Dwelling Place to host Heartside Mural Walking Tours

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Ijania Cortez's mural is of the Black People’s Free Store, which was started by three activists from Grand Rapids: Bernard Ware, Carl Smith and Richard Martell Gilbert. Courtesy Erika Townsley Photography

Dwelling Place will host free Heartside Mural Walking Tours from 4:30-5:30 p.m. Oct. 1 and from 2-3 p.m. Oct. 10.

The walking tours will cover a seven-block area that will feature five murals, including four murals from local artists and one from a regional artist.

The artists are Edwin Anderson, Kimberley Kunze, Jasmine Bruce, Dustin Hunt and Ijania Cortez. Their murals highlight Indigenous and Native American history, Black and brown history, queer history and/or women’s history.

Anderson’s mural is located at 359 S. Division Ave. It depicts Black dancers and musicians performing at Crispus Attucks American Legion post, an entertainment venue that was located at 243-5 Commerce Ave. until 2006. Performers such as John Lee Hooker and Alberta Adams performed there in the early 1940s.

Kunze leads a team from the Grand Rapids LGBTQ+ Healthcare Consortium, a nonprofit that provides health care support for LGBTQ+ persons in the greater Grand Rapids area. Her mural is a concept of the Grand Rapids AIDS Resource Center that was opened in 1988 and was located at 42 S. Division Ave.

The mural commemorates the fight for AIDS-related health care and the impact AIDS has had on the Grand Rapids community and LGBTQIA+ persons in Heartside and West Michigan. The mural is located at 42 S. Division Ave.

Bruce’s mural features the Union Depot that was located at 61 Ionia Ave. in Grand Rapids from 1890s-1950s. It was demolished between 1958-1959. It aided people as they traveled to and from Grand Rapids on the railroads. Her mural is located at 101 Sheldon Blvd. SE.

Hunt’s mural is of Dr. Ella Mary Sims, an advocate for women, housing justice and access to community resources. She helped to establish Liz’s House, a transitional women’s housing program in Heartside, and she served on the Dwelling Place board. Hunt illustrates her journey from Mississippi on a row boat, presenting her involvement with the Grand Rapids Study Club whose motto is “rowing not drifting.” Hunt also included several ripples, signifying her far-reaching impact in the community. His mural is located at 21 Weston St. SE.

Cortez is an artist working in Detroit. Her mural is of the Black People’s Free Store, which was started by three activists from Grand Rapids: Bernard Ware, Carl Smith and Richard Martell Gilbert, who also are portrayed in the mural. The Black People’s Free Store provided resources for community members, published a community newspaper and it served as a collective gathering place for neighbors and activists.

The public can register for the free tours at Heartside Historic Murals – Dwelling Place.

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