Bozarts Celebrates 2nd Anniversary Party with Community

Bunchs Lunchbox  |  06/29/2011 7:00 am

When Jerry Gray first acquired what's now the multi-media gallery space known as Bozarts, it was hardly recognizable as it is now. At a reasonable rate, Gray rented the joint and spent months sweating out the labor to make it as it appears today. With a twinkle in his eye and a decade of experience mired in Toledo's art world, Gray's Bozarts would soon become a beacon of hope, of sorts, for the local arts community.

A former cement mixing facility, the unassuming gray building at 151 S. St. Clair Street turned out to be the perfect place to capture the aesthetic of the growing local arts scene, one that was finally embracing its rough-n-tumble, DIY, blue-collar roots. Just enough off the beaten path, despite being right on the edge of Downtown and across from the Farmer's Market, Bozarts projected the air of a hidden underground arts get-away that was right in plain view. Adding to its inviting flavor was the fact that not was just the atmosphere homey, the place was literally Gray's home, as he resided in a studio apartment unit next door to the gallery (and still does).

When Bozarts opened to the public in July of 2009, with a solo exhibition by acclaimed local artist Richard Reed, the small but dense gathering was a 'who's who' of sorts of the local art world - artists, media, writers, muses, etc. And what transpired that night, whether Gray intended it or not, was that suddenly a hole was filled in the local scene. What had been lacking was a place where local artists, planners, and doers could gather, brainstorm, and mix-n-mingle on a regular basis. The atmosphere was always inviting and the boundaries of ideas one could express, always limitless.

Running a gallery, really, though, is about sales. And one of the challenges Gray faced when opening the doors of the place was a stigma that local art wouldn't sell in Toledo. Quickly, and consistently, that stigma has had its throat slit and been buried. Each show has boasted significant sales that don't just earn income for the gallery and the artists, but that prove that there is significant interest among the community of building a collection of local talent.

Following that first opening were a handful of monthly shows - some group, some solo - a number of music events, off-shoot gatherings, after-parties, and a slow expansion. Today, Bozarts features not just the original gallery, but a lounge, a wood shop in the basement, and a couple of cozy nooks down by the scenic, but not-to-be-touched Swan Creek waterfront, as well as housing two resident artists, Gray and Monroe, MI/New York, NY-transplant, Anthony McCarty.

Over the past two years, the openings at Bozarts have become a must-attend event for many artists, art lovers, and more. But, the aura of the place hasn't changed. In some cities, and even some local hot spots, attending an event is about being seen more than the scene. That's never been the case at Bozarts. It's become a gathering place, a safe house, and in many ways a breeding ground for the potential that lies in our post-industrial present, and proof of the possibility of the dream actualized. On any given event evening, a hundred or more will roll through the doors of the gallery to take in the art of Toledo's underground and swap ideas, plans, and contacts with other attendees. The goers range in age, background, ethnicity, etc., but there's never been a schism. There's always been a sense that if your there, you're there for the community. And more than anything, to me, and I suspect Jerry Gray, that's what this Second Anniversary Party is really about celebrating.

Bozarts Fine Art & Music Gallery (151 S. St. Clair Street) celebrates its Second Anniversary Party on Saturday, July 2, from 11 a.m. to Midnight. The evening boasts an open call for Musicians, Poets, Artists, Cooks, Advocates, Film Makers, Photographers, and Performance Artists to come and share their skills, as well as an on-going and on-growing exhibition of loose-works (non-framed) that will be added to throughout the month of July (many have been and can be created in the gallery, on site, and hung on the wall).

The event hours coincide with Saturday Farmer's Market hours, 10am to 2 pm. For more information, visit Bozarts on Facebook, or contact the gallery, 419-464-5785.