TRAVERSE CITY — The gleaming new paint lining the Clinch Park pedestrian tunnel won’t be all that passers-through see for much longer.
Coming soon is a mural celebrating the history and culture of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians who lived in the area well before European fur traders, priests and settlers — and still do.
Downtown Development Authority Communications Director Colleen Paveglio said the new paint on the tunnel Tuesday was to prepare it for the mural’s Oct. 25 installation and Oct. 28 dedication. Denver, Colorado-based artist Bobby MaGee Lopez is putting the finishing touches on 19 panels that’ll be fastened to the tunnel walls. He’s been working on the public art installation since his selection in May and a July gathering, she said.
“The tribe was gracious enough to host a community gathering where (Lopez) met with tribal members to talk about really incorporating authentic items into the mural that’s specific to this tribe and this region,” she said.
Paveglio said she and others worked closely with Cindy Winslow of the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians’ Eyaawing Museum and Cultural Center to review the accuracy of Lopez’s work.
The tribe granted $43,755 for the project, and the city arts commission put up $10,000, Paveglio said. It replaces one that previously honored Native Americans but was painted over.
Public art projects can stir controversy. Outcry caused the city arts commission to withdraw plans to have murals painted at the Open Space in April 2018.
Paveglio said she’s not aware of any negative feedback concerning the Clinch Park tunnel mural project.
Traverse City Arts Commission Chairwoman Debbie Hershey said the arts commission is “thrilled” to work with the tribe on the project.
“This has been an amazing process between the artist, the city and the Band to bring the vibrant artwork of artist Bobby MaGee (Lopez) back to the tunnel for hundreds to see and enjoy,” she said.