On the south side of the Kean’s building block in Mason, locals and visitors will see a 2018s summer addition lighting up the dingy alleyway. What was once a plain white wall is now decorated with graffiti art of some of Kean’s owner Theresa Wren’s favorite flowers. In just a couple weeks’ time the greater Mason area is abuzz with admiration for the new artwork.
“I’ve been trying to paint the building for five years,” said Wren. “The alley has been white for 15 years. It just needed painting. The old paint was crumbling.”
The need for an updated paint job was in the back of Wren’s mind, but a trip to Holland, Mich. was what gave her a better idea for the project. When Wren and her daughter happened on a local coffee shop with graffiti murals, she knew what she wanted for her Mason store. Wren asked the coffee shop owner for the name of the artist, and gave him a call herself. The artist she contacted was Chris Garcia, a Holland native and tattoo and graffiti artist. Garcia owns a tattoo shop in Holland called Htownink, but he also travels around to make graffiti art.
Wren had to have his art, so she invited Garcia to stay in one of the upstairs apartments at Kean’s. In a week’s time he had turned a blank slate into colorful depictions of peonies, tulips, larkspurs, and dahlias. According to Wren, Garcia’s work was more than just a painting on a blank wall, but a stroke of fresh inspiration- an image of the potential for downtown Mason.
“He doesn’t realize what he did here. I can’t believe the number of people commenting on it. People keep saying, ‘Thank you.’ I haven’t heard one bad word,” said Wren.
While Wren recognizes the mural as a beneficial addition for her own business, she also sees it as a gift and benefit for Mason as a whole. Not only will visitors to her business get to enjoy the imagery, passersby, Bad Brewing and Los Tres Amigos’ customers, and out of town visitors can view the art on a walk, or while enjoying a beer or taco.
Wren hopes the mural will inspire other storeowners and organizations in town to enrich the Mason community with similar artwork. Alleyways, dumpsters, fire escapes, and all the other parts often unseen behind downtown businesses have the potential to be as walk-able and enjoyable as any storefront, in Wren’s view. It just takes a dark backdrop, a talented artist, and a splash of paint.
Wren would like to give another thanks to Chris Garcia for his efficient and lovely art. Readers can learn more about Garcia’s art by visiting htownink.com. Wren also extended her thanks to the dozens of Mason residents for complimenting the mural and offering their thanks.