Rolling on the River

A groundbreaking art display funded by local grants will be featured during an open house Friday from 5-8 p.m. at the MITCH Collective, a nonprofit arts center at 501 N. Seventh St., Martins Ferry.

The prints were created by the public at the June 8 Picnic in the Park in Martins Ferry City Park and at the June 22 Wheeling Arts Fest in West Virginia Northern Community College.

The family-friendly and interactive project, called Insta-tangram, puts a new twist on outdoor steamroller printing by combining an ancient Chinese puzzle, relief printmaking, digital fabrication and interactive large-scale printing.

For the project, MITCH Collective co-founder Siena Baldi pooled design ideas from more than 20 youth groups, artists and organizations on both sides of the Ohio River. The designs were digitized by a computer, then etched out of wood with a laser cutter. The pieces of wood fit together like a large tangram puzzle. During Picnic in the Park and Wheeling Arts Fest, members of the public rearranged the wood into various designs. Once the large woodcuts were inked up, they were “printed” by a 4-foot-wide steamroller.

“All ages participated in arranging the laser cut woodblocks into 3-foot-by3-foot designs, and then the steamroller acted like a giant printing press to create the prints. We wanted to make a big splash at the outdoor art festivals this summer and show the community how dynamic and exciting art can be,” Baldi said.

The MITCH Collective is a community arts nonprofit in Martins Ferry, founded in 2011, that offers workshops, studio space and artist residencies. Insta-tangram is supported in part by a Spark Award from The Sprout Fund and The Ohio River Border Initiative, a joint project of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council.

“We are very excited to see Insta-tangram begin its activities. Insta-tangram is a great example of the nearly 500 community initiatives Sprout has supported since 2001 through more than $4 million of community investment,” said Mac Howison, program officer for Catalytic Funding at The Sprout Fund.

The open house will feature additional incentives to visit the MITCH Collective and become acquainted with this new community resource by touring the studios, exhibits and artist-in-residence spaces. Visitors also can shop for cards, prints, pillows, handmade books, T-shirts and more that were designed and created by MITCH Collective.

After the open house, the prints and fabric art are available to display in public spaces throughout the Ohio Valley. Anyone interested in displaying any of the prints may contact Baldi at info@mitchcollective. org.

The following youth groups and artists contributed designs: Wheeling Country Day School, St. Clairsville High School, WVNCC Middle College, Stifel Fine Arts Center, Lyceum Academy, YWCA: Wheeling Middle School Anti-Bullying Group, Girl Scouts -Elm Grove, Speiro Academy, Ohio County Family Resource Network, MITCH, Youth Services System, Ohio Valley Kids with Food Allergies, Places to Be in the OV, Daniel Caron, Quick Service Bicycle Shop, West Liberty University and Artworks Around Town artists Betsy Cox, Bob Sako, Patricia Croft and Jeff Mamone.