Cascade Parking Deck Mural, downtown Akron:
I have been remiss on updating my website with this groundbreaking project, though, my reasoning is sound. We were so engrossed in focusing on the project, that I forgot to update it here! This is the enormous mural on the Cascade Plaza Parking Deck on Quaker Street, downtown Akron.
At the first of this year, the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition put out a call for local artists to submit their ideas for a mural to be applied to the parking deck wall and an archway across the street. The two projects were to bring a celebratory tone (and they have!) to the juncture where the towpath meets downtown Akron, and reconnects with the canalway several blocks away. A stucco and granite slab wall, it had been monochromatic and rather drab for some time. The granite could not be painted on and the request was for a 20′ wide original work that would be printed on vinyl and affixed to the wall. In creating the technological portion of my submission, my husband misunderstood and created a Google Earth+photoshop image wherein he plastered my artwork across the entire wall! I told him this wasn’t what the RFP had requested, but he was so in love with it that he asked that we keep it as an option when we sent in our proposal. We kept the more comprehensive option in our proposal and the Coalition, the City of Akron, The Knight and GAR Foundations loved it, and agreed it would be more beautiful to apply my art to the entire 400ft wall downtown. You can’t make this stuff up. I created an abstract landscape, a 6″x9′ wide painting in my studio (relative scale to the wall), to emulate the feeling of the blowing blades of grass of the towpath drawing your eye across Ash street, flowing into a bright blue sky, then into a midday sun, then to the way the sunset hues hit the urban cityscape and finally onto the peaceful, slower moving canalway.
After the painting was finished, it was taken to a specialty fine art scanner who created the artwork to be digital ready. The digitized art was then taken to Central Graphics, a printing company in Cuyahoga Falls, who painstakingly created a pattern of the uniquely designed wall, and the printed artwork on 6mil vinyl bannering. Each granite slab is a slightly different size, with grout in between each portion. Central Graphics created a cad pattern to understand which portion of the painting (now printed on heavy vinyl) was affixed to which granite slab to *perfection*, and Brand Installers came and using torches and brayers (fascinating stuff), affixed my art to the granite slabs. A special adhesive was used to withstand changes in seasons and creating a situation whereby the art can be removed at a later date should the city wish to do something different with the wall. The painters (myself, Sharon Spencer and Debi Cope) then primed, painted and sealed the top and bottom portions of the wall to blend with the original painting and fool your eye into seeing it as one complete piece. Blending each area of the wall to continue the brushstrokes, the tones and the hues of an original painting was no small feat.
I am beyond proud to have been gifted this opportunity, am so grateful to the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, the City of Akron, and the Knight and GAR Foundations for believing in this project! And thank you SO much for investing in local art and the Renaissance of this beautiful city! We loved this job, we loved this site and it was truly a pleasure to see folks’ responses as they watched the wall develop over the month. The mural and towpath archway by local metalsmith wizard John Comunale were dedicated in a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 22, 2016. Please visit our mural and John’s brilliant “Welcome to Akron” archway on the corner of Ash and Quaker Streets, downtown Akron. The Cascade Plaza Parking Deck is the entire block on Quaker Street, in between Bowery and Ash Streets.
Thank you Akron!