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The Journal Gazette

  • Courtesy Artist Shawn Dunwoody will start working on a mural downtown next week, weather permitting.

Friday, September 13, 2019 1:00 am

Mural creation part of annual Art Crawl

COREY MCMAKEN | The Journal Gazette

Downtown Fort Wayne will be full of art next week.

Weather permitting, Shawn Dunwoody will begin working Wednesday on his mural on the west wall of the parking garage at 840 S. Calhoun St. He is expected to continue through Sept. 24, including live painting during Art This Way's Art Crawl fundraiser Sept. 20.

The mural, more than 100 feet long, covers the wall of the garage that shares an alley with Caliente Cuban Cafe, 120 W. Wayne St. It wraps around the north side of the garage into the east-west alley that already features murals of a panda and Walt Whitman on one end and pieces by Philadelphia artist Yis “NoseGo” Goodwin on the other.

NoseGo's works were created outside the Art This Way program but are within the two blocks bordered by Harrison, South Calhoun and Berry streets and Washington Boulevard where the program is focused on activating the alleys.

Art This Way manager Alexandra Hall says Dunwoody was among applicants from all over the world including Canada and Japan.

The muralist, based in Rochester, New York, saw the Art This Way call for entry when he was looking up details on Fort Wayne shortly after being chosen as the keynote speaker for the Regional Neighborhood Network Conference, which begins Thursday.

He submitted a proposal and was chosen by a blind jury in May, but final approvals from the building owner only recently allowed the mural work to move forward.

Art This Way made an extra effort this spring to make the jury process as non-biased as possible. Some proposals are submitted with professional computer graphics while others are hand-drawn sketches, which are harder for jury members to imagine as a finished product.

Local graphic designer Rachael Driscoll turned all the proposals into illustrations of what they might look like as a finished mural.

It was a lot of work, but Hall says it was worth it. She expects that will be built into future Art This Way jury processes.

“It's just a way to kind of reduce that bias and make sure that everyone's getting a fair shake,” she says.

'On the map'

After Germany-based artist 1010's installation at 918 S. Calhoun St. in June, some residents questioned why a local artist wasn't selected. But Hall says having outside artists like 1010 and Dunwoody as part of the program is good all around. Local artists can make connections with these outside muralists that might lead to them getting work outside the city. At the same time, having bigger names associated with murals here brings attention to the city and local artists.

“Ultimately, I think everyone benefits from having these really well-known international people coming into our community and kind of putting us on a map in a way,” she says.

Hall also sees questions about where Art This Way funding comes from. Most of the program's funding comes from sponsorships and grants. Art This Way existed off a matching grant from the Downtown Improvement District and the Community Foundation of Greater Fort Wayne until now. An Arts United AmplifyArt crowdfunding campaign raised money for Dunwoody's mural.

The program will now begin dipping into money raised by its first Art Crawl in 2017.

“We've tried to be really responsible,” Hall says about spending the money. “The only thing we really spend money on in the Art Crawl is paying the bands and paying the artists.”

Muralists are given a stipend and a separate budget for supplies. Leftover supplies stay with Art This Way for use in future projects. 

Crawl stops

This year's Art Crawl has expanded to add a sixth stop at Artlink where Melanie Cooper Pennington will demonstrate sculpture work at the opening of her “Humanimals” exhibit.

“I'm excited that we're going to have Art Crawl attendees exposed to that style of artwork as well,” Hall says.

Other stops are Caliente Cuban Cafe, Aptera Software, Atrium, Hoch Associates and the Porch Off Calhoun space in the alley next to 816 Pint & Slice.

All stops along the crawl will feature live art and music as well as food donated by local restaurants.

Other artists include Jake Patten, Julie Wall, Stephanie Burton and Dannon Schroeder. James and the Drifters, Renz Brothers, My Dog Junior and Exterminate All Rational Thought are among music acts.

Dunwoody will paint part of his mural live during the crawl. Attendees can sign up to contribute to the mural and the artist will show them where they can paint on it.

“It should be a really neat community thing, and if you're a participant along the crawl, you get the opportunity to leave your mark,” Hall says.

Art This Way isn't releasing many details on Dunwoody's design because they want the public to stop by and watch it come together. It is a floral piece with special paint that reacts to water so the flowers will become colorful when it rains.

There were 2,000 tickets made available for this year's Art Crawl, an increase from last year when tickets sold out well before the event.

“It's turned into madness, but a good madness,” Hall jokes. “It's going to be a really good event.”

Art This Way has also partnered with Fort Wayne HeART of the City, which is having its ASPCA benefit on Main Street the night of the crawl. Crawl attendees will get free admission to the benefit with their wristband.

A map will be available to Art Crawl attendees showing all the stops including which artists, music acts and food options are at each.

Tickets, which cost $25, are available at Eventbrite.com. They will also be available (cash only) the night of the crawl.

Shindigz HQ mural

The next Art This Way mural project has been announced for the Shindigz corporate headquarters at Wayne and Harrison streets.

The mural is being solely funded by the online and catalog retailer, a first for the program.

Instead of a call for entries, Art This Way put out a request for qualifications in its search for an experienced muralist. Four entrants will be chosen and paid a stipend to create a mural proposal this winter. From those proposals, an artist will be chosen to install their mural next year.

Hall is also writing a grant proposal in hopes of getting funding for a sound and light installation in the alleys.

cmcmaken@jg.net