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Restoration of Eastern Market's Largest Mural Nearly Complete

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After months of painting, a team of artists has nearly finished restoring Eastern Market's largest mural. Designed by Alex Pollock and painted by Ed Lee, the 1972 mural endured decades of fading, vandalism, and a stylized retouching in the '90s. By the time anyone thought to restore it, the painting needed a lot of help. "It was a ghost," said lead artist Vito Valdez.
Currently working part-time at the DIA, Vito Valdez has painted street art all over the city. His goal: restore the mural to its original design. According to Valdez, an artist "retouched" some of the original elements in the 1990s, altering things like the forklift's wheels and the shapes of the veggies.

Just to make things harder, the bricks underneath the painting needed significant repair, and the original paint contained lead. Basically, by the time the wall was repaired and the lead abated, the original mural would be significantly degraded. Before that happened, the team studied the design intensely, taking photos and dividing the 6,500-square-foot mural into a grid. Combined with a 1970s photo from the Detroit News archives, only the exact colors required an educated guess.

The one purposeful deviation from the original: Instead of "Eastern Farmer's Market," the restored mural will read "Detroit Eastern Market." Pending good weather, the project is just "a few solid work days" from completion. For more on Alex Pollock's work in Eastern Market, check out the ebook embedded at the bottom of the gallery.



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Above: The mural in 2011 was tagged and faded.