Tag: public art

Silver Linings in an Injured Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros Sculpture Canton  Arts District For several years now, the Canton, OH Arts District has been home to a rhinoceros. Not a live one, but a sculptural one made from recycled tires.

The Rhino was created by artist Patrick Buckhor and was placed in the Arts District early in the redevelopment of Canton’s downtown. Public art was one of the primary steps in developing the Arts District.

It took a few years for the Arts District to become popular with the general public. Artists and arts enthusiasts have celebrated it from the beginning, but only recently has it grown in popularity with people not actively involved in arts activities.

An incident that occurred this week, however, demonstrated that, not only has it become popular, people have grown to love it as their own.

Someone vandalized the Rhino.

Rhinoceros Sculpture Canton  Arts District damagedIt’s not clear if this was a deliberate act. It could have been a drunk driver crashing into it or skateboarders using it as a launch (I’ve seen them try). Whatever happened, someone knocked it over with reckless disregard and caused it considerable damage.

Other artworks have been vandalized with little notice in Canton. I have had to repair some of my own pieces. But the damage to the Rhino did not go unnoticed.

Instead, a public outcry on social media has risen in response. Some community members have volunteered to fix it. Not only were people upset that an artwork was maliciously harmed, they took it as a personal insult. Someone hurt THEIR RHINO.

For a community to take such ownership of their public art is the lofty goal of every artist and every arts leader. Although I deplore the act of violence against the sculpture, I celebrate the community’s outpouring of support for the artwork.

Luckily, the Rhino was not damaged beyond repair. Repairs are planned this week by ArtsinStark and it will be on display in its regular spot at 4th St. NW and Cleveland Ave. for First Friday this week.

Well done, Canton. Although one fool may have acted maliciously, so many more have shown us what community is all about. That is every artist’s dream.

Life is an Adventure!


We are moving, again!

Boulevards Neighborhood Public Art Identity Marker
Design by BZTAT

I really do not enjoy moving. It is quite a chore at any age, but at this point in my life, it really takes a toll on my knees and back. Nonetheless, it is necessary, so I am looking at it as a new adventure.

Last year in March, I moved to my present home amid much fanfare. I had been awarded an Artist Residency to do public art as a means of redeveloping one of Canton’s older neighborhoods. The goal was to have me reside in a designated neighborhood and engage other residents in creative public art. There was great anticipation and support for the project, and there was hope that it would become an ongoing activity.

Things started to go astray, however, early on. I have not shared much about it publicly, as I did not want to air struggles, but it turned into quite a trying year.

First of all, the house that I rented had multiple issues that prevented me from using it as was intended as a place to invite neighbors to engage in creative activities. I won’t share the details. Just suffice to say, I was unable to resolve the issues, yet had few choices but to remain in the place.

Second, the hopes for ongoing funding of the residency did not come to fruition, and the project was given a definite time limit – 1 year. (There was no guarantee that it would go past a year in the first place, but there were hopeful expectations offered.)

All of this was personally challenging. We were successful, however, in engaging a few residents in an art project where we created artsy little houses as neighborhood identity markers. The project was marred somewhat by vandalism, yet, repairs are in process to make the houses more sturdy in the future.

I made some wonderful friendships in the process, and despite the challenges, that made the whole thing worthwhile. But the residency is finished now, and it is time for me and the cats to move to a more accommodating home.

I have found a house near Alliance, OH that I believe will be a better fit for us. It truly is an artist’s dream house with lots of creative space in a rustic setting. It is in a neighborhood outside of the city, although it is close to a shopping area, so it sort of has the best of two worlds. There are many windows and lots of places to climb, so I believe the cats will absolutely love it!

We will be moving in the next few weeks so there’s lots of work to do. Stay tuned as we endeavor into this new adventure!

Hey! Where did my mural go?

"Safe Animals Safe Kids Mural" by BZTAT
“Safe Animals Safe Kids Mural” by BZTAT

On August 5, 2011, my “Safe Animals Safe Kids Mural” was dedicated in a prominent place in the Canton Arts District on the side of the Imperial Room Lounge at 4th Street and Court Ave. NW. I was thrilled to have it placed in such a visible place!

I was also thrilled that so many Promise Keepers contributed to my Kickstarter campaign for the project. That was in the early days of Kickstarter (before movie and rock stars discovered it), and everyone told me I was crazy to think it would work. I guess I showed them.

Today, though, the mural is gone, and a new public art project has begun to emerge on the side of the Imperial Room.

Tommy Morgan public art

What’s going on here? Where did my mural go?

Here’s the scoop.

Although the Imperial Room is in a highly visible spot, it truthfully was not a good spot for my mural. First of all, the wall was too large for the mural. Although the mural was  a good 12′ x 8′, it was dwarfed by the size of the building.

Second, the mural was defaced within the first month by, of all things, birds!

The wall was not designed to be an exterior wall, and years ago, there was another building beside it. Because of this original design, the grout between the bricks was soft, and birds have turned it into a habitat, building themselves little cubbies between the bricks.  My beautiful mural was covered in bird poop within weeks, and it has further deteriorated over the last 2 years.

Robb Hankins, President and CEO of ArtsinStark, and I met a few weeks ago to discuss the possibility of moving it to a location more suitable for the size and care of the artwork. We agreed moving it was a good idea.

BZTAT Safe Animals Safe Kids Mural
“Safe Animals Safe Kids Mural” by BZTAT Future Home

The mural will soon be placed on the wall of the ArtsInStark building at 900 Cleveland Avenue N.W. This too is a highly visible place. It does not have much foot traffic, but there is considerable vehicle traffic in this location, and the mural is designed for distance viewing.

As for the old space, I am told that it will become the location of a mural/sculptural piece by artist Tommy Morgan.

Tommy Morgan proposed public art

Tommy has created many public artworks in Canton. I am not a huge fan, but not a detractor either. Many artists in Canton have a strong dislike for his work. Still yet, as you can read in my post about his “Shattered Expressions” piece from a few years ago, I felt then, as I do now, that some of their disdain is overblown.

Some think it is sorta creepy and disrespectful for him to Photoshop his image over mine in his proposed project, leaving part of my piece visible. They also have expressed dismay that he  started putting his piece up before mine was removed.

I won’t get caught up in the drama. I am simply happy that my piece will be in a more suitable location.

I am also thankful for the support of ArtsInStark.

It will take some time to clean and repair the mural. Be watching for the mural’s re-emergence in the next few weeks.

I look forward to the mural continuing the mission of spreading the word about Okey’s Promise.