BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
From a dirty, old city service garage to a mecca of local artwork, The Art Garage has suddenly burst on the Port Clinton scene. The downtown building is much cleaner and far more pleasant than just a few short weeks ago, and local expectations are sky high.
The building is now a partnership between the Greater Port Clinton Area Arts Council and the City of Port Clinton, which once used it as a service garage for city vehicles and equipment. Built in 1935, it is now envisioned as 9,000 square feet of The Arts Garage, or TAG, and being repurposed to be an epicenter for the arts in Port Clinton and all of Ottawa County.
“We’re so optimistic, and a lot of it is the result of the support we’re getting from all around the area,” said Rebecca Booth of Marketing Works, a local artist who is doing a lot of the public relations and marketing for the Greater Port Clinton Area Arts Council (GPCAAC) project.
TAG already has a pair of artists in residence. Sculptor Andy Sacksteder, a very talented and exceptionally personable artist, and local painter
David Peltier, who has been experimenting with a variety of mediums.
Sacksteder’s “The Lightkeeper” life-sized bronze sculpture at Waterworks Park on Port Clinton’s Lake Erie shoreline is a companion to the Port Clinton Lighthouse.
Once on loan to Port Clinton, local art lovers were so enamored by Sacksteder’s sculpture that they quickly raised enough money to buy it.
That undoubtedly has given members of the GPCAAC belief in the success of TAG. New brochures were distributed at last weekend’s open house, and the group announced that it was working to raise $1.3 million to complete the TAG renovation.
Naming rights are being offered, as well as GPCAAC memberships and pledges to support all of the work that yet needs to be done. A 2022 grand opening is in the works as Port Clinton officials continue to poke and prod a long-overdue downtown awakening.
Just two blocks away, the Music on Madison stage will soon be set up on Madison Street, the main drag downtown. About 50 bands have already booked for the summer season for live music on Thursday through Saturday from late May through mid-September.
New businesses are opening this year, and a downtown open container liquor law should encourage people to hang around in Port Clinton, which is finally flexing its muscle as a popular tourist town.
Port Clinton is becoming a place where visitors seek to enjoy music, food, drinks and even perhaps a visit to TAG, and where area artists have longed to create a local art colony.