Strolling through the Waterloo Arts District right now feels like walking through an art gallery — minus the crowds and enclosed spaces. From bright colored textiles to black and white portraits to a flower-filled phone booth, the Collinwood street’s storefront windows and public spaces are filled with creative local art pieces.Launched June 15, Inside Out is a mobile art experience that worked with 15 local artists and 10 businesses to transform storefront windows into pop-up art exhibits. Organized by Gina Scordos and Jenna Conforti of Contrast High, Alexis Rene Moten of Culture Jock and Joda Mueller of Pop Life, the exhibit's theme nods to the indoor galleries coming out to the streets while also asking the audience to reframe its perspective.
During the pandemic, the public art exhibit offers a safer, socially distant art experience and helps support newly reopened businesses.
“Everything there is something that can be accessed from the street view or sidewalks,” says Alexis Rene Moten, founder and creative director of Culture Jock, a Black-owned social commentary magazine and online creative platform. “We still encourage social distancing, but it was our contribution to still having art and this essence that Waterloo has always had, which is to come enjoy people’s creativity.”
This year’s event replaces the gap left by the cancellation of Walk All Over Waterloo, which in past years brought visitors to Waterloo Arts District for music, food and art gallery tours on the first Friday of each summer month.
“I think it's important for people to just be outside and finding normal,” says Moten. “I also think we're in an era where telling your story and expressing your narrative is so important.”
Moten contributed to the exhibit with her piece, “Give Me My Flowers While I am Still Here,” which uses an old phone booth to recreate a garden capsule filled with colorful flowers. Other works from the 15 artists include “The Women Of Cleveland” by Lauren Lanzaretta, which features portraits and quotes from more than 35 local female musicians, and “Let Our Future Bloom” by Isaiah Williams and Laurynn Dillingham, a painting which explores the fight for racial justice.
Inside Out runs through July 5. A map of each artist’s work and photos of some exhibits can also be found here. There is also a GoFundMe to support the participating artists that runs through July 5.
Organizers hope to continue Inside Out in different communities throughout the Cleveland area and even expand out of state.
“I think as we continue to do these street art walks, our audience will be more patient, will have more empathy for each other and it may ignite a new sense of community,” says Moten. “Cleveland needs to start coming together in terms of its creativity and its artists here. I'm a big believer that art can save a community.”
More Info: insideoutproject.splashthat.com