GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) - The volunteer art organization known as Site:Lab finds under-utilized buildings and transforms them into art projects.
Last year, it was located adjacent to WZZM 13's ArtPrize studio located at the former Morton House before it was made into condos.
This year, Site:Lab is taking over an entire neighborhood while also collaborating with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County.
It's called the Rumsey Street Project located in the Roosevelt Park neighborhood. Five point eight acres will become a temporary art center for ArtPrize artists. Basically each artist or collabrative group will take over an entire building. According to Site:Lab co-founder Paul Amenta, "There's a total of 10 buildings that will feature a dozen projects from artists based from Chile, New York and L.A." He goes on to say, "When Habitat approached us about this, I knew this would be a pretty unique opportunity; for us, for Site:Lab, but also for the artists working with us and also ultimately for the audience."
So how does Habitat for Habitat fit in this picture? In a couple of years, a special groundbreaking will be happening on Rumsey Street, just south of Wealthy Street. It will become a Habitat neighborhood, mixed used development with housing options.
Ivor Thomas is the Director of Community Development at Habitat for Humanity of Kent County. He says, "Perhaps one of the most significant parts is that there is going to be a plaza we're building into the design. We're really looking to do an outdoor gathering space for the community, especially in season where they can have markets dances and celebrations so this can be a place where the community feels like it's theirs."
So until the buildings get knocked down, Habitat thought why not bring more attention to the area. "Oh my gosh, it's incredible. It's really more than what I envisioned. The whole idea from our perspective is to use this opportunity to draw some light to an already beautiful community and to energerize the neigbhorhood to see a future in this for them."
Mark Dean Veca, a LA-based artist, thought it was an exciting idea and wanted to be involved. He's painting a mural on a former auto body shop. He says his art is a shrine to american car culture and michigan's role in the car industry "What I like to do with this project is to create a spectacle --overwhelm the viewer and create a sense of awe and wonder. The fact that they had this building was the most interesting to me because of the smooth surface as opposed to the siding on some. I'm using this mustang logo as a very big part of the piece -- was the first car I ever had 65 Mustang kind of like this color as well the yellow color.
The improvised, pop-baroque inspired piece will take about 14 days to complete,if he keeps on putting in 7-10 hours a day. Vega says, "For me personally, it's about the drawing of the lines the magic that happens when you take simple line work and you create space and form and depth and that's something I seem to never get tired doing."
And something Amenta hopes visitors won't get tired of seeing...well after ArtPrize is done.
"Look at this project," Amenta says with a smile. "This is pretty stunning stuff."