‘Saturate This City in Art’

Knight Art Challenge winner Kristi Wall shares her plan for public art domination in Akron

written by Megan Combs; feature photo by McKenzie Beynon

ASAP_LogoKristi Wall is on a mission to make Akron the public art capital of the world. As one of the Knight Arts Challenge award winners, Wall is raising money to make her project “Akron Street Art Project” a reality.

The first step is to create a 501c3 non-profit to fund it, she said, and in order to get the promised $25,000 from the Knight Foundation, Wall must first raise a matching amount of money.

“I’m focused on executing public works of art in and around Akron,” Wall said. “I want to have permanent murals, sculptures, installations and creative placemaking.”

Acting as the director of the project, Wall, who is also the owner of Land of Plenty, is on a mission to make sure that she’s putting local artists to work. She will oversee all art projects and make sure the art is not only high quality but also displaying positive imagery.

“Akron has a lot of cool stuff happening internally, and it’s not as apparent on the outside that stuff is happening,” Wall said. “I want this to be a vibrant scene externally to attract people and make them want to stay. I want everyone to feel uplifted and inspired by all the art.”

Wall hopes once her project is funded and underway that the art displays will help bring more business to the area.

“People are opening new businesses every month. The city just keeps growing,” she said. “I just want to show the outside world what’s going on here.”

First on her list for a face lift is downtown Akron. From there, Wall said she wants to “plant seeds” in places that are underused, such as Copley Road, Kenmore Boulevard or in North Hill. She wants to find local artists from those neighborhoods to create the displays.

“I want to recognize an artist the community didn’t know it had, and I want it to inspire other artists in the area,” she said. “I want to achieve the idea that art and creativity is appreciated here and I want it to inspire people to make an impact in their own way.”

To raise the matching funds, every event Wall hosts at Land of Plenty acts as a fundraiser for her project. First, she hosted a couple bands and raised about $1,500. Over Mother’s Day weekend, she hosted a plant sale and raised around $650.

“The hardest part about raising the money is that people don’t know what you’re doing it for,” she said. “I’m establishing the 501c3 so people know that I’m a non-profit and that their money is going toward something. Once I become a non-profit, I can start applying for grants to get bigger donations.”

She continued, “It’s hard to explain this project to people when none of the projects have been completed because you’re still waiting on the money to get started.”

For artists who are thinking of applying to future Knight Arts Challenges, Wall advised that they be realistic about the amount of money they’re asking for. Don’t go too overboard, she said, because you still have to match those funds.

“This is an exciting project,” she smiled. “I want to make Akron the public art capital of the world and I want this project to be a lifelong endeavor. You don’t have to be a part of the arts to like what you see.”

Land of Plenty is holding a three year anniversary dance party/art show/bonfire on Saturday, June 18. Suggested donation is $5, and all proceeds go to help fund ASAP. Check out the event info here.

Megan enjoys long walks through the Metro Parks and never eats the last bite of a sandwich.

(Featured photo of Kristi Wall courtesy of Kristi Wall)