140 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids, MI 49503
In the 1990s a four-block area right near downtown was nothing but boarded up buildings and blight. It was a part of Grand Rapids the economy left behind. But in 1999, artist and urban pioneer Reb Roberts started a personal crusade to change all that. On an empty street he and his wife Carmella opened his Sanctuary Folk Art store. Once their gallery was established, they went on to work closely with other local entrepreneurs and church groups to help turn the area into the thriving neighborhood known as Heartside.
Thanks to Reb and Carmella’s collaboration with a variety of local artists, Heartside now features a variety of brilliant and inspiring murals. The power of urban art is amazing. It captures the community’s attention and eventually attracts residents and businesses. With the help of other urban planners, visionaries and developers, Heartside is now making a strong comeback.
If you get a chance to visit Heartside, please do. The street art will amaze you, and Reb and Carmella will welcome you with open arms. Their Sanctuary Folk Art store has a groovy piece of art for everyone. The store features an incredible array of all kinds of folk art from western Michigan artists. These artists are, for the most part, not formally trained but are teeming with talent. It’s a great place to visit.