Posted on Aug.16, 2010, under Michigan

Barn Painting

(Olympus OM-4, Ecktachrome, exposure unrecorded)

Years ago, in the late 60’s and early 70’s, an artist by the name of Doug Tyler painted several barns in Southeastern Michigan. His work included the Mona Lisa, Eisan’s ‘Standing Woman’, John Copley’s ‘Paul Revere’ and the one you see above, ‘Castiglione’ by Raphael. This barn, which unfortunately no longer exists, was located on US-23 north of Ann Arbor, Michigan. I used to see this barn, and the Paul Revere barn which was on the other side of the highway, on a regular basis as I drove US-23 between my hometown of Saginaw and Ann Arbor to attend college.

Several years ago I took my camera and took some shots of this barn. The image had been getting more and more weathered and the barn wasn’t looking too good either. I figured I better take the picture before the image and/or the barn was gone. A couple of years ago I was driving in the area and noticed that the barn had been replaced. No more ‘Castiglione’. Across the highway the ‘Paul Revere’ barn was also either gone or had been repainted.

The image above was taken with an Olympus OM-4 and shot on Kodak Ecktachome. I used a scanner to scan the slide and did some work in Photoshop and added some tonemapping in Photomatix to get the look you see above. The original image, scanned from the 35mm slide is below:

Barn Painting - Original

By way of comparison, the original work by Raphael can be seen here

Copyright © 2010 James W. Howe – All rights reserved.

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  • I like this. The post-processing works well on the barn itself.
  • Sammy Lorenz says:
    I spent 30 years in Michigan and was always happy to drive along U.S.23 in that area near Hartland, MI and look at the paintings done by Doug Tyler “Ziggy Grabowski” on various barns. I took pictures of many of the paintings and now I am glad that I did because I can still look at the barns in my photos and continue to enjoy the artwork even though now many of these art treasures have disappeared through the years due to the buildings being torn down or having been destroyed by fire. I have often wondered what happened to the artist “Ziggy” and I did a little research about some of the barns at the library in Hartland. Back during the years when I lived in Michigan, most of the paintings were still in fairly good condition and were a photographer’s delight. It is sad that time marches on and sometimes takes lovely things like the artwork on the barns along with it.
    • James Howe says:
      Thank you very much for your comment. It is sad that these barns are either gone or repainted. I remember reading that the artist always viewed these as temporary but I still think something is missing now that they are gone.
  • Tiffany Wakeman says:
    Good Afternoon, The barn you had photographed here was my grandfathers and I would like to get a digital copy of it to make a Christmas gift for my dad. Is this something you could help me with.
  • Sal says:
    I have always loved Mr Tyler work he did here in Michigan on these barns. It always immediately invoked conversation with everybody in the car about them, The whole concept of creating art on anything to bring it to everybody’s for front and presence of mind what a wonderful idea ! We really should try to revitalize this vision and re-create this across our country
    The joy of seeing these barns always put a smile on my face
    I Believe we need to do this for a future generations so they too can see the importance of art in our every day life
  • Cindi says:
    Remember all barns along Haggerty Road, through West Bloomfield Township.
    It’s very sad to see barns gone and no preservation of history made whatsoever. Including art in which was painted and the Barns, and preservation of barn owls which need Barns! I just wonder is there anyone caring about these things?
    • ricarda schmalzried says:
      I purchased the property with the “Mona Lisa Barn” back in 1995. I had West Bloomfield look into preserving it but because the roof hadn’t been maintained by the previous owner…. it was beyond repair. The interior rotted over the years and structurally it wasn’t sound. I did manage to get a 2nd and 3rd opinion from my own experts and they agreed. In addition, because barnwood from the sides of the barn had been removed/stolen…it weakened the structure and 3 months after I bought the property…the barn collasped. Apparently barnwood was popular back then and people were pilfering any barns they could. I caught them a number of times so I hired a crew and took everything I could salvage and stored it in my barn/shed for safe keeping. Over the years I incorporated quite a bit of the barnwood in my home decor. I turned a mud room into an “Herb” room and lined the walls and ceiling in “her” barnwood. I have dedicated my entire family room to memorabilia from the Mona Lisa Barn. So in essence….I’ve kept her memory alive!

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