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Art This Way

By Rebecca Stockert

Fort Wayne Reader

2017-09-15


Art This Way Art Crawl on Saturday, September 23, is the kick off event for a larger project led by artist Alexandra Hall to activate alleyways in downtown Fort Wayne with visual arts. The Art Crawl raises funds and brings awareness to the Art this Way Alley Activation Project, whose intent is to bring new life and walkability to downtown Fort Wayne. Participants in the Art Crawl will be able to enjoy an evening out and have the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to bring more public art to the city.

The Art Crawl event will feature live music, live art making, local cuisines, cash bars, and the opportunity to support the production of new murals and public art. Real live artists working at each location during the event include: Jared Applegate, Theopolis Smith, Frank Louis Allen, Kay Allday, and Terry Ratliff. Allday is a tattoo artist who will be painting on living human bodies. Early bird tickets are for sale on the website at www.artthiswayfw.com and at the door (though they are dangerously close to selling out already-so get them fast!).

The mission of the Art This Way Alley Activation Project is to advance Downtown Fort Wayne as the vibrant, urban core of northeast Indiana. The group is poised to create a public ‘art gallery’ starting with the pedestrian alleyways going east/west of Berry St, Wayne St, and Washington Blvd, and north/south of Harrison and Calhoun Streets. On the horizon lies large-scale murals and sculptural elements with major funding from the Downtown Improvement District and Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Inc. Artists: keep your eyes and ears open for a call for entry in the coming weeks.

The project was born of the tragic death of Christy Landrigan, former Lincoln Financial Group employee. Landrigan was passionate about improving the walkability of Fort Wayne and had a love of art. When she died, her fellow employees collected money to fund a project in her memory. The memoriam funded the commission and installation of five works of art in pedestrian friendly alleyways in downtown Fort Wayne (currently installed) by artists Hall, Ratliff, Smith, and Diane Groenert. One larger mural was created collaboratively between Hall, Ratliff, and Smith and installed over broken windows. Smaller works by the artists, including Groenert, are covering other eyesores in the space.

Hall explains: “Because of Christy's work with the local arts community and because she was passionate about improving the walkability and overall experience of downtown Fort Wayne, the Fort Wayne Downtown Improvement District worked with local business owners to install public art within the alleyways. The mural on the side of the Thirsty Camel was commissioned to cover a group of broken windows. Theoplis [Smith], Terry [Ratliff] and myself were commissioned to do the piece in November of 2016 and it was installed in the spring of 2017. The Art This Way Alley Activation Project was born.”

Hall has a vision for a program that spans at least 10 - 20 years into the future. She wants to bring national and internationally known mural artists to Fort Wayne to create the artwork; she sees the mix of local, national, and international as a recipe for success, both for the mural project and the creative community has a whole. Quoting the idiom ‘the rising tide lifts all boats,’ Hall explains: “Local artists networking with people that work at that scale and experiencing artwork at that scale increases our artist community’s viability and legitimacy.”

Fort Wayne already hosts a variety of murals created by locals and nationals alike. Artist Jerrod Tobias is today’s wonderchild with murals on North Anthony, Broadway, and now a 300’ work of art on the Columbia Street bridge. The Hyde Brother’s Booksellers building on Wells is home to a mural by NIPR host Julia Meek. Wunderkammer Company on Fairfield is covered with a myriad of murals from numerous artists. The Pint ‘n Slice building on Calhoun boasts two murals by the internationally known artist Nosego, who is based in Philadelphia, PA. The addition of local, national, and international artists to be added to the city’s present stunning array of murals by the Art this Way Activation Project will expound upon an already rapidly developing arts and culture scene.

As part of that rapidly developing scene, we have had the pleasure of being visited by the aforementioned Nosego twice. His artwork on the southside of the Pint n’ Slice building is a small part of his larger portfolio. His work can be found not only in Fort Wayne, but across the globe in places like Portland, OR, Los Angeles, CA, Seattle, WA, Isla Mejures, Mexico, Berlin, Germany, Windsor, Canada, Newcastle, UK, and many more. His work combines natural elements like plants and animals with bright, bold contemporary illustration, creating almost-anthropomorphic creatures of indistinguishable species.

Cincinnati, Ohio, is an example of another midwestern city with a successful large-scale mural arts program: Artworks, Cincinnati, which Art this Way is using as an example. Artworks began as a pet project of the mayor in 2007; to date they have installed 132 professional murals in 44 Cincinnati neighborhoods, transforming the entire city. Artworks employs artists and youth apprentices, developing young people’s skills and supporting the creative economy. The mural project has made Cincinnati a must-see on the national mural circuit, a hero in the midwestern art world.

Art This Way
Alley Activation Project & Art Crawl
Saturday, September 23, 5 - 10 pm
Early Bird Tickets: $25 single/$40 couple

For tickets, and more info, visit artthiswayfw.com

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