By Sharon Gillberg, Downtown Akron Partnership
Colorful art, music, dance, and even gumbo, came together at the Downtown Akron Artwalk on Saturday, March 2. All of this was possible through the help of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The sounds of Dixieland music along with jazz on flute and piano were heard in the Akron-Summit County Public Library. The University of Akron Jazz Fusion Band performed at the Icehouse. The Illusion Factory conducted a Mardi Gras mask-making workshop at Summit Artspace. Zeber-Martell Gallery and Clay Studio handed out limited edition handmade ceramic ARTi Gras fleur de lis pins. These activities and more entertained visitors travelling through the Downtown Akron arts district for another Art Works evening.
Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) concluded its event series Downtown Art Works at the March 2 Downtown Akron Artwalk. Fashioned with the theme – ARTi Gras – many performances, galleries and eateries were programmed in the style of Mardi Gras.
Highlights included Creole Cinderella, an original production by NEOS Dance Theatre and featuring the Ribtickler Band. This production was set in pre-WWI New Orleans and combined the fun and frivolity of Mardi Gras with such classic tunes as “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “Basin Street Blues” and “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The Akron-Summit County Public Library is not a typical Artwalk venue, but opened especially to host the addition of professional dance to the Artwalk footprint. Also entertaining in the library with smooth sounds of jazz was flutist Jane Berkner and accompanying keyboardist, Stewart Freedman.
Guests enjoyed up close and personal performances by guitarists Brian Feltner, Major Lee and James Marron, singer Zach, Kyle Magilavy Jazz Combo and the University of Akron Jazz Fusion Band placed in various galleries. In addition, Miller South School for the Visual and Performing Arts presented an upcycled fashion show and a boutique of upcycled products at Summit Artspace.
“The March Artwalk was very much enhanced by the ARTi Gras theme,” said Michael Martell of Zeber-Martell Gallery and Clay Studio. “The increase in music and food to the Artwalk footprint was a much needed and welcomed element. The public enjoyed it and it helped to increase the amount of foot traffic visiting the gallery. The fleur-de-lis ARTi Gras Pin, made in the studio, was something we felt added to the festivities of the evening and was a great surprise to the visitors that received a pin,” he continued.
To bring the worlds of art and technology together, a text-to-vote competition for a favorite Artwalk destination took place. The top four were named and included: Zeber-Martell Gallery and Clay Studio, Akron Glass Works, Joan Colbert Studio and Katina Pastis Radwanski Studio/Gallery. Those who voted for these galleries were placed into a drawing to win gift certificates.
Downtown Art Works began in May 2012 through a generous grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Art Works is designed to add activities, live performances and interactive text-to-vote competitions to enhance the monthly Downtown Akron Artwalk.