Local actors seek to bring more public art to downtown Springfield
Efforts to bring more public art to the area are part of larger plans to create a more “vibrant” downtown and community.
This work has not lost momentum during the pandemic, as several projects have been completed during this time. One project included “Hope Ahead”, a 20ft by 30ft mural that now welcomes cyclists to the Springfield Bike Path at the intersection of Leffel Lane and South Yellow Springs Street. It ended last year.
Currently, there is no established budget for these types of downtown public art efforts. Instead, the amount of money needed is based on the particular project, said Lauren Houser, director of Project Jericho, which aims to provide in-depth visual and performing arts programming to youth and families in Clark County. .
Project Jericho formed in 1999 and has been involved in various art projects, including murals, around Springfield and downtown.
Conversations Houser had with members of the Greater Springfield Partnership regarding how to bring more art to the area as well as previous public art projects led to the formation of the Downtown Public Arts Committee in 2018.
“Our goal is to ensure that everyone, regardless of zip code or life experience, has access to high-quality art experiences,” Houser said. The organization participated in the creation of murals downtown before the formation of the public arts committee.
The committee includes a variety of non-profit groups, local artists, foundations, government officials and businesses that focus on downtown beautification efforts.
In recent years, public artwork in places like downtown has been done by local artists, local youth as well as artists based out of town.
Funding for these types of public art projects comes from a variety of sources, including federal, state, and local entities. Sometimes the money for a particular project is raised locally or uses grants from organizations such as the Ohio Arts Council, Houser said.
Some projects can be in the range of $10,000 as this includes the artist bill, materials, accommodations as well as the celebrations held to unveil the completed artwork.
Factors that can influence the prices of these works of art include the size and complexity of a particular piece. Sometimes particular artists are commissioned for types of art that may involve large spaces or hard-to-reach areas.
Houser said they wanted to make sure the artists were fairly compensated and to make sure the materials used were of good quality in order to better maintain this artwork once it’s finished.
She said sometimes the idea of a mural and what it will depict comes first, and then an artist whose style best matches that vision is selected. Other times, the artist is selected first or sought after because of their pre-existing art and their style is considered a good choice for downtown.
Going forward, the goal is to engage with local artists and give them a platform, but also to attract more national artists.
In recent years, works of art selected from groups of local artists who submitted their work have been packed into utility boxes in downtown Springfield, said Chris Schutte, vice president of marketing and communications for destination for the Greater Springfield Partnership.
Efforts have also been made to display more works by artists, including local ones, in public spaces in the city centre.
This also includes more commissioned murals, including one saluting those on the Springfield Bike Path, while others line the walls of downtown buildings and businesses.
Murals that have been painted or printed and displayed around downtown since 2018 include printed works by Springfield native C. Coles Phillips, who was an early 20th-century artist and illustrator, as well as works by hand-painted art from current artists such as “Greetings from “Springfield” postcard-style mural as well as a 12-foot-tall, 73-foot-wide mural that brought painted flowers blooming to the side of the Starrett and Fried building at 10 East Main Street.
This mural titled Rose City was from the Jericho project.
A mural by township artist Steve Ehret was completed last year on the side of a building on West Columbia Street that was full of color and featured what appeared to be interstellar creatures.