Whale building to be covered with temporary mural by Detroit artist, garnering mixed reactions

The iconic whale mural in downtown Detroit is being redesigned

Makeover. The whale mural, better known as Wyland or Whaling Wall, will soon be covered with another mural – but not painted over.

The Broderick Tower in Detroit is getting a facelift. The whale mural, better known as “Wyland” or the whaling wall, will soon be covered with another mural – but not painted over.

There have been mixed reactions, Robert Wyland is the creator of the mural and 99 others around the world.

But when Dan Gilbert’s rocket firms found out that this building was going to be used as advertising space again, they saw an opportunity to bring more artwork downtown. For better or for worse, it will cover this up.

The clock is ticking – anyone who wants to take a few selfies or take a few pictures of the whale wall should do so by next Tuesday.

It is important to note that the new mural will be printed on vinyl and will simply cover the whale mural – it will not replace it permanently.

“I like it man, it’s cool. Brings a little more color,” said Derek Sanderson.

“I’m not a fan, no, not really,” said George Ehrlich.

“I like a beautiful mural, especially when it has a beautiful meaning,” said Leah Nance.

The new work comes from the artist Phillip Simpson.

“My artwork represents that Detroit is home – by not just drawing my signature smile,” he said. “But this time we changed them to all different backgrounds and colors because that represents everyone.”

Dan Gilbert’s Rocket Companies hired Detroit-born Phillip Simpson to create the new mural for Broderick Wall.

Simpson also brought his signature smiling faces to the basketball courts in the Rocket Mortgage Sports Zone as part of Monroe Street halfway.

“We’re going to dump one for the whale building,” joked Kelsey Knapp and Alexa Brady. “Pour one out for the whale building. RIP. Rest in peace.”

The Detroit Whaling Wall has been around since 1997 – about as long as Knapp and Brady have lived.

“It’s like a Detroit staple, it’s iconic,” Brady said.

“Exactly, that’s how we know we’re downtown,” said Knapp. “I have the feeling that we are seeing the whale building.”

People all over the world have seen it thanks to its prime location behind Comerica Park.

And soon Simpson’s work will receive the same treatment.

“You said it was a black artist?” said Emond Bradley. “More power for him.

And God bless you sir for doing that, “said Alonzo Johnson.

Rocket’s chief marketing executive hopes other Detroit businesses and building owners will use their lots as canvases for local artists.

Derek Anderson – a graphic designer – is for it.

“The city definitely needs more color,” he said.

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