The Owner's Story
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Mary grew up on the Southwest and Southeast side of Grand Rapids. Mary has always wanted to be a developer and purchased her first property at the age of 18. Her goal has always been to help her people stand on their own 2 feet. Mary believes that Burton and Eastern can become a retail and event space area specifically for people of color and knows that if someone stands up and believes in her people, they can thrive. Mary is passionate about women’s entrepreneurship and wants to help women of all ages develop their businesses. She wants to give opportunities to females who have the passion to start their own business. She plans to do so by offering lower-cost rent of the spaces she owns. She truly wants to see Burton and Eastern thrive.
Owner's Connection To GR, Thoughts on Liberation, Reclamation
Connection to Grand Rapids: Mary grew up in Grand Rapids and knows what it’s like to try to make it when others do not believe in her. After living in other states, she knows the power of people coming together and fighting for what they believe in. Grand Rapids is home and she wants to see it flourish and become a place where Black people can own their own businesses.
Liberation: Liberation is freedom. Freedom to do the things we want to do, create the businesses, be free and do the things that we have not been able to for years. Liberation means life coming full circle.
Reclamation: I want to see my people reclaim our dignity and respect as people and business owners. It means everything to reclaim and reinforce our culture, our schools, our neighborhoods. This is what needs to happen.
About the Artist
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Mila Lynn is a professional visual artist. Most popularly known for her paintings and collage work. She has created two full collections, The Repurpose Project (2019), and Black is King (2021). In addition, over the last two years, she has participated in the Inktober Challenge by annually creating a piece every day for the month of October. All 31 pieces were sold by the time the show took place a week after both years. This project now features a book that Torrey Gray, her collaborating partner on Inktober, and herself wrote and published with Barnes & Noble.
Mila is also passionate about maintaining a presence of the Arts in schools, the community, and overall world. She believes the arts are not only a creative outlet, but directly tied to a positive economic climate. Last summer, as a Workshop Instructor, Mila led a series of workshops that allowed youth grades k-12 to come paint the cities picnic tables. This was a part of MSU’s “Just Futures” Grant from the Mellon Foundation. The grants initiative is to facilitate creativity during the time of Covid-19, with special attention to communities disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Mila has sold art in various places in the US including Miami, Tampa, Lansing, Detroit, Grand Rapids, and also while abroad in the UK. Recently, she has started working more regularly on larger canvases. She revamped Jet Fitness in Okemos with two murals, and painted a mural in St. Pete of a vibezy beach on a new Airbnb property while vacationing.
Her mission as an artist is to always do one of the following three; Uplift, Inspire, or Educate. She believes artists have the power to create narratives and tell the truths that are often misconstrued by the media.