Mary became involved in mural-painting in the summer of 1998, when she and a group of friends lobbied the Ann Arbor Railroad to create murals on it’s downtown underpasses. It wasn’t until years later, after much reflection on that summer’s installation of 8 murals, that Mary was able to see the vital impact that those murals made on the Ann Arbor community. The underpasses connect Ann Arbor’s neighborhoods with the city’s center. The murals helped to create a beautiful aesthetic and safer transition for pedestrians and car travelers.
In 2002, Mary received her first public commission. Mary and friend Cullen Neaton were hired by Peter Allen and Associates to paint a mural on the N. Main Street underpass near Argo damn. They designed a vibrant, lush, arching welcome for those coming to the downtown area from M-14. The popular mural brought color and beauty to what was at the time a blighted area.
Returning to the tresses again, Mary began to share the underpass mural experience with local teenagers. She taught workshops with teens through the Ann Arbor Art Center and Community High School: covering design, budget, and the execution of public mural projects.
It was the culmination of these railroad community projects that pointed Mary in the direction of public mural art as a career. She founded TreeTown Murals in the summer of 2007.
TreeTown Murals has met the needs of many mural loving audiences for over the years. Mary’s work can be seen in a variety of settings, in private residences, places of business, and the public sphere. It is in the public realm that the murals reach the most individuals. TreeTown’s public murals have advertised themselves and have helped revive the public mural tradition within the greater Washtenaw County area and beyond throughout the state.
Over the years, Mary has been given the opportunity to partner TreeTown Murals with larger community mural initiatives. Mary enjoys designing and painting murals within a community setting, incorporating insight, direction, and historical expertise from members of the community. Creating community paint and participation days where families, friends, shop owners, members of city council, and others can come down to the mural site and “make their mark” gets everyone involved. Participants feel pride and joy in being part of a community landmark that will stay in the public trust for years.
As TreeTown Murals grows and evolves so do the murals. Each new project is a unique opportunity to develop new skills and to fine tune old ones. The murals are becoming more sophisticated and the avenues for educating and involving the community are becoming more diverse.
Mary says, “Murals have a way of touching all of us on a very personal and individual level. They can be purely aesthetic and uplifting or incredibly socially transformative. Our stories and legacies stand stronger because of mural making throughout history. This is how we leave our mark on society. This is how we evoke change and educate our children. I look forward to serving communities for years to come by creating murals for public sites, businesses, and personal spaces, and by continuing to foster the connection between people and there surroundings.”