Paint Locally, Live Globally.

Just south of the Cook Art Center, on Grandville Ave, is a an old warehouse and fenced-in vacant lot. There are a handful of similar spaces along the Grandville corridor south of downtown, but this one is special.  Among the weeds and crumbling pavement is a brand new, ultra colorful mural of flags, peace signs, and rays of light that celebrate the surrounding community. The mural, completed at the end of June, was designed and painted by three artists with ties to GR and roots across the country; Ricardo Gonzales, Riquel Silva, and David Frison, with help from area high school students. Ricardo is a recent MFA grad from Kendall College of Art & Design. Originally from Mexico, Ricardo recently moved back to Chicago where he was living before attending KCAD. Riquel is a current KCAD undergraduate student studying drawing, she's originally from Puerto Rico and spent the later half of the summer there with family and friends before she makes another big move to Chicago. David is also studying at KCAD in the graphic design program. The Cook Art Center and the Hispanic Center of West Michigan teamed up to support this project that began in late 2015 as a series of community consultation meetings. Local residents made suggestions and requests for the content of the mural and the artists responded with a design that features flags specific cultures represented in the area, symbols and peace, unity and education. The flags of Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and Costa Rica form the base of the mural. Behind them arms of many skin-tones are raised in signs of peace (or victory). And finally, figures of students studying perch atop the boarded up windows near the roofline.  The final product is impressive both as a new neighborhood icon and also as a solid piece of public art.

I first heard about this project from Ricardo. I'm always interested in how artists balance their practice between professional and personal projects and Ricardo's involvement in this mural seemed like both. Ricardo's personal work focuses on depictions of Mexican-American identity in the United States. He plays with pop-culture icons, stereotypes, and traditional images in equal measure. His work can sometimes feel fun and playful and other times it can grab you by the eye-balls shake apart your expectations of Mexican-American art. Now in a public, family-friendly forum Ricardo is balancing those interests with public needs. .......

Raquel and David....