AKRON, Ohio — Local business supporting local artists—that's the goal of Lockview Restaurant in Downtown Akron. A new initiative from the restaurant not only plans to add some new decor to the dining area, but support those in the Akron area looking to have their work shared and supported.
"We're kind of like a funky artsy vibe here. And a lot of people that are more creative come in and we just want to give them an opportunity to showcase their work," said bar manager Allison Palunas.
Right now at The Lockview, the walls are bare, sans one piece of art that has hung over the years and several name changes the restaurant has gone through. The restaurant is in need of something to fill the space. So on Tuesday, the restaurant took to Facebook to seek local artists to help them out—while helping the artists out as well.
"Call for Artist! Our walls are yours and we are looking for two or three Artist to fill them. 100% sales go to the Artist’s so message us," the restaurant wrote.
In no time, the page was flooded with hundreds of suggestions of local artists, requests from those artists to be featured—and over a thousand shares to reach the Akron art community.
"In the last couple of days, ever since the post was made, we've had an overwhelming amount of people contact us looking to hang up their work," Palunas said. "It was just like, share, share, share, comment, comment, comment. And then the next day, I was working and I had probably 20 or 30 phone calls of people asking to hang their work up."
The response is so strong because Akron's art scene is strong. Artists from around the area are looking for their work to be seen and digested by those within the community.
"There’s art happening all over the city. In North Hill and Kenmore and Ellet. There's public art, there's art in these individual sites, and we love to see that energy passing throughout the city really everywhere you go," said Gina Thomas McGee, director of learning and engagement Akron Art Museum.
Thomas McGee said the museum features plenty of local and regional artists within its collection and often features exhibits and programs to showcase Akron's art scene within its walls. But seeing others appreciate the art across the city is something that she
"To have an organization support you and want to show your work and want to bring it, bring the awareness of your work to more people, it's really validating and it really does help make the community a better place to live," Thomas McGee said.
Local artist Micah Kraus attests to that.
Kraus curates art for businesses, but also creates it himself. He was one of the hundreds of artists tagged in The Lockview's post calling for artists.
"I saw I had been tagged by good friends," Kraus recalled. "Saw that Lockview was looking for artists to show their work and to curate their work in the in the space, which I thought was good to see."
Kraus, sitting in his Akron studio, detailed just how impactful places like The Lockview showcasing local art can be for artists across the area.
"To dedicate wall space in commonly used spaces like restaurants means a lot to the the art community because you could fill those walls with posters that are purchased from other fulfillment sites and things that are less expensive or more easily obtainable—but to access unique works from artists in this area highlights those artists. I think it brings a lot of attention to this region and it makes the space more unique as well," Kraus said.
Kraus believes the idea of purchasable artworks being hung in public places where people will frequently move in and out of not only exposes the artist's work to consumers, but can help expand the love of art to those in the community who may not have other wise been seeking it out—and possibly even help create more spaces for art to be showcased in the Akron area.
"If we can start to put art in front of people in the flow of their normal daily lives, I think it can start to create an appetite to see more art and to consume more art," Kraus said. "If that's the byproduct of having work at Lockview, Akron Coffee Roasters and these other businesses, then that's an incredible outcome from that investment of time and resources. And hopefully that leads to then more dedicated gallery spaces that can commercially represent artists and create opportunities for them as well."
As for The Lockview, the restaurant expects a large variety of art available for their restaurant to display thanks to the overwhelming response to their post—and are grateful to be able to support a community that often supports them back.
"The community is what supports us. So we all need each other to make things work. And so it's great to see people appreciate the fact that we're trying to support them, just like they're supporting us," Palunas said.
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