Mural Is A Heartside Welcome

October 11, 2004
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RAPIDS — Evergreene Painting, of New York City, last week was wrapping up its execution of the Richard Haas mural that serves as a gateway to both downtown and the Heartside Business District and neighborhood.

The mural — painted directly onto the bricks of the south wall of the former Reptile House, at 139 S. Division Ave. — is done in the three-dimensional trompe l’oeil (optical illusion) style for which Haas has become known nationally.

The community is invited to the mural’s dedication at 10 a.m., Friday, Oct. 15, at Sanctuary Folk Art, 138 S. Division Ave., and Warm Red Dime, 136 S. Division Ave.

The mural creates the illusion of a traditional arched city gate — a site common just about everywhere from Amsterdam to Beijing and Seoul to Jerusalem.

With the exception of the younger urban areas of the United States, almost all 21st century cities have preserved the old fortress gates that at one time controlled access to their markets and neighborhoods.

And now Haas has created such a gate for Grand Rapids.

Haas’ illusion is an arched entrance over a Grand Rapids street inviting the viewer to stroll beneath a familiar Grand Rapids skyline.

Surmounting Haas’ pictorial gate is a scene from the community’s lumbering era. Other depictions of Grand Rapids’ commercial and industrial history flank the gate.

Haas’ murals are to be found all over the nation, transforming nondescript building walls into three-dimension scenes ranging from skyscrapers to Swiss chalets.

The mural is part of the Dwelling Place Heartside Mainstreet Initiative, an economic development program working to revitalize South Division and the Heartside district. The drive for revitalization is seen as a blend of local and regional businesses, arts and entertainment, restored or new housing and community services.

Dennis Sturtevant, CEO of Dwelling Place, said art such as the Haas Mural is an economic development tool for the district.

“We believe the Richard Haas mural will enrich the area, improve the image of South Division Avenue and that the art will be an invaluable asset to the neighborhood.”

The mural was financed by funds from:

• Joseph Niewick, the building’s owner

• Grand Rapids Community Foundation

• Dyer Ives Foundation

• Dick and Betsy DeVos Foundation

• Keller Foundation

• Local Initiatives Support Corp.

• Arts Council of Greater Grand Rapids

• Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority

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