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Art murals continue popping up on boarded windows in downtown Grand Rapids

Organizers say 230 artists have so far applied to be a part of the project
Posted at 5:03 PM, Jun 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-11 20:08:38-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Art murals continue to pop up in the downtown area now covering over a hundred boarded-up windows.

Following a peaceful protest later turned riot on Saturday May 31, businesses in the area were left with significant property damage, many of their windows completely smashed out.

“I had so many emotions the night of the riot and the next day. Literally I didn’t know I could experience so many emotions at once,” said Erin Oderkirk, who owns The Dog Pit on Monroe Center with her husband.

Oderkirk and her husband were out the day after the riots helping everyone clean up and passing out free hot dogs until they ran out of supplies.

She was overwhelmed to then later that week find a mural going up in front of her business.

"Then to see them here doing this, it was just so heartwarming. Again, I didn’t know him, I don’t know him and he’s here painting our windows making us look okay again,” Oderkirk said.

The project was organized in part by Hannah Berry who owns the Lions & Rabbits art and event space on Plainfield.

“The peaceful protest happened then a riot happened and then it was, the narrative got convoluted between those 2 things,” Berry told FOX 17. “What is next was what everyone’s question was when they woke up... so this is what’s next.”

While the project is happening at an expedited pace when compared to other similar public art projects, none of it is happening without serious forethought.

“It happened in a weekend, you know, it needed to happen in a weekend. And things will grow from it. And things happened that were bad and that were good, but the intention and purpose behind it... unbreakable,” Berry said.

Berry put out a call the middle of last week for any artists interested in the idea. She says they quickly received 230 applications from artists looking to get involved.

“We were doing the math today, there are 93 windows right now painted by people of color, 53 painted by white people. So it's been a really good way to see the community come together in a different way than downtown usually looks,” Berry said.

One of those artists is Grand Rapids-native Jasmine Bruce, who is also helping organize the project as it proceeds.

“I'm doing a temporary window mural on Lions & Rabbits in Creston. For that piece I really wanted to make a memorial for all the... victims of police brutality,” Bruce said.

Her mural currently includes portraits of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Grand Rapids-born Breonna Taylor.

"I'm planning on including as many portraits as I can but also emphasizing you can’t include them all because there are so many black people who have faced that travesty.”

You can find out more information about the project by visiting Lions & Rabbits Facebook page.