Kyle Watson, an East Grand Rapids resident and a Director of the Friends of the East Grand Rapids Library, met artist Reb Roberts while walking dogs during the COVID lockdown. Watson had been a longtime fan of Robert's folk art and the positive community messaging it brings; they quickly became friends. He approached Roberts about creating a custom piece for the East Grand Rapids Branch of Kent District Library and he agreed.
Watson showed Roberts a vertical architectural wall in the library that Roberts had never noticed, despite being a library regular. It was the perfect place for a custom piece.
"I pitched it as sort of a story book page where kids on the lower level could look up with a sense of future wonder, while adults on the main floor could look back down and disappear back into their childhood," Watson said.
Roberts came up with the following vision for the piece -- It is going to be pretty busy and bold with lots of colors and patterns. You can expect some birds and chickens and a cat and bunnies and fish and trees and a rocket and a person and flowers and clouds and water and some sunshine and plus, all of those characters have a tendency to show up on their own. Invited or not, they make their presence known. They have an art of life of their own.
The vision came to life when the artwork was installed on Sunday. The display is called Help One Another Learn To Fly and is acrylic paint on canvas. There are four 4' tall x 5.5' wide framed canvases. Each canvas has its own theme: out in the water, up on land, up in the sky and out in the universe.
Roberts created the pieces this winter in his Division Street studio space. MercuryHead Gallery, a local business, professionally framed the pieces and LaFontsee Galleries lead the installation. The Friends of the Library funded all portions of the project.
"Reb and I talked about creating a piece of iconic public folk art that could inspire the community and bring smiles to the library, and I think "Reb's Wonder Wall" does that in incredible fashion," Watson said.
Stop by the East Grand Rapids Branch of KDL to enjoy the new art display!