Making a space for creatives in the Grand Rapids community has always been a goal for The Sparrows since the shop’s inception. Hosting monthly rotating art shows, supporting local zines and art publications, and welcoming a large cast of regulars who use the shop as a work space has fostered a unique and collaborative niche in the Grand Rapids coffee scene. When our owner, Lori Slager Wenzel, purchased our building at 1035 Wealthy Street, she saw the opportunity to extend that concept to the outside of the cafe.
Unveiled late last month, our mural by local contemporary artist Jeff Kraus. The formerly empty red wall on Robey Street now proudly wears public art, adding color to the already vibrant Uptown neighborhood.
Having been a Sparrows regular and friend for years, Jeff Kraus and his dog continue to stop by every morning for his espresso. Not only has Kraus exhibited his work in Sparrows in the past, but he also lent work to Lori as a backdrop for her wedding, which took place in the shop. It felt very natural for us to choose a regular customer and respected Grand Rapids artist to create public art for our shop.
The mural brings our philosophy outside. Sparrows has always been about building community and promoting conversation. Adding an eight by thirty six foot conversation piece to an entire side of our building is only the beginning. If we can inspire customers and neighbors to connect, we think our shop has accomplished something bigger than just making good drinks. The community we cultivate in our cafe is what we love about making coffee in Grand Rapids.
If you like the mural, you can wear it home with you on our limited edition shirts.
Photos by Lance Nelson