Downtown mural project unveiled in Buchanan

Published 1:26 pm Monday, July 1, 2024

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BUCHANAN — A vibrant mural project located in the heart of downtown Buchanan was unveiled on Saturday morning, marking a significant step forward in enhancing the artistic landscape and cultural vibrancy of the city.

LiveBuchanan, in partnership with the Buchanan District Library and Roti Roti Art Center, unveiled the completion of an ambitious community art project Saturday at the library aimed at revitalizing Days Avenue into an immersive cultural destination. 

“That’s what we’re here for, to support our local cultural assets,” said Ashley Regal, Executive Director of LiveBuchanan. “We’re just thrilled this worked out.”

Supported by grants from the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation and the Berrien Community Foundation, the art was created by local muralist Alex Ann Allen who centered the work on the community and celebrated the library. The library launched the “I Heart My Library” campaign to showcase the diverse range of interests and passions that the library is equipped to nurture and support. 

“I’m a muralist because of days like this,” Allen said. “I’m just so grateful that this is my job, that I get to hopefully help bring people together.”

Of the more than 100 entries, six youths were chosen to be featured in the murals: Millie, age 1; Treyvon, 10; Hunter, 6; Mae, 8; Molly, 8; Rhett, 5.

This portion of the project was funded by the Berrien Community Foundation. 

“It was really tough to decide out of 100,” Allen said. “Breaking it down to six was really hard to do because they’re all really great.”

The murals are placed on an interchangeable art framing system, made possible by the funding from the Michigan Gateway Community Foundation, that not only protects the library building but will also provide a dynamic platform for showcasing a rotating collection of large-scale artworks. The project will curate a fresh selection of art annually, poising Days Avenue to undergo a continuous evolution, offering residents and visitors an ever-changing visual experience.

Library Director Meg Paulette and the library board have been instrumental in bringing this vision to life, aligning with LiveBuchanan’s mission to activate Days Avenue and foster community engagement through the arts. 

“This really shows the community has a real knack for cross-organization collaboration for projects like these,” said Michigan Gateway Community Foundation President/CEO Michael Rowland. “The fact that every year, new art will flourish in downtown Buchanan is such a cool thing to be a part of.”

Inspired by “A Vision for Buchanan,” a comprehensive document crafted by Andrews University architecture students with extensive community input, this community art project aims to enhance public spaces and cultivate a strong sense of place within Buchanan. Highlighted on pages 20-21 of the vision, the project underscores the collective commitment to creating a vibrant and inclusive cultural landscape.

“One of the most exciting parts about this project is that we had six partners involved, that’s pretty amazing,” Regal said. “It’s just a lot of buy-in, a lot of cooperation and that’s one of the things I’m most proud of with this project. We’re excited that it is almost a shot-for-shot remake of what our community said they wanted in ‘A Vision for Buchanan’ and we’re excited that we’ve seen so much progress with Days Avenue becoming so alive with activities. The community sent us our marching orders and we got to walk to it and we had so much buy-in that we’re just thrilled to death.”