In 2000, Ric Geyer bought an abandoned building in the middle of Detroit, but had no plans to raise another hotel or trendy restaurant. His goal was innovation—or rather incubation. In the following years, he transformed the space into an arts incubator called the 4731 Gallery, a place where painters, photographer, and designers could come together to share ideas, hold parties and exhibitions, and work to further their craft.
When Derek Weaver, who managed the gallery, heard that his neighborhood was labeled one of the 15 poorest in the country, he decided to change public perception. Working with the graffiti artist Sintex and fine artist Sydney James, Derek launched the Grand River Creative Corridor project to create more than 100 murals and outdoor gallery exhibits. Today, more than 50 artists and 300 volunteers have contributed their time and talents to ornamenting a half-mile stretch of Grand River Avenue with colorful designs and playful characters. By the time the project is complete, the artists will have painted murals on 15 buildings, designed an outdoor gallery at a bus stop, and cleaned up overgrown weeds and trash. Each mural is painted with the consent of the local business owners, and installations reflect their line of business to increase exposure while revitalizing the neighborhood.