New mural taking shape on Grand Rapids’ West Side

Grand Rapids' West Side
A July 26, 2017 photo shows the colorful mural taking shape on West Leonard Street on Grand Rapids' West Side.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A new piece of art taking shape on West Leonard Street near US-131 is greeting visitors of Grand Rapids’ West Side.

West Grand Neighborhood Organization is behind the colorful mural in progress, which replaces an older piece that was peeling.

“I hope it just brings a more positive vibe to this wall and this side of town,” said artist and former West Side resident George Eberhardt.

“I think it’s gorgeous,” said one passerby.

A July 26, 2017 photo shows the colorful mural taking shape on West Leonard Street on Grand Rapids’ West Side.

There is a deeper meaning beyond beauty. This mural is being created for the West Side by West Side residents. They came up with the concept, which is to showcase the community’s diversity.They also became part of the art.

“I know these people; these people I know,” said Chi Benedict.

Benedict is one of the people in the mural. She is pictured in red with her arms around her two sons.

“There is a Native American girl there that’s a friend of mine’s daughter, the gentleman with the badge, he’s a Walker Fire Department chaplain, plus (the) bagpiper. He works in the community, (as) our community police officer is in blue,” she explained.

Eberhardt decided to use bright colors instead of skin tones to paint the people.

“I didn’t want to show any racial dominance necessary,” he said. “I just wanted it to represent all people.”

Two statues are depicted on each end of the mural.

“(They’re) the gatekeeper figures,” Eberhardt explained. “The females of the West Side. They are supposed to represent the strong female population.”

“You can look at this mural and you know who it is,” said Benedict. “A lot of these people are like family.”

The mural will be entered in ArtPrize Nine, which runs Sept. 20 to Oct. 8.

The total cost for the project is $20,000. Much of that was donated by business and residents, and the city also helped. However, West Grand Neighborhood still needs to raise $5,000 to help pay the artist. The group is accepting donations through its website.