Richardson: Creative revolutionariesWritten by Rachel Richardson | | email@example.com
Artists have been responsible for creating the cultural aesthetic of civilizations since the beginning of time. The reason we know stories of evolution of societies is because creative members of populations were compelled to scratch them on walls or carve them out of stones or build them with a tendency to a certain kind of design or paint them using the natural materials available to them at the time.
Toledo has an abundance of decaying buildings and structures. We have long stretches of streets with empty houses and broken windows. This moment in Toledo’s evolution is asking that we put paintings on these buildings as if they were walls in our homes. The next step in the lives of these neighborhoods is beautification.
When we look back at Toledo in 2012, we will begin to see an overt, public and very specific aesthetic completely created by local artists and our current inspirations and resources. From the color scheme of the Lucas County Land Bank boarded-up building paintings on Monroe Street to logo designs for local businesses the artists are creating what Toledo looks like: our visual culture. I think it’s safe to say that Toledo is undergoing a creative revolution. Frankly, the whole world is.
If our only measure were the number of murals, yarnbombs, and other street art being installed and documented on every continent and shared in photographs and on social media, one would think that artists have taken it upon themselves to bring every depressed city a little joy by adding color and beauty to blighted neighborhoods and all the positive rippling that follows. Which, of course, we have. Toledo’s visual artists, musicians, performers and writers have been at this for decades, not caring whether anyone ever paid attention.
We were going to and will continue to make art simply because we are artists and we have no choice. We’ve multiplied in number and energy levels in the past decade and have been very prolific but, an important shift has taken place now. The next wave of the boom.
Artists are starting to get real support from those members of the community who would not necessarily consider themselves directly connected to art but who recognize its importance to the revitalization of the city. They see what they are able to do from their positions to ground the artists and help them build foundations as they gain traction and begin to make real change. They are visionaries, connectors, and innovators. Bob Krompak is a visionary.
A compassionate career do-gooder and Toledo lover, Krompak sees only potential and opportunity in the empty storefronts and faded signs from his post at NeighborWorks Toledo Region. In those vacancies, Krompak knows that art will fit and drive progress and has put wheels in motion to allow culture and art to be used as real tools for change.
Krompak is the economic development specialist at NeighborWorks but he’s a social worker at heart who gets giddy when he sees new yarnbombs in the Birmingham neighborhood in East Toledo. He sees a city he has worked at for 30 years coming to life and is motivated to keep working to empower a new crop of professionals and try new things. The city is very lucky to have him. And also connectors like Candice Harrison, the Community Hub Director at Scott High School.
Harrison has built a team around her to implement the mission of community Hubs and is receptive to all things creative. From free GED classes to knitting classes to relationship workshops to partnerships with the Toledo Museum of Art. Harrison is committed to reaching out to the local community and knows in order to do that, she must speak the language of incorporating culture.
Innovators can be found nearby in industries that allow for personal expression. They help create the way we look as Toledoans in 2012. With a new consciousness, comes an earthy angle which sends branches of art into a leap of creativity that has a timing perfect for this moment and this age. Toledo has a strong local advocate, activist, and entrepreneur in Megan Yasu who has founded and maintains The Kitchen Salon, a business and educational resource in the Natural Hair Movement. Her answer to a creative call to provide support to the evolution of culture.
As Toledoans, we have a natural disposition toward art and activism. Every single one of us has a role in this revolution.
Do you know yours?