In the spring of 2010 a series of banners were hung on light poles throughout the Art Zone in downtown Toledo. The imagery on each banner was designed to signify a tree through direct representation, metaphor or otherwise and make a powerful visual statement about inner-city environments. When completely installed in the Art Zone’s downtown setting, the banners create an “urban forest” of aesthetically pleasing and thought provoking images.
The ACGT partnered with the local chapter of the American Institute of Graphic Arts (AIGA) to develop and administer the Urban Forest Project (UFP) in Toledo. The UFP was originally conceived by Worldstudio and developed in conjunction with AIGA NY and Times Square Alliance. It was first executed in New York’s Times Squarein the fall of 2006 and has sense then been recreated by a number of cities including Albuquerque, Baltimore, Denver, San Francisco and Washington DC.
The UFP illustrates the Arts Commission’s ability to actively engage the local community through smaller, temporary public art initiatives. It was completed on a budget of $25,000 and included a variety of opportunities for artists and members of the general public to participate. The project began with a design competition. The competition drew submissions from many of Toledo’s most talented artists and designers. The winning designs were exhibited in a preview show at Space 237 from January 22, 2010 - February 19th, 2010. The preview was well attended and received coverage in the Toledo Free Press and on Toledo.com. Following the exhibition, the banners were installed in the Art Zone and an official unveiling ceremony was held at Grumpy’s, a local restaurant in the downtown area. Symbolically the unveiling was held on April 24th, 2010 coinciding with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. AIGA Toledo Chapter also created a website dedicated to the project and a pamphlet that was mailed to the community encouraging people to visit the Art Zone and experience the UFP first hand. The pamphlet included reproductions of each banner, a map indicating their locations in the Art Zone and some background information. The UFP will remain on view until after the final Art Walk in September 2010.The banners will then be repurposed into artist designed tote bags and sold at auction benefitting the Young Artist at Work Program.
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