The newly initiated Downtown Toledo Coffee Cup Awards go not to baristas with the most enticing cups of joe, but to young artists whose work will now grace that steaming cup of coffee purchased at two downtown coffeehouses.
Ben Carr, a junior at Bowsher High School, and Micah Inak, a Lakewood High School senior, were recognized Thursday afternoon during a reception at Claro Coffee Bar, 1801 Adams St.
Micah Inak, 17, of Lakewood High School, left, and Ben Carr, 17, of Bowsher High School, winners of the Downtown Toledo Coffee Cup Award, stand with coffee cups displaying their art Thursday, December 21 at Claro Coffee Bar. The award is one part of the Ninth Congressional District Invitational Art Competition, presented by The Arts Commission and U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) since 1983. The students' artwork will appear on coffee cups around Toledo.
More than 8,000 coffee cups were produced with images of their original art, which they had submitted earlier this year to the Ninth Congressional District Invitational Art Competition by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), and are now available at Claro and Maddie & Bella Coffee Roasters, 44 S. Saint Clair St.
The idea was conceived by Claro operator David Sankovich, who said he was looking for a way to recognize young artists in his shop.
“This is just a cool thing we came up with to honor the artists that would have a synergy with what we are doing,” said Andrew Trumbull, who helped with the process. “These two pieces were high-quality work, but also looked visually striking on cups.”
Sankovich collaborated with the Arts Commission of Greater Toledo, who recommended the coffee shops take a look at the artwork chosen for the Ninth District competition.
“The idea of having local art on coffee cups was something we always wanted to do, we just weren’t sure what that would look like,” Mr. Sankovich said.
The 2017 exhibition organized by Misa Kaptur’s office, which was showcased in February, started in 1983 as a way to showcase young artists’ work from her district.
Libbey Glass has put on a similar contest for the last decade in which Libbey designers choose a piece from the exhibition and create a commercial design from it on its glass tumblers. This year’s winner was Ambrosia Trout, who graduated this spring from Bowsher High School, for her piece, Cascading Cools.
Both the coffee cup contest and the one started at Libbey are designed to make young artists more aware that there is a local market for their work.
“These types of awards and special components of the exhibition are really aimed to highlight how to bring your art to the marketplace ... and have students and young artists see that as an option,” said Michelle Carlson, the arts commission’s artist and youth services coordinator.
The Carr, Inak, and Trout youths were given the awards in February, during the exhibition’s installation at the Fifth Third Center at One SeaGate in downtown Toledo, but the process of getting the cups printed and ready to go took a bit longer than expected, Sankovich said.
The cups were printed by Detpak, a printing company for the food service industry headquartered in Adelaide, Australia, but with a local representative who worked with the coffee shop, Sankovich said. The cups cost 22 cents apiece; Claro paid about $1,800 to get them printed and shipped, he said.
He said the award will be an annual event, and now that they have the inaugural event under their belts, they will expand into other coffee shops in Miss Kaptur’s district.
Artwork created by Ben Carr, 17, of Bowsher High School, left, and Micah Inak, 17, of Lakewood High School is displayed on coffee cups Thursday, December 21, 2017, at Claro Coffee Bar.
Both students used a pen-and-ink medium. Their original pieces will also hang through January in the coffee shops: Carr’s in Maddie & Bella, and Inak’s, called Rivers on my Mind, in Claro.
Ben’s piece, Puzzled, was a high-school art project in which students were told to draw the person in front of them with a pencil that was pushed through a paper plate, hiding the end result until they were finished.
“The only artwork I’ve done has gone home and was hung on the refrigerator,” young Carr said. “Having it distributed is great, but also nerve-racking, because now a lot of people will have thoughts on your art.”
Business and art partnerships are things Miss Kaptur’s office is interested in continuing, said a spokesman from her office, Theresa Morris.
“We have the coffee cup folks and Libbey Glass, but one of the messages we really want to get out there is if anyone really wants to be a part of this momentum, we would really like to have them,” Ms. Morris said.
The 2018 Ninth Congressional District Invitational Art Competition will be displayed in Toledo from March 12 to April 4. Deadline for student submission, through individual district schools, is Feb. 7.
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