Art Bomb Brigade Working to Give a Face Lift to Downtown Akron

Lindsey Mitchell notes how the word "Akron" is hidden in the latest Art Bomb Brigade mural
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A massive mural with an environmental theme was unveiled Thursday night on an old industrial wall in downtown Akron.  It's the the fourth installment of an art program designed to deliver a facelift to neglected streets in the city.  They call themselves the Art Bomb Brigade.

Lindsey Mitchell inspects the 2,400-square-foot painting that she helped design.  It's a swirling burst of color, featuring leafy trees, an impressionistic skyline and a big, yellow sun.  The image pops out of an otherwise gray landscape of buildings just above Lock #1 of Akron's old canal system. Mitchell says if you look closely you can make out the letters of the city name hidden inside the picture.

Mitchell is one of 23 members of the Art Bomb Brigade, a group of students and faculty from the University of Akron who use the sides of fading factories and warehouses as canvasses to liven-up some dreary city streets.  The ecological imagery of this piece is related to the environmental goals of the nearby Echogen Power Systems plant, which specializes in turning waste-heat into energy.  Art Bomb Brigade supervisor Elisa Gargarella notes that the connection between mural and business is intentional.

"We're not interested in "plop-it" art," she says.  "It's not art that arrives and imposes itself, "but one that celebrates and embraces the culture of this area."

Gargarella adds that it's more than a painting exercise for the students. They also pick-up some business skills, like maintaining a budget, purchasing materials and publicizing the debut of each mural.  The project is funded by a $45,000 grant from the Knight Foundation.

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