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Knight Challenge winner @Play, Goodyear Heights residents create water-themed murals to revitalize Reservoir Park (photos)

April 13, 2018 GMT

Knight Challenge winner @Play, Goodyear Heights residents create water-themed murals to revitalize Reservoir Park (photos)

AKRON, Ohio - Knight Foundation Cities Challenge winner @Play has moved from Middlebury and Chapel Hill to Kenmore and North Hill. Now, his team is working in the Goodyear Heights neighborhood, leaving splashes of color, swaths of texture  and sometimes sounds, in spaces designed to attract and connect neighbors with neighbors.

@Play is urban artist Mac Love’s project to encourage deeper community connections through projects that highlight the history, identity and character of each of the city’s 24 neighborhoods.

For Goodyear Heights, the original plan, the Reservoir Paintscape Party,  was to paint murals on the walls of Reservoir Park, a public pool and community gathering place. But cold weather forced the group inside. And although it altered the plan, the work engaged more than 120 residents from toddlers to teens over two days last weekend.

“On the second day, people were already lined up when we started, excited to finish the murals they had worked on the day before,” Love said.

With Akron waterways the theme, Love initially researched Akron’s engineer and surveyor Wendell LaDue who headed the Akron water department in the early 1900s. Serving the city for 44 years, LaDue, who was appointed to President Harry Truman’s water advisory committee, is credited with creating a watershed plan to ensure Akron and Northeast Ohio had adequate clean water for decades to come.

With the help of local artists guided by creative lead David Schweyer and his tattoo artists from the neighborhood’s Dimaura Ink, water-themed designs were traced onto weatherproof panels for residents to paint.

The youngest kids got to pick their favorite color and type of brush to begin, Love said When they were ready for a new color and or brush type, they simply traded them in at the supply station.

Now complete, the panels will be installed around the exterior of Reservoir Park. The walls that were the original target for murals will still be painted but in a uniform color over the coming days.

Next up for @Play is the West Hill neighborhood, where a Silent Disco Dance Party will be held on Saturday, May 5, from 1-4 p.m. Directed by a master of ceremonies, attendees will wear wireless headphones and step counters as they dance through the streets helping clean up trash.

“It’s a special kind of crazy,” Love said. “It’s a wild experiment.”

The more steps attendees take dancing and cleaning, the greater their chance of winning a welcome to the neighborhood gift package featuring locally made goods and coupons for area vendors.

A gathering place has not yet been finalized for the event. Sign up here to attend and get information as the details are set.

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