A group of artists came together over the past month to create a mural on the backside of furniture showroom and retailer Stonesthrow, at 1428 Plainfield Ave. NE, in the Creston neighborhood as part of “UICA Outdoors,” the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts’ ArtPrize 10 project.
Taking their inspiration from the colors and patterns they found outfitting the contemporary furniture sold within the showroom, Evas’ve members—Rebecca Rapin, Alex Barger, Haylie Bos and Kacie Forbes—developed their own color blocks and patterns on the building’s exterior.
“Where we started first was different artists walked through the space and got inspired by the furniture in there,” explained Elyse Flynn, who led the collective. “I met with one of the co-owners, Karen, who runs the space—it’s a family-owned company, her father owned it first—and we talked about being a friendly Creston neighborhood furniture store. That was where people went for furniture and interior design years before. We got inspired by the space.”
Flynn said the artists involved also looked at the colors on the other buildings in the area and considered the nature of the neighborhood.
“We paid attention to the color schemes we were seeing within the furniture design and the fabrics and things we were seeing inside the space and then also the community existing already,” she said. “A lot of the buildings around there have more muted color tones to them and very rich colors. We went with a color scheme that felt natural and warm to cool. You’ll notice, it goes from blue tones into oranges and reds with pops of pattern sporadically throughout.”
The mural is also reflective of the collaborative process itself.
“The piece is called “Fiber” … it’s not just inspired by contemporary print and pattern making and some of the colors in the patterns we were seeing inside the furniture space, but also the layering and working together of the artist collective. It was an experiment for us. It was a lot for us about the actual making it and doing it and making decisions on site. it was sort of planned … but the layout and everything happened on site, too.”
Flynn said another factor in designing the mural was placing it within the “current state of contemporary art and murals.”
“We wanted to do something large and abstract and something that people could engage with in some way,” she explained.
The neighborhood is engaging with the completed product, posing for photos in front of the mural and imploring the artists to take their talents to other walls in the neighborhood.
Members of the collective are all former students of Flynn’s. She said it was fun to collaborate with her former students who are now professional artists and designers and to create something within the historic Creston neighborhood.
Flynn’s studio is located on Taylor Street in the neighborhood.
The project is one of five murals that are part of “UICA Outside,” the Urban Institute of Contemporary Arts’ ArtPrize 10 project.
“One of my favorite things is telling people it’s in the Creston neighborhood,” she said. “People didn’t know that ArtPrize went that far. It’s cool to bring attention to this neighborhood.”
Flynn said the mural will remain on the building for at least three years. She’s interested in other possible projects that could come to fruition in the neighborhood.
“Murals in general in Grand Rapids are becoming more popular and it’s beautifying the city in a different way,” she said.
*Photos by Carbon Stories