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New murals in Eastern Market celebrate changemaking and all things Weird

Eastern Market has a new welcome mat: behold one of the new murals on Gratiot entering the market, courtesy of German and Austrian artist collective "The Weird," recently in town for their group exhibition at Inner State Gallery. After spending some time absorbing the history and the "characters" of the Market, the Weird created this mural, which offers their interpretation of the people and places they saw. (And, yes, it's kind of weird.) 
 
The Weird's murals (they did a few) are the latest in an ongoing public art effort spearheaded by the guys behind Inner State (formerly 323 East in Royal Oak) and 1xRUN. "We've been engaged in public arts projects for many years," says Jesse Cory, who founded 323 and 1xRUN along with partners Dan Armand and Ryan Brogan. "It has always been in our blood and something we thought was important."
 
It started with the mural on their 323 building. They then moved on to Woodward Windows, a public art project that took over vacant storefronts along Woodward Avenue and included works from local artists like Malt, Sintex, Hygienic Dress League, and the Detroit Fashion Collective. Then, last summer, 1xRUN produced the Detroit Beautification Project in collaboration with Matt Eaton. This project yielded dozens of murals throughout Hamtramck and garnered national coverage (and controversy). It was during this project that Cory and his team were approached by Plymouth Educational Center instructor Allie Gross to collaborate with her 5th grade ChangeMakers class.
 
The ChangeMakers are a civically-minded group of students that had already put together a winning proposal at Detroit Soup. A crowd-funding campaign was launched to cover the cost of supplies, and 1xRUN brought San Diego-based artist Persue in to work with the students on creating a mural using his signature Bunny Kitty character. Persue worked with the kids for three days last month to create the mural on Russell between Mack and Warren in Eastern Market on the side of an abandoned juvenile detention center.
 
1xRUN's/Inner State's focus this year is all on Eastern Market, their new home since May. They have produced nine murals in the market so far this year. The murals serve several purposes: first, they are public works of art for all people to enjoy, taken outside of the confines of a traditional gallery and put out in front of the public. Second, the murals are from internationally-renowned street artists; petty taggers are deterred from destroying them (there is a strict street art code at play) so walls previously full of junky tags are remade into actual works of art. Third, since 1xRUN/Inner State self-funds all of these projects (with occasional help from sponsors like Montana Cans) and works with artists they're already collaborating with on limited edition print runs or an exhibition, the murals give them a chance to further showcase their artists and their brand. Cory says, "It gives traveling artists the same opportunity to leave behind something better."
 
Source: Jesse Cory, co-founder of 1xRUN and Inner State Gallery
Writer: Nicole Rupersburg

Photo credit: Sal Rodriguez

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