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UnZIP 07: Exploring a zip code and its culture

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader


Fort Wayne is home to many great neighborhoods. These building blocks of our community have long held the keys to our success and growth, yet have recently been relatively overlooked among the sea of "quick fix" projects and economic development agencies which have captured most of our political representatives' attention. While many of the neighborhoods have opted to promote themselves with strong identities, the 16 neighborhoods within the 46807 zip code have slowly but surely banded together to create a stronger and broader identity. When you add in progressive non-profit institutions to this equation, you get projects like Wunderkammer Company's commitment to the improvement of the 46807 zip code in "UnZIP 07", a hybrid event that blends the vibes of a "First Fridays" event with the formerly successful "Trolley Tour" event that the Fort Wayne Museum of Art produced for years leading up to its last year in 2012.

"UnZIP 07" will be taking place on Saturday, September 20th, and be composed of two main components, a period from 5pm-9pm as seven general locations within 07 have special presentations of art, music, and food, then followed by an after-party taking place at The Philmore from 9pm-midnight! All of the proceeds from this night will be restricted to a "46807 Fund" used as an incentive to produce future improvements in the area like the 46807 Steering Committee's projects, which have been taking place over the last few years through a generous grant by the Chase Bank Foundation. While this project is in its infancy, it is seeing great support from the neighborhoods and local businesses, as well as the excitement of the residents in the area. This is further evidence of the slow, but steady growth of Fort Wayne's local renaissance taking place quietly, and in many ways through "underground" action by its citizens and organizations existing in the neighborhoods.

Examples of the businesses and organizations contributing to "UnZIP 07" include both non-profit organizations like The Reclamation Project in the former Rialto movie theater building at the corners of Calhoun and Pontiac streets, The Summit, formerly the Fort Wayne campus of Taylor University which is now home to many organizations, and the Unitarian Church on Old Mill road, as well as businesses like Thai and Burmese fusion restaurant Mahnin, the Friendly Fox, The Philmore, Eran Park's "Glass Park", and many more! Through this collaborate project, its organizers, a committee of residents and community leaders pulled together by Wunderkammer Company, hope to highlight beneficial impact which can be had on area simply by bringing awareness to efforts underway, and a challenge to this cities residents to dream big and have hope in future projects which will continue those efforts.

With a focus on the cultural aspects of the area, "UnZIP 07" is also call for the creatives living within the 46807 zip code to identify themselves and become a part of the event! At Wunderkammer Company, they can be a part of "Open Wall 07" an instillation of area artists which is up currently, and being added to daily. At the other locations, artists can either set up a booth, be part of the musical acts, or work with the planning team to find another way to be a part of this event! Scott Hermance, committee chair for "UnZIP 07" said, "We are really trying to work with anyone and everyone on this project. We feel that it is necessary to highlight all of the talent in the area, as well as provide as many opportunities for the arts to shine through "UnZIP 07"'s programming."

The night will be beginning with the opening of the Williams Woodland "Belt Line Tour", a series of historic markets set throughout the neighborhood, as well as the 90th birthday party for the Rialto. From there, visitors will be able to visit all of the stops while stopping to enjoy the art, music, and food offered, and hopefully meet with neighbors, new faces, and old faces as people who moved out of the neighborhoods come back to see what has been happening over the years! These visits will be facilitated by trolleys taking visitors around a loop for the night, allowing them to soak up their environment along the route, as it takes them through the numerous historic neighborhoods which the 46807 zip code is home to.

At Wunderkammer Company, a non-profit contemporary art center, located in the former Casa D'Angelo building in the heart of the 46807 neighborhoods, there will be five exhibitions in total, including "(Inter)twine", a two-person show between Molly Stronczek and Sommer Starks, "Newbies", a first significant exhibition of Justin Chronister and Corey Fleming's work, an untitled solo exhibition by Adam Garland, "Portraits of Oz", a solo exhibition by Holly Clabaugh, and "Open Wall 07", a collection of multiple 46807 based artists.

Thanks to all of the many organizations and individuals who are coming together to make "UnZIP 07" a reality, there can now be a clear example of how neighborhoods can be further supported through the arts, and how they can take their future in their own hands, and begin to grow through their own efforts outside of the City's projects, which inherently include politics, or outside influences. Hopefully other areas in Fort Wayne can use this as a template and continue this pattern.

"UnZIP 07"
September 20th, 2014, from 5pm to midnight.
For more information, please visit www.wunderkammercompany.com

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