Release Date: September 15,2020

Akron Civic Theatre to Bring Internationally Renowned Artists to Create Two Large Scale Murals and More

What is happening outside the Akron Civic Theatre is about to become as exciting as what happens inside the building

September 15, 2020, Akron, OH — As part of its Staging the Future capital project, the Akron Civic Theatre has developed a public art strategy that will make a dramatic contribution to the aesthetic landscape of the areas surrounding the theater, such as the building’s sweeping north- and south-facing exterior walls and other locations on the theater’s grounds. Through capital campaign funding, including a major gift from Rick and Alita Rogers, internationally recognized artists have been commissioned to create installations that will become attractions unto themselves. These works of art will draw national attention to the changing landscape and rebirth of downtown Akron.

The transformation will create more ways for the public to enjoy the Civic by offering an exciting collection of public art around the venue. Large-scale murals on the exterior walls of the Civic facing S. Main St. and W. Bowery St. will deliver a big visual impact on the neighborhood, and additional works created by local and regional artists will create an “art park” around the building.

In September, muralists El Mac and Aiseborn will commence work on the Civic’s exterior wall facing W. Bowery Street overlooking Lock 4. In early October, muralist Louise Jones, aka Ouizi, will begin her work on the exterior wall on S. Main St. overlooking Lock 3. Completion of the murals is expected in late fall 2020. The outdoor donor wall honoring leadership gifts to the Staging the Future capital campaign will be designed by Rochester, New York-based glass artist Nancy Gong. The installation will be located on the elevator wall along the S. Main St. sidewalk adjacent to the entry point of the Civic’s arcade. 

The Civic’s public art strategy also includes as many as ten works commissioned or acquired from local and regional artists. The theater will announce its process for selecting local artists in the coming months.

"The Akron Civic Theatre's intentional work to ensure that local voices help to inform public art will be realized on the walls of our historic gem on Main Street,” said Nicole Mullett, executive director of ArtsNow. “We believe that art ignites change. With a downtown on the precipice of a new look and a new era, the Civic is leading the way in creating public spaces that remind all of us that beauty and art is a basic human right."

In 2019, the Civic convened a public art committee and engaged the services of the consulting firms Janus Small Associates and LAND studio, a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization that manages public art installations and civic space development projects. They have worked with the Civic to undertake a community engagement process to gather feedback from a broad range of residents and community leaders, whose input has helped to shape the direction and content of our public art project. Using community feedback as a guide, the committee reviewed 150 artists from around the country and from that group selected four artists to begin implementing its public art strategy.

Linda Lyell, co-chair of the Civic’s Staging the Future capital campaign and a member of the public art committee, said, “The Civic is very proud to have the works of internationally-recognized artists El Mac and Aiseborn create a spectacular mural on our building. The subject matter is tender and intimate and reflects the diversity and cultural emotional of our community.” She continued, “Much thought and work has gone into this project as we have engaged the community from the beginning in surveys, focus groups and discussions with all segments of Akron. It is our hope that this piece of art will be enjoyed by our community, visitors to Akron and generations to come.”

ABOUT THE ARTISTS

El Mac & Aiseborn

Two muralists have been selected to work together to create the mural on the north side of the Civic overlooking Lock 4. The two artists spent a week in Akron in mid-July meeting residents, taking photographs and absorbing the Akron vibe.  

El Mac (Miles MacGregor) is an internationally renowned artist born and based in Los Angeles. He began painting public murals and graffiti in the mid-1990s and since that time has developed his unique visual aesthetic and rendering style, which utilizes repeating contour patterns. His work draws on influences from classical European art, social realism and symbolism. He has been commissioned to paint all over the world, for museums, universities and other cultural institutions. See his work at elmac.net.

Aiseborn (“Ace-born”) is an illustrator, graffiti writer and fine art painter from Los Angeles. Known for murals that often include aerosol portraits adorned with his classic one brush stroke techniques, he creates geometric illusions that propagate at rhythms intrinsic to nature. He has installed several murals throughout Los Angeles including on city streets, in backyards, on rooftops and a variety of unexpected places. Learn more at aiseborn.com.

Ouizi

California-born and now Detroit-based artist Louise Jones (née Chen), aka Ouizi (wee-zee), will create the mural on the south side of the Civic facing S. Main St. She is best known for her large-scale floral mural installations, which can be seen in public spaces throughout the United States, from museums to public parks. Her murals often depict site-specific plants and animals. Her affinity for botanical subjects continues to grow, stemming from an early introduction to Georgia O’Keeffe and fond memories of picking figs with her grandmother. Her Akron mural will feature plant life native to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. See her work at ouizi.art.

Nancy Gong

Nancy is an accomplished American glass artist with worldwide recognition in contemporary architectural glass art. Her designs embrace traditional techniques of stained glass craftsmen and stone carvers. Her glass artwork uses striking color, motion and spontaneity. As the ever-changing light plays against her integrated design elements, she is able to create unique living, breathing works of art, beckoning the viewer to see and experience something new and fresh with every passing look. Discover more at nancygong.com.