Community Conversations: Shifting the Cultural Landscape


By Mark Masuoka, Executive Director and CEO

But I’m not creative.

I don’t have a creative bone in my body.

I can’t even draw a straight line.

These statements are commonly overheard the moment we propose an art (creative) activity.  Whether it be signing up for an art class or just sitting in a meeting and being asking to think “outside of the box”, these apprehensive statements reflect a larger social context beyond the  “fear of the unknown”. It points to how people perceive the truth about what is possible and their willingness to pursue a deeper understanding and application of the creative process.

We understand that not everyone is an artist, nor do we believe that everyone should be an artist. That’s why at the Akron Art Museum we are not asking you to just BE creative; we are asking you to LIVE creative. It is your decision on how you make it happen.

How do you LIVE creative?

Community Conversations: Shifting the Cultural Landscape


By Mark Masuoka, Executive Director and CEO

What happens when an art museum opens its doors and invites everyone to take part in a community-wide conversation to influence the direction of the museum’s public programs and community initiatives?  This is exactly what the Akron Art Museum is undertaking in a series of open forums to initiate meaning discussions about the inner life of a city.  Community Conversations is a way to bring together amazing thinkers and doers to engage with the museum and to move beyond just pressing the “Like” button.

How do we come together to do something challenging, different, outrageously fantastic and extremely unpredictable, that other’s would only imagine doing?  That’s how things change, grow and get better .  That’s when everything starts to shift.

Are you part of the conversation?

On Your Mark…Get Set…Games.

The Akron Art Museum partnered with the Gay Games 2014 Kickoff on Friday, July 18 . This event included a silent auction to win various signed movie posters, a live auction to win a ride on a Goodyear blimp, as well as a live band and food and refreshments.

Gay Games 9 is being held in Cleveland/Akron August 9-16, presented by the Cleveland Foundation. GG9, known as one of the biggest sports/cultural festivals in the world, includes 35+ sports and cultural events.

What is GG9?

Including individuals  and  organizations  representing  four continents, the  Federation of Gay Games is  primarily  an all volunteer organization. The Games invites all athletes – regardless of sexual orientation, race, gender, religion, nationality, ethnic origin, political beliefs, athletic or artistic ability, age, physical challenge or health status.

“They are, however, intended to bring a global community together in friendship, to experience participation, to elevate consciousness and self-esteem, and to achieve a form of cultural and intellectual synergy.”                                                                                       – Dr. Tom Waddell

Waddell conceived the idea of the Gay Games in 1980 as a “vehicle of change.” His idea built an international legacy of “changing cultural, social and political attitudes towards LGBT people around the globe.”

Past Gay Games locations include:

1982 – San Francisco, California, USA
1986 – San Francisco, California, USA
1990 – Vancouver, British Colombia, Canada
1994 – New York City, New York, USA
1998 – Amsterdam, Netherlands
2002 – Sydney, Australia
2006 – Chicago, Illinois, USA
2010 – Cologne, Germany
2014 – Cleveland/Akron, Ohio, USA


To learn more about the Gay Games or how to donate or volunteer please visit:








Summer 2014 Director’s Message

By Mark Masuoka, Executive Director and CEO

As a young art student, I was told by my instructor that to be creative is to see something in a whole new way to change how you perceive the things around you.

For 92 years, the Akron Art Museum has been changing the cultural landscape by enriching lives through modern and contemporary art. The museum’s commitment to changing perceptions is steadfast in the belief that everyone deserves an exceptional art experience. We activate our vision through the museum’s world-class collection, contemporary exhibitions, innovative education programs and our internationally acclaimed John S. and James L. Knight Building.

On July 15, 2014, I will be celebrating my one-year anniversary as the 14th director of the Akron Art Museum. I’m proud to say that the museum has made great strides over the past year in integrating its operations and programs as well as launching a new website and reopening our café. While the museum continues to be recognized regionally and nationally as a valuable cultural asset, it has also become one of the institutional pillars for the revitalization of downtown Akron. By embracing our responsibility to be a community resource and actively seeking strategic partnerships with other organizations, businesses and individuals, we enhance the cultural health and wellness of our community.

We believe that “community engagement” means to take action

In order for the museum to broaden its public presence, we are dramatically increasing the level of accessibility to art, in and outside the museum. We believe that “community engagement” means to take action and we aim to provide consistent opportunities for members and visitors to LIVE creatively, LEARN how art impacts our lives every day and share the LOVE of art with everyone. During our Free Thursdays, the museum’s education team offers family and kids programs such as Creative Playdates, Story Time in the Galleries, Kids Studio Classes, as well as films, lectures and our collection gallery tours, which provide insightful, inspirational and interactive experiences.

