United Methodist Retirement Community Murals

The UMRC is located in Chelsea, Michigan and contains several of my murals done over time. The first murals I created for them are located in the Towsley Village Facility. There are five murals there, one for each of the four quads and a donor recognition area in the front lobby.



The Donor wall was created by painting names that looked like they were carved into stones. The number of donors increased during the initial project and we ran out of stones, so I was asked to create a second wall on the reception side to add the additional names.

The four quadrant murals are of the four seasons and represent the donors for each quad. Unfortunately, I don’t have current photos of these, but certainly plan on getting them soon. All I have are very old photos of low resolution.

The next murals were done a few years later. These murals had to be destroyed due to an expansion of the building a few years ago. The residents were so upset about it that they took some archival photos and published a commemorative calendar for them. There were eight panels down a long walkway which the residents traveled each day to get their mail and to visit the cafe. I had a small budget for the murals and was asked to do a “garden walk” look. They were planning on adding a white picket fence to hide the heating ducts in the hallway, so I put flowers along the lower level. But while driving in to do the first panel (I did one 8 foot panel per day for eight days), I noticed all the historical homes leading into the center and stopped to take photos of them. I decided to feature one home per panel, plus two historic areas and the postman that visited each day. Here are a few of the surviving photos.






The following murals are in the current cafe. They wanted a french theme, so I gave them a couple of windows, a faux finish to the exterior and a framed sign with the name “Frenchy’s” on it painted on canvas. Even the trim is painted to look like concrete edging.
Eventually, all of the interior “village” at UMRC I painted to look like exterior store fronts. I don’t have photos of all the exteriors unfortunately.

UMRC frenchies.jpg

The interior of the cafe was also faux finished and two “windows” were added with scenes of Paris. When the cafe was completed, the paintings had window boxes under them with flowers to complete the Parisian look.




The final mural was a challenge. I was asked to paint a faux brick mural of a Vernors billboard. There was a really old faded one on North Main in Ann Arbor, so I photographed it to get an idea of how it might have looked in better days. Then I set to work to invent an easy way to create bricks with paint. Here’s the final mural:

UMRC Vernors.jpg

The top of the billboard was intentionally cut off. The room where this appeared was a “general store” within the complex. The idea was to show only parts of the mural behind the displays. I loved the whole mural though and was happy to have snapped this photo just after completing the mural. I thought the bricks were extremely convincing. The technique I developed has been used for the creation of many murals since that have incorporated bricks or rocks in them.





Katherine Larson

Katherine Larson is a graphic artist, muralist and classical singer from Dexter, Michigan.

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