You might have noticed the "I Am" stenciling from Ideastream Public Media on sidewalks around town this summer.
The stencils were designed by local artist Erin Guido, and the project got off the ground after Ideastream rebranded as Ideastream Public Media – the home of Northeast Ohio’s member-supported public broadcasting stations WVIZ, WCPN and WCLV.
Ideastream Public Media puts emphasis on local communities in its coverage and the uplifting stencil messages are meant to be part of those communities.
“The local arts community is a big part of what we do and the stories we share, so we wanted to get them involved, and when I thought of the stencil idea, Erin Guido was the first local artist that came to mind,” said Matt Erman, Ideastream Public Media Director of Marketing. “I have loved her work for a long time, we have done a few stories on her and her style is perfect for the project.”
Guido is uniquely skilled and educated in public art and is aware of how art can work to enhance public spaces while uplifting the community.
“I have done lots of public artworks – some temporary wheatpasting, some permanent murals, and some temporary 3D interactive artworks through So Fun Studio, a collaboration with John Paul Costello who prototyped the stencils that we used for the Ideastream stencil project,” said Guido.
One might recognize Guido’s work from the memorable mural of rainbow birds professing their love to one another in caption form located at the West Shoreway retaining wall north of the intersection of West 25th Street and Detroit Ave.
Guido, currently residing in Ohio City with her partner and collaborator John Paul Costello, has helped install the stencils in locations on the west side while the Ideastream Public Media people have been executing most of the chalk spraying. Their team has been hitting spots all over the city, especially where there are friendly business owners who want to be part of the project.
“I Am Inspired,” “I Am Creative,” “I am Curious,” “I am Aware,” “I Am Informed,” “I Am Bold,” “I Am Trusted,” “I Am Local,” “I Am Community,” and “I Am Ideastream Public Media” are some of the phrases one will be able to find stenciled on their local sidewalks in colorful spectrum of chalk spray.
The typeface is funky lettering with alternating, sprightly colored text and background that are signature of Guido’s work.
“We wanted a sort of street art installation that engages people, and that people can identify with immediately,” said Erman. “All of these values resonate with people on some level, and Erin’s art makes them pop. As I spray them I’m constantly approached and asked about them – or I observe people stopping to read them, take photos with them etc. It’s amazing to see the goal come alive in real time!”
Twenty locations are already in play with many more to come.
“We have a location wish list, but this project is also very organic,” said Erman. “We hit high foot-traffic areas, but also will pull over whenever we come across what looks like a good spot, whether or not it’s on the list. The goal is to continue through the nice weather, while people are out, and we’re planning on circling back on a few spots like farmers markets while it’s prime time.”
Reaction from the community has been overwhelmingly positive.
“People have been super positive,” said Guido. “Once we tell them the project is for Ideastream Public Media, they are always happy. Ideastream already has such a positive presence in the community and I think this adds to it…I hope people see Ideastream Public Media as an organization that is dedicated to serve the Cleveland community in so many ways. And I hope the project adds a moment of color and fun to people’s days.”