The Cascade Locks Association made an important decision early in their planning to include artists an as integral part of the planning process.
“The involvement of artists in projects of this nature is an extremely effective way to strengthen the overall development concept, expand interpretive opportunities, and stimulate public participation. Artist involvement will enrich site improvements with added levels of interest and enthusiasm. Cascade Locks Park, with its many levels of interest (canal, industry, transportation, recreation, natural areas, historic architecture, etc.,) offers a unique opportunity as public open space dedicated to revealing its industrial heritage to incorporate artists in the design and development of all improvements. We consider the expansion of the traditional design team to include artists as an essential component to addressing this opportunity with the appropriate creativity and sensitivity”.
The core of artists working on this project is faculty members of the University Of Akron School Of Art. Thank you, Director Christina DePaul for providing the time and opportunity for creative research of this kind. Don Harvey wrote and received a grant from the Urban University Board to match funds awarded to the Cascade Locks Park Association by the Ohio Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the G A R Foundation. The purpose of this grant is to pay for the processes and materials necessary to create proposals and models for an interpretive system for the Cascade Locks Park. The work done by the Cascade Locks Park Association in preparation for the creation of this system has been herculean. The accumulated research included information on land use, historic figures, canal building and canal life, fauna and flora and the history of local industry. As an artist used to creating visual images out of deeply felt and usually understood ideas, I had to find a way of coming to terms with this wealth of information, sensory input and emotion. My response was to determine for myself what information was important. And so the dictionary was born. Many people have helped along the way. My fellow artists agreed to illustrate the dictionary and to incorporate information from it in their proposals so that the dictionary would truly reflect what was in the park. The Cascade Locks Park Association provided me with lots of research materials. Susan McKiernan and Jennifer Mauer provided more. My husband Joe created the first illustrations and believed in the project. My friend and colleague, Marianne Dias designed the book and cheered me immensely by turning a rambling manuscript into a wonderful pattern of works and images. Thanks to Ramona Smith of Progress for Preservation and Rebecca Rogers, landscape historian, for reading and making helpful comments on my early draft. A special thinks to Jack Gieck, author and filmmaker who was the most critical and therefore the most helpful. His generosity is greatly appreciated.
As historian Jeff Winstel said in his application to the US Department of the Interior for inclusion of the Cascade Locks Park in the National Register of Historic Places: “The integrity of the district itself is dependent on its ability to convey the sense of a historically united group of resources.” I would add that the success of the Cascade Locks Park is dependent on its ability to give the public an experience of the history of Akron that unites the intellectual, spiritual, emotional and physical. Complex? Yes, but that’s what artists do.
This acknowledgement reflects the help I’ve received in bringing the Cascade Locks Park Dictionary to the proposal stage. I welcome input in the process of completing it.
In 2011 I received a Folk Art Grant from the Myers School of Art to fund making the Canal Dictionary a searchable data base. Kevin Stalder took on the task of creating a web site that allows the dictionary to be expandable. New terms and illustrations can be added as needed.
Synapse Center for Art and Science as well as the Color Line Committee, both of the University of Akron have been the source of much support in terms of ideas, opportunities and collaboration.
Jean Marie Hartman, Ph.D., ecologist and faculty at the School of Landscape Architecture at Rutgers has been my collaborator for more than a year as we explored the relationship between land and water from an artistic as well as an ecological point of view. She has contributed to ohiowaterways.com in terms both ideas as well as images.
Erik Maietta MLA Candidate and Jean Marie’s student has undertaken the job of jumpstarting the adding of images and terms to the Ohiowaterways site as they are produced by activities of my sabbatical at Cascade Village, Akron, Ohio.
Cascade Village’s location along the Little Cuyahoga River in Akron has been the inspiration to expand the terms of the dictionary to include those describing the river.
Cascade Village’s residents who are allowing me to understand their relationship with the River and the Ohio Canal will be the source of new illustrations for the ohiowaterways.com site.
Community Builders and those who are employed at Cascade Village have offered hospitality to me and to my project.
Finally thank you to the University of Akron and to my department chair, Robert Huff and my dean Chand Midha for supporting my faculty improvement leave and my project, Cascade Public Art Project for the year 2012-2013.