“We’re going to try to do five, six murals—some big, some small,” said BGSU art professor Gordon Ricketts. “The idea is we painted under the bridge as a gateway to the community, to the Old South End. Now we’ll continue into the community and bring the murals right down Broadway.”
As a visiting artist, Torero is expected to work closely over the next couple weeks with the community to create designs that is unique and culturally significant the Old South End. He will share his expertise by directing numerous artists and community members who volunteer their time to help paint the mural.
“I think it’s going to make it a place where people want to come,” said Ricketts. “Hopefully it will revitalize the area and bring well-needed dollars and it will become an arts community.”
After thunderstorms had passed late Tuesday morning, Torero led a group of 20 high school and college art students on a tour of what he has envisioned for five buildings along the Broadway Corridor. He stopped at a south-facing wall at 1108 Broadway next to the Good Samaritan Outreach Center.
“Tonight we’re going to project some images of some images I sketched last night,” Torero told the students, as he produced a slide of an Aztec dancer in full period costume alongside a more modern-looking ballet dancer. “By tomorrow morning, we’re going to be painting them. We are so many, because others will be joining us that we’ll be painting two or three walls at the same time—something that hasn’t happened before.”
Other locations include a storefront next door to La Galería de las Américas, a building that once housed a Mexican restaurant, and a wall facing Western Ave. at The Providence Center. The group also may paint a garage door at SQACC. Torero and the SQACC staff spent Memorial Day weekend scouting possible locations.
“It’s really a way to spruce up the neighborhood and get people to notice there’s a lot going on in the Old South End with art, music, and culture,” said Jennifer Moorman, SQACC’s art director.
According to the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, public art projects such as this play an important part in the city. Public engagement and community partnership projects like this encourage citizens to feel a sense of pride and ownership in their surroundings. They also improve the quality of life by positively impacting the city’s aesthetic and cultural identity.
“These could be projected as silhouettes, with just plain black on the walls,” explained Torero. “But we’ll be able to put lots of color. Once we get painting, we may paint a background.”
“Of course, our students are going to learn about culture and learn about working within a community and the sensitivity that’s needed for that,” said Ricketts. “The local children, we always try to grab any kids walking around to help paint. They take real pride in the area.”
“The original project has now spawned a neighborhood group, where people from the neighborhood are doing their own sets of murals, said BGSU art professor Charlie Kanwiszher. “Already it has generated momentum. May those groups will begat more groups and so on. This could be the catalyst.”
Ms. Moorman hoped the murals would project the Old South End as an arts district, similar to what is happening in the nearby Warehouse District downtown, possibly providing an informal link between the neighborhoods.
“I see it as a link and I think it’s a step in the right direction to create that link,” she said.
The students smiled broadly at the prospect of helping with the murals after hearing Torero’s explanations of his vision for the project. Work on the murals is expected to continue through Friday, June 8. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to contact SQACC art director Moorman at 419.215.8570.
A celebration festival will be held the evening of June 8, 2012 at SQAAC from 6:00-9:30 p.m. Homer James Yarrito, SQACC’s featured artist for the Glass Artist Society Conference to be held in Toledo the week of June 13, will open his exhibit at the center that same evening. Yarrito, who owns a North Toledo motorcycle repair shop, is a well-known Latino glass artist locally.