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The big picture(s)

D.I.D.’s 2nd annual Art Crawl promises big things

By Michael Summers


Fort Wayne Reader


For the Downtown Improvement District’s Art Crawl, the art won’t just be big. In some cases, it’ll be huge. Literally.

Among the highlights of the 2nd annual art crawl on May 30 are the world’s largest single panel comic strip and a billboard-sized banner of award-winning photography.

But more on that in a minute…

Centered on the corner of Wayne and Calhoun, the Art Crawl — a collaboration between the D.I.D. Art Link, Arts United, and downtown businesses — features over two dozen area artists working in a wide range of mediums, including photography, painting, jewelry and sculpture.

But that’s just the beginning. “One really cool thing about this event is that not only are we doing the hub event at Wayne and Calhoun, but we’ve added a free trolley that will be taking people to other downtown attractions that night that are going to be having special activities specifically related to the crawl,” explains the D.I.D.’s Courtney Tritch. A few of those other activities include a reception for a new show opening at Art Link that night, events at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, and a live ice sculpture demonstration.

A few of Fort Wayne’s future artists will be featured in Images of Our City, a special exhibit of high school student photography at the Grand Wayne Center. This past semester, the University of Saint Francis recruited groups of three high school students from each high school in Allen County to take part in an eight week photography program, with 17 of the 18 high schools in the area eventually participating. The students worked with artist Cara Wade in St Francis’ School of Creative Arts, and had access to digital cameras and the school’s computer lab. “They went out and photographed images of the community,” says Colleen Huddleson of the University of St. Francis’ School of Creative Arts. “They worked in the computer lab, learning Photoshop and some of the other graphic design programs, and putting (the pictures) into photographic montages.”

The finished montages were printed on 4.5’ by 8.5’ boards. Charles Sheppard of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art named the “Best in Show,” and that image was printed as a huge billboard-sized banner. “I think the exact dimensions are something like 14’ by 35’,” Huddleson says. The “Best In Show” will be hung on the skywalk between the Embassy and the Grand Wayne Center, while the rest of the photos will be on display in the Grand Wayne Center’s lobby for a month. “We’re currently looking for a second site to move them outside after their stint at the Grand Wayne Center ends,” says Huddleson.

Also writ large on the downtown landscape will be the world’s biggest single panel comic strip. Area artist Troy Ganser will super-size an original work live, right in front of the crowd.

And how big is it? 48’ x 48’, wider than the width of Wayne street.

Ganser, who has been a professional artist for over 20 years, says his company T.A.G. Art is no stranger to “grandiose projects” — they’ve worked on murals that are over 8,000 square feet, and hold a record for designing the most mammoths for IPFW’s Mastadons on Parade a few years ago — but this will be his first giant comic strip. “We did a little research, and there’s actually a Guiness Book of World Records title holder, if you will,” Ganser says. “But that’s for a four-panel comic strip. Mine is more of a Farside comic strip, where it’s one panel, so we can still take the record, though Guinness won't be on hand to give us an award, unfortunately.”

While strolling around the exhibits and checking out some of the activities and demonstrations, festival-goers can stop in at the Courtyard Pub right off Calhoun for food and specialty drinks. The festivities go way into the night with an after party at the Botanical Gardens geared more towards an adult crowd. The party starts at 8 pm, and DJ Josh Helton plays host. Helton has been DJ’ing for over 14 years and promises something different. Sure, there’ll be great dance music, but as he explains it… “It’ll be mostly electronic-based dance music. More dance club type stuff as opposed to what you’d hear on the radio.”

The Arts Crawl is free and begins at 5 pm on Friday, May 30, with the after party at the Botanical Gardens kicking off at 8 pm.

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