Paintings of ‘Rad American Women’ are Coming Downtown

Portraits of female leaders will soon start popping up downtown.
Rad American Women A-Z book cover

Portraits of female leaders will soon start popping up downtown.

Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., or DGRI, is commissioning 27 local female artists to paint portraits of influential women on mechanical boxes throughout downtown.

The project is inspired by The New York Times bestseller “Rad American Women A-Z,” a book by Kate Schatz that illustrates historical women in alphabetical order, one for each corresponding letter.

DGRI and the local art gallery-boutique Lions & Rabbits issued a call for artists, who each will create an original portrait of a leader featured in the book.

Painting of the mechanical boxes is scheduled to begin this spring, as weather permits.

The mechanical boxes house electrical conduit, traffic signal controls and other city basic infrastructure.

“This is the most extensive public art project we’ve ever undertaken,” said Kim Van Driel, director of public space management, DGRI.

“We’re honored by the opportunity to work with Ms. Schatz and bring rad local ladies together for such an exciting idea. This project will brighten our city streetspaces and create paid opportunities for local artists.”

DGRI plans to promote walking tours of the works. Once completed, regularly scheduled hosted tours will happen in partnership with Grand Rapids Running Tours, and self-guided tours will be available through a partnership with GR Walks. The project team anticipates the tours will launch this spring or summer.

To help kick off the celebration, project partners will host author Kate Schatz in Grand Rapids in early May. Still in planning, activities will include a happy hour on May 7 at The Pyramid Scheme, as well as classroom visits through Grand Rapids Public Schools and at the West Michigan Center for Arts & Technology.

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