Richardson: Artomatic 419! strengthens city’s unityWritten by Rachel Richardson | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Do you guys remember Sufficient Grounds Coffee House? Sigh … I sure do miss that wonderful place.
I’m pretty sure I can identify my job as a barista at the Cricket West location from ages 19 to 21 as the time and place that I learned about how communities come together. The regulars at Sufficient Grounds became a special kind of family.
I met people there who met each other there who still have coffee together all these years later. Marriages and children have come out of the coffee crowd that I was lucky enough to be a member of from behind the counter.
These people were real friends. They threw me a party every time I left town to go back and forth to college and even when I “moved” to Seattle for two weeks to be with the very best friend to come out of my time at Sufficient Grounds.
There’s no need to go into detail about that little adventure except to say that it didn’t take me long to figure out that Toledo was most definitely where I belong and that Carolyn, that best friend from SG, and I are still tight even though she stayed in Seattle.
She’s on my mind most of the time, even across the country, and something that she says has been occurring to me a lot lately. She sometimes laments growing older because when you’re a kid, you can be “suddenly silly” and no one judges or looks at you funny. Suddenly silly. You can jump up and down, or sing a weird little song or dance.
And if you’re a kid, who cares? What is strange about this for me, is that I don’t remember being all that silly as a kid. If I remember correctly, I took everything pretty seriously and felt kind of silly about being silly. The older I become, the less I care if anyone is watching or judging. And I’ll bust a move pretty much whenever I feel like it.
I’m sure I have Carolyn to thank for helping with that because she and I were silly together. Worth noting is that it strengthened our bond to see each other in that otherwise hidden light.
How convenient that I live in a city where spontaneous expression seems to be more commonplace than not, as I don’t feel alone in my outbursts most of the time.
Nowhere will you find a more concentrated example of suddenly creative, suddenly evocative, suddenly visceral, and — yes — suddenly silly, than Artomatic 419! 2011.
On April 2, more than 2,500 people in Toledo strengthened the city’s bond by being near one another as they were surrounded by art.
I spent 12 hours in the Warehouse District on Saturday, travelling between no less than four buildings filled with art and people. Each had its own distinct buzz.
At 407 Washington St., each room of each floor felt like a different kind of party. Music set the tone in some spots. Poets engaged listeners in others. I’ve sincerely run out of enthusiastic adjectives to describe this scene. The first day of Artomatic 419! 2011 has been my favorite day so far.
And the very best part? There are two more to come!
For two more consecutive Saturdays, Toledo’s creatives are putting on our very best show for those who want to see what we’ve been up to. And for those who want to be involved in their own unique way, this is a perfect introduction.
I am not exaggerating when I say that no matter where you looked at Artomatic, people were smiling huge, broad smiles. The visual artists sold work. The musicians were listened to. The performers were watched.
The people listening and buying felt like they were a part of something real and took pieces of it home with them.
The local economy was affected by a surge in creative capitalism.
The staff of the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo and the steering committee members and volunteers gave each other high fives and hugs at a job well done.
And some anonymous visionary reminded us in spray paint that “Cities have souls too, ya know …”
Rachel Richardson is an activist, musician, co-founder and co-director of Independent Advocates, and a product of Toledo, Ohio. Email her at email@example.com.