Artists hope to help Grand Rapids recover

Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Grand Rapids has been in full recovery mode from the rioting this past weekend, and there’s still more work to be done.

Several groups of artists are trying to help the city heal — transforming all the vandalism into displays of color this weekend.

“My heart was broken and then all of a sudden completely overwhelmed by everything,” said Christine Carson, retail property manager at CWD Real Estate Investment. “It’s a city of art. Grand Rapids is known for their art, so why not use these as blank canvasses.”

In total, the buildings run by CWD Real Estate had 118 windows broken and full replacements are more than a month away.

But for now, artists are just trying to add some color.

A mural painted over boarded up broken windows in downtown Grand Rapids several days after a riot damaged about 100 buildings. (June 5, 2020)

“It seemed like it was just in a time of need,” said Darda Brooks, a local artist. “A need for this. Because the world is full of colors. From me to you — two different colors. I’m full of colors: yellow, black and white.”

“Overall, it’s hard for a lot of people to see and it’s a tough pill to swallow for a lot of people,” said Colin Russell, another artist from the area. “But it’s also a really great wake-up call that everyone needs to be doing more right now.”

Most painters out on Friday said they hope it helps beautify the businesses downtown until repairs are made.

“There’s a lot of things going on and just riding around and seeing everything boarded up, it’s a lot of weight on our shoulders,” said Jamari Taylor, who has been painting downtown since Thursday. “So being able to bring the art community out to give a smile to the community, I think that’s very important.”

A sign on the front door of Old World Olive Co. in Grand Rapids reads, “We Love you.” (June 5, 2020)

The city’s silver lining comes in the form of a paint job, and it’s making progress one piece of plywood at a time.

“It’s just blown my mind to see what Grand Rapids is capable of doing and how we’ve all been able to come together and get ahead of this,” said Carson.

If you would like to dabble in the effort yourself, you can find a group, grab your paintbrush and jump right in.

More guidance can be found online.

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