Grand Rapids began as a fur trading post on the Grand River that still flows through it's downtown. Louis Campau is considered the city's founding father. His last house sits at the top of the Fulton Street hill which was still woods when the lot wast cleared to put in the foundation.
My Grandfather Leo Basset (who drove a tank in WW1) was on his way to Chicago from Holyoke Massachusetts to find a job in the furniture industry. While stopped in Grand Rapids a local talked him into staying because he convinced him his prospects would be better in Grand Rapids.
My father Rolf Beerhorst came to Grand Rapids in 1948 from the Netherlands to live on Madison Street with his older brother Andrew. He soon landed a job at Wagemaker Boat Co. Andrew taught him how to drive his '37 ford coup the night before his first day on the job on the gravel road that made its way around Reeds Lake. (Andrew stood on the running board so he could quickly jump off if he needed to.)
I grew up in Kentwood and discovered the city when I was a college student. I was living in Eastown, it was the early 80's. I left to live in NYC and then graduate school in Illinois. I came back in 1987 and soon began drawing and painting Grand Rapids as a way to re-acclimate myself to the city. I have since witnessed the city grow and evolve in ways I would not have thought possible when I first came home.
My current ArtPrize project City As Muse is a celebration of my city. I believe we are on the verge of coming into a healthier understanding of who we are as a city. I think it may be fair to say that a city will become fully actualized only when it's citizens do the same. Some of this "coming into yourself I believe is knowing your story because here in lies clues to your present and even perhaps your future. I would love to hear from you some of how you came to be here and why you choose to stay.
City As Muse is supported by the following forward looking corporations: