Cool art popping up in unexpected places in Plymouth

 Cool art popping up in unexpected places in Plymouth

Eye-catching paintings decorate an alleyway in downtown Plymouth.

Select downtown Plymouth alleyways will be transformed into eye-catching, makeshift art exhibits thanks to a collaborative effort between the city’s Downtown Development Authority, Community Financial Credit Union and a world-renowned local artist.

Responding to residents’ requests for an increased art presence in its already picturesque downtown, the Plymouth DDA has partnered with the Plymouth-based Tony Roko Foundation and CFCU to kickstart The Plymouth Artwalk, the beginnings of which can be enjoyed in a once-ordinary alley just south of Penniman Avenue between Harvey and Main streets.

Eight weather-guarded paintings have been hung on the west-facing brick wall of the alley, with a QR code available near the northern-most painting to help passersby learn more about the project. Plans call for additional alleyways to be decorated in a similar fashion.

Filling a void

The idea was the brainchild of longtime DDA Director Tony Bruscato, who passed away in May, and current director Sam Plymale.

CFCU is providing funding for the unique project while Roko, an internationally-renowned artist based in Plymouth, is providing the paintings.

A QR code placed near the paintings can help educate passersby of the project
A QR code placed near the paintings can help educate passersby of the project

“The Artwalk is in response to feedback we’ve heard from residents who feel art in the downtown area is lacking,” said Plymale. “We have made the addition of art part of our strategic plan. Tony (Bruscato) was passionate about this project and I’m happy to be able to finish what he started.

“We have to receive approval from the businesses who own the walls on which the art will be hung, so having someone as well-known as Tony Roko as a partner has been a positive step in that regard. And Community Financial is generously funding the project, so there is no cost to the City.”

DIA program returning

Plymale also revealed the Detroit Institute of Art’s Inside Out program, which places reproductions of DIA art on Plymouth walkways beginning in the spring, will return following a six- or seven-year absence.

“The DIA reproductions will be available from sometime in April through October,” Plymale said. “The DIA chooses 10 to 20 communities or college campuses every year to place the reproductions, which are — from what I understand — are nearly identical to the original pieces of art. It takes an art expert to tell the difference, I’ve heard.”

Roko has been commissioned by Ford Motor Co. to paint murals in several of the company’s facilities. His work also appears on Michigan-based beverage containers.

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Ed Wright

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