GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It’s a labor of love for Edgar Hernandez.
“I think I started late July, early August,” said Hernandez. “A lot of work went into just prepping the surface.”
The Grand Rapids artist has been working to restore the basketball court at Heartside Park for the last few months. His vision was completed on Saturday as he coated the final sections of the surface which revealed a bright court, acrylic backboards, and ivy poles that blend in with the surrounding nature.
“I wanted to bring life to this side of town,” said Hernandez. “With art, I love it because you really can take something that lives in your head and actually put it, if you put some effort into it, and actually make it into something that’s real and that’s tangible.”
The Heartside Park basketball court project is Hernandez’s first ArtPrize entry. He says his work was influenced by a piece of clothing from his Mexican culture called a serape.
“They’re basically like woven blankets or blanket like garments that you can wear,” said Hernandez. “Those are usually bold colors, vibrant colors, straight lines.”
It was also inspired by a need to help the neighborhood where Hernandez’s company, Oddside Studios, used to be located.
“I noticed…that whoever did come down here to play basketball actually played in the smaller half court,” said Hernandez. “It was because this [ the full sized court ] was just in pretty bad shape.”
Hernandez believes it will draw festival goers to a part of town that is sometimes ignored because of its homeless population.
“It was really a great opportunity for me to be like, ‘Ok I can let my imagination run wild and do whatever I really want to with this space. It’s not being used, nobody seems to really want to do anything with it,’” said Hernandez. “I also wanted to try something outside of the more popular, traffic spaces.”
Hernandez hopes it allows the community to reclaim the space even in the weeks after the event.
“I want it to be used for of course playing games and playing ball, but other things - events, dance parties, silent discos - who knows,” said Hernandez. “I want the community to be able to use that and have that sense of ownership too. This is a public space.”