New Ann Arbor mural celebrates city culture, University of Michigan student life

The new mural, commissioned by Oxford Companies, highlights many different elements of Ann Arbor.
The new mural, commissioned by Oxford Companies, highlights many different elements of Ann Arbor. (Oxford Companies)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – A new mural in downtown Ann Arbor is celebrating the convergence of college life and Ann Arbor culture.

Located behind Potbelly Sandwich Shop on the corner of Liberty and State streets, the 15-foot mural creates a head-turning three-dimensional illusion while depicting iconic Ann Arbor landmarks and buildings.

Commissioned by building owner Oxford Companies and created by Dearborn-based Mathew Sharum, the mural shows the vibrancy of the city and the excitement of student life.

Sharum, who has been a Michigan resident his whole life, said he wanted the mural to be viewable at different angles since there isn’t much space in the alleyway where it is located. He also wanted to include iconic locations and aspects of the city.

One side of the mural shows images of student life, like graduation, University of Michigan buildings and a hoard of charging athletes. The other side highlights the beauty of the city, including the State Theatre, a scene from the annual Art Fair, employees working together and a young girl learning to ride a skateboard.

The two halves converge in the middle as a student reaches out from a lecture hall towards a concertgoer reaching back to bring them into Ann Arbor’s nightlife.

Sharum said that he wanted to show the seamless transition to life after college. Having thought back on his own college experience, Sharum said he remembers his own anxiety about what comes next.

“It’s to let the kids in school know ’don’t worry about it. It’s all good. College is great and it kind of prepares you for real life,’” Sharum said.

At the bottom of the mural, a SPIN scooter is casually propped up against the comic style panels further adding to the illusion of depth and dimension.

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“We’re ecstatic with the results of this mural project,” said Oxford Companies CEO Jeff Hauptman in a release. “When we set out to add to the vibrant collection of outdoor art in Ann Arbor, we knew we had to find an exceptional artist that would be up for a unique challenge. With Mathew Sharum, we got a final product that exceeded our expectations.”

Made up of various different panels, Sharum said he hadn’t seen the whole mural put together until its installation. The mural joins the city’s exciting public art scene and faces a mural created by Ann Arbor’s own TreeTown Murals.

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is at 300 S. State St.

Artist Mathew Sharum with the new mural, located behind the Potbelly's Sandwich Shop on South State Street. (Oxford Companies)

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