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Brick Road Mural

By Dana Kroll, Uptown Marketing and Communication Specialist.

Uptown is home to so many things; among them, a thriving community of creative and colorful souls – and we like to think our district reflects that energy. Our business owners and workers, as well as the folks who live here too, can often be found putting forth their efforts and talents to ensure that the Uptown experience is a vibrant one. One of the ways we do this is with an emphasis on public art. One such example would be the giant mural installed at 1017 Wealthy St. SE. The building at this address is currently the location of Brick Road Pizza (note to selves – we’ll have to tell you about their swoon-worthy ‘za, in another post!). 

Prior to Brick Road’s occupancy of this building, another group was housed here – The African Community Center. At the time, the Center’s main focus was to provide a hub where refugee families could come for counseling, financial counseling, job leads, translation services and community events. In 2008, the Center partnered with GVSU through its Summer Scholars program, to commission the creation of a mural. This mural tells a visual story of war refugee migration, from various African countries, to Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

A team of seven total artists*, led by artist Dennis Nagelkirk, collaborated to create this amazing work of art through illustration and paint. The mural graces the entire North side of the building to this day.

With this post we are launching a newly refreshed website, and we have put a lot of thought into making sure it includes as many useful tools to help you navigate your way through Uptown easily. We want to help ensure that while here your experience is a fulfilling one. 

To that end, one of the site’s coolest new features is an easy-to-use public art map that pinpoints the various locations and stats of our district’s artworks, just like the one described here. This map will be kept current, so that as artwork is added to our neighborhoods, so will it be to the map as well. Consider taking yourself on an art-tour, the next time you are here!

*The full roster of artists involved in this project is as follows:

Dennis Nagelkirk (Project lead, Designer, painter)

Carrie Andrews: illustrator, painter

Ruby Miller: illustrator, painter

Teresa Zbiciak: illustrator, painter

Jason Rood: illustrator, painter

Julia Greenway: illustrator, painter

Colleen O’Donnell: illustrator, painter