On October 5, 2013, scores of African American visual artists, performers, musicians, and writers gathered to be interviewed and have a group photo taken at the Grand Rapids Ellington Academy of Arts and Technology (GREAAT). Called “A Grand Day In Grand Rapids,” this recreation of an iconic Harlem jazz era photo marked the first time that the local African American art
community has been brought together with the goal of documenting their work.
The project was directed by George Bayard, III, and is a tribute to Bayard’s own creativity and community leadership. Photography was provided by Adam Bird. Design and videography were completed by GVSU undergraduate interns Amanda Northrop (Studio Art) and Katie White (Liberal Studies).
Bayard, an art historian and owner of Bayard Art, Consulting and Frame Shop at 1213 Kalamazoo Ave. SE, is also a member of the Kutsche Office of Local History’s Advisory Council. He conceived of this project as a way to not only bring local artists together but to build an ongoing set of collaborations and mentoring relationships among African American artists from across the larger metropolitan area.
The photograph was released as a poster in March 2014. Artists pictured in the work, speakers and entertainers were invited to a signing party and panel discussion about the arts in Western Michigan. That event was held on March 8, 2014 at GREAAT.
Collaborative efforts were made by the artists to support one another and use GREAAT as a resource for arts related projects. Artists have volunteered to donate time at the Academy and seek employment there. A video documentary will be released at a later date.