Richardson: Spray paint and good musicWritten by Rachel Richardson | | email@example.com
Meanwhile … in Downtown Toledo … right around 2004, several forward-minded people came together at precisely the right time to revitalize the Warehouse District. Art galleries restructured themselves and became a focus, a coffee shop and pizza place popped up (not to mention a baseball stadium) and now South St. Clair Street is a bustling, activity filled section of Downtown. No surprise that art and coffee were the sparks that took fire and have been the heart and soul of the area. I don’t know a thing about real estate or property value, but something tells me the Warehouse district is doing much better in 2010, which is thrilling.
Ever heard of Uptown? I’ve heard it described as the space between the Old West End and the Art Museum. Let’s make our way over that way, shall we?
Jackson Street is a one-way street in Uptown Toledo. Whatever direction progress moves in, Jackson Street is headed that way. I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the past couple of weeks at 1441 Jackson St. with Har Simrit-Singh as he paints the mural on the wall behind Toledo GROWs Manos Garden, otherwise known at ACT Project No. 1. At all times of the day, we are greeted by neighbors, local business owners (Marty and Zach Lahey of Manhattan’s fame can even be seen taking their daily jog past the garden) and people who work in the area.
As if to prove my point that talented, creative and unity-minded people are coming out of every doorway in Toledo, we have even been joined at the wall by MCH Videogroup’s Marcus Harrison who lives in the building where the wall is being painted. Marcus has already proven himself a friend to local activists by filming and producing a Public Service Announcement for Independent Advocates, and has volunteered to video document the progress of the mural. He is also especially interested in Toledo history. The wheels in his head are turning about the generations of Manos Paschalis’ family that have occupied this section of Uptown. So, with spray paint and good music in the air, we stand around and fantasize about the potential of this spot.
I’ve mentioned in previous columns the amount of action you can find on Adams Street. Jackson Street is ready to be in on it. So much of the framework is already there. The Glass City Café is just around the corner, and is taking care of every single type of customer one diner can serve. On top of normal business hours, The Glass City Café bookends a perfect Saturday, starting with local musicians showcased three mornings a month and ending with late night munchies on Saturday nights. It also houses the biggest collection of local memorabilia this lifelong Toledoan has seen in one room.
Did someone say art galleries are easy to build a community around? There are two within walking distance, Madhouse Gallery and The Truth Gallery.
They are in opposite directions from each other from Manos Garden (by now, anyone who knows me is snickering at the notion of my trying to speak in terms of “directions,” but we’ll make it through).
My point here is that ACT Project No. 1 is at the very center. Madhouse is a fairly recent addition to the Toledo family of galleries and has opened to a huge response.
The Truth Gallery, along with regular exhibitions, is also the home of a weekly talent showcase and open mic night hosted by U.G.E., a local record label, and is another enriching stop on that perfect Saturday we were talking about.
Dinner at Manos? Seems like a natural, especially since the produce grown in the garden on Jackson Street will make its way onto your table by way of Manos’ kitchen.
So, what are we missing? An ACT adviser mentioned recently that “we already have the bodegas.” There are several really beautiful structures in the area that are begging to be made into a vegetable stand, or a grocery store. Maybe a group of artist studios or apartments? A coffee shop couldn’t hurt.
ACT is confident that Project No. 1 (and transitively, the acts of art and activism) will be the cornerstone of growth and progress on Jackson Street in Uptown Toledo. You can get involved by volunteering in Toledo GROWs’ Manos Garden.
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician, co-founder and co-director of Independent Advocates, and a product of Toledo, Ohio.