Artomatic 2011 Paints the Town Red and Gold and Purple and...

Toledo Local Features  |  04/05/2011 12:30 pm

Raw buildings pumped with artists, loud art and even louder music and gallery-goers strolling from building to building, contemplating their next purchase.

Must be Ann Arbor?

Wrong. This is Toledo!

The Arts Commission of Greater Toledo just rolled out its crown jewel, Artomatic 419!, for another year of edgy, urban art this past weekend, continuing again Saturday, April 9 and 16, 2011. The event features more than 300 local visual and performing artists, each given their own gallery space at 407 Washington and 25 S. St. Clair in downtown Toledo. Presented through the Live Work Create Toledo initiative, embracing economic development and revitalization through the arts, Artomatic serves two purposes; to expose a larger audience to the local art scene, while providing local artists with a space to showcase their talents. What culminates from such a vision is a multimedia, total sensory experience where artists are encouraged to push the boundaries of their own creativity, while networking and taking steps to better their professional development. Visitors are likely to find paintings, drawings, pottery, jewelry, photography and sculpture around every turn, as well as performance art like poetry readings and musical collaborations. The event is open to any artist at any stage in their career, allowing the public to experience art at every stage of its existence.

Much like the subject of art, the buildings themselves are in the eye of the beholder. Artomatic utilizes unused and under-appreciated buildings downtown, often complete with tattered wooden floors, missing plaster and exposed brick, that might catch the eye of someone looking to revitalize the space. Each are not particularly pretty to look at until the insides become filled with art, but both bursting with potential to the right person. Perhaps more symbolic is the parallel one can draw between these buildings and the community itself, all too often overlooked for the hidden talents waiting for a larger audience. These artists instead choose to see the potential in these buildings, much as the community chooses to support Artomatic and what they may find.

"It's very exciting to see possibly your neighbors or someone you work with that you may not know also create beautiful artworks," said Adrienne Goldberg, first-time Artomatic visitor and art teacher. "There's also great musicians, there's great performance artists that you don't see every day, and it's a great opportunity. We have a great museum, but this is also another place to see, not particularly Monet and Picasso, but to see your next door neighbor and what they create." Winding one's way through Artomatic, you come across real Toledoans of all ages making things they think are beautiful, thought-provoking and insightful. Some faces are familiar, some are fresh. Multimedia artist Clifton Harvey could be anyone's neighbor, but the images he creates are far from suburban.

"I draw inspiration from the photographs. I kind of was introduced to photography in college and the images always inspired me, like a child looks at something and says, 'I see something in there.' Then I draw from what I see in the photographs and sometimes that leads to me re-shooting the photos," he said. Clifton's summery fields and plains overrun with other-worldly figures in a multimedia series he calls Castaways.

"It's a technical challenge that I enjoy, kind of incorporating the two and trying to not so much blur the line, but bring out those distinctions and create a unique world," he said. Clifton is also a first time Artomatic participant, and said he's excited to see what his fellow artists bring to the exhibition.

Artomatic encourages visitors to get in on the action as well, offering art demonstrations and workshops in media such as clay, screen printing, and cold metal working.

For a complete listing of workshops, live demos, performances and more, visit Artomatic 419! runs Saturday, April 9 and 16, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 407 Washington and 25 S. St. Clair in downtown Toledo. Learn more about Clifton Harvey at


Photo Credit: Joel Washing, Clifton Harvey "In the Gilded Garden" (from Castaways)