Virtual Tour of Grand Rapids Art: Part IV

This piece is located on the corner of Monroe Ave. and Pearl st. It is the start of the Rad Women walking tour in DownTown Grand Rapids. It is a series of 26 paintings (A through Z) of famous women all done on the sides of electrical boxes around town! The project was undertaken in honor of International Women’s day and Women’s History Month in 2019.  The DGRI director, Kim Van Driel, said that this was the most extensive public art project the department has ever undertaken. She also said it provided many local artists with paid work opportunities! Nia Mays, who graduated from City last year, actually painted the portrait of Florence Griffith-Joyner which is located on the corner of Lyon and Ransom! The series of paintings was divided up among many local artists by the DGRI and Lions and Rabbits to make sure each portrait was unique. The paintings were inspired by the book Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Shatz.

Portrait painted by Nia Mays, City graduate

The portrait at top is of Angelina Davis, an activist, writer, and professor who fought for civil rights. She was born in 1944 in Birmingham, Alabama and is still alive today! She graduated from The University of California, and founded the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism after leaving the Communist Party in 1991. In the 1970s she was arrested by the FBI for her alleged part in a courthouse attack but was later acquitted on all charges. Throughout her life she worked to improve the lives of the oppressed, and in 1970 she supported the Soledad brothers (three men who were imprisoned for killing guards during a prison break. Many believed they were being used as scapegoats).  She also wrote several books, the most popular being Women, Culture, and Politics. You can read some of Angela Davis’ books at

I am not exactly sure who painted this specific portrait but I would definitely recommend checking it out and taking the walking tour. The whole thing takes about 90 minutes to walk through and it is a fun way to get outside for a bit to appreciate some of our local talent!


Editor Emeritus at The City Voice | MIPA Honorable Mention Award Winner

I am a Senior at City and I normally write the weekly book reviews! If I'm not reading, you can usually find me at the barn riding and taking care of the horses.