The railway retaining wall near Piquette Square was an eyesore, and the veterans living at Piquette hoped it could be made more attractive – and even artistic. Ideally, the art would commemorate military service.
A nice convergence of philanthropic, creative, and volunteer interests allowed this ideal to become real.
A series of mural panels now adorns the wall. They were painted by youth and artists this summer at the Vanguard Community Development Corporation in Detroit. The panels include military symbols representing the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and POWs. Artist Chazz Miller helped design the panels and supervise the youth painters.
The mural project was funded by the JPMorgan Chase Foundation as part of a grant to Vanguard to promote youth employment and beautification efforts in the North End area of the city. Christine Kageff, vice president of Philanthropy and Community Relations, was instrumental in connecting the Vanguard initiative with the interests of Piquette veterans.
Before the panels could be installed, the graffiti-ridden and rundown wall had to be prepared. Home Depot donated paint and supplies, and store managers Rob McCarthy and Paul Magros worked with Piquette tenant Floyd Brooks to prepare the wall.
In addition, we extend our thanks to Alia Harvey Quinn of Vanguard, the Vanguard youth, and artists Greg Johnson and Elexis Willingham.
To see the Facebook photo essay: New mural near Piquette Square painted by youth honors veterans.