Artist To Beautify Heartside Building

December 16, 2002
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — Artist Richard Haas will be in Grand Rapids today, visiting a prospective site for one of his future works.

Haas is nationally known for his trompe l’oeil paintings on building exteriors.

Trompe l’oeil is French for “to fool the eye” and Haas’ murals in Chicago, New York, Phoenix and Miami Beach, among others, have transformed a nondescript exterior building façade into scenes like Greek-looking arch ways, Swiss chalets and updated skyscrapers that appear three dimensional.

Earlier this year the Heartside Mainstreet Promotions Committee received a grant from the Dyer-Ives Foundation and was then able to invite Haas to make a preliminary visit to the area.

Heartside Mainstreet is part of the Neighborhood Main Street Initiative, a national program affiliated with the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation, a not-for-profit community development organization that sponsors and supports local initiatives throughout the United States for revitalization of neighborhoods.

Heartside Mainstreet focuses on the revitalization efforts of South Division Avenue from Fulton to Wealthy Street.

Representatives from the Heartside Mainstreet group will give Haas a tour of Heartside to acquaint him with the streetscape and history of the area.

The site being considered for one of his murals is the southern wall of the building at 139 South Division, which last housed the Reptile House.

The building was recently purchased by a local man, Larry Zeiser, who is currently rehabbing the building with a commercial space on the first floor and living quarters on the second.

“We’re not sure what he’ll have in mind for the site here,” said Kristen Moore, Heartside Mainstreet manager. “But it will undoubtedly be a valuable asset to this neighborhood, all of Grand Rapids and West Michigan.”

After Haas views the site he will be able to create the preliminary design for the mural. Then, Heartside Mainstreet will undertake further fundraising to make the $95,000 project possible.

Haas, who currently resides in New York City, gave up his teaching career in 1979 to devote all of his time to his mural work.

Since then he has completed 120 interior and exterior murals in several major U.S. cities, received numerous awards and honors and lectured nationally and internationally.

Haas has also received several prestigious honors and awards, including The American Institute of Architects Medal of Honor, fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Municipal Art Society Award.

For more information about Haas visit, www.richardhaas.com           

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