What would happen if the Akron Art Museum brought its collection out of the galleries and into the community? Residents will get a taste of that on Dec. 1, when the museum brings a high-quality, framed reproduction of Raphael Gleitsmann’s painting “Winter Evening” to the downtown area, offering a modern-day view of the artist’s scene. The installation is a preview of a new public art project launching in 2015 that will bring reproductions of artwork in the collection to neighborhoods around the city. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation is funding the effort, called Inside|Out.
Gleitsmann, an artist who lived in Akron for most of his life, painted “Winter Evening” in the early 1930s, depicting a bustling winter scene in a lively downtown Akron. Some of the buildings in the painting are still standing today, including the city’s first skyscraper, now known as the FirstMerit Tower. Because of the placement of the installation, across from the historic Akron Civic Theatre, viewers will be able to put themselves in the artist’s point of view and compare the scene to how it appears today. Visitors who attend popular downtown winter events will be able to make connections to the scenery and relate to the people illustrated in the painting.
Winter Evening is being installed as a part of the announcement of Inside|Out where the museum will take 30 high-quality reproductions of artwork from the museum’s collection and place them in the streets and parks of the city of Akron and surrounding areas. Ten to fifteen framed images will be placed in individual communities, often clustered within bicycling or walking distance, to enable residents to discover art in unexpected places.
“We believe that everyone deserves a quality art experience. We’re thrilled to share our art collection with the community,” says Akron Art Museum Executive Director and CEO, Mark Masuoka.
“It’s one thing to experience the Akron Art Museum’s world-class collection, and entirely another to come across it in your neighborhood. That element of surprise can be the spark that gets the community talking about and engaging with the one of the city’s true treasures,” said Dennis Scholl, vice president of arts at Knight Foundation.
The Inside|Out reproductions will be installed in six neighborhoods and communities in two three-month periods: three for spring/summer and three for summer/fall exhibitions. The museum will encourage the communities to plan activities that will accompany their Inside|Out exhibitions and to visit the Akron Art Museum to see the real artwork. Exact images and placements are to be determined but will be announced on the Akron Art Museum’s website
Inside|Out is modeled upon a program that was originally implemented by the Detroit Institute of Arts in 2010 and will expand to several cities including Akron thanks to funding from Knight Foundation. This outreach initiative is intended to encourage art appreciation by making the community members more comfortable viewing art while igniting conversation around it.