GARY LOCKWOOD : Co-Founder and Arts Consultant
I can trace my involvement in cultural arts to 1952. It started with dance and theater, but it was much more than that. Studio Theater in Painesville, Ohio was where it all started. Bettie Kerr Gray and Gordon Dallas Gray were the husband and wife team that gave me my start. Bettie with the dance and theater, Gordy built the sets and put the show together along with Bettie. Add to that my mother was a costume maker, and you have my beginning. By being involved in all parts of the production and watching it all go together, I fell in love with producing. Also in my family there was and is a Jazz piano player, artist, and a writer. Cultural involvement came early and has stayed with me through out the years. I was in the Air Force from 1961 until 1965 and was involved in theater productions throughout my military years. I returned to Northeastern Ohio in spring of 1965 and got a job at an old Beatnik hang out on the east side of Cleveland called 'La Cove.' It featured food, coffee, beer and folk music. I started as a waiter (not a very good one) and was moved to dressing room attendant and back stage manager. That really cemented my love for production and gave me my basic knowledge of how it all works.
Throughout the 60's I was involved in many different cultural events large and small, then I landed in Kent, Ohio in the summer of 1969. At that time I met and worked with the folks that ran a coffee house called “The Yellow Unicorn” in the basement of the Unitarian Church in Kent. We had local as well as some national acts, Rev. Gary Davis, Joe Walsh are a couple. It was at this time I met the owner of a local club, “The Kent Kove,” who wanted to book some blues acts. I said I wouldget him information needed to book the Blues. I went to the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, in Michigan, intent on meeting Blues artists and getting booking information. For the first two days I had no luck. Then a Jazz musician named Archie Shepp heard me say that I had work for some of the musicians and said he would get me backstage. It only took a few minutes before I had an all access pass. He also took time to introduce me to John Lee Hooker, Hound Dog Taylor, Buddy Guy and Junior Wells, Freddie King and Luther Allison and many more blues and jazz artists. All of this led to me becoming friends, road manager and sound man with Luther Allison. That took me full circle and back to The Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival of 1972 where Luther was the closing act. At this time I met John Sinclair, who was the producer of the festival and Executive Director of Rainbow Multimedia. He hired me to manage Rainbow Sound Company and to be his assistant. Rainbow Sound Company consisted of a mobile 16 track recording studio, a white 1923 Steinway baby grand piano, and a live concert sound system. I worked in all aspects of producing events with Rainbow Multimedia.
I moved back to Kent, Ohio in 1976 and started working with Guy Pernetti and his company, GMP Multimedia, as a recording engineer and a sound engineer. In 1980 I bought a small tavern in Kent, with Dana Long, called Walters Café. It for years had been a watering hole for artist, poets, factory worker, bikers and university students and professors. Walters Café was a small tavern with a restaurant that served food from 6:00am until 2:00pm and I thought it could be more. I added Taco Tonto's, Folk music on Friday evenings then Jazz on Tuesdays with a monthly poetry reading that featured poets from across the country.
It was also at this time that I founded with Gary Warob, “The Kent Creative Arts Guild,” a 501 (c) 3 non-profit art organization. We produced many folk and jazz shows plus a modern dance which I wrote, directed, choreographed and co-composed the music with Halim El-Dabh entitled 'A Modern Dance From Saturn. We also produced the Wild Flowers Festival at Towner's Woods along with Kent's first October Fest. Also at this time I was working as a consultant and sound engineer for The Detroit Jazz Center and Allied Artist, both in Detroit, Michigan.
I moved to Northern Wisconsin in the middle 80's to race on a professional sled dog racing circuit. At this time I went to work at Windsor Lake Studio in Eagle River, Wisconsin. This was a full service movie studio and I was the assistant studio manager working directly with the owner who produced motion pictures. I also designed and directed a community out reach program for local business and schools. Also at this time I was on the community advisory board at WXPR an independent public radio station in Rhinelander, Wisconsin. It was during this time I founded The Obscure Poets Society, in Rhinelander and I opened The Smiling Fox Gallery in Phelps, Wisconsin.
I started consulting for The North Water Street Gallery in 1993 and moved back to Kent in 1997. Once here, I thought I would get involved with cultural arts in Kent once again, which takes me to Jeff Ingram's dining room table. After many, many hours of talking about what is important to us, we founded Standing Rock Cultural Arts Inc. We are a multi-media organization which features a learning experience with each of our cultural events. It is our mission to bring new life into downtown Kent through cultural events.