New Gallery, Bozarts, Opens Friday

Daily Dose  |  07/02/2009 7:00 am

Welcome to one of the coolest things happening in Toledo, Ohio.

This Friday, July 3, a new art gallery officially opens its doors for business in Downtown; it's simple, subtle, quirky name seems to sum up its mission in two snappy syllables - Bozarts.

The Grand Opening Celebration will feature the artwork of Bozarts' mastermind, Jerry Gray - including paintings, poetry, music, photographs and illustrations - along with the music stylings of Gray's punk outfit, 7 Deadly 5, and DJ Danger. Redefining the way galleries in the Warehouse District engage artists and would-be arts patrons, Bozarts will feature original art for sale from $10 - $2500, and the opening reception encourages friends of the gallery and community members to bring their own meat and vegetables to grill, as well as salad or other dishes to pass. The event runs from 5 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Bozarts is located at 151 S. St. Clair St., in the Warehouse District of Downtown Toledo, OH (across from the Erie Street Market).

An Introduction to a New Kind of Gallery

Chances of finding cuddly watercolor puppies and formulaic photography here is slim. Instead, Bozarts is perhaps Toledo's first true workingman's/woman's art gallery, featuring primarily "underground" (take that word for what it's worth), and up-and-coming artists. And really, by design, Bozarts is more of a collective than a gallery. What that means is it is a member-based art and performance space where 'members' pay an annual fee of $25 for the privilege of access, allowing them to curate and hold exhibitions and performances. Most events held in the space will be open to the public (with the exception of private members-only nights), and will focus on solo or small group shows.

Inside, the Bozarts space is relatively small, but cozy and comfortable. It is a rugged room that purposely lacks the glamour and polish of a 'fine arts gallery' (take that too for whatever it means), but instead has the charm of what it is - a creative lounge created by and for artists. The entrance is a roll up garage door - a leftover from the building's original use as a warehouse - with access from St. Clair Street, (just across the road from the Farmer's Market at Erie Street Market), with the grill smoking bratwursts and a colorful array of vegetables near the entrance in a narrow strip of lawn along the street, the interior of the space is curiously inviting.

Concrete floors polished with years of wear-and-tear glisten around a drywall curve (behind which is a restroom of sorts), and here the space opens up to reveal four large white walls gleaming with possibility. Along one wall, cinder blocks and wooden planks compose a series of low shelves, upon which board game boxes and other knick-knacks are piled (feel free to drum-up a game of Battleship or deal a hand of cards, it all adds to the free-flowing, fun-loving allure). Here too, you'll find various items for sale, from small prints to tee shirts, etc. All around on the walls, art hangs; near the entrance, the food from the grill is piled on a small table, and a mini-fridge is stocked with cheap, blue collar beer (feel free to bring your own drinks or grill-ables, or make a donation for those on hand).

Toward the back of the gallery, a shoulder-high, glassless window floods the room with natural light, its view over-looks the recessed 'backyard' of the building, a full story below, where trees and bright green foliage billow up around the edges of Swan Creek, which winds and flows lazily around the property. Next to the creek, a fire pit is surrounded with hulking dry logs, fallen trees, driftwood, and stumps - all fashioned into makeshift benches. Throughout the summer, Bozarts will co-host film screenings projected onto the back of this building with the local progressive nonprofit group, the Media Decompression Collective (check out the film, 'The Obama Deception' on Wednesday, July 22, film begins at sundown).

Along with engaging artists from all walks of life, all media, and all levels of notoriety and professionalism, the Bozarts model is to act as local cultural archivist, growing its collection and gathering information by documenting each performance and show in what appears to be a sturdy and lengthy future. Too, it seeks to transform the space uniquely with each event. Gray, who is synonymous with Bozarts at this point (the name is graffitied on all sides of his Caprice Classic station wagon), puts it like this:

"Bozarts is an artist friendly gallery and we invite the artists to take an active roll in creating the environment for their work - From the music, lighting, display and even the food served at the openings. Ideally every exhibition will be a transformation and potential installation for the artist to create their perfect environment for their work to be viewed."

Chances are, the Grand Opening reception tomorrow will reflect Gray's vision of the space, and set the bar high for those following to transform the space in continually interesting and unique ways. In Bozarts, Toledo finally seems to have the perfect playground venue to cultivate a coherent generation of artists whose work and names will transform and define our city. The work/fun starts tomorrow - you might want to be there to see it.

Stay in the loop with Bozarts at

For info: 419-464-5785, or [email protected]