Art is so much more than just a pretty picture. It’s a way to start conversations, build connections, and challenge ourselves to think differently about the world. In short, art can be transformative. Previously, we’ve highlighted how art can transform public spaces by bringing people and places together. The Small Business Murals Project is another example of how we’re uplifting public spaces through art while also supporting entrepreneurship in our home community.
Launched in 2017, the Small Business Murals Project pairs local artists with Detroit businesses to create large-scale murals that elevate the space and increase foot traffic. The art not only beautifies historic Detroit buildings, it creates integral bonds between local artist and small business owner, residents and customers. It’s a creative way to support both local talent as well as the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Detroit. To date, there are 26 murals at various businesses across the city. Each year, new murals are painted, continuing the celebration of how art is used to support our community.
This post highlights our 2021 murals, featuring seven businesses and artists. Be sure to browse through the carousel to see the artists in action, alongside the local business owners they supported.
“This mural was inspired by a set of universal principles that I rely on to get me through life. The mural features the words FAITH, DILIGENCE and CONSISTENCY layered on top of the signature DISTINCT LIFE camouflage pattern and our INSPIRE logo,” said artist Rick Williams, who painted the mural on the wall of Powerhouse Gym at Grand River. “It’s my intention for the mural to serve as a daily reminder and a source of motivation for the community and the people who come in contact with it.” Jesse Kassel, a local artist who created a mural on the façade of Cyntsational Popcorn Co., was tasked with incorporating a piece of history into his painting. “The design for this mural is based on a collaborative process between me and the business owner,” he said. Kassel incorporated Cyntsational Popcorn Co.’s brand colors and elements with his own aesthetic approach. One of the key features that he included in the mural was to preserve a key portion of the old sign on the building. Previously, the location housed Sydney Bogg’s confectionary shop (the store has since moved to Berkley). By incorporating the original sign with the vibrant new colors of Cynstational Popcorn Co., Kassel showed how our love of of handcrafted treats bridges generations.
It’s these unique connections that make the Small Business Murals Project so special. “By pairing local artists with business owners, they co-create something beautiful that represents the business and their artistry while forging a bond based on the hustle and spirit of owning a business,” said Jasmin DeForrest, Director of Community Sponsorships at the Rocket Community Fund. “SBMP contributes to the creative economy growth in Detroit, while supporting small businesses and neighborhoods. Our hope is that the murals will drive traffic to the businesses while amplifying the vibrancy of Detroit neighborhoods.”
Check out the photos from this year’s murals and be sure to visit our mural map to see the locations of all the murals to date.