SPRINGFIELD, Ohio — For nearly 30 years, Wittenberg Professor of Art Jack Mann held out the belief that the city of Springfield could be a place for artists of all kinds to share their talents — if only they had the proper space to call home.
He finally took it upon himself to make that happen. During a teaching sabbatical in the second semester of the 2004-05 school year, Mann created the downtown artists colony he always envisioned for the city of Springfield. Mann has moved himself into the largest of the 10 workspaces in The McAdams Building Arts Co-Op, located on the third floor of the McAdams Building on High Street in downtown Springfield.
It's a dream come true for Mann, a Cincinnati native who made Springfield his home after accepting a teaching position at Wittenberg in 1976. He credits local real estate developer Jim Lagos, who owns the McAdams Building, with helping him make the dream a reality.
"I've been talking to Jim for years about moving into one of his spaces," said Mann, who is also chair of the Wittenberg Art Department. "I couldn't have done this without him. He's been a marvelous humanitarian in this instance to help me find a way to get this done.
"Jim knows as artists we dont have too much extra money for this kind of endeavor."
Lagos made the space affordable, which Mann said has led to interest from artists living in other areas, such as Dayton and Yellow Springs. Workspace in the McAdams Building, which can be locked off at night and includes access to an adjacent parking lot, is inexpensive compared to similar areas in other communities.
So far, three other workspaces in the co-op have been rented, including one to Artimus Keiffer, Wittenberg professor of geography, who does artwork primarily as a hobby.
"This is our sanctuary," said Mann, who counts drawing, painting and sculpting as his creative interests. "This is where we come to create. A workspace like this is so important for an artist. "
McAdams Building Arts Co-Op tenants Stein Pederson (left) and Georgia Papadakis observe her latest work in the hallway of the downtown artists' colony.
Mann, who formerly rented an unheated workspace at another downtown location, said that any kind of artist is welcome to rent space in the co-op, including musicians, writers or photographers. He hopes that the co-op will eventually be a refuge not just for the artists themselves, but for Wittenberg students to learn more about different art forms and for members of the community to enjoy open house events.
"In the future, I'd like to have art walk events and open houses in this area," said Mann, who holds bachelors and masters degrees from the University of Cincinnati and also studied drawing at the California Institute of the Arts. "They don't have to be events in which people come to buy things. I envision this as a community gathering place for members of the community who simply enjoy art."
Manns work has been featured in many private collections. His sculptures have been commissioned by the Columbus Metropolitan Public Library, Bluffton College, The City of Centerville, Ohio and Wittenberg, in addition to a Holocaust Memorial Sculpture at Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati. He has several projects currently in the works, including a sculpture scheduled to debut in the new Snowhill Elementary School in Springfield when construction is completed next winter.
Mann welcomes anyone interested in renting workspace in the co-op to contact him at (937) 327-6328 or via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Ryan Maurer