Richardson: Living this lifeWritten by Rachel Richardson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I may be the luckiest girl in the universe. No, I am. I’m sure of it. I get to work as an activist during the day and live as an artist on evenings and weekends.
My schedule is divided between Independent Advocates, Art Corner Toledo (ACT) and my guitar. These three things fill up my calendar, but more importantly, they fill up my heart and brain. Perhaps you’ve heard me mention that I am one of countless Toledoans living this life. Artists and activists populate this town.
I had breakfast with one of my dearest ones Saturday morning at a favorite Downtown spot, Pam’s Corner. We planned and schemed the next ACT project over Pumpkin Pamcakes and came away both feeling warm, nourished and motivated. One thing artists know about themselves and each other, is that a certain amount of flexibility is required when two or more are coming together to create something as a team.
There’s always that element of forgiveness for creative idiosyncrasies. That morning, it became clear that I will need to allow for that same flexibility as it relates to the mission of ACT. I hope that the community can come along with me on this.
I’m willing to chalk it up to good old-fashioned evolution if you are.
ACT formed as a vehicle to promote Toledo’s activism through art. That little tree has sprung roots. The foundation is strong with Project No. 1 (which, by the way, will be officially unveiled in the springtime in a joint event with Toledo GROWs; bring your gardening gloves.) and other projects that are in the works.
The next thing that ACT is ready to promote is the revitalization of Uptown and Downtown Toledo through art and independent local business. It’s not really that much of a stretch if you think of it in terms of activism, which in the past I have described as needing a certain amount of blind hope and lots of major leaps of faith that what the activist is working for is going to improve their corner of the world.
I think it goes without saying that independent business owners have to close their eyes and jump in with a similar spirit. Just ask Pam, who fed us that morning. So, back to flexibility and improvisation. It wasn’t entirely shocking when one of the partnerships that ACT had planned on didn’t pan out. These things happen. But photographer Tina Gionis is still ready to make some art. A photographic documentary of the revitalization of Uptown and Downtown Toledo through the surge of support for local businesses? Why, yes! What a fabulous idea.
As Tina (a Toledo-born artist who spent several years in New York and then moved home) put it, “12 years ago, people were moving away from Toledo to go places where stuff was happening.
Now, people in Toledo are staying here to make things happen.” That’s a pretty great time to be in Toledo, if you ask me. I can’t wait to see that through Tina’s lens. And if all goes as planned (or some variation of it) the community will have opportunities to regularly lay eyes on the work as it becomes publicly displayed.
Which leads me to ACT’s next evolutionary twist. Originally, ACT couldn’t answer the question, “What will happen to each piece that is created?” The mural at Manos Garden was a natural because it had a place to live on the wall at 1441 Jackson St.
But, where would the rest end up? One big show at Bozarts or the Parkwood Gallery? Maybe. But, that would be difficult given matters of timing. These pieces will constantly be coming to be. There won’t be a moment when ACT decides it’s all done. ACT is practically defined by the infinite possibilities to promote Toledo’s creative capabilities.
So, wouldn’t it be cool if each piece became public art? What if you could find a series of Gionis’ photographs about local treasures displayed in the Downtown library? Or at Huntington Center or outside of Fifth Third Field? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful opportunity to welcome those Toledoans who may travel into Downtown only occasionally to explore the nooks and crannies a little more? Let’s try it! Let’s try it!
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician, co-founder and co-director of Independent Advocates, and a product of Toledo, Ohio. E-mail her at email@example.com.