Local artist trying to save mural at Northland Mall

A local artist wants to make sure his Motown-themed masterpiece doesn't go down with the mall. A virtually empty parking lot at Northland Center Mall paints a picture - the end is in sight. But there's another picture inside the mall that a local artist wants you to focus on.

"I figured if I did it like 16 feet high and 45 feet wide, it would have an even bigger impact," said Artist Cliffton Perry.

Cliffton Perry started airbrushing at 11, turning his passion into a business called "Aired Out Customs" in the mall.

"I'll do anything from T-shirts to body painting, back drops, motorcycle helmets, car hoods, you name it, I can paint on it, in most cases as long as it'll hold the paint," said Perry.

You can see Perry's works of art by driving down Grand River Avenue, like this one, depicting the former mayors of Detroit. Now this one is not going anywhere, but the same can't be said for his mural hanging in Northland Mall.

Perry said, "As soon as they said that the mall was closing that was the first thing I thought about - what's going to happen with the mural."

Smokey Robinson, The Supremes, The Jackson Five, the Motown mural is Detroit history. School field trips have even been designed around the piece of art. 

"Since it's been done, I've had visits from several children of the Motown artists glad to see it, even Dave Fakir, the last surviving member of the Four Tops, he came and took a picture in front of it," said Perry.

Now the artist fights to keep his work alive. 

Perry said, "Next owners, if somebody buys it, they'll probably paint over it, or if it's bulldozed, it'll probably go down with the mall. Neither one of those things is something I want to see happen."

He says he has the permission of the mall to literally remove the wall. He just has to pay for it. That's where you come in. A GoFundMe page has been created to help pay for the removal and transportation.

"Get enough money where I can take the mural down and transport it somewhere, where somebody might be able to make sure people can see it and it's safe," said Perry.

But where it will ultimately end up is unclear.

"I called Hitsville U.S.A. and they said they'd give me a call back and I never heard from them again. Maybe the Charles H. Wright Museum would be great, the Detroit Institute of Arts, anywhere, where someone would appreciate art," Perry.

If you want to see the artwork itself, you can find it in its current location, Northland Mall, until April 1, at least.
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