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Michigan artist Thor Goodlife has painted mul­tiple murals in the Hillsdale area. Madeline Fry | Col­legian

While a pair of clouds puts on a puppet show, the sun blows bubbles into the neb­ulous night sky. Local artist Thor Goodlife calls this style of art on his mural too “zany” for Hillsdale, but here it is, stretching across the facade of Stadium Roller Rink on West Car­leton Road.

Under the name Thunder Circus, Goodlife has col­lab­o­rated with artists every­where from Michigan to New York to bring color to public spaces. Some­times he’s paid for his work, but some­times he does it “strictly for fun,” as with the roller rink, which was funded by dona­tions from indi­viduals and busi­nesses.

After Goodlife posted on Facebook this summer that he was looking for a wall to paint, owner Doug Ingles offered his roller rink. The front and side walls, which Goodlife and several other artists began painting in August, are still unfin­ished. Ingles said they’re not going to be done any time soon.

“I don’t think art is ever done,” Ingles said.

Goodlife agreed.

“I’m going to be messing with it until he gets tired of me painting on his wall,” he said.

Thor Goodlife has been an artist his whole life. Born in Allen, Michigan, he studied art in Chicago and now lives on a small farm north of Jonesville with his wife and four children.

“For being an ‘urban artist,’ my real life is a total opposite of that,” he said. “We have chickens and gardens and home­school the kids.”

For his art projects, he often enlists the help of large groups of artists — and some­times even non-artists. Those with little artistic expe­rience can fill in colors or help with scaf­folding. Whenever he needs help with a project, Goodlife just puts a message out on Facebook.

“I feel like the world’s kind of coming to me. Now I’m a genius instead of just being crazy,” he said.

Goodlife painted two murals in Quincy, both bearing the town’s name and tagline, “Gateway to the Chain of Lakes.” He was com­mis­sioned to paint the first mural, which the town paid for. The second he asked to paint.

“We’re blessed to have him in our own backyard,” Ingles said.

Goodlife enlisted other artists to paint the side of White’s Welding in Hillsdale. Employee Todd Ritchey said he appre­ciated the mural.

“Hillsdale’s kind of a fla­vorless town,” Ritchey said. “Art is made to make you think, and if you go by and you hate it, at least you thought some­thing.”

Urban art permits a unique com­bi­nation of artist col­lab­o­ration and imme­diate reaction from the public, according to Goodlife.

“It’s just like music or some­thing. Do you just want to look at gray walls or brown walls? Art serves dif­ferent pur­poses. There’s art that makes you think, there’s art that’s just like sitting in an arm­chair,” he said.

Back before the exis­tence of smart­phones (Goodlife couldn’t recall the year), he helped a group of stu­dents from Hillsdale High School to paint the mural, now peeling, on the side of Adkins Auto­motive. Goodlife himself painted only the bench under the illus­trated barber shop window. He enjoys working with ama­teurs and people of dif­ferent skill levels because they have dif­ferent styles, which gives art an eclectic look, he said. He’s also found that those with less expe­rience bring more energy or have wackier ideas.

As for his own art, Goodlife said he’s not trying to “blow people’s minds;” he simply wants to inspire others.

“I don’t think it’s tech­ni­cally amazing,” he said. “With my art, I want people to be like, ‘I could do that too,’ and go do it.”