FROM AUGUST THROUGH OCTOBER, residents of Kent and visitors will notice a little more art than they are used to seeing around town. This is not to say that Kent doesn’t have its share of great public art, but what if—while exploring, shopping, or walking to class—you were to find yourself suddenly face to face with a one-to-one scale reproduction of Chuck Close’s iconic painting, Linda? Or if you were to discover an energetic, colorful painting of Rita Hayworth by revered folk artist Malcah Zeldis, tucked away on the campus of KSU? That’s exactly the kind of scenario the Akron Art Museum has in mind by bringing Inside|Out to Kent. Thanks to partnerships with Main Street Kent and Kent State University, we have been able to do just that.
Inside|Out is a community activated art project that places high quality, one-to-one scale reproductions of artwork in the Akron Art Museum’s collection in the neighborhoods and outdoor spaces in and around Akron. The two-year program, funded by the Knight Foundation, launched in 2015 and has brought art to unexpected places in ten neighborhoods and communities so far. In this final installation period (August—October 2016), you’ll find ten artworks each in the city of Kent and the neighborhoods of Goodyear Heights, Summit Lake and South Akron, and the Merriman Valley. That means there are 40 Inside|Out installations in four different places waiting to be discovered. The work ranges from large and unmistakably bold paintings, such as the previously-mentioned Linda, by Chuck Close (in Kent), and the colorful geometric painting, Untitled, from the Scissors Jack Series by Larry Zox (in Goodyear Heights), to delightfully small and intimate works like Frank Duveneck’s portrait Miss Molly Duveneck (in Merriman Valley) or the meditative, impressionistic still-life, Rhages Jar, by Emil Carlsen (in South Akron).
Inside|Out is part of the Akron Art Museum’s mission to enrich lives through modern and contemporary art. By making masterpieces from the museum collection available to view in new locations, outside the museum walls, we are able to engage visitors who might not have otherwise encountered the Akron Art Museum or its artworks. We believe that art is for everyone and that everyone should have access to quality art experiences. The program is an enhancement to civic and cultural engagement. By placing Inside|Out installations out in the community, the Akron Art Museum is also inviting visitors back in to the museum, to view the original artworks in the gallery, to take advantage of the programs for all ages that the museum has to offer, to draw inspiration from the museum and the new Bud and Susie Rogers Garden, and to see themselves as important members of the arts community, as part of the museum, where art experiences, as well as social and civic dialogues can occur.
The art museum has created a number of ways to interact with Inside|Out. Of course, you can always find downloadable maps and event information about Inside|Out on the museum’s website, AkronArtMuseum.org, but you can also discover the project using your mobile device. The Inside|Out tour app, which works in your device’s web browser, comes complete with maps and directions to each installation, additional information about the artwork and the artist, and even audio commentary about selected artworks from members of the Akron community, such as best-selling author David Giffels, former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove, and music historian and librarian, Bob Ethington. Find the app at insideoutakron.toursphere.com.