Mayor Don Walters has announced an art-centered community engagement event in partnership with ArtsNow, Collide: Cuyahoga Falls, and Curated Storefront. The event will be held on Sunday, June 5, from 12–3 p.m., at the Cuyahoga Falls Downtown Pavilion, 2085 Front Street. This is the first of two public engagement sessions that will be held in the community.

"Public art is an economic driver of tourism as it positively impacts the health of communities like ours by elevating and beautifying public spaces," stated Mayor Don Walters. "As we continue to make investments in public art, we are committed to garnering public input to ensure that the thoughts and voices of our residents are represented through the works of commissioned artists." 

“Public art is essential for the vibrancy of any community thus we are honored to support the ‘River in the City’ grant for Cuyahoga Falls,” said Kathy Romito, Vice-President of Collide:Cuyahoga Falls. “The national and local artists selected will engage the public to pay homage to the river and our great city.”

““We have an incredible depth of talent in our local creative community and Curated Storefront is thrilled to work with this team of artists,” remarked Amber Anderson, Arts and Culture Consultant for Curated Storefront. “Receiving this extremely competitive grant from the National Endowment for the Arts has brought together some of our region’s best and brightest to downtown Cuyahoga Falls.”

This event is to serve as a community engagement piece of "River in the City," a community-driven, multi-year public art project in the City of Cuyahoga Falls that is funded in part by the National Endowment of the Arts – Our Town Grant. "River in the City" brings new cultural perspectives to cultural, historical, environmental, and physical connections between Downtown Cuyahoga Falls and the Cuyahoga River. The City of Cuyahoga Falls was awarded a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment of the Arts in April 2021.

The event will feature two opportunities to creatively engage the community through performance and visual arts to better understand feelings, opinions, and thoughts on the Cuyahoga River. The elements of the event are as follows:

1.) Neema Bal and Katie Beck of Gum-Dip Theatre will conduct Flowing with the Currents: An Exploration of Our Personal Experiences with the Cuyahoga River, a collaboration with community members to create a series of theatrical vignettes inspired by the Cuyahoga River, centered on participants' stories. Using meditation, movement, storytelling, and writing exercises, participants will examine their thoughts and feelings about the Cuyahoga River, culminating in small group performances. Non-participating community members are invited to watch and enjoy the theatrical process.

This activity is open to community members ages 13 and up. There is no experience required to participate. The activity is limited to 30 participants. Registration will be available onsite the day of the activity, beginning at 11 a.m. 

2.) Local artist Alison Miltner Rich will be interviewing community members along Front Street to collect drawings and stories about their relationship with the Cuyahoga River - how they feel about living near it, what it means to them, and why it is important to them. Using this community input, the artist will create three paintings of the river that have a relationship to each other and will be displayed as a triptych, a set of three associated artworks intended to be appreciated together. The content of each piece will be directly influenced by the images and words submitted by community members on June 5. The finished painting will be gifted to the city and displayed downtown later in the summer for all to enjoy.

The purpose of the public engagement sessions is to encourage community involvement and collect input that will inform the creation of public art pieces being commissioned as part of the National Endowment of the Arts – Our Town Grant. As part of the grant, nationally recognized environmental artist Stacy Levy, and Peter Jones, best known locally for his sculpture of the Native American carrying a canoe in the Merriman Valley, will be creating art pieces in Downtown Cuyahoga Falls in celebration of the Cuyahoga River. Installation of the respective works will commence later this fall.

The next public engagement session is scheduled for Sunday, August 14, from 12-3 p.m., at the Cuyahoga Falls Downtown Pavilion.