Sometimes public art can be found in unexpected places – like the side of a building in Chelsea Village Plaza on an otherwise drab wall.
The result of these unexpected finds can change the whole landscape.
A perfect example took place this month when the owners of Hometown Pharmacy approached Sean Kennedy, president of F. A. Kennedy Co, LLC, and asked if a mural could be located on the south wall where the pharmacy’s drive-thru is located.
Kennedy contacted muralist Melissa Morse of Jackson who came up with a colorful idea that will bring smiles to visitors and reflect the unique character of Chelsea.
With a concept in hand, Kennedy approached Julia Upfal, Chelsea community development director, for the city’s approval.
Fast forward to this week where the once mono-colored wall of Hometown Pharmacy has been transformed into a multi-colored work of art with the message – “Chelsea Welcomes You” on the south side of town.
(This mural is one of two new ones in Chelsea. Upfal said a there is a mural that features a black crow and can be found on a wall at The Grateful Crow, at 420 N Main St., a planned restaurant on the north side of town.)
The Chelsea Village Plaza mural is the work of mixed media artist Morse of Jackson who looked at the space as a spot to promote unity by highlighting one of Chelsea’s most cherished and popular events – the Chelsea Community Fair.
Morse describes herself as a self-taught artist and entrepreneur who has been creating art for as long as she can remember – and receiving commissions for her artistic talents for the last 20 years.
“I have worked and shown all over Michigan and I love the challenge of taking on a new project, and the journey of the artistic process,” she says, adding, “I believe my artistic style is always evolving, as it should, when you commit to living in your passion. “
Her vision for the large mural took root after conversations with folks in the community, she says, “and getting to know this charming little corner of the world.”
Morse says she wanted to create “something that would embrace the community and spark some smiles.”
She “chose to highlight the importance of the local farms and celebrate the fair to represent the joy in people coming together in a fun and positive way, she says.
The plaza is owned and operated by the Kennedy family, the same family that also owns Polly’s Country Market under two different company names.
The family’s connections to the property and the Plaza go back many years, says Kennedy.
“I’m told my dad bought the original store in the early 70s, apparently from the Rucker brothers, who also operated a grocery store from that location,” Kennedy says.
In 1981, he remodeled the store, basically doubling its size. Then in 1989, he bought the adjacent property from Dr. Papo and built the remainder of the strip center, Kennedy says.
“Polly’s was the anchor tenant at the center until 2005 when we moved the store down the street to the old Farmer Jack location. At that time, the space occupied by Polly’s was remodeled,” he says.
Today, that location is occupied by USPS, Aberdeen Bike, Washtenaw County and the Chelsea Tree House.
And the mural isn’t the only sprucing up the plaza will see. It’s expected that more esthetic changes are in store for the entire plaza. The family plans to invest in a new façade for the entire Chelsea Village Plaza with work expected to begin later this year.
“It has been such an exciting project and I appreciate how welcoming and supportive everyone has treated me,” Morse says of her time in Chelsea.
The colorful, unbeat mural ties together the city’s original farming roots and its largest yearly event – the Chelsea Community Fair.
For more of Morse’s work, click here.
You can also check out her [email protected] or contact her by phone at (517) 416-3775.