, said Smith. That project was funded in partnership with the Lansing Economic Area Partnership and the PNC Foundation.
Smith said the city is continually searching for ways to enhance art, culture, and recreation in the area.
“It’s really cool that our small community has been able to put so many neat pieces in place for the public,” said Smith.
The mural is located on the Ledge Craft Lane building at the corner of South Bridge Street and West River Street.