Back From the Dead: Iconic Mural by Legendary Detroit Artist Restored [PHOTOS]

Courtesy of Charles McGee

Charles McGee standing in front of his untitled geometric mural on the east-facing wall of 234 W. Larned in 1974 when it was originally painted.

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At 94-years-old, artist Charles McGee is a living legend among Detroit artists.

His work has been shown nationally and lives locally at storied institutions like the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History.

And now a piece of McGee’s legacy from 1974 is seeing new life thanks to a sizable investment from a downtown hotel and a duo of local artists.

Located on the east-facing wall of 234 W. Larned downtown, the roughly 60-foot-by-40-foot mural is part of the Detroit Foundation Hotel’s footprint. Hotel general manager Bob Lambert says the hotel will spend $45,000 on the restoration, which will see vinyl stickers cover the windows to complete the original design.

Ryan Patrick Hooper

60-year-old artist Hubert Massey is originally from Flint. He’s considered one of the last living artists in the United States still working in the fresco medium.

McGee’s mural will be restored by 60-year-old artist and educator Hubert Massey, who is considered one of the last living artists in the United States who still works in the fresco medium. Just a block away from the Detroit Foundation Hotel, Massey wrapped up work last year on a massive, 6-ton 30-foot-by-30-foot fresco inside of Cobo Center.

It’s just really exciting that the [Detroit] Foundation Hotel found it so important to revitalize this mural and just really dive in and be a real positive influence in the city of Detroit,” says Massey, who is working alongside fellow Detroit artist Henry Heading, 61, on the job.

During the restoration, even Charles McGee’s original signature — visible near the bottom right corner of the mural — will be preserved.

Ryan Patrick Hooper

Detroit artists Hubert Massey and Henry Heading work on the mural on the east-facing wall of 234 W. Larned in downtown Detroit.

The restoration of the mural will cost $45,000 and use about 20 gallons of paint, says artist Hubert Massey.

Ryan Patrick Hooper

Detroit artists Hubert Massey and Henry Heading work on the mural on the east-facing wall of 234 W. Larned in downtown Detroit.

Roughly a week into the process, the mural is starting to become more defined and colorful as Massey continues to work.

Ryan Patrick Hooper

Once fully completed, vinyl stickers will cover the windows to bring Charles McGee’s original 1974 design back to life.

Image credit: Ryan Patrick Hooper

Aired on: CultureShift
About the Author

Ryan Patrick Hooper

Host, CultureShift

Ryan Patrick Hooper has worked as an arts and culture journalist in Detroit for over a decade.

hooper@wdet.org   Follow @hoopingtonpost

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