Salon 477 History
Grand Rapids artist Georgia Taylor began developing Salon 477 in 2007, compelled by her desire to help other artists make the difficult and often lonely journey from passionate but yet-unestablished artist to successful professional. Through Salon 477, she seeks to teach others what she has learned experientially about being an artist and to pass on support, knowledge and opportunities as her own mentors have done for her. As an artist of color, Taylor demonstrates particular sensitivity to the needs in her ethnic community, which often fails to provide its young people with a deep education on the role of art in society.
Originally from Kalamazoo, Michigan, Taylor attended Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. After graduating in 2003 and leaving the area, a series of unplanned events landed Taylor back in West Michigan. Though she recognized her identity as an artist and knew that she wanted to pursue art professionally, Taylor was not entirely sure how to go about achieving her dream. As she began freelancing, she realized that her art career would not simply fall into her lap; she had to create it.
With this realization in hand and her birthday approaching in the spring of 2007, Georgia decided to celebrate with an art show. She called several friends, all African American artists who had not had the opportunity to show their art in Grand Rapids. Another friend provided the venue in exchange for graphic design work from Taylor. Without money but with passion and connections in abundance, Taylor planned the show, naming it Salon 477 in recognition of the Salons, or art exhibitions, of the 17th-20th centuries, as well as the date of her birthday that year, April 7, 2007. Nearly one hundred people, all informed through MySpace or word of mouth, attended this first show, which featured the work of four artists (including Taylor), three poets and a handful of musicians, all of them local. Artist sold their work, and the positive response was overwhelming.
After hosting two more shows that year, Taylor stepped back to refocus and further develop her artistic and vocational goals. Since 2007, an apprenticeship with the renowned artist Paul Collins, training from Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW), experience teaching the UICA ArtWorks program and greater understanding of nonprofit work acquired through her current position at Baxter Community Center have prepared Taylor to pursue her vision with a refined and clear focus. Salon 477 now operates under Taylor’s direction, coming alongside aspiring young artists and aiding and encouraging them in their development while also seeking to develop a strong network of artists in the Grand Rapids community. This grassroots movement promises to continue growing and expanding in years to come.