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The Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Michigan’s largest contemporary arts center, is host to the Exit Space Project (ESP), a dynamic experiment carried out by contemporary artists who investigate ideas, images, and conversations within public space. The first volume of the Exit Space Project featured public works and street artists from the Midwest. The second wave of the Exit Space Project highlights and continues to support local and regional artists on an on-going basis.
The essence of ESP continues to evolve into the public space on sanctioned utility boxes, bus stops, buildings, and construction sites among other venues throughout West Michigan. With respect to the somewhat indefinable genres of street art and public art, all mediums are considered in mural formats, including paint, wheat pasted prints and posters, and 3D installations. Artists are welcome to explore the variety of concepts and complexities that is street art, and the idea of it as an art movement. We do not seek to define street art, but hope to showcase all that it is and can be. To date, UICA has raised over $80,000 to support public art in Grand Rapids, and is in the process of curating a number of public murals throughout the city. Thanks to the generous support of the Grand Rapids community, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc., Herman Miller Cares, and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, new public murals were installed in several locations beginning summer 2015.