East Lansing’s burgeoning mural arts scene is growing yet again, thanks to traveling mural artist Victor Ving and photographer Lisa Beggs, the duo behind Greetings Tour. The team will work with local artists to create a “Welcome to East Lansing” mural on the exterior walls of The Roadhouse Pub on Harrison Rd.
Coined as the ‘original postcard mural tour,’ Greetings Tour creates landmarks through public art by working with local communities across the country to design and create colorful and nostalgic murals, highlighting the location’s landmarks, history, and culture. Their latest mural will make East Lansing one of 45 stops on their art tour that crosses 21 states.
The pair is planning to visit East Lansing from May 10 through 17, weather permitting, to complete the 11-feet high by 51-feet wide mural at The Roadhouse Pub that some hope will encourage travel to East Lansing.
Art Festival and Art Initiatives Coordinator for the City of East Lansing Heather Majano spoke to ELi about the planned mural, commissioned by the East Lansing Arts Commission and supported by the City’s Public Art Fund.
While local artists were considered in the beginning, Majano said that “Ultimately, the idea of us being a part of something bigger than East Lansing with this kind of scavenger hunt-style mural was really exciting, and we wanted to be a part of that. The idea that the artists were working together with the community to select the images that are put into the letters was really cool.”
Majano hopes this emerging ‘selfie mural’ culture garners national attention, making East Lansing a destination. “There are people who travel just to get selfies with these murals,” she said. “The selfie is a new kind of concept to factor into murals. This selfie mural is a really cool thing to add to our community…This kind of got the ball rolling for those other murals.”
Initially, the idea for the mural began as a community-collaborative process, and the side of the Hannah Community Center was proposed as a location. At the same time, the owners of The Roadhouse Pub reached out to the Arts Commission asking for referrals for a mural artist to paint over their current artwork.
Majano said when the opportunity presented itself, the deal was too good to pass up and The Roadhouse Pub space was chosen for the Greetings From East Lansing mural. The mural will be on the south-facing wall of Roadhouse Pub, facing Michigan Ave. looking toward campus. The location also makes for a nice entrance into East Lansing from Lansing via Michigan Avenue.
Ving and Beggs will partner with a local artist to paint the mural that contains iconic images related to East Lansing inside the lettering.
“There’s a mural on [the exterior walls of The Roadhouse Pub] right now painted by a local muralist Samskee,” Majano said. “We touched base with Samskee, and he was very on board with it. It’s been a while since that mural was painted, and he said it is time. We then connected him with the current artist, and he’s been assisting on the project, so he’ll be helping paint the new mural.”
“Connecting with him was very important before we moved too far into this project…It was really cool that even though the design was developed by artists who are not from East Lansing, they are using local artists to help them install it,” Majano said.
As for the development stages of the design and what elements to include within the letters, artists researched the City. Members of the Arts Commission met to present three to five images each that they thought represented the City best.
Ultimately, five images were selected to be included in the mural: the Eli & Edythe Broad Art Museum, the Division Street Parking Garage, the Mary P. Sharp “Raising Harmony” sculpture outside City Hall, Sparty, and the unmistakable squirrel at the top.
This very squirrel sets East Lansing’s mural apart from the other Greetings From murals, according to Majano.
“The artist actually drew us the black squirrel on top of the ‘L’ letter because it was something the commissioners had suggested,” Majano said. “It actually makes our mural a little bit more unique than the others they have designed because they haven’t added any outside space to their letters in the other murals they’ve made.”
As for the background, Majano said, “We selected the kind of forest background as opposed to a straight line because East Lansing is Tree City USA certified and trees are really important to East Lansing.”
The mural will also recognize the area’s ancestral and contemporary Lands of the Anishinaabeg – Three Fires Confederacy of Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi peoples. One section of the mural will feature the Anishinaabe people.
Artists encourage visitors to come down to the mural site, and check out their painting process. There are tentative plans for a dedication later in the month. The Nokomis Cultural Heritage Center in Okemos will host a land acknowledgment, and artists will be present.