USA Today named Grand Rapids one of America’s 10 Best Cities Where You Can See Amazing Art – and our extensive collection of public murals is one reason why. There are more than 100 murals spread out across the neighborhoods of Grand Rapids, on buildings and streets, in parks and playgrounds, under bridges and across parking lots.
Many of the murals in Uptown, a neighborhood encompassing four thriving commercial districts, were commissioned by local businesses to draw attention to their spaces and showcase the creative vitality of the area. Take the self-guided tour below – you can walk or drive – to see some of the murals that have become Uptown landmarks.
In the mood for more murals? Check out our City Center, Heartside, North Quarter, Southtown, and West Side mural tours, as well as the Rad Women A-Z Initiative, which spans 26 mechanical boxes in the downtown area.
Art Starts Here
Start your tour at Testa Rossa Pizzeria, a family-friendly restaurant less than two miles east of downtown GR. It’s open for dinner Monday-Saturday, so you can enjoy a wood-fired Sicilian pizza before your journey – daylight extends well beyond 9:30pm in the summer, so there’s no rush. If you’re traveling earlier in the day, you’ll encounter many great breakfast and lunch spots on your journey.
“African Community Mural”
1017 Wealthy St. SE
The building that now houses Testa Rossa Pizzeria was once occupied by the African Community Center, and this mural on the rear of the structure pays homage to the war refugees who came from various African countries to start new lives in Grand Rapids. Seven artists – Dennis Nagelkirk, Carrie Andrews, Ruby Miller, Teresa Zbiciak, Jason Rood, Julia Greenway and Colleen O’Donnell – contributed to the mural, which is on the north side of the street.
Follow Wealthy about 150 feet east to the intersection of Wealthy and Robey Place.
“Scorpion Hearts Club Mural”
1035 Wealthy St SE
The (relatively) small mural on the Robey Place-facing side of the Scorpion Heart Club coffeehouse is by artist Maddison Chaffer, who wanted to explore how caffeine evolved in plants as a way to get pollinators to better remember a plant’s location over the seasons. You’ll see another Chaffer mural later in this tour, at Brewery Vivant.
Head about 200 feet east to the intersection of Wealthy and Barth Ave. There’s a small surface lot on the southwest corner.
“Wealthy Street Animal Hospital Mural”
1052 Wealthy St SE
West Michigan artist Erick Picardo employed his characteristic bright colors and positive imagery to depict people interacting with animals in the city – an apt subject for this urban veterinary office.
It’s back east on Wealthy another 100 feet or so, past Louise Earl Butcher Shop and the Wealthy Theatre Community Media Center to the entrance to a public parking lot on the south side of the street.
“Wealthy Theatre Mural”
1110 Wealthy St. SE
This mural is a stylized depiction of the historic Wealthy Theatre (1130 Wealthy St. SE), which was built in 1911 for vaudeville and live theater, and later became a neighborhood movie house. It closed in the late 1970s and was refurbished and reopened in 1998 as a community arts center. The mural on the east side of the building beside the parking lot driveway.
Head east on Wealthy another 200 feet, past Visser Place.
“Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop Mural”
1133 Wealthy St SE
Michigan artist Jillian L. painted this mural of a hungry cheetah whose tail has a mind of its own on the east-facing wall of Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop, a favorite neighborhood lunch & dinner spot. It’s on the north side of the street.
Follow Wealthy to Atlas Ave., turn left (north) about 500 yards to Lake Dr. You’ll pass the Grand Rapids Pride Center on the way.
“Eastown Pride Crosswalks”
Lake Drive/Genessee Street Intersection
Look down – three crosswalks at this intersection have been painted with colors from different LGBTQ+ flags. Residents of Eastown – a district of Uptown – used to paint the crosswalks for Pride month every year. In 2022, the art installations were approved by the City of Grand Rapids as ADA compliant, allowing them to be permanently maintained.
Turn left on Lake Drive from Atlas. Travel about 1/10 of a mile, just past Robinson Road.
“Matchbox Diner Mural”
1345 Lake Dr. SE
Adorning the west-facing wall of Matchbox Diner & Drinks, this colorful mural was created by West Michigan artist Devin DuMond, who teaches classes at Kendall College of Art & Design in addition to running her own design business. The mural is chock full of Eastown references.
Continue northwest on Lake Dr. about one half mile to Diamond Ave. Turn right (north) on Diamond and go about 1/10 mile to the Baldwin St. intersection.
“The Best School in the Universe”
103 Diamond Ave SE
Students from Congress Elementary School worked with local artist Richard App to paint this mural on the low wall of a parking lot adjacent to the school. Filled with images of the school, local buildings and a sky filled with the moon, stars and comets, it’s meant to symbolize that “learning can take you anywhere.” The front of school, just west of the parking lot, contains painted images on the same theme.
Take Diamond Place (in between the parking lot and school) south to Lake Dr. Turn right (west) on Lake and it’s just a few feet to the parking lot of Brewery Vivant on the south side of the street.
“Brewery Vivant Mural”
925 Cherry St. SE
Grand Rapids artist Maddison Chaffer painted the rear wall and a giant tank in the rear parking lot of sustainably minded Brewery Vivant, which is located in refurbished funeral chapel. It is one of a number of local murals painted by Chaffer – her “Seeking a Pleasant Peninsula” at 140 Monroe Center in downtown Grand Rapids was the juried winner of the Installation category in ArtPrize 2022. (The brewery front door is on Cherry St.)
Follow Lake Dr. northwest to the next intersection, Dwight Ave., and turn right (north). Follow Dwight two blocks to Fulton St. Turn right (east) and travel about 1/3 mile to Madcap Coffee on the north side of the street.
Madcap Coffee Mural
1041 Fulton St. E.
An enchanting mural by Michigan-based artist Pat Perry wraps around several walls of Madcap, an award-winning local coffeehouse. Perry murals can also be seen in Alaska, Finland, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya, Germany, New Zealand and other far-flung locales.
You can now take Fulton back west about 1.7 miles to downtown Grand Rapids, or take one of the south streets off Fulton to return to the Wealthy St. starting location for this tour.