The burgeoning Waterloo Arts District hosted its 2nd “DayGlo A Go Go” dance party Friday night in celebration of the monthly “Walk All Over Waterloo” neighborhood showcase and the Waterloo Arts Gallery’s current (and 5th annual) DayGlo show.
“As an arts organization, I think it is our responsibility to bring about a feeling of delight in people,” says Waterloo Arts Executive Director Amy Callahan, “the profound sense of helping people leave the mundane parts of our lives and tap into a sense of universal wonder, truth and beauty. I work with artists to create these experiences sometimes in serious ways and other times in playful ways, such as the DayGlo exhibit.”
Local artists participate in the yearly exhibit having been supplied with fluorescent paints donated directly by the DayGlo Color Corporation, and are given free rein to utilize their individual skills to create fantastic and unusual pieces to be displayed at the Waterloo Arts Gallery in an amazing blacklight show.
This year’s event started at 6 at the Callaloo Café, a Caribbean-style bar, specifically Trinidadian, where attendees were offered hors d’oeuvres and glowing cocktails along with the standard menu options like Callaloo’s curry plates and Caribbean nachos (black bean and corn salsa, pineapple, cilantro and mozzarella). The KMOB Trio greeted guests with an acid- and funk-infused jazz sound, complete with stand-up bass, from their spot right inside the entrance of the café.
Make your way to the back rooms of the café for the underground dance party, face painting, more complimentary food and drinks and a mind-blowingly colorful atmosphere – everything covered in DayGlo from the dance floor and the table clothes, to amazing wall art spelling out “Waterloo” in giant bright blue and red block letters along the back wall.
Local artist Laszlo Gyorki, from Cleveland, provided the industrialized Styrofoam pieces that lined the far walls and created a club-like atmosphere to the room. He has been supporting the Waterloo Arts scene for over a decade and says, “I’ve been gentrified out of every trendy neighborhood in Cleveland. I’ve landed here, I do own a home in the area, and I’m getting to an age where I don’t want to wait 30 years for a neighborhood to develop.”
Gyorki appreciates the down-to-earth and gritty style of the Collinwood neighborhood, highly reminiscent of authentic art districts in the residential neighborhoods of larger, multi-cultural cities like New York and London, where, like Waterloo, immigrants and starving artists commit to working together to build small but thriving DIY art and cultural communities. By the people for the people.
“We are a lakeside artist village,” says Callahan. “There are many artists living, communing, making new work and striving to fulfill their potential as artists. The art district was started and remains a community that values these artists and the contributions they make to our society.”
A separate room attached the café holds the Waterloo Arts Gallery and the main exhibition room for the DayGlo show. 3-D glasses set out for guests literally added a whole new dimension to the artwork, but the 2-D visual was exciting all on its own. Local artist Diane Shoemaker’s Donald Trump piece, with the title “Make America Glo Again”, was one of the most noted pieces and is selling for $750. The span of creativity on display is wide; a grim-looking carousel, a portrait of Jimi Hendrix, demons and soft, colorful abstracts adorn the walls and floor space in the gallery. Everything is worth seeing.
The neighborhood itself is worth seeing; it continues to thrive and grow, welcoming new art ventures and new people all the time. “It is not unusual that a neighborhood starts to revitalize through the arts,” explains Callahan. “Art organizations create anchors in our district that will help keep the arts from drifting away as new development flows in. Our district has always had a strong independent music presence with the opening of the Beachland Ballroom and soon after, with the founding of Waterloo Arts (fka Arts Collinwood), the visual arts took hold. More recently we have become home to a new theater company, Playwrights Local, who are dedicated to supporting and producing the work of local playwrights, and Twelve, a cooperative community space for spoken word and performance.”
The DayGlo Show at Waterloo Arts Gallery runs now through Sunday, February 12. “Walk All Over Waterloo” takes place the first Friday of every month. Events run frequently throughout the year, check www.waterlooarts.org for information.