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Posted by dwellingplacegr on June 21, 2021

Heartside Historic Murals

Dwelling Place, with the leadership of a community steering committee, is working to implement a mural series in the Heartside Neighborhood, centrally located in Grand Rapids. The series of 5 murals will focus on the history of Heartside, featuring the stories of persons who may not have been centered in the past. Stories told through the mural series may include, but are not limited to, Indigenous & Native American history, Black & Brown history, Queer history and/or Women’s history told through the lens of place. Our process includes working with a community steering committee, collaborating with a variety of artists, incorporating resident feedback into the selection or visioning process, and, finally, working with Caroline Cook founder of Grand Rapids Walking Tours, to produce and capture tours of the murals and their histories!

Fall Heartside Historic Mural Events

Join your neighbors to learn more about Heartside and the exciting places and people that have shaped our neighborhood. You’re invited to attend any of the following events; all are free and open to the public. Registration is required, please register ahead of time using the button below. 
Dr. Ella Sims Mural Ribbon Cutting Event
Saturday, September 4th from 11:00-12:00 pm
Heartside Mural Walking Tours (7 block walk)
Friday, October 1st from  4:30-5:30 pm
Sunday, October 10th  from 2:00 – 3:00 pm

Our Artists & Their Art

We are pleased to announce that the community steering committee has selected four (4) local artists and one (1) regional artist for this project. We are excited for this project to strengthen artist collaboration and opportunity, tell neighborhood stories, and celebrate and honor the diverse histories of Heartside! 

Edwin Anderson

Edwin Anderson is from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Raised as an inner-city kid in the Southtown area, Edwin is looking to positively represent his community. He is contributing to the growth of his hometown through his mission to promote the arts and business culture together by creating opportunities among the community members and within the city. Edwin is currently attending Aquinas College and will soon receive a dual major in business and visual arts.  

Mural Location: 359 South Division Ave. 

Check out more of Edwin’s Work HERE

In the 1920-1950s there were few places black people were able to seek entertainment, enjoy music, and hang out. There were several notable venues in Heartside featuring black performers and catering to the black community. Performers like John Lee Hooker and Alberta Adams performed at the Crispus Attucks American Legion Post 59 on Commerce Avenue in front of black audiences, while venues like Frank (Fred) Lamar’s legendary Horseshoe Bar would feature performers on the weekends. The Crispus Attucks American Legion post, located at 243-5 Commerce Avenue until 2006. In the early 1940s, this two-story building on Commerce S.W. became one of the primary locations for African-American social events in Grand Rapids and was owned by the black service members.

Kimberley Kunze &
Grand Rapids LGBTQ+ Healthcare Consortium

Kimberley Kunze is a full-time clinical psychologist in Grand Rapids, MI. She is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, especially for individuals from the LGBTQ+ community. For the production of this mural, Kim will be leading a team from the Grand Rapids LGBTQ+ Healthcare Consortium, which is a new nonprofit in Grand Rapids whose mission is to provide holistic and accountable healthcare support for LGBTQ+ people through coordinated health advocacy, communication, and accountability with healthcare organizations in the greater Grand Rapids area. 

Mural Location: 42 South Division Ave. 

Check out more of Kim’s work HERE

The Grand Rapids AIDS Resource Center was opened in 1988 and was located at 42 South Division for a period of time. In October 1992, the AIDS Resource Center made a pilgrimage to Washington DC to submit a quilt panel to the Names Project. 52 names were included on the panel from Grand Rapids. As of 2021 about 13,723 people from Michigan have died from Aids Related Illnesses. This mural commemorates the fight for AIDS related healthcare and the impact AIDS has had on the Grand Rapids community and LGBTQIA+ persons in Heartside and West Michigan.

Jasmine Bruce

Jasmine Bruce

Jasmine Bruce is a visual artist whose work emphasizes the healing power of creating. Currently based in Grand Rapids, Michigan she obtained her BFA from Grand Valley State University. Her versatile and powerful style tells the story of a universal trauma which plagues the entire human race. This trauma, ancestral and ancient, is a pain that carves deep into the veins beneath the skin and surfaces as blemishes of the Ism: racism, alcoholism, narcissism. It surfaces as insecurities, anger, abuse, violence, imbalance. Her work aims to draw out this pain, restoring balance and connection with the inner, outer and divine self. 

