Arts & Culture Patron: Justin Chenault

Justin Chenault is a Social Architect, trained as a journeyman carpenter, Justin thinks about the building process and the connection or, more often than not, the disconnection of that development process to the end-user. As he moved into the field of community development, he felt a call to address and minimize that disconnection, becoming more involved in the greater Akron community.

What is your earliest memory of the arts (attending a function, organization, or art-making)?

Since I could remember, some form of art has been an intricate part of my life. Sitting on the pews of dozens of churches watching my grandmother(father), a classical pianist performing with her children in a five-part harmony called the King Solomon Chorus. Watching my great uncle, Rev. Willie Lee Scrutchings, a featured artist at the Akron Art Museum, paint at his home in East Akron. Witnessing my grandmother(mother), a master seamstress, make me a pair of shorts in thirty minutes. Going to the tailor with my father, and listening to him ask the tailor to make something they traditionally never had. Creativity is a natural part of my foundation!

What was your first introduction to the arts/culture scene in Summit County?

At home or at my grandmother’s house art supplies were always available. You could always find scraps of construction paper, fabric, glue, and an array of writing utensils. Art was always available and my family created a very nurturing environment to explore your creativity and define your style The art museums and local library programming were my most impressionable memories outside of the family environment. What truly helped manifest my connection to the power of art was the African American Festival at Lane Field, The Sand Pile! These are memories of visual artists’ work that represent my daily experiences in both abstract and realism.

How do arts/culture/environment in Summit County impact your life?

It wasn’t until back from DC in 2016 that I realized how unique the art scene in Summit County is. There is a certain kind of positive pressure here that produces rare gems. I’m very thankful for the experiences I’ve had and those yet to come.

What artist/arts organization in Summit County do you wish more people knew about?

I love what White Rabbit Gallery in Barberton is doing. They have done a fantastic job identifying how to connect with their residents and celebrate a wide range of emerging and accomplished artists. But I’ll also say, I wish we all took more time to see the creativity in ourselves. That’s the true beauty we all need to know!

What is a “can’t miss” Summit County arts/culture/environment experience?

There are so many unique spaces, people, and happenings in Summit County. You can’t miss, experience is waiting for you! Do something new every week, great people are waiting for you.