Detroit, MI, 2020

Sponsors:    KaBOOM! with Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, 2019-2020

Project Summary: In the Hubbard Richard neighborhood, a new painted playscape and huge new life-affirming mural — featuring Diego Rivera and other emblems of special significance to the community – came to life. The installations brightened the area known as “Mexicantown” – which is also considered a “play desert” with few inviting places for children and their families to visit and engage in active play.

Chicago artist Rahmaan Statik painted a colorful two-story mural on the side of Matrix Theater Company. It  was the second Greater Detroit mural in the “Growing A Brighter Tomorrow” series. It features a collage of imagery that honors and reflects the city and the local community and attracts families to the area. A celebratory event was held at the site on October 7.

To encourage active play, a painted playscape was installed across the street at the Ford Resource and Engagement Center. UP Art Studio designed the playscape as a sensory path. It forms the shape of a colorful snake that encourages children to get healthy exercise as they “stomp” the letters of the alphabet. The playscape promotes healthy activity, by inviting children to play outdoors.

Images within the mural include:

• Diego Rivera and the Detroit Industry mural; Frida Kahlo in Diego’s heart

• Shaun & Wes Nethercott (founders of the Matrix Theater Company)

• Matrix Theatre Company logo

• Vince & Ursula Murray (founders of Bagley Housing Association)

• Bagley Housing Association sign

• Decorative ironwork (made by IronWorks by Desenos) located at Bagley House and Stanton Park

• St. Anne’s Church

• The Detroit Tigers emblem

• Hubbard Richard neighborhood sign

• Flowers (a reference to flowers in an adjacent mural by Jen Boyak and elsewhere on the façade)

• The cosmos and planet earth (denoting the global context of a neighborhood in delicate balance)

Vito Valdez served as the project community liaison; the team used an online survey and other engagement tools to collect ideas for imagery meaningful to the community.“It’s been a wonderful experience working with everyone in Detroit, like Vito Valdez, who shared his deep knowledge and relationships in the Hubbard Richard community,” said UP Art Studio principal Noah Quiles. “Valdez is a local activist using the power of art for community betterment. Like us, he gets up every morning motivated to improve people’s lives.”