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Funky art gallery opening in Downtown Canton

Thursday, March 8, 2007
BY Dan Kane

CANTON The Studio 5 (On 4th) downtown arts district is about to launch.

On Friday, a vibrant and decidedly funky gallery called Acme Artists will open its doors at 332 Fourth St. NW with a celebratory party from 5 to 10 p.m.

"We want to represent the out-of-the-mainstream artists here," said artist Mark Ball, a partner in Acme with Dylan Atkinson and Christian Harwell.

'A' TEAM Standing outside downtown Canton's Acme Artists gallery, which will have its grand opening Friday, are (from left) Kenneth Lawrence, Dylan Atkinson, Mark Ball and Christian Harwell. Atkinson, Ball and Harwell, all artists, are partners in the gallery; Lawrence has done interior painting, carpentry and other preparations.

"Lowbrow for the highbrow" is how Harwell describes the gallery's art approach. "We're not interested in Ohio watercolor landscapes here," he said. "Some things could be shocking, but if it shocks people and they talk about it, that could be good."

"We definitely don't want to have traditional sofa art," said Atkinson, whose oil paintings depict skulls, tattoo designs and go-go girls with guns.


Acme is one of five storefronts on the block that Realtor Mike King of King Properties has devoted to local artists, for low-cost studio and gallery space.

Rent for the Acme space, which includes a gallery with pressed-tin ceiling, hardwood floors, a front display window, basement studio space and two restrooms, is $275 a month. The gallery's proprietors have signed a two-year lease.

After touring the raw space and learning of the low rent, "we couldn't say no. We fell in love with the space immediately," Harwell said. "It's a win-win for everyone, and a fun project for us. Plus it's an outlet for me to get back into doing my own artwork again."

Harwell intends to keep exhibiting local artists at his other business, Cyrus Custom Framing & Art Gallery. To him, Acme is "another venue to show more art in town."

A Web site designer, Atkinson has relocated his business, Plan 9 Designs, to the basement of the gallery, which also functions as an art studio.

"It is important to us to not just be a gallery, but also a place for artists we like to come in and produce new work," Atkinson said. "We want to keep the gallery changing constantly."

In addition to work by Ball, Atkinson and Harwell, Acme has paintings on view by Erin Mulligan, Wanda Montgomery, Jerry Domokur, Melissa Goff, Chris Horn, J.W. Cooper and Brian McFadd.


Acme and the tenants of the other four adjacent storefront art spaces each received a $1,000 rent-support grant from Arts in Stark, which provides a $100 rent subsidy for 10 months.

"There are three secrets to downtown revitalization - live music, public art and artist studios and galleries. And the last is the most difficult to get started," said Robb Hankins, president and CEO of Arts in Stark.

"If we truly make downtown into a home for our artists, we can transform it into a people magnet of immense proportions," Hankins said.

Other Studio 5 storefront tenants are painters Tommy Morgan and Marcy Axelband, photographer Robert Baker, and jewelry and accessory designer Jessica Harwell. Baker and Harwell will have galleries.

Plans are in the works, Atkinson said, for Studio 5 (On 4th) to host monthly art-themed block parties in the spring and summer, with the street in front of the galleries blocked off.

"Hopefully a lot will happen here," Ball said. "With all the projects happening downtown, I think this one definitely stands out."

Acme Artists gallery hours are 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 5 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, closed Sunday. To schedule a daytime appointment, call (330) 452-ACME.

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