Real Michiana: Brushing in a sense of belonging

Real Michiana: Brushing in a sense of belonging



Just how important is art? One young man from Plymouth thinks it’s vital to our wellbeing as humans.

“I think art is very important for the human soul,” said Edgar Quiroz, who grew up in Plymouth and says he’s loved art throughout his life.

He spends his days helping out in his parents’ restaurant called Yolanda’s, but outside the doors of that restaurant is where you’ll find Edgar’s true labor of love. It’s called art alley.

“I think art, public art, increases the quality of life in small towns,” he said. “A lot of people my age especially they want to move out of small towns like Plymouth, so if we engage them in public art, if we have places that represent something creative; I think they’ll be more likely to stay.”

Right now he’s prepping a building façade in the alley to be painted to look like a storefront.

“This is going to be a door, and hopefully an awning,” he said while sketching it out on the wall.

“I grew up here. I grew up in this area, and I love Plymouth and I’m very proud of Plymouth and what we’ve done so far, so if I can do something to keep people in Plymouth I will gladly do it,” said Edgar.

He says he’ll volunteer up to 10 hours a week with a nonprofit called Discover Plymouth to add public art around town.

Art alley started in 2016, one year after Edgar returned home from college. Now it has six murals. Some of those murals are painted by different local artists, some are a collaboration from the community.

“I think often times alleys are forgotten in a community. They’re like the backroads of the commercial districts. That’s where you keep your dumpsters for example,” he said. “So I think that’s why it’s important to add some art to those places because if you add art to places that people don’t expect them to be in, it kind of highlights that it’s not about the image that you put outside, it’s the image from within.”

He hopes the art tucked in this alley will bring a sense of belonging and a sense of pride for his neighbors in Plymouth, making it a place more people want to call home.

“Every time I walk out here I’m like ‘Hey you know what? I’m leaving my own mark on my community’ and I think that’s important because I hope that these murals will outlive me. I’m sure they’re going to end up in our town’s history books and people will remember them. So I think that it’s greater than me, and I love that I had something to do with it.”

Edgar says he has big plans for more murals in the alley this summer, but ultimately has big plans for the entire town.

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