By Roza Maille, Inside|Out Project Coordinator
Picture this: You’re walking down the street and then suddenly…whoa! Is that the painting I saw at the Akron Art Museum last week? How did it get out here?
Don’t worry. It’s not the real painting, but a reproduction so realistic it’ll make you do a double take. That is just one of the ways the Akron Art Museum will engage the community with its new public project, Inside|Out.
We are so excited about this project that we decided to give the city a preview of what’s to come! We have installed a framed reproduction of Raphael Gleitsmann’s painting “Winter Evening” at an outside location across from the historic Akron Civic Theatre. It will be on view from December through February, accompanying other great downtown winter events such as First Night and ice skating at Lock 3. We would love to see the residents of Akron interact with the art, so we are encouraging visitors to take pictures in front of the new installation and post them on social media using the hashtag #insideoutakron.
“Winter Evening” is a great piece of Akron history! Gleitsmann lived in Akron for most of his life and painted this lively scene of downtown Akron in the early 1930s. It’s hard to tell from the seemingly bustling atmosphere but it was painted during the Great Depression when 60% of Akron residents were unemployed.
The image is positioned so the viewer can get a modern-day perspective from the artist’s vantage point. Some of the buildings depicted in the painting are still standing today, most notably the city’s first skyscraper, now called the FirstMerit Tower.
But wait, there’s more! Inside|Out is a two-year project, funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, and is set to officially launch in the spring of 2015. The Akron Art Museum will embark on this community outreach project by taking 30 high-quality reproductions of artwork from the museum’s collection and placing them in the streets and parks of the city of Akron and surrounding areas.
About ten framed images will be placed in each of the six individual communities that are being targeted for next year. There are two, three-month installations set for each year: three communities for spring/summer and three different communities for summer/fall. For the second year of the project, we will extend our reach by adding ten more images and two more communities, installing 40 reproductions in eight communities, total.
The images will often be clustered within bicycling or walking distance, to enable residents to discover art in unexpected places. The communities in which they are placed will be encouraged to take ownership of the art in their neighborhoods by creating activities and events around these temporary exhibitions. All of the art displayed in the streets will be on view at the museum so residents will be able to visit the “real” artwork.
Are you interested in learning more about Inside|Out? Please attend the community meeting at the Akron Art Museum on Thursday, December 4, 2014 at 5:30 p.m. The meeting is free and open to the public. Museum admission is FREE every Thursday. Please email the project coordinator, Roza Maille at firstname.lastname@example.org if you plan on attending.