The Stalwart

The Mix: The Arts Commission Annual Fundraiser Party



The people of Toledo need to wake up! When asked What would you change about the art scene in Toledo, almost every person answered with nothing that had to do with art itself, but instead with the people in the city of Toledo. Toledo is filled with so many outdoor art installations. Have you ever wondered how they got there? It’s all thanks to The Arts Commission. The Arts Commission is a nonprofit organization founded in 1959, that maintains the public art in the city of Toledo. Privileged to be the first program in the state to have a percent-to-art program, which gives a percentage of the city’s capital improvement budget to create and maintain art on City of Toledo properties. These are the people who shine a light on the creativity, culture, and beauty that Toledo has to offer.

In May, The Arts Commission hosted their annual Fundraiser The Mix, formally known as The Black and White Ball. This fundraiser was created to help The Arts Commission to fund programs like the Arts Loop, the Momentum Arts Festival, and Young Artists at Work (YAW), which are all free programs to enjoy. They also offer grants to rising artists and organizations in Toledo. This year The Mix 2023 did not disappoint. There were live bands, visual and interactive art pieces, a silent auction, and of course food trucks. Merce Culp, with Urban Digitz and Mfinity Fashion, was a featured as live artist. She was creating pinback buttons with her own personal designs on them, combining her passion for fashion and digital art. Chuchen Song was another live artist. Song is a young glass specialist working at Toledo Museum of Art. Originally from China, she has found her place in Toledo because of the beautiful glass history and culture Toledo has to offer. Her work is heavily influenced by women’s rights issues as well as the cultural differences she has personally experienced. “Glass is used as a medium that connects inner space with outside space. Just like our eyes are a window to our mind. I find glass shares a similar quality, which allows us to expand our imagination”, Song states.

Another featured interactive art piece was the POOF. POOF of JOY is a giant interactive artwork created by Brad Scherzer. POOF is an existing project that has made an appearance in many different art festivals. This particular project, Feed Back Loop, was powered by a giant fan that blows colorful fabric through transparent tubes, life size mannequins, and decorated by neon LED lights. The idea behind this was inspired by the notion that you ‘get back what you put in’. It’s a metaphoric piece that shows whatever you work towards and put energy into will come back to you. In this case, the colorful fabrics are fed into the tube on one side of the art and shoots back out somewhere else.

The Mix was attended by so many different kinds of passionate individuals who care about creating space for the arts scene in Toledo. One individual stated, “in order for us to change the arts scene in our city, we must allow what’s already here to have more exposure. We need to help identify and shine a light on the hidden gems. A great way to do so is by finding a young artist that you love and become a part of their journey as they’re growing.”  Former Arts Commission Board Member, Reginald Temple, talked passionately about the work that needs to be done to allow the art world to prosper. Temple shared that he was born and raised in East Toledo and strongly believes that in order for Toledoans to really enjoy the arts, we must first understand and acknowledge the rich history and culture of the city. Then, is when the arts will flourish and receive the recognition that it deserves along with our other beloved institutions, such as The Mudhens and Jeep.

The Arts Commission is a very special place in Toledo. It’s a great place to start when inquiring about how to get involved in the arts. This Summer, the Art Loop, a free community creative experience, will be held in downtown to celebrate art, artists, and vibrant spaces of Toledo. The first community celebration, Street Faire, will be held Thursday, June 15th from 5-8:30pm. To find more information, please visit their website.

Explore and Support Artists
Merce Culp @mfinityfashion @urbandigitz
Chuchen Song @chuchen_glass
Brad Scherzer @mrscherzer @poofofjoy

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