In celebration of community and the 2013 Three Rivers Festival, local visual artist Jerrod Tobias installed an original, temporary wheat-pasted painting to the exterior of the downtown library building last week on the corner of Wayne & Ewing streets (over the windows of the Children’s Department). This is a library sponsored project and is not permanent or sacred. It is a passing public art piece.
Jerrod Tobias is a visual artist who grew up in our community and now chooses to live here as an adult, celebrating the virtues of Midwestern life. Tobias graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2003 before returning home as a working member of our community. In effort to broaden the local scope of public art and creative expression in Fort Wayne, Tobias works to install wheat pasted imagery at area venues. The process is temporary, nondestructive, and non-toxic, reminiscent of early methods of sign advertising. Its permanence is relative to weather conditions and will likely remain on the building through the end of the summer season.
The large scale painting Tobias created for the library building is a simple offering of celebration for the community. The visual imagery of three children, traveling through time and space in a wooden ship, is both literal and metaphorical. The trio in the ship, representing Fort Wayne’s Three Rivers, serves as a metaphor that represents our commonality as human beings in the same boat, navigating our way in the world. The subjects of this work are Jerrod and Kara Tobias’ three young children. Tobias paints the people that he “gets up in the morning for,” those people he says, “who reflect and define you.” The spirit of this artwork directly reflects this year’s 3 Rivers Festival Parade Theme: Made Here. “The work is innocent; it speaks for itself,” Tobias says.
“In an era when visual iconography is dominating the printed word, it is more important than ever to provide visual arts opportunities and support for visual artists, especially those who are working members of our community. Part of our mission at the library is to enrich the cultural landscape of the community. Hosting this painting on the library building is one small way we can work to fulfill that mission. It opens a dialogue about the inundation and effects of visual marketing, and it’s also just nice to look at. Public artworks such as these help define our sense of place while reclaiming our visual landscape,” says ACPL Gallery Librarian, Amy Griffin.
As Tobias says, “(These paintings) are visual design that is not trying to sell you anything.”
The 3 Rivers painting on the outside of library building is part of a growing and evolving body of public artwork. Current wheat-pasted paintings by Tobias can now be seen installed on the outside wall of the Auer Center for Arts & Culture on Main Street across from the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, on the outside wall and in the adjacent lot of the Crestwoods Gallery and Frame Shop in downtown Roanoke, IN, and on the outside wall of Wunderkammer Company on Fairfield Street in Fort Wayne. Past installations on Fort Wayne buildings include Lotus Gallery, Pint & Slice, Delaney’s, Rise, and CS3.