GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new initiative in downtown Grand Rapids aims to make the mundane bright and welcoming.
“Jennifer from Mobile GR was like, ‘Hey, we have these kind of ugly booths that are all over the city, why don’t we do a program to freshen them up?'” Moore said, adding the ticket booths are often times one of the first things people see when they come into the city.
They wanted to turned the ticket booths into something beautiful, so they started looking for emerging artists to paint murals on them.
“We tried to select artists that didn’t have a lot of big murals throughout the city as well to give an opportunity to people who are starting out,” Moore said.
The artists were given the prompt of creating something “welcoming.”
One artist chosen to paint a ticket booth was Rhiannan Sibbald, a muralist and illustrator who painted the ticket booth behind the Van Andel Arena.
She said she had wanted to work with DGRI for a while, as she appreciates the placemaking and community work the organization has done.
She liked how the program highlights local talent and adds beauty to the downtown area.
“The initiative was basically to transform these mundane, run down structures into something that sparks the eye and sparks an area of interest where there normally wouldn’t be any,” she said.
Sibbald started drawing when she was a toddler. After graduating from Grand Valley State University with a degree in illustration, she worked various graphic art roles.
About two years ago, she started pursuing art and murals full time, she said.
Public art adds a new element of excitement and challenge, she said, as it’s accessible to everyone.
The mural she painted is a “whimsical dreamscape,” she explained, an escape from the day-to-day harsh realities. Her style includes lots of “love and light,” florals, botanicals and playful characters.
“My inspiration would be, ‘How can I spark a sense of joy and a sense of imagination to someone whose just walking by or pulling into a ticket booth?'” she explained.
She hopes people who see her artwork will contemplate not taking life so seriously.
“It’s really important to prioritize play,” she said. “I love to work and it’s both a blessing and a curse, and I have to remind myself to take a break and appreciate simple joys, look at the world in a childlike sense and just appreciate the beauty that the world has to offer.”
DGRI is working on publishing a map of the ticket booths.