Two artists are working this week to bring downtown Farmington more color and beauty.
At Sunflour Bakehaus, owners Jeff Pavlik and Becky Burns originally hoped Pavlik’s brother would paint their grant-funded mural, but he was unable to travel to Michigan because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pavlik said it was his idea to contact their friend, Farmington Hills artist MaryLou Stropoli.
“We were not putting anything on the wall that we didn’t know the artist,” he said. “Almost all of the art in the bakery, we can tell you who made it.”
Stropoli said Pavlik and Burns wanted a theme of “sunflowers and diversity.” Her mural reflects the work of Mary Blair, who created character designs for Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” and other attractions. It features familiar downtown Farmington landmarks, with children from all racial backgrounds picnicking, performing, and enjoying the sunshine.
“It’s a colorful, patterned piece,” Stropoli said. “It’s perfect for Jeff and Becky. They do the Art Alley for kids (during Founders Festival), they volunteer in the schools and at the library.”
“I also wanted to have kids help me paint it, because they’ve lost so much during COVID,” she added. “I will do the top part, and I’ve called kids I’ve worked with in the past to help finish it.”
Across the street from Sunflour Bakehaus, Mac Harthun is working on the west side of The Vines Flower and Gift Shop, which recently received a grant-funded facade upgrade. The mural is also grant funded; The Vines owner Michele Hinds asked Harthun to do the work.
“I’ve never done a mural,” the Farmington High alum said. “They’re kind of taking a chance with me.”
While Stropoli’s mural features bright, bold colors, Harthun’s design is a simple arrangement of flowers in more muted colors that play well against the building’s new paint.
“I just hope (people) think it’s something beautiful,” she said. “It’s cool that Farmington is doing this. It’s just nice to have pretty things to look at.”
Grants for both projects came through the Farmington Downtown Development Authority (DDA), which in 2017 created a Public Art Blueprint. In addition to murals, listed priorities include finding space for “kid-oriented art,” performance space, sidewalk imprints, lighting, and gateway treatments.
On August 15 and August 22, young artists will be selling their works in the parking lots at Sunflour Bakehaus and The Vines, where the murals are in progress. “Art in Action”, held between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., will benefit C.A.R.E.S. of Farmington Hills, which provides food and other services for needy families, and KickstART Farmington, an arts-focused nonprofit with a gallery in downtown Farmington.