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Public art slated for Akron’s Lock 3 honors rubber history

Sculpture made of old tires by Chakaia Booker
Curated Storefront
New York-based artist Chakaia Booker will received $100,00 to create a piece for Lock 3 in Akron. She uses recycled tires and steel in her pieces and participated in FRONT Triennial in 2022. Renderings of the sculpture are forthcoming, but organizers have shared images of her other work as an example of what's coming to Downtown.

The transformation of Akron's Lock 3 Park is slated to include a new sculpture celebrating the city’s past. Curated Storefront has received $100,000 to commission a piece by Chakaia Booker. The New York-based artist repurposes old tires in her abstract work. She exhibited her work in Akron during the FRONT Triennial in 2022.

The grant money comes from the nonprofit VIA Art Fund, also based in New York. It announced more than a dozen grants nationwide on Wednesday in addition to the funds for Lock 3.

Rick Rogers, executive director of Curated Storefront, said they’ve also selected five potential artists for future projects. Over the next two years, he said they’re planning to raise about $400,000 to complete their goal of $1 million for art in the park.

"We want to make Akron more commercially attractive, more visible and more enjoyable," Rogers said. "We think the Lock 3 plan is the newest project that will do so with many others in the pipeline."

Curated Storefront was formed in 2016 and has invested close to $4 million in Akron. Rogers, an Akron native, has been working to transform Downtown's empty storefronts with art. He said it's not only to preserve history but also to spur interest in development. So far, the group has created programming and exhibits in 30 buildings. A dozen of those have since been redeveloped, Rogers said.

The Lock 3 project received a $1 million anonymous donation last fall. Its goal is to transform the park based on resident input, with more seating, gardens and a performance pavilion. Rogers estimates it will be complete by this fall.

“The announcement from VIA is a great sign of the willingness of the national art community to help Akron enhance its cultural landscape,” he said.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.