Anne Jantz Designs

Dear Mural Enthusiast,

I am proposing a mural celebrating the Bio-Diversity of Detroit, and I hope this mural design will really speak to your heart. I have had a remarkably delighted reaction from everyone who has seen my design, and I believe it would be a fitting tribute to the urban farming movement in Detroit and Michigan wherever it is displayed. 

Detroit and Michigan are partners in providing a vast array of wonderful produce and floral products to our state and the nation, many of which are portrayed in my design. My overarching vision for this mural is a celebration of healthy foods, especially the ones grown in Detroit. . I did a lot of research on healthy foods for my mural, and I also found out what crops Michigan excels in. I cross referenced this information to plan my design. All of the many fruits, vegetables, trees, and floral items I have included in my mural are “home grown” right here in the Great Lakes State.  They constitute a healthy diet and contribute to a healthy lifestyle which goes along with many recent initiatives for Detroit’s future.  I also want to salute the incredible entrepreneurial spirit here.

At the center of the mural is its central theme, a city garden with some of Michigan’s most popular produce including blueberries, sweet corn, pumpkins, cabbage, lavender, and tomatoes. There is also a Christmas tree section. This market garden symbolizes Detroit’s goal to become a successful and profitable center for market gardening, and it gives tribute to the gardens in Detroit. The center garden is surrounded by other Detroit grown fruits and vegetables.

Starting in the upper left corner of the mural is the skyline of Detroit as seen from the Woodward corridor.












 In the upper center is a rising sunflower, the beautiful queen of the flower kingdom and also a generator of the bright light and energy that farming is bringing to the Detroit scene. As a plus, the sunflower is not just a pretty face, it also has the ability to draw toxins from the soil, even radioactive ones, and therefore can restore the purity of the urban landscape. Because of all these points, I think the sunflower is the perfect symbol for gardening as a powerful way to bring Detroit back to prosperity.

Moving clockwise, the upper right corner is devoted to Michigan’s orchards, featuring apple, peach, and cherry trees, and their friends the bees are represented by a group of beehives. Beekeeping is another old-but-new-again pursuit in Detroit. Below the orchard is a grape arbor with three types of Michigan grapes. Across the path in the lower right corner is an array of wonderful root vegetables including the powerhouse garlic plant as well as rutabaga, carrots, sweet potaoes, potatoes, and beets. In the lower left corner of the mural is a pond with tilapia and rainbow trout, two fish species that are being farmed in Detroit. On the retaining wall for the pond, is an urn with flowers and a row of geraniums. Petunias and geraniums are two of Michigan’s top floral crops. In the center on the left is a gaggle of mushrooms and the cruciferous forest, a grove of broccoli and cauliflower fenced in by an asparagus stockade fence.

I used a lot of my favorite imagery in the mural.  I am an Artist and an Art Therapist, so I employed my Art Therapy knowledge for these images. The bridge in the foreground of the mural symbolizes the connection between rural and urban communities, as well as the span of time in Detroit which began as a rural community and is now aspiring to become one of the largest urban market gardens in America yet again. The children on the bridge represent the wonderful diversity of the people in Detroit.

  Just for fun, I floated a couple of peas in a pod “boats” down the stream leading to the pond. The brick path leading to the bridge commemorates Detroit’s old brick streets that have long since been paved over, and it symbolizes the journey Detroit is on towards wholeness. Of course I had to get my favorite water lilies in, so they adorn the surface of the fish pond.

My plan is to calculate the layouts for the project using computer art with a team of Detroit artists and youth.  Then we’ll  paint it in a studio on building panels. Later, we’ll deliver it to the site where it will be used.

So that pretty much describes my mural.  I join with all the other devoted Detroiters who are dedicated to Detroit’s Renaissance. I’ve been fortunate in my lifetime to have lived in 6 other countries and 6 other states, but when it’s all said and done, my heart belongs here in Detroit, and I choose to be here. I see this mural project as a great and inspirational asset to Detroit. I would be so proud to help create it for the city. I have learned a lot about Detroit while painting this sketch, and I enjoyed creating it immensely


                                                                          MY BACKGROUND

I have been a painter and an artist all my life, and I have spent some of my best years in Detroit. I graduated from Wayne State University the first time with a B.F.A. in painting and sculpture. I have since lived and studied art in 6 other countries and 6 states. I studied abstract painting  in Australia, then weaving in Sweden, Belgium and Australia, pottery in England, and Silk Painting in Germany. I went back to Wayne when I returned to Detroit and earned a Masters Degree in Art Education/Art Therapy. I am also a CAD Operator in the architectural field. I create drawings in 3D using Revit and Inventor software. I find this strictly disciplined drawing style helps me to design my freer fine art pieces.

I did my first mural, “Diversity Is Our Strength” as a community project, in 1995 for Freedom House, a shelter for political refugees in Southwest Detroit. I had started working at Freedom House while completing my Masters in Art Therapy at Wayne State University. I coordinated the mural, and I also painted parts of it, the Dutch woman, the Arab man, and the young Chinese girl seated on the right. It is 50’ x 35’, and it is on the outside back wall of Los Galanes Restaurant on Bagley. 70 of us painted it in 1995, and it was there on that wall for over 20 years. It makes me very proud that I helped create a landmark in Detroit.  I believe public art is therapeutic not only for the artists who create it but also for the communities where it exists.

Later I taught mural painting to children at Holy Redeemer Cultural Center in Southwest Detroit. I also volunteered for a year at The Children’s Center on Alexandrine in Detroit. We used art therapy to work with children with bereavement issues stemming from witnessing violent death in their families. It was called the Sanctuary Project.

My next mural was a joint effort in the Soup Kitchen at St. Leo’s Church on 15th Street near old Tiger Stadium. I painted a third of the mural along with two of my friends. We polled the clients in the soup kitchen for their preferences for themes, and we did a combination of their requests. It is a landscape with a gazebo and a restful pond and waterfall. I did one of my favorite subjects in the mural, the pond with water lilies.

I love working big when I paint, so I really enjoyed painting several sets for the Farmington Players in Farmington, MI.  I also contributed some of the painting on a mural at Friends of Detroit, a community center on East Forest in Detroit. I have done several residential murals for clients, both on the wall and on a large, very thin canvas that my husband invented. They have been landscapes for the most part.

I cofounded The Art Experience in Pontiac in 1996. It is an Art Therapy Studio that works with people in the psychiatric community and in recovery programs. I was with the organization for 6 years, and I designed their first website. I taught painting and computer arts there.

I've worked for several architectural firms drawing in 3D with Revit software. I am also working on a series of children’s books with Olivia Ocelot as the main character. I write the stories with input from my grandchildren. I use traditional painting combined with CorelDraw Computer software to illustrate them.

As I stated at the beginning of this letter, I am very geeked about this mural design and I would like to get the backing to create it. I know it would be a fitting tribute to Detroit and  our community.

Incidently, all 4 of my grandparents were farmers, so I guess you could say it’s in my blood.

Anne Jantz

email:  anne@annejantz.com