Look for Downtown Farmington mural celebration in 2020

Joe LaRussa
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A mural celebrating the Farmington Civic Theater has been up for about a month, and the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) plans to celebrate the new artwork in 2020 – the theater’s official 80th anniversary year.

Farmington Civic Mural
(Ian Mendel)

The DDA Public Art committee selected Plymouth artist Adrienne Pickett’s proposal for the northeast side of the building at 33332 Grand River. Her vision included the faces of iconic actors who have graced the silver screen over the past 80 years.

Farmington Civic Mural
(Ian Mendel)

DDA Director Kate Knight said social media posts that documents the mural’s progress were views thousands of times.

“It’s art, so it’s subjective, but the overwhelming majority of comments have been in support of the project,” she said. “People have liked the excitement it brings to downtown.”

Farmington Civic Mural
(Ian Mendel)

Downtown Farmington business owner Elaine Grohman, also a former Farmington/Farmington Hills Artist in Residence, was among those critical of the project. In a letter to the committee, she expressed concern about the loss of two decorative pear trees that were removed to make way for the mural.

“Our world is in need of a greater appreciation of Beauty, and there is nothing more beautiful than a Tree, whose Life not only brought the beauty of the flowers in Spring but the evidence of Life in the many birds that built nests and raised other Living Beings,” she wrote. ”To remove two healthy trees in order to make visible a mural of dead people, whose lives contributed little more than flickers on a theater screen is not only evidence of lack of insight and foresight, but also the lack of thoughtfulness of what is truly of lasting value.”

Farmington Civic Mural
(Ian Mendel)

Knight said that re-landscaping the area in front of the mural is part of the plan.

“We will replace (the trees) with something appropriate for the site that won’t impact the view of the mural,” she said.

Knight hinted at future art projects – perhaps involving the big, empty space on the theater’s northwest wall. She said theater manager Scott Freeman was an integral part of the project and is a “really strong steward of the theater.”

The City of Farmington Hills Information Technology crew also provided an assist, hooking up a camera for time-lapse video of the work: