Collide honors art supporters in Spotlight award

Kent Weeklies

The pandemic has impacted the arts and culture sector more than any other group. Ironically, it is the arts that many turned to for comfort and healing during this difficult time. As artists struggled and organizations had to limit their contributions to the arts, Collide: Cuyahoga Falls was able to identify two longstanding supporters of the arts.

“Collide is pleased to show our appreciation and “shine the spotlight” on two very deserving recipients for our first ever Collide Spotlight recognition; Jessica Lofthus and Western Reserve Hospital,” said Matt Weiss, chair of the board.

Jessica Loftus is an artist, curator, consultant, and arts advocate. She has been a supporter of Collide for some time and is regularly available to provide free consultation and advice. Loftus curates the art installs at City Hall and Western Reserve Hospital. She was pivotal in Collide’s Prism Project. Loftus was a significant contributor to community events such as Collide’s yearly fundraiser, art workshops at Cuyahoga Valley Art Center and Falls Friday nights in collaboration with the city of Cuyahoga Falls.

In an effort to bring murals to downtown Cuyahoga Falls, Loftus served on a committee and shared her expertise for over six months. Collide regularly entrusts Loftus to be the voice with key community stake holders and has consulted on projects such as “Chalk It Up!” and vinyl art wraps for the downtown planters. Most recently, Loftus has curated the hospital art as way to allow artists to showcase their work in a time when this remains an obstacle for so many due to COVID.

Western Reserve Hospital has a long history of supporting arts and culture in Cuyahoga Falls. Through donations and sponsorships, the hospital has funded a multitude of artistic projects and events. They have three curated installations and a community art display at the hospital as well at Cuyahoga Falls City Hall. Artists are able to sell their art and keep all the profits.

“We were honored to continue this program through the pandemic and give artists a way to sell in a time when many art events were canceled. One artist sold 14 pieces,” says Kathy Romito, Community Outreach manager. Furthermore, whenever possible, the hospital incorporates art into their events, such as live music, visual arts, and theater. Yearly, the hospital honors the artists that collaborate with the hospital by hosting an “Artist Appreciation Dinner” as well as “Art After Dark” held in the hospital’s courtyard. This event is free for both artist and attendees. Additionally, the hospital is focused on “Art and Aging” and takes every opportunity to bring art and culture experiences to an often isolated segment of our community.

To show Collide's appreciation, Loftus will be presented with a gift from local artist Tom Sullivan, commissioned by Collide: Cuyahoga Falls.

Instead of any physical recognition, Western Reserve Hospital has asked that a donation be made in their name to the Cuyahoga Valley Art Center to further support the arts community.

For future happenings and events, follow Collide: Cuyahoga Falls on Facebook (CollideCF)