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Alpena welcomes two new murals downtown

One of the locations in downtown Alpena for the murals. Courtesy of Alpena Downtown Development Authority.
One of the locations in downtown Alpena for the murals. Courtesy of Alpena Downtown Development Authority.

Alpena’s Fresh Waves art initiative is bringing two new murals to the downtown area this summer.

Facilitated by the Alpena Downtown Development Authority, Fresh Waves was launched in 2019. The initiative was created by a local mural artist, Aaron Golbeck, who wanted to bring fresh art to the community for people to enjoy, downtown Alpena’s website said.

There is no official theme for the project. The overall idea is to celebrate art and allow it to speak for itself.

“We are looking for artwork that stands out and tells a new story, with a fresh perspective,” the website said.

According to a press release, one of the murals will be done by an Ontario resident, Tim Nijenhuis. Previously, Nijenhuis painted a mural for the Fresh Waves project in 2022.

He is renowned as a professional international mural painter and has created over 100 murals in numerous countries. The artist conducts historic research about the community, landscape and architecture to inspire ideas for the mural.

“His works tend to enhance the surrounding neighborhoods and bringing people together from all walks of life, social, or ethnic backgrounds,” the press release said. “He strives for his murals to provoke thought and energy, but he always intends for these to have a positive and constructive vibe.”

Nijenhuis' mural is expected to be completed August 9-17.

The other mural is being funded with the support of The Sunset Project, a nonprofit that focuses on spreading awareness for mental health.

“The Sunset Project hopes that by providing additional resources to projects such as Fresh Waves, that new talent and opportunity will follow closely behind and benefit the Northeast Michigan community,” the press release said.

The artists for the second mural, Adrienne Pickett and Kelly Bambach of Sous La Ciel from Ann-Arbor will begin their piece July 26. The pair are taking inspiration from Lake Huron and Thunder Bay to imitate the nostalgic summer feel the water gives Alpena.

"Whether canoeing in the river, playing the sand, or strolling along the shore, the fresh air of this ‘fresh coast’ will keep viewers yearning for more,” the press release said. “This sweet vintage take on these days of summer will keep the memories strong all winter long."

These three artists were selected among 30 applicants from all over the country by the Alpena DDA. Both murals will be featured in alleyways downtown to make them “…pedestrian-friendly spaces that can be used for live music, events and more,” the press release said.

The DDA received a grant from the Michigan Arts & Cultural Council to expand this year's Fresh Wave project by adding more murals to the downtown area.