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Huge selfie portrait highlights Clare Art Alley grand opening

Around 800 Clare area residents submitted selfies to Wildey, who then took each one to make a portrait showing one face.

Hundreds of Clare County residents took selfies for an art piece that was revealed Thursday night, as part of the 515 Gallery's grand opening in downtown Clare for its brand new Art Alley.Today is really exciting because we have kind of pushed the envelope, as far as the culture and arts here in Clare," Kim Kleinhardt, 515 Gallery owner , said. "We are creating our alley in the back. We have worked all summer long with volunteers, businesses, sponsors in order to create a really exciting visual experience that has the entire community in its heart.Around 1,000 volunteers contributed throughout the summer to create wall murals in an alley behind the gallery, including a piece by artist Julie Wells. She's passionate about children's education and wanted to portray that on a wall behind a laundromat."We tried to make the silhouettes fun and friendly," Wells said. "I think it's something that the kids will really enjoy. It's a big idea, doing a mural. It involves many people and you get disenfranchised people that want to come in and help. Then, they feel more apart of the community."One of the main pieces was was done by Central Michigan University Art and Design professor Al Wildey.Around 800 Clare area residents submitted selfies to Wildey, who then took each one to make a portrait showing one face."When you get up close, you get something like this, where it shows the individual pictures of everyone," Wildey said. "They can get up close and see who's there. See their neighbors. See their friends. This sort of thing. So, the idea, for me, was really to create something that would engage the community."It's a community with lots of selfies, but all with a purpose behind each one that means so much more.We came to the conclusion that selfies are really important, that they're not going to go away soon, and that somewhere in the future, people will look back at the introduction of the self-facing camera, combined with social media," Wildey said. "They'll say that was a game changer in early part of the 21st century that really changed the way how we understood our-self and the way we communicate about ourselves.The Art Alley ran in conjunction with the Old-27 tour, where McEwan Street downtown was blocked off for a classic car show.

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