Warren’s vacant homes turned to art

WARREN — A Warren house on the city’s demolition list is about to become a work of art — at least for a few days.

The project to convert a house in Warren’s Garden District into a two-day temporary art exhibit is being developed by the Fine Arts Council of Trumbull County and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, intended to give selected artists a chance to show their visual interpretations of parts of the city.

The completed exhibit is set for June 8 and 9.

Gianna Jones, a Warren G. Harding senior, already is imagining stylized cartoon figures walking across a large hallway, slowly waking from the space and becoming three-dimensional figures.

Jones said she isn’t yet 100 percent certain what she’ll do if she’s selected to participate in the first #OccupiedWarren Artist Project, but she knows she’s excited about the many possibilities the project might open for artists.

“I’m comfortable as a cartoonist, but I have done murals and sculptures,” she said. “I may be able to combine various disciplines,” she said.

James Shuttic, a member of the Fine Arts Council and project organizer, said artists selected to participate will be able to work in ways that best suit their visions.

“They will be able to do their work elsewhere and bring it to the house to be displayed, create the work using the walls of the home as the canvas, and use anything found in the house in ways that create a new art form,” Shuttic said.

Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership obtained a $4,800 grant from the Ohio Arts Council, according to Matt Martin, TNP executive director. All of the grant funds will go to the artist community. The house, slated for demolition, is being donated to the project, and the grant funds will be used to provide materials for the artists.

Warren’s project is modeled after the “Rooms to Let: CLE” project in that city’s Slavic Village, a similar project that began in 2014 and has continued every year since then.

Each year, Rooms to Let: CLE allows artists to takes over abandoned homes to create new work.

Shuttic said #OccupiedWarren will explore themes of blight, abandonment, vacancy and the revitalization process the city is undergoing.

“We envision this work being very personal for artists and for residents.”

Dave Karr, 48, an artist living in Cortland who has been working as a painter and with photography in his work, is excited about the opportunity.

“This is an amazing project,” he said. “This will allow artists to do huge pieces on the walls.”

Frank Maggiano, 40, of Warren, is a graffiti artist, who also has high hopes for the project.

“I’m hoping to break down barriers,” Maggiano said. “Most people have a negative impression of graffiti and graffiti artists, but they are not always accurate. Graffiti can be beautiful and stylized work. It is serious art.”

rsmith@tribtoday.com

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