After 11 years of serving visual and literary artists through workshops, exhibits, and material resources, PRIZM Creative Community will soon conclude operations. Founder Annette Jensen, pushing back against exclusivity in the art scene, provided an outlet for everyone wanting to create.
The missing link
Jensen moved to the area 20 years ago from the western suburbs of Chicago when her husband was recruited by Block Communications to assist with launching Buckeye TeleSystem Inc. Carol Block invited Jensen to a women’s group made up of an accomplished group of area authors, artists, and writers.
“I really enjoyed being a part of that,” Jensen said. “However, it became obvious to me quite quickly that there were few programs for common, everyday people who just enjoy creating.”
In the art world, new artists have a difficult time starting out. “Even though Toledo has great cultural institutions, traditions and universities that have programs, there seemed to be a missing link in the community,” Jensen said.
In 2007, PRIZM became a non-profit organization to provide a place for “closet artists” who want to create to have a venue to showcase their work. Jensen understood the difficulty for an artist to find exhibit space because “it takes a lot of money and volunteers to create those opportunities.”
With degrees in business management and textiles, Jensen has respect for what it takes to create and market beautiful things. She was influenced by her aunt, an art buyer, who exposed her to different expressions of creativity.
Her move to Toledo presented a new opportunity to pursue this passion.“When I moved here, it was a new beginning,” she said. “My children were getting older, and I thought if I hang out with artists, I’ll learn.”
PRIZM sponsored educational workshops, teaching new techniques to help artists grow. Jensen not only provided these workshops through PRIZM, she also attended and participated in them.
“You might say I’m a Jack-of-all-trades but master of none,” she said. She found that the classes opened up as many creative possibilities to her as they did to other artists. “It kind of demystifies things when you see it done,” she explained.
Now more art related businesses have developed, diversifying the creative community beyond when PRIZM was first founded. Jensen is thrilled with the developments and looks back on the change her organization brought about with satisfaction. “It has been very gratifying to see a large number of people with an opportunity to bring their best work forward and to share that work.”
Many of the ongoing community exhibits that PRIZM began will be carried on by volunteers, including those at the Way Public Library in Perrysburg and those at SamB’s in Bowling Green, where Jensen will still be curating artwork for display. She is also happy to have an opportunity to focus on her own creative pursuits, like designer cake decorating and jewelry design, when not traveling with her newly retired husband. “I’m looking forward to the next
chapter of my life,” she said.