Top row from left: Frances Johnson, Jay Key, Olivia Pas, Lori Pas, Gerry Pas, Dan Persinger Bottom Row from left: Ken Sigler, Donna Pellegata, Kathy Fish, Linda Onderko
What was once a stark, drab 30-foot walkway to radiation therapy at Huron Valley-Sinai's Charach Cancer Treatment Center is now a bright and colorful four-season mural of the orchard that surrounds the hospital.
A group of local artists recently put the finishing touches on the mural, which depicts a display of apple trees - along with a few cheerful critters - in scenes of fall, winter, spring and summer.
"We were talking to some of the nurses there who said they really wanted a mural," said Leslie Watson, owner of Main Street Art in downtown Milford, who was instrumental in getting the project going. "I told them I'd get them their mural - and then I had to figure out a way to do it."
Yet it didn't take long for Watson to make it happen. She contacted artist Donna Pellegata of the Huron Valley Council for the Arts, who Watson said "jumped right on board" and in turn made arrangements for friend and fellow artist Linda Onderko to get the volunteer project underway - with the help of eight other local artists.
Onderko and artist Dan Persinger sketched out the scenes, and then were joined by the other artists who spent the last two months painting the mural.
So how did so many artists - each with their own creative ideas - manage to work together on one project?
Onderko admits it was tough, at first, for her to share control of the project. "It took awhile, because I am used to working solo," she grinned. "But then I just let people do what they wanted.
"And I like it," Onderko said. "It does reflect a lot of different artists' styles."
Robin Witte, public relations and marketing representative at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai, said the mural makes the hallway seem "like you are walking into a different world." Patients, as well as the hospital staff, agree the artwork is a welcome addition, she said."(The hallway) used to look boring, kind of scary, sterile. Now, this brightens it up," she said. "And we all really enjoyed watching the mural grow. It was fun - and some of the staff used to come in and play their own version of 'Where's Waldo,' which was more like 'What's new?' They'd try to figure out what was different or added since the last time they looked at the mural."
Cathy Grant, administrative director of cancer services at DMC Huron Valley-Sinai Hospital, is pleased with the mural, as well.
"This project was born out of suggestions from our staff and patients. Watching the mural grow and develop over the past few months has truly been an enjoyable experience," Grant said. "It has brought a smile to everyone who has seen it and been involved with it. And most importantly, our patients love it."
Persinger said working on the project "was a riot."
"It was a lot of fun," he said. "I never did a mural before - I'm a landscape painter - and I have learned a lot from Linda. She's a master."
Onderko said she's been asked to consider painting a faux window in the cancer center's infusion area. She hopes to get started on that soon. "It will give patients something interesting to gaze at during treatment," she said.
Watson added that she's glad she played a role in the project, and said the mural is evidence of the caring nature and creativity that runs throughout the Huron Valley.
"I think it's a testament to the artists and the people in this community who donated their time and talents for what so many people can enjoy," Watson said. "I planted the seed - and trees grew all around it."
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