Mural Location: 101 Sheldon Blvd. SE

Check out more of Jasmine’s Work HERE

The Union Depot was the heart of the city from the 1890s through 1960s when it was inevitably torn down as the city grew. Nonetheless an icon of Grand Rapids, people from all walks of life, whether going or leaving, passed through the depot, as they were arriving and immigrating into Grand Rapids.​ A Georgian Revival building of two stories, it was built in 1900, closed in 1958 and demolished over 1958 and 1959 to make space for a highway. Its address was 61 Ionia Avenue. It was a hub serving a few railroads going to different points in Michigan and other points in the Midwest. 

Dustin Hunt

Dustin Hunt is a committed teaching artist and designer working to inspire emerging creatives through proven strengths in curriculum development, engaging content, inclusive instruction, mentorship and collaboration. Dustin operates Muralmatics and facilitates youth-driven mural projects with middle and high school students using a unique blend of design-centered, hands-on, project-based, math curriculum. He received his Bachelor of Fine Art and graduate teaching certification from Michigan State University. Dustin’s creative practice is informed by several years exploring hip-hop culture as a DJ and graffiti artist.

Mural Location: 21 Weston St. SE

Check out more of Dustin’s Work HERE

Dr.Ella Mary Sims was known as a woman of great faith and advocated for women, housing justice and access to community resources. Dr. Sims helped to establish Liz’s House, a transitional women’s’ housing program in Heartside, and served on the Dwelling Place board, advocating for affordable supportive housing in Heartside and Grand Rapids. Dr. Sims was awarded the Giant Among Giant (GRCC) Award in 2005 and the E-Quality (YWCA) Award in 2002. Dr. Ella Mary Sims led a remarkable life committed to service, family and faith.

“Dr. Sims was persistent, committed, persuasive, and subtle in her approach. Nonetheless, a giant among giants, as she was recognized in 2005, among many other awards, for her achievements. Dr. Sims was involved with many organizations in Grand Rapids over the course of several decades. So, how does one depict her work in a single mural? I wove a colorful cloud through the entire piece, beginning in the fields of Mississippi near a sharecropper’s cabin where she spent her early years, up to a vibrant portrait of Dr. Sims in her later years. I chose to focus on a few key concepts. After learning of her involvement with the Grand Rapids Study Club, and their motto of “rowing not drifting”, I chose to include a row boat, surrounded by several ripples, signifying Dr. Sims’ far reaching impact in the community. Several people noted that most did not see Dr. Sims’ impact, but they surely felt it, even without knowing it. I wanted to emphasize persistence. I also embedded some of Dr.Sims’ characteristics I pulled from interviews and obituaries from friends and family. Another consideration for this piece is the placement. I chose design elements that run horizontal ie; the clouds, fields, and ripples, to draw the viewer’s eyes all the way down the alley-like driveway. I chose to work with a semi limited color palette for the three panels leading up to the portrait of Dr. Sims. This allows for the colors found within Dr. Sims portrait to pop and further draw viewers’ eyes and interest towards the right side of the mural.”

Ijania Cortez

Ijania Cortez is a fine artist living and working in Detroit MI, USA. A self-taught artist, her practice is centralized around painting but also includes murals as well as works of mixed media. She is known for the color she uses in her portraits as well as the subjects, exclusively depicting black men from the inner city. Influenced by a modest childhood in 90’s Detroit and her love for the residents there, her work serves to create conversations between painting and viewer. In her practice Cortez uses neon color to note the modern era, showing her subjects as natural and central in environments that are unnatural, a reflection of the man-made conditions of the city. Her work interrogates beauty and vulnerability in masculinity, as well as the ability to thrive and existence despite adversity. She hosted her first solo exhibition, A Summer Nativity, in July 2017. 

Mural Location: 235 South Division Ave.

Check out more of Ijania’s Work Here

The Black People’s Free Store was started by 3 activists from Grand Rapids; Bernard Ware, Carl Smith and Richard Martell Gilbert. The mural reflects the history of activism as well as black history in Grand Rapids. Located at Jefferson and Delaware, the Black People’s Free Store provided resources for community members, published a community newspaper, and was a collective gathering place for neighbors and activists.

One thought on “Heartside Historic Murals

  • Lov3zone
    on August 19, 2021

    Many Blessings on this project, Dr. Ella Mary Is surely missed. and Ijania’s work is simply Ah-mazzing!

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