Planning for Maplewood Mall’s revitalization bash continues

Residents, business owners and other Maplewood Mall supporters came together Wednesday night to discuss plans for the June 22 “Re-Imagining Maplewood Mall” block party.

It’s an event that Gtown Radio founder Jim Bear hopes will spotlight an underused section of Germantown.

Bear and fellow organizer Garlen Capita of Germantown United Community Development Corp. led a session for about 20 planners at Greene Street’s iMPeRFeCT Gallery.

They discussed marketing, funding, food, materials and set-up, art and entertainment for an event which will showcase concepts for a Maplewood Mall make-over developed by the city Planning Commission.

Funding needed

Organizers had hoped a city Activities Fund grant would help cover a portion of the cost, but have since learned that the money would not have been disbursed in time.

While planners hope donated items like tables and chairs, along with volunteer labor, will help keep costs low, items including block-party permits, banners, promotional postcards and sanitary rentals will require funds.

“We’ll have to beg, borrow and solicit,” quipped Bear to the group which brainstormed its way to the idea of crowd-funding the event through a website like Kickstarter.

Call for artists

After attending last month’s Germantown Artists Roundtable meeting, Capita reported avid interest from local artists who can “liven up the mall” on June 22.

While the shoestring budget may have nixed an earlier plan for mural-painted tarps to cover the mall’s vacant storefronts, attendees were full of ideas for integrating the arts into the day.

Roundtable member Andy Walker suggested seeking a one-day donation of televisons and DVD players which could allow presentations of artwork to run on a loop in the mall’s empty spaces.

He also proposed recruiting artists to decorate the two large “kiosk” pillars that “give you the beginning and end of Maplewood Mall.” Streamers, paper lanterns and new plantings will also help to decorate the mall.

Renny Molenaar, co-owner of iMPeRFeCT Gallery, discussed hanging sheets as projector screens in the Mall’s brick courtyard.

One surface could show historical photographs and footage of the Germantown neighborhood, another could display images from Germantown’s contemporary photographers and a third could showcase artwork in other mediums.

Bear urged Maplewood Mall building owners to open their spaces as impromptu galleries for the event.

“We have the energy, we have the ideas,” Bear said. “We just need the physical space.”

Yarn-bomb repeat?

Molenaar also suggested revisiting Saturday’s successful “yarn-bombing” event, when a large group of knitters and crocheters decorated the mall’s posts, stanchions, meters and poles with their own colorful creations.

He said that the handiwork has drawn admirers and fiber-art enthusiasts from across the city; a day-of session would add to the “festive, participatory” air.

Seeking input

Bear also asked for community input on the musical aspect of the celebration, suggesting that Gtown Radio could broadcast live from outside its studio.

Other local performers, including favorites of the Germantown Artists Roundtable and Wired Beans shows, are also hoping to appear, with help from Maplewood Music Studio teachers and students.

“If you say, ‘you can bring your instruments,’ they’ll all show up,” Molenaar said.

The planning committee will meet again on May 15 at Maplewood Mall’s Masonic Lodge (45 Maplewood Mall) at 6:30 p.m.

Those interested in doing so can volunteer their help or share suggestions by emailing

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