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Eaton Rapids hobby artist uses community mural to spread key message

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Posted at 3:38 PM, Sep 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-02 15:38:29-04

EATON RAPIDS, Mich. — One brushstroke at a time an Eaton Rapids hobby artist is beautifying his community in hopes of spreading a message.

Rain or shine, if you walk along the bank of the Grand River just behind Petit Hardware, you’ll find Dan Wiles minding every stroke- painting with careful precision.

“I’m pulling some 14 hour days up here,” said Wiles. “I’m painting a little history scene a little dedication scene of the history of Eaton Rapids.”

Wiles described a mural that highlights the story of the city he fell in love with. It will feature little history markers like the Miller Dairy farm, Holstein cattle, Horner Woolens, Miller Springs and even a tribute to a local fallen soldier, Troy Nealey, who passed away in 2006 in Afghanistan.

“He was big into 4-H here in the community,” said Wiles. “He showed cattle, it was one of his favorite things to do.”

This mural is a part of a beautification movement by the city of Eaton Rapids to bring creative pieces to the small town.

"I hope it's just a place of inspiration of just joy just through all the art and all the artists that wanna put renderings up and put their own spin on art. Through that, I just hope that people can get a nice vibe of what the city is about just through the art," said Wiles.

The city asked for artists interested in painting the mural to submit plans back in April. But Wiles says he was the only one to do so.

“Nobody stood up nobody came forward,” said Wiles. “I hope that this really sparks people into action because you can make a difference.”

He put his full-time job on hold and plans to complete the project in just ten days.

“If this motivates somebody to step up and take pride and do something in their own community, so be it,” explained Wiles.

He’s already done one mural on a concrete cistern at Eaton Rapid’s Mill Pointe Park and he hopes his work inspires others to make something beautiful as well.

“We hope that more people will come to Eaton Rapids. We’ve got some great restaurants a few stores that they might be interested in,” said Deb Malewski, a local hobby artist helping with the project.

Wiles says the project wouldn’t be possible without the help of local artists and local businesses like Petit Hardware. Petit has been around for 133 years and donated the side of their business to the city for the mural.

The project is expected to be completed by next Sunday.

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