SAGINAW, MI — If you’ve been to Old Town Saginaw lately, you’ve probably seen the work of artist Jim Fives.
His murals can be seen along Michigan Avenue and in the historic sign park adjacent to the Ippel Building, and his hand-painted signs can be seen on the windows of Pasong’s and other area businesses.
Now, he’s unveiling a new mural in Old Town, just in time for the Saginaw Old Town Art Fair, a new festival happening Friday and Saturday, Aug. 10-11. Fives’ latest work can be found on the north-facing side of The Stable Outdoor Outfitters, 300 S. Hamilton St.
“This mural celebrates the birth of Saginaw Steering Gear,” Fives said just before crews moved the painted plywood panels from his studio on Michigan Avenue to The Stable Wednesday morning, Aug 9.
Saginaw Steering Gear, founded as Jackson, Church & Wilcox Co. in 1906, is now Chinese-owned Nexteer Automotive, Saginaw County’s largest employer. It’s a global supplier of power steering for vehicles.
The 10-foot by 10-foot mural depicts the company’s three founders, Jackson, Church and Wilcox, an early advertisement for the company and some historical information. It is Fives’ fifth historical mural in Old Town Saginaw.
“Saginaw was in the doldrums, you know, after the wood was gone, and these guys come along and uplift Saginaw’s spirits,” he said of the three founders and their influence on the local economy.
The project was supported by Nexteer and the Saginaw Community Foundation, with Nexteer funding about 70 percent and Saginaw Community Foundation funding about 30 percent, Fives said. Local historian and preservationist Tom Mudd was instrumental in getting the project off the ground, Fives said.
Nexteer officials plan to present Fives with a large, symbolic check Thursday.
“Nexteer embraces the opportunity to commemorate the beginning of our 110+ year journey and the significance it still has on the Saginaw community,” Nexteer’s Steve Baird, chief engineer, operations, said in a statement.
Fives, who has been painting murals and signs for 35 years, said he would like to paint more historical murals depicting influential locals, including Stevie Wonder, silent film star Tom Mix and boxer Kid Lavigne.
Fives also has a one-man art show opening Tuesday, Aug. 28, at the Andersen Enrichment Center, 120 Ezra Rust Drive.