Rachel Richardson: Project No. 1Written by Rachel Richardson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Corner Toledo (ACT) Project No. 1 is making progress! A partnership between Toledo GROWs and artist Har Simrit-Singh is bringing a mural to “Manos Garden,” located at 1441 Jacksin St. As things often do concerning matters of initiative, the pieces fell in place for this partnership with almost no effort from ACT, and did so within a week of the idea forming.
In fact, the very night the idea for ACT itself was born, the artist jumped on board and the first partnership became reality. On March 5, Har Simrit Singh, a local graffiti artist, opened a show at Bozarts Fine Art and Music Gallery. It’s no surprise that Bozarts was the fertile creative ground where this seed was planted. The show was amazing and was the beginning of a night full of positive energy and what felt like a solidifying of real community. A lengthy discussion with the artist about one piece in particular that depicted a tree (a verbal description beyond that would not do the painting justice) led Har Simrit Singh to make an offer: if ACT could find him a wall to paint, he would want to be involved in a community partnership with a local agency to represent Toledo’s activism and growth.
The following Monday, a spontaneous (not at all coincidental, if you know what I mean) meeting at Downtown Latte (where the world changers get their coffee) with Toledo GROWs’ director, Michael Szuberla, led to a natural conversation concerning gardens and walls and activism and growth. Needless to say, Toledo GROWs joined the party, and had just the right garden with just the right wall. The next stop was Manos Paschalis, who owns the wall. With absolutely zero hesitancy, he was in and enthusiastic about the prospect. No exaggeration. This all happened within days.
In following the ACT Process (which is highlighted at www.artcornertoledo.com), the next step was to get together a couple times with Toledo GROWs’ staff, the artist, ACT web designer Nathan Mattimoe, the author of the ACT Manifesto (Emily Rippe), and the owner of the wall. The purpose of these meetings was to discuss the vision for the actual piece of art and because ACT was in its infancy, to flesh it out and make it deliverable to the public. During these conversations, the group came up with messages and images to be conveyed by the mural that would represent Toledo GROWs’ brand of activism. Words thrown about included impact, cultivate, connection and community. One of the Toledo GROWs participants (Rasean Snodgrass) made special mention of how much he enjoyed the opportunity to use tools in his work with urban agriculture. Keep an eye out for those tools. Also, watch for the original tree that sparked the entire project.
Luckily, it wasn’t the first rodeo for some of these stakeholders and they knew that a very important step for this mural project was to get the official approval from the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo (ACGT) by adhering to its mural ordinance, lest the work be mistakenly painted over or perceived as illegal graffiti. Dan Hernandez, the director of art in public places with the ACGT, was incredibly helpful throughout that process and a couple of very minor hoops later, the mural was approved.
This development is recent and brings us to the present time. The only thing left to do is to buy the paint and paint the wall. Grassroots as the whole thing is, the only cost for this mural is paint, which has been donated by Toledo GROWs and a few Adams Street business owners. Manos Restaurant, Manhattan’s Restaurant and The Ottawa Tavern have all thrown in for supplies, understanding and embracing that the mural is ultimately going to bring beauty and pride to their neighborhood. These donors will be recognized in works created by Young Artists at Work (YAAW) participants who have volunteered their talents to ACT.
Now, we look forward to a few beautiful days of painting. Stay tuned for information about the unveiling. Also, please look online for more information about Toledo GROWs, The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, Bozarts Fine Art and Music Gallery, and YAAW.
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician and a product of Toledo. E-mail her at email@example.com.