Dexter Considering Permanent Zinn Artwork Around Town


A collection of Zinn art examples included in the ACHC proposal. Source: city council meeting packet.

“Everyone benefits from the positive effects of smiling and laughter.”

So begins Dexter’s Art, Culture, & Heritage Commission’s (ACHC) proposal to the city council to place artwork by renowned area artist David Zinn around town.

Zinn lives in Ann Arbor and is well-known for his family-friendly 3D chalk art drawings. His permanent art includes the full-size 3D mural “Laughing at Clouds” in Ann Arbor. He has created permanent works outside the Toledo Museum of Art and inside the U of M Museum of Natural History. His art can be found worldwide in places including Sweden, Taiwan, Germany, France, and the Netherlands.

His presentation at TEDx UofM ( has been viewed almost 37,000 times. “I am a compulsive doodler,” he begins his talk.

The ACHC proposes to have Zinn create a permanent mini mural in Dexter, which will be the first of several. The goal from there is to develop a series of Zinn 3D art scenes around town depicting Dexter's life featuring creatures indigenous to the area drawn in Zinn’s characteristic fun and cheerful style. The art would be unique to Dexter and hidden around town for people to discover while walking.

The commission thinks that adding Zinn’s outdoor art would enhance Dexter’s character and increase its place as a destination city. People have been known to go to Ann Arbor for a treasure hunt of Zinn’s art. The same could be expected of Dexter. And while visiting the town, Zinn treasure hunters will most likely visit local shops and browse the shelves of unique items or stop for stop food and drink.

The ACHC suggests having Zinn create a mini mural either inside the library or at the farmers market pavilion. If public feedback is positive, the plan would be to add 6-8 mini murals around town in time for Dexter’s bicentennial in 2024.

Possible characters include chipmunks, blue herons, wild turkeys, farm animals, brook trout, groundhogs, beavers, and more. Possible activities include cycling, kayaking, farming, hiking, sledding, stargazing, and other outdoor fun. Other topics to be considered include the Memorial Day Parade, scenic Dexter, Dexter Daze, the 1966 UFOs, and other events.

The sizes of the artwork range from 4-18 inches in length. Each piece is expected to cost $700-$1,000.

The ACHC’s proposal was included in City Manager Justin Breyer’s report and not on the agenda for council discussion or action. Initial comments from the council supported the idea. Breyer speculates the next steps are for the ACHC to decide on the initial installation location and other details before making a final recommendation to the council.

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