More artwork coming to downtown Alpena alleyway

Courtesy Photo
Four more pieces of artwork that will be completed in Downtown Alpena this month as part of the DDA’s Fresh Waves Project. Local artist Mariah Brancheau of Lovely Little Lettering Co. will paint two power boxes at the entrance and exits of the alleyway off 1st + 3rd Ave.

ALPENA — This summer, two new murals have been painted in Downtown Alpena through the Downtown Development Authority’s Fresh Waves project. The DDA is excited to announce there is more artwork coming to the alleyway this month thanks to a Project Support Grant issued by the Michigan Arts & Culture Council.

This week, painting started by local artist Mariah Brancheau of Lovely Little Lettering Co. on two power boxes that mark the entrance and exit to the alleyway off 1st and 3rd Avenues. Brancheau has previously participated in the Fresh Waves project with a piece down at the marina and also live-painted at the Alpena Flower Festival. Brancheau, who is based in Northeast Michigan, is the owner, artist, and educator behind Lovely Little Lettering Co. Her signature style showcases modern hand lettering, blooming florals, and vibrant colors.

“As an artist, my purpose for all of my work is that others are inspired to be creative, find joy, and remember that they are loved. As an art teacher, my hope for my students (and all people) is that they would look for beauty and inspiration in everything and would continue to add to the beauty around them,” Brancheau said.

On Wednesday artist Steffi Tsai (@haveanicedayy_) began painting the back of Rusty Petunias Marketplace (123 W. Chisholm St). Born in Austin Texas, Tsai spent a large portion of her childhood in Tao Yuan, Taiwan, getting to know her extended family and cultural heritage before moving back to Texas where she developed her love for creating. At the age of 17, Tsai moved to New York City to attend Pratt University, where she received a BFA in illustration. Upon graduating, she worked in various sectors of the art and design realm to build the skillset she needed to strike out on her own as freelance creative. Now focused primarily on high-profile brand collaborations and large scale murals, as well as her own merchandise line (Have A Nice Day), she calls New York City home.

“As an illustrator and muralist, I find that a majority of my work is heavily inspired by the nature and communities that surround the particular project I am working on,” Tsai said. “By slowly down, taking notice of local characteristics and pulling inspiration directly from the project’s surroundings, I aim to make the final results unique to the environment in which they will exist. I want to bring bold, colorful and positivity to Alpena bring people together with my mural!”

The final mural of this year’s project will be painted beginning next week on the back section of Noise and Toys (117 N. Second Ave) by Chicago-based artist Michael Ferrarell (@lefthandedwave). Ferrarell studied screen-printing at the University of Kentucky and after graduating, he honed in on his craft of silk screen printing. At that time, he also took his street art from New York City to Los Angeles and numerous major cities in between.

“My current mural practice has transitioned to more concept driven murals that are predominantly inspired by location and the different elements contributing to the makeup of that space or community. The aim is to spark community engagement and creative growth through imagery that’s not just aesthetically pleasing, but also educational and representative of the positives within a community,” Ferrarell said.

The murals will be finished by the end of September.

About Fresh Waves:

The mission of the Alpena DDA is to implement positive economic, aesthetic, and physical changes in Downtown Alpena. Fresh Waves was started in 2019 as a way to bring vibrant, one-of-a-kind artwork to downtown. There is no theme to the murals for Fresh Waves. Each year, downtown property owners and artists are invited to apply to be part of the project. 2024 applications are expected to open in early 2024.

This year, the Alpena DDA received over thirty applications from artists all over the country to be part of this summer’s project, which will focus on adding murals throughout the alleyway that runs through downtown. The DDA received a grant from the Michigan Arts & Cultural Council to expand this year’s project and add murals in the alleyway as part of the placemaking project to make the alleyways pedestrian-friendly spaces that can be used for live music, events and more.

For more information on the Fresh Waves project, please visit at

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