Mural taking shape in Houghton

Daily Mining Gazette/Garrett Neese Artist Nicole Weyandt stands by a wall near the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on which she will paint a mural over the next two weeks.

HOUGHTON — The large wall facing the Portage Lake Lift Bridge on the Houghton side has been a drab grey since it was constructed.

That started changing Friday, as artist Nicole Weyandt and a team of volunteers began preparing it for a large mural.

The mural, done primarily in pastel pinks, will show the Houghton waterfront with the Portage Lake Lift bridge in the background. In the foreground is a blue tree — though, to avoid encouraging shenanigans, she’ll probably drop the kids jumping off a swing.

“We’re not doing big crazy graffiti, because that’s not really Houghton’s style, in my opinion,” she said. “Houghton’s got a cool industrial, historical style, and I wouldn’t want to go against that.”

This year, the city’s Beautification Committee reached out to Weyandt about doing more murals.

Daily Mining Gazette/Garrett Neese During artist Nicole Weyandt's stay in Houghton, she is also doing smaller works such as the painting of a bicycle, seen here next to the Lunch Bag.

“(City Manager) Eric (Waara) and I were in conversation about what spots might need some brightening up, and we came up with this one,” she said.

Weyandt is also adding a painting of a bicycle by the brick wall near the burned-down building on Shelden Avenue. Another work will be put on stairs somewhere in the city.

Weyandt is no stranger to painting murals in Houghton. Three years ago, she did the Northern Lights mural on the large parking deck on Lakeshore Drive (which she touched up this year), as well as what she calls “Love Wall” by Fifth and Elm.

While traveling in Latin America, she also made murals on commission where she would trade the mural for lodging. Sometimes, they would pick the topic — “a lot of jungle scenes,” Weyandt said.

Others, she had free rein.

In one, an Incan lodge, she created a large community wall with a beach scene where everyone could leave their handprint and paint their name.

“It was a fun taking ownership of your space together and ‘get to know you’ activity for the people who live there,” she said.

Friday, Weyandt was washing the wall and adding a couple of coats of primer. The large Houghton mural should be completed in a couple of weeks, Weyandt said. Some volunteers are helping, including the Waaras and other members of the Beautification Committee.

Putting a mural on a wall both brightens up the space and gets the community interested in the process, she said.

“If they help out, or even if they come say ‘Hi’ to me, it’s almost like they have a little bit more ownership over the wall and a little but more pride in their town,” she said.

And she encourages people to stop by and try it. Anyone can paint, she said.

“It’s so forgiving,” she said. “If you don’t like a line, you can paint right over it.”