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Art Beat
A weekly look at creativity, arts, and culture in southwest Michigan, hosted by Zinta Aistars.Fridays in Morning Edition at 7:50am and at 4:20pm during All Things Considered.

Art Beat: Of Murals And Comics

Courtesy of the artist

His admirers know Patrick Hershberger by his alias: Bonus Saves. He earned the name early in his career when he was more of a street artist.

Fans also know him by his murals that bring color and movement to buildings and walkways around Kalamazoo. Hershberger’s latest mural is the river walkway he painted with the help of volunteers along Bates Alley in downtown Kalamazoo.

A conversation with Patrick Hershberger

Still others know Hershberger by the series of comic books he’s created, or as chairman of the Kalamazoo County Public Art Commission.

“Around 2018, we started talking, and by “we,” I mean the Downtown Kalamazoo Partnership - they touched base with me,” Hershberger says. “Bates Alley back then was used just by vehicles dropping off food or beverages, people park their cars back there; it was your typical alley. They wanted to turn this into, not a walking mall but a pedestrian only alley.”

Credit Courtesy of the artist
Courtesy of the artist
Patrick Hershberger

The Partnership asked Hershberger to paint a mural that would encourage that change. Overlooking the area from a nearby parking ramp, Hershberger’s idea was to paint a winding river along the ground, signifying movement and adding bright colors.

By 2021, the Bates Alley mural had faded because of the elements and the many feet passing over it. Hershberger invited volunteers to join him in repainting it in May 2021. Well over 30 people showed up. The Downtown Kalamazoo Partnership also added a pavilion for outdoor concerts and and other summer events.

Hershberger’s other murals decorate structures in and around Kalamazoo, and across the country. His art explores local and historical notes through illustrative narratives.

Another interest is comic book art, through his series Being Jon Arbuckle. He counts the comic book character Garfield and the movie Being John Malkovich among his influences.

“I thought, gosh, it would be really fun to do the scene from Being John Malkovich where he’s in his own mind and there’s all these Malkoviches, and instead of it being John Malkovich, it would be Being Jon Arbuckle,” Hershberger says.

He's completed book five in the eight-book series. Hershberger also works with the Kalamazoo Earth Day Committee.

Listen to WMUK's Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 a.m. and 4:20 p.m.

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