Grand River Avenue sure ain’t what it used to be.
We’re not talking about the good old days of the 1950s and 1960s when the street was jammed with traffic and street cars. We’re talking about how it has been viewed over since then … as a cheap, crime ridden area.
Today the community is reengaging … starting to come together to make a difference. As that happens crime is going down and more and more people are coming into the area between downtown and Warren Ave. specifically. That’s where the Grand River Creative Corridor, headquartered at 4731 Grand River, is housed and where Derek Weaver, its founder, launched a major graffiti art campaign to spruce up the neighborhood. Weaver is also managing director of the 4731 Gallery and Studios, an art incubator that is also part of the Corridor.
Two years ago we brought you the story of the Grand River Creative Corridor. We told you how Weaver brought in professional graffiti artists to paint on the buildings in the corridor and how he worked with local businesses to be sure the artwork on their buildings represented their core businesses. For example, the graffiti on the American Integrated Supply building is cartoon character-like nuts, bolts and a hammer with a bubble that says “welcome to the oldest screw and bolt place in Detroit.” This business started in 1943.
Vacant buildings became canvases for the creativity of the artist. Graffiti artists came from all over … Germany, North Carolina Ohio, California, Germany, France, New Zealand and, of course, from Detroit. Many were from the College for Creative Studies.
We went back to visit Weaver and see what’s been accomplished in the last two years and we were not disappointed. More people are living and shopping in the neighborhood. Weaver says crime is down and he has big plans to create more collaborative spaces in the neighborhood where the community and visitors can come together and just have fun.
There is, of course, more art and we want to share it with you. Some works are on buildings. Others are on large pieces of wood on the corner across from the Grand River Creative Corridor. Take a look.
These are from the 4731 Gallery.