It’s considered pretty lucky if an artistic person gets to use their artistic talent in a typically non-art job. Paige Hunter, of Dimondale, was one of the lucky ones. She worked as a multimedia illustrator for the United States Army. Part of that time she was deployed in Iraq with the 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne) (5th SFG (A)) and was able to use her artistic skills as part of being a “situational expert” and created images and graphics used to deceive the enemy.
She also worked at Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, and at the Pentagon. As part of her training, she also attended “jump school.” Hunter left the Army with health issues after 15 years and is considered a disabled veteran now.
She has come back to Dimondale and opened a storefront, The Wild Pencil. She wants to use her artistic talents to involve others and to make a difference in her community. Hunter grew up in Dimondale and took graphic design classes at Lansing Community College (LCC). The building her business is in was a wagon and buggy shop 150 years ago, Hunter explained. The original brick walls have been exposed inside to create a uniquely textured look and adds to the artistic atmosphere.
Her first project is an exterior wall mural for the Village. She has recruited a group of children to assist her in this endeavor. They are currently in the design stage and are coming up with ideas that represent Dimondale. In addition, the group is learning painting skills such as the elements of design, blending colors, painting within the lines, and shading. The children range in age from nine years old to middle school students and all ages are welcome.
The mural will be painted on the 12’ x 64’ side of the Dimondale Village Building. The group is working hard to narrow down the design ideas and hope to have the mural completed by September.
The group first started meeting in April. They meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 5 p.m. at Hunter’s shop, The Wild Pencil, which is located at 133A North Bridge Street, next door to Main Street Pizza. There is no charge to participate.
“The kids can earn volunteer hours, create a large piece for their portfolio, and have a lot of fun with community interaction,” Hunter said. “This is something that can benefit them their entire lives.”
They plan on creating and presenting three different concepts to the Village Council to select from. The current plans involve an Oldsmobile car, an umbrella, trees, a farm market, a bench, and the river, and will range from the past, present, and the future of Dimondale. The design will be interactive, Hunter explained. Visitors will be able to stand in front of the elements of the design and take photos as if they are part of the design.
The VFW Chapter 3727 of Holt, which Hunter is a member of, has generously provided funding for the project.
“Don’t quit till you’re proud,” is the motto Hunter goes by in life and in her art. “We want this to be something we’re very proud of.”
Hunter is also working on setting up her retail store that will also offer art classes. “This Ain’t Your Momma’s Book Club,” will feature projects that utilize old books. A lamp made from books, book page folding, smashed book scrapbooking, and a secret cut-out book are some of the projects that Hunter is planning for her classes, along with “Bitch and Stitch,” where participants will bring in their sewing machines and will both sew and discuss the topics of the day.
She also would like to develop an app for veterans and their families, especially geared towards female veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as there is little available for them in this area.
You can follow the progress of the group on their Facebook page #The Dimondale Mural Project. More information is available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or just stop into The Wild Pencil.