Art in the Loft fishing for art

Art in the Loft has recently embarked on a major fishing expedition.

What the staff hopes to snare is a wide variety of fish-themed works of art that ultimately could become part of a gigantic public mural celebrating Alpena’s marine heritage. When completed, the 30×60-foot aquascape will hang in the downtown pocket park located next to the Owl Cafe.

“We are putting out a call for art,” said Justin Christensen-Cooper, gallery coordinator at the Loft. “From detailed and realistic, to lighthearted and whimsical, all medias, sizes and designs are welcome. Let us see your fish.”

Participants are encouraged to get creative and make a splash. All ages are invited to take part in this fun project that is being directed by well-known mural artist Tony Hendrick. Several years ago, Hendrick facilitated the creation of the colorful Mural of Hope that now stands outside the Cancer Center at Alpena Regional Medical Center.

To help facilitate the process this time around, Art in the Loft has put together four “creation stations” where those interested can stop by and use the materials supplied to make a fish painting or drawing. The stations are set up at the Loft, Besser Museum, Alpena County Library and Thunder National Marine Sanctuary.

The deadline for submitting art is Aug. 17. Hendrick will consider all the entries submitted and select 12 that he believes will best convey the aquatic feel of the mural and the region. The final selections will be announced in September.

A series of Community Painting Workshops will then be held at the Loft during winter 2013-14, with the public invited to stop by and work on the large renderings of the fish art selected for the mural.

“The background of the mural will be flat, but the fish will be three-dimensional,” Christensen-Cooper said. “They will be painted on a flat surface but appear to be popping out of the wall.”

Along with facilitating the community aspect of the project, Hendrick also was commissioned to paint the background of the mural. Here are some suggested design guidelines he has given for fish submissions:

  • Oomph Give the image visual weight (or oomph) from a distance while providing the viewer something to discover up-close.
  • Beauty If something truly inspires you, it will most likely feel genuine and real, and connect with others.
  • Does the image expand inward and outward to reveal something new every time the mural is revisited?

Fish drawings or paintings can be submitted at the creation stations around town. They also can be done at home and dropped off at the Loft, located inside the Center Building. Additionally, entire can be submitted to the website,

The finished mural is expected to be installed by this same time next year. For more information, call Christensen-Cooper at 356-4877, email him at or go to the Loft’s website.