Moving beyond just pressing the ‘Like’ button

Starting this spring, the museum launched a series of Community Conversations to engage thinkers and doers by moving beyond just pressing the ‘Like’ button and directly participating in the collective power of collaboration. Future conversation topics include Art & Entrepreneurship on July 15, discovering what is Uniquely Akron on September 9 and exploring what it means to develop a Public Place | Public Space on November 11. We are grateful for the support of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to make these conversations possible.

In addition to our public forums, we are also launching Make Your Mark, a community-inspired public art project in collaboration with the John S. Knight Center, Akron-Summit County Public Library, Downtown Akron Partnership and Summit Artspace. We teamed up with our neighborhood partners to create a new urban mural for downtown Akron and are working with local painter and tattoo artist Jesse Strother to incorporate drawings and ideas from community participants into a large-scale urban artwork inside of the Knight Center. Join us for the public unveiling on July 5 at 7:30 pm during the Downtown Akron Artwalk.

The Akron Art Museum is imprinting new cultural habits by developing a museum model for civic engagement, community development and sustainability. With your support we can develop new perceptions into a plan for the future.

A Look Back into the Archives: Downtown@Dusk

By: Alexandra Lynch, Kent State University Practicum Student


It’s hard to believe that the Akron Art Museum’s Downtown @ Dusk has just started its 30th season! This season kicked off on Thursday, June 19 with American, Pop artist Anne E. Dechant with Director Mark Masuoka as MC. This year’s Downtown @ Dusk has a diverse line up, ranging from Indie Folk Groove to Old School R&B, and will be taking place Thursdays throughout the summer.

Downtown @ Dusk Concert Lineup:

June 26         15 60 75 The Numbers Band, Abstract Blues

July 3             The Wanda Hunt Band, Old School R&B

July 10           The Speedbumps, Indie Folk Groove

July 17           Zach, Singer Songwriter

July 24           Horns and Things, Jazz

July 31           JD Eicher & The Goodnights, Pop & Light Rock

August 7        Blu Monsoon, Jazz


“We’re free Thursday nights if you are.” Just like in the 1990s, the museum has brought back its Free Thursday! Stop by the museum early to explore the galleries and grab a cold one before the entertainment begins!

  Downtown @ Dusk Advertisement, summer 1990

Downtown @ Dusk Advertisement, summer 1990

A Look Back into the Archives: The Akron Art Club

Akron Art Club, 1915

Akron Art Club, 1915

By: Alexandra Lynch, Kent State University Practicum Student

Founded in 1915, the Akron Art Club had a membership of 20 people and was organized by Herbert Atkins and Kenneth Nunemaker. The club met once a week and allocated one afternoon a month to outdoor sketching. In 1915 the Akron Art Club started holding exhibitions in various locations around the city, which soon lead way to the idea for an art center. On October 19, 1920, 24 Akron citizens met to explore the possibilities of bringing about an institution that would benefit both the spiritual growth and mental development of the Akron Community. A second meeting was held on November 17, 1920, in regards to the development of the art center. Headed by Edwin C. Shaw, longtime advocate for the arts, it was decided that the basement of the Akron Public Library would become the home of the Akron Art Institute. On February 1, 1922, the Akron Art Institute opened its doors the public.

Postcard of the Akron Public Library from 1909

Postcard of the Akron Public Library from 1909

A Look Back Into the Archives: La Wilson

By Alex Lynch, Kent State University Practicum Student

We’re featuring local artist La Wilson for the second time in our galleries. Her first show, Metaphorical Objects, was at the museum from November 14, 1986 – January 18, 1987, and highlighted the charm and wittiness found in the ordinary, everyday objects of our culture.

The examining, collecting, sorting and assembling that is Wilson’s art is evident in her current exhibition, Objects Transformed, on view through September 21, 2014.


Interchange by La Wilson

Interchange and New York Brush, also featured in Metaphorical Objects, are on view along with works borrowed from local collectors and seldom seen works from the collection.

Want to learn more about La Wilson and her artwork? Visit the museum library and check out our books La Wilson Five Decades, 240 College Street and The Art of La Wilson.

La Wilson002

La Wilson on a motorcycle in 2002


A Look Back into the Archives is a new, regularly occurring segment on our blog. Check back for fun facts about the museum, hilarious old photos and juicy tidbits culled from our archives.