Prizm News / July 1, 2018 / By Austin Mariasy
Matthew Taylor at the wall he designed and painted with artist Mede on Adams Street in Downtown Toledo. The Love Wall will be the site of the third Toledo Loves Love Fest, to benefit Equality Toledo, on Saturday, July 14. (Prizm photo by Austin Mariasy)

The colorful two-story statement has quickly become a local icon in Northwest Ohio.

 

By Austin Mariasy

Toledo loves love. That’s what it says on the wall, and when you’re driving Downtown along Adams Street, you can’t miss it. The Toledo Loves Love mural—the Love Wall, as it has become known—covers the entire side of a building and has become something of a landmark for the city.

It even has its own festival, which will return for the third year on Saturday, July 14. The Toledo Loves Love Fest, which benefits Equality Toledo, will take place at the two-story, 65-foot-long wall that Toledo loves.

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The address is 1209 Adams St., on the side of the building that houses the gay bar, Georgjz 419.

The Love Wall was painted in 2012 by local artists Matt Taylor and Chad Kupp, who go by the noms de plume Mr. Taylor and Mede. With help from Art Corner Toledo, a group dedicated to beautifying the city through public art and other efforts, they spent months working together designing the wall to bring a little light and brightness to Downtown.

“Toledo had a need for some public art,” Taylor says. “We were seeing a couple murals pop up, and it excited me because I love seeing street art in other cities. It’s also a great way to have a voice.”

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Watch Toledo’s Love Wall go up in this time-lapse video:

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The Love Wall has certainly given a voice to Toledo’s LGBTQ community. What started out simply as an art piece with a message of love has turned into a focal point to which LGBTQ Toledoans flock. Countless couples have posed there for engagement or prom photos or a quick selfie.

Rachel Richardson, director of Art Corner Toledo, says she was moved to commission the mural by her best friend, who six years ago was unable to marry her girlfriend because marriage equality was not yet the law of the land in Ohio. She was also fired up by controversies involving the Chick-Fil-A fast-food chain’s support of anti-marriage and anti-LGBTQ causes.

“I was inspired that summer because it was my best friend’s wedding. You know you get all sparkly in your heart when that happens,” Richardson says. “The ugliness of [Chick-Fil-A], coupled with my best friend’s wedding: It was in there, I was inspired by it. I was hurt by it, and I had to say something.”

About that time, Kupp reached out to Richardson because he knew she had recently commissioned a big mural elsewhere in the city and had connections with other artists. Kupp was looking to do a large, public piece and wanted to collaborate with Taylor.

The festival benefits Equality Toledo, which works to eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.

A lightbulb went off in Richardson’s head.

The project took only three months from start to finish, including planning and execution. When it was finished, the wall was a combination of black and white geometric forms meshed with rainbow-colored, free-flowing shapes that had a message of hope, equality and love.

Analese Alvarez, executive director of Equality Toledo, says she began using the wall as a navigational aid when she first moved to Toledo. Toledo Loves Love Fest organizer Brent Rabie hopes it will be a beacon again this month.

“Of all the murals in Toledo, this is the one everyone knows.”

Austin Mariasy is a Toledo native who is studying photojournalism at Kent State University. You can see more of his work at austinmariasy.com.

Bob Vitale
Bob Vitale is the editor of Prizm. A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, he has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield. Contact: BobVitale@prizmnews.com