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Collaborative portrait project nears end of Kickstarter campaign

April Galbreath's "West Side is the Best Side" community art project is hoping to reach their funding goal by midnight tonight. The project aims to improve community identity and pride with a large-scale public portrait series of over 200 West Side neighbors.
Underwriting support from:

"West Side is the Best Side" is no longer a community pride slogan here in Grand Rapids: it's also a collaborative public art project participating in the Inside Out Project, an international collaboration started by the 2011 TED Prize Winner JR. The project,designed by April Galbreath, is responsible for its own funding, so Galbreath started a Kickstarter campaign that ends at 11:59 tonight.

The project includes over 200 photos of West Side neighbors that will be displayed on buildings throughout the West Side. The photos will be three feet by four and a half feet in size, and will include handwritten commentary about how they view their neighborhood and what they would like to see happen.

A preview of some of the portraits and more information and updates can be found on the project's website.

The portraits will be installed September 21-23 as Galbreath and a host of volunteers use wheat paste to affix the images on buildings across the community. The project also includes plans to clean up the areas surrounding the installations and plant perennial flowers. Galbreath says the combination of art installation and beautification represents an ongoing commitment to new life on the West Side.

"Even [for] people who are not Westsiders, this project is formed to create a positive sense of pride in our community. It is imperative for us to not just show other people what we believe about ourselves through this project, but really change our own idea of ourselves and our identity. Each community and each neighborhood that starts taking pride in themselves- that benefits the city as a whole.

Galbreath says the project doesn't just need monetary donations. 

"Anybody can come out and help install [on September 21-23]," she says. "We're also looking for supplies. ...If people would rather donate buckets or the use of their ladders or hoses. They don't have to donate them forever, but just for use [during the installation], that would be incredible and also save us money in the budget."

Kickstarter campaigns accept pledges, and no projects are funded unless they reach their full goal by the time set. With just today left to reach their goal and just over halfway there, Galbreath is encouraging donations of any size.

"Right now, I keep on telling people every little bit counts. If everyone who sees it just gives a little bit, I think we can make it. Obviously, large amounts are welcomed," says Galbreath.

Donations will go to pay for printing and shipping of the large-scale portraits, as well as the supplies needed to put up the portraits and clean up and beautiful the surrounding areas. Those who pledge on Kickstarter can receive thank-you gifts such as bumper stickers, postcard sets of the portraits, a collection of the portraits in book form, a t-shirt and other incentives, depending on the level of giving.

Donations to the project can be made on their Kickstarter campaign any time before 11:59 p.m. Tuesday night.

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