Imagine you're in an abandoned clock tower. Now imagine an art studio within that abandoned clock tower. With me so far? Now picture old photos of strangers hