Deb Malewski

Contributing Writer

The Arts Council of Eaton Rapids recently initiated a new alley art project in downtown Eaton Rapids. Four large chalkboards were built and installed in the alley behind City Hall, and buckets of chunky chalk placed nearby. The public is invited to create with the chalk to their heart’s content. 

According to Lindsey Zeller, Quality of Life Director for the City, the intent is to create “placemaking.” Zeller explains that placemaking, which is creating art in public spaces, encourages people to gather, enjoy time together and be creative all at the same time, which in turn creates a more vibrant and connected community.

Zeller feels the project has been a resounding success downtown, that people are excited to be creative in the alley. New drawings and messages are always being added, and so far, most have been completely appropriate for all ages. Being chalk, if something inappropriate is drawn it can be easily removed, and clean space is then available for the next artist.

Birthday greetings, support for Eaton Rapids (“We R ER”) and words of positive encouragement, such as “Let your smile change the world; don’t let the world change your smile,” are often seen, along with drawings. In June they saw high school seniors using the chalkboards as part of their senior photos, with “Class of 2020” written behind them.

Art is alive in Eaton Rapids. 

The Arts Council is also contracting for a public mural downtown using local artist Dan Wiles. He will be painting a 60-foot wide mural on the north side of the Pettit garage near the river. It will feature a rural scene. The Council is also planning the annual Eaton Rapids Air Scarecrow Contest, which will run Sept. 11 through Oct. 23.