An open wall could open mindsWritten by Jerry Gray | | firstname.lastname@example.org
When I say graffiti… what do you think of? Maybe you scowl and back away or maybe you revel in the idea and want/need more to feel at home, either as an outlet or as an understanding of what contemporary urban art could and should be.
A couple of years ago, I pushed a fledgling petition in an attempt to raise awareness about a subculture which could bring a young community together in a way unlike any other Toledo has ever attempted. The idea is to create or allocate a wall which is open to unrestricted change and influence from local creatives and artists. A wall which could bring an underprivileged voice to the forefront of a community that would/ could ideally embrace the voices of their youth and creative class. A simple request from a huge group of thoughtful and poignant artists … a legal graffiti or public art wall.
You may connect graffiti with a multitude of negative ideas, namely because of the defacing of public and private properties that happens at times or because of the misdirected assumptions that the majority has to do with gangs or territorial lines. For one, I believe the gang signs and B.S. little symbols have nothing to do with the graffiti artists I know or respect. At the same time the defacing of public and private property is a recognition of the fact that we are bombarded with advertising and corporate imagery at every turn in our lives. If you can step out your front door and look completely down your street or around your block without being advertised to with out your consent, I would be shocked. Many graffiti artists may not agree with me but I believe this is an underlying matter of the fact. “If you are going to force your ideas on me then I shall do the same” and I’m going to feel better about the more visible and influential it is. I digress, on my own personal assumptions, as not to offend anyone who creates imagery for their own intent.
With this article, I wish to proclaim my own intent, to reintroduce the idea of a public, legal, wall for artists and creatives to produce and present imagery and ideas upon. We have an immense amount of locations in our city to pronounce “legal” art walls. Alleyways and future parks (Middle Grounds) that have the potential to be hubs for artists to explore and find their voice before an audience that seeks them out or simply happens upon them.
How hip would it be? There are towns that proclaim themselves as mural towns (Google it). These towns see hundreds maybe thousands, of tourists annually specifically for these kinds of situations. Why couldn’t Toledo shift its mindset into an embracing one? Designating a place to be a legal grounds for expression couldn’t be too expensive in relation to the potential rewards. Some lighting and maybe liability insurance does not seem to be a very expensive cost for a constantly evolving work of art and expression.
Toledo wants to be understanding, forward thinking, hip, current, nurturing and leading the contemporary way of life in the Mid West. This could very well be another notch for the peg in the climb, leading the pack. Making Toledo a more acceptable bragger of what we have to offer to the folks that visit family and friends from other larger coastal cities. People seek these kinds of uniqueties and appreciate a community that accepts them. That’s my argument/ pitch.
Starting July 3, I will be restarting a petition to show support for a legal art wall in Downtown Toledo. The placement of such a wall will not be what I am petitioning, I will leave that up to the powers that be. The petition will simply be a show of support for such an idea, calling on the political powers that be to consider the notion as represented by their community.
Have no doubts, I love Toledo as much if not more than the majority of people living in our fair city and I truly believe this could be a huge outlet for many artists and young professionals who would greatly benefit from such an oasis of creative public intrigue and interest. If you happen to see a petition being shown at your favorite local store/business and you agree, please sign on. If you have questions, please ask and if you want to be involved, let me know.
Jerry Gray is an artist, writer, vocalist, bartender, gallery owner and advocate of the Toledo Potential, which promotes the retaining and featuring of artistic talent and culture in our city.