Dexter plans permanent Zinn artwork around town

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

Thus begins the Dexter Art, Culture and Heritage Commission (ACHC) proposal to the City Council to place artwork by renowned regional artist David Zinn in the town.

Zinn lives in Ann Arbor and is well known for his family-friendly 3D chalk art drawings. His permanent art includes the life-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 all over the world, including Sweden, Taiwan, Germany, France and the Netherlands.

His presentation at TEDx UofM ( has been viewed nearly 37,000 times. “I’m a compulsive doodler,” he begins.

ACHC proposes that 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 the life of Dexter featuring creatures native to the region drawn in Zinn’s signature fun and cheerful style. The art would be unique to Dexter and hidden around town for people to discover while walking around.

The commission believes the addition of Zinn’s outdoor art would strengthen Dexter’s character and increase its place as a destination town. People have been known to go to Ann Arbor for a Zinn art scavenger hunt. The same could be expected from Dexter. And when touring the town, Zinn treasure hunters will most likely visit local stores and browse shelves for unique items or stop to eat and drink.

ACHC suggests that Zinn create a mini mural 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 the city 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 biking, kayaking, farming, hiking, sledding, stargazing and other outdoor activities. Other topics to consider include the Memorial Day Parade, the scenic Dexter, Dexter Daze, 1966 UFOs and other events.

Artwork sizes range from 4 to 18 inches in length. Each piece should cost between $700 and $1,000.

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