LANSING, Mich. — All eyes were on downtown St Johns this morning as a new permanent public art piece funded by the Lansing Economic Area Partnership’s (LEAP) Public Art for Communities (PAFC) grant program in partnership with PNC Foundation, was officially unveiled. “Eyes are the Windows to the Soul” is a new mural strategically located on the 223 N. Clinton Avenue building (Higham Street side); a prominent intersection in downtown St Johns. Exploding with colorful whimsy the mural captures the intrinsic value of St Johns, including elements such as the popular Mint Festival and St. Johns’ redwing blackbird mascot.
“As the St Johns community grows, we are constantly striving to improve the downtown experience for residents and visitors,” says Eric Hufnagel, Mayor of St Johns. “This location was specifically chosen to connect a variety of enhancements we have invested in, including two other LEAP funded public art pieces, to support popular businesses located near by and create a more pedestrian friendly experience for many years to come.”
The mural was designed by local artist Tracie Davis, who creatively blended features of the building into the final design, in which the windows are transformed into eyes--the eyes of the soul of the St Johns community. Bringing the mural to life was the essence of true partnership—from funding to paint hitting the wall. Gathering on the collaborative spirit of the community, St Johns residents were invited to help paint the mural during its first stages, and the mural was named by way of a community contest. “The entire experience around this mural was magical and reinforced the love I have for this community,” said Davis. “It’s seriously exciting to finally see this mural come to life. Thank you to everyone who made this possible—LEAP and the PNC Foundation, the Arts Council of Greater Lansing and the entire St Johns community!”
Since 2012, LEAP has invested $240,000 in growing a collection of strategically placed, permanent, public art throughout the Tri-county region, with the PNC Foundation as a strong supporter. The PNC Foundation began contributing $10,000 annually to the program each year in 2015, which helped expand the program and number of pieces funded each year.
“PNC’s ongoing support of LEAP’s public art grant program reflects our Main Street values and commitment to the communities where we conduct business,” said Timothy Salisbury, PNC regional president for mid-Michigan. “This program is an example of what can be accomplished through strong public-private partnerships.”
The Public Art for Communities grant program is designed to elevate critical areas in need of further economic development, with an aim toward enhancing community image for the purpose of keeping and attracting top talent and businesses. With more than 30 individual permanent pieces funded, the PAFC program has contributed in a significant way to the region’s evolving aesthetic appeal for a broad spectrum of businesses.
“LEAP’s Public Art for Communities Grant program has proven itself a great asset as our region presents itself to global businesses and talent that LEAP is trying to keep and attract,” said Dillon Rush, Tri-county development & placemaking manager. “It’s amazing to see how our communities continue to come together in shaping these projects, inviting the world to experience the uniqueness and opportunities of each community through public art.”
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