Blue Water River Walk Murals

The Artists

If the artist has listed contact info with their mural they are open to commissions. Please contact them directly.

The “Making Muralists” project was organized by myself (Jody Parmann) and sponsored by:

& Watson Painting Company for the use of their trailer during the event.

Not pictured: Grace McCarthy, fastest brush in the Midwest.

It was early spring and I’d taken my my 8 year old son and 4 year old daughter for a stroll along the Blue Water River Walk. We always start at the arch, go to the tunnel. Upon entering, I was somewhat appalled at the shape the tunnel was in. As an art lover, I like graffiti, but this wasn’t good graffiti – this was gratuitous vulgarities and obscenities.The unpleasantness of the environment increased greatly as my 8 year old began to repeat the obscene words spray-painted on the concrete. I thought “somebody should do something about this.” . . . “Maybe I’m that person.”


The previous year I’d spearheaded the mural project on the MI Mutual garage door. As a member of the Community Foundation’s Blue Water Art’s Committee, I know there is funding available for such projects, but as I considered future projects I knew I couldn’t keep asking for money and giving it to the one local talented and reliable mural artist. One of the goals is to make sure money granted out is benefiting various people and populations. I was going to need more muralists if I wanted more public art.

The tunnel needed to be rehabbed. It’s natural structure offered shelter from the elements for painters experimenting with mural painting. I knew there were those who wanted to learn, but painting murals can be intimidating because of their shear size. Questions like, “what’s paint is appropriate for what surface?” Whether to seal it, what ladder to invest in for projects? Where to get scaffolding? How much to charge? Etc. Etc.

I’m an artist myself, and I know a plethora of unknowns often spirals into paralyzing fear. With some guidance from experienced muralist David Stoneberg, funds to purchase the tools, supplies and paint and permission and access to a space (the tunnel) to put it all together I knew I could perhaps inspire some of these brave artists to take up the muralist mantle.

The River Walk is an absolute gem in our community. It deserved a space that complimented it, not a tunnel that brought forth visions of Harry Potter and the Dementors, so I started gauging interest via the Facebook group Blue Water Creatives. I wanted to know if there were those who were up to the challenge. There were! In fact, the original proposal only funded every other space in the tunnel for a total of 20 murals, but the applications of interested artists was so overwhelming I went back to James Freed, Port Huron City Manager, and said, “Hey, I don’t want to turn any of these artists away from learning. Investing in them now means more murals in the future. So, can I have more money to fund them all?” He agreed and I got to do something truly exciting – I got to tell them they were all going to have a space in the tunnel.

Their proposals were only limited in the following ways:

  • Family friendly (PG-rated)
  • All image, NO TEXT
  • No copyrighted images
  • No political or religious propaganda 
  • No business advertising 
  • Only Blue, Green, Yellow, Black & White could be used. Since they’d have no unifying them I wanted the color scheme to be what connected them.

In the beginning, I worried whether I could entice 20 artists to learn mural painting – then I got 34!

As the day approached and I felt like I’d planned for every eventuality (mad logistics skills that come with motherhood) but I wondered what would go wrong? What had I missed or miscalculated? Would there be hiccups? Would they be minor or major? Could I manage them?

The weekend started out with my sister Cricket and me disseminating the mural making kits that included:

David Stoneberg painting the MI Mutual Mural.
  • Paint Brushes
  • Rollers
  • Straight Edge w/Level
  • Sanding Block
  • Canvas Drop Cloth
  • Cups & Lids
  • Pencil & Sharpener
  • Water Bottles
  • Baby Wipes & Paper Towels
  • Snacks

When folks arrived David Stoneberg, professional muralist, did a quick presentation that covered the basics and gave them some information about best practices which we outlined in a handy-dandy brochure for the artists:

I’m happy to say that everything that could go right, did – beyond my wildest imaginings. I’m not patting myself on the back, because while I did my best wherever I could – it was the artists who participated that brought the magic. As they cheered each other on, offering thoughtful feedback, they shared tools, supplies, tips and tricks they’d gathered from their own art-making journey. Sometimes it was really quiet because everyone was so focused. Other times there was excited chatter along with praise and words of thanks from members of our community strolling or biking River Walk. My favorite moment was when music was playing and I could hear everyone singing together in harmony.

The weather was beautiful both days – even the thunderstorm that drenched me felt refreshing and evoked nostalgia of being a kid and playing in the rain. Then came the rainbow that made me feel peaceful and full of gratitude for those who participated and were willing to share their talent and vision with the community and for the organizations that aided and funded it!

If you are a business and/or building owner in the Blue Water Area who has space for a mural there may be funding available to help you make it happen. Contact me, Jody Parmann at jody@ravencafpeh.com and I’ll do my best to help you connect the dots.

The Keel: https://www.secondwavemedia.com/the-keel/features/Making-muralists-2021.aspx
The Times Herald (story): https://www.thetimesherald.com/story/news/2021/09/14/artists-descend-military-street-tunnel-paint-36-murals/8317879002/
The Times Herald (video): https://www.thetimesherald.com/videos/news/2021/09/13/see-new-murals-military-street-tunnel/8322497002/
Blue Water Healthy Living: https://bluewaterhealthyliving.com/riverwalk-tunnel-mural-gallery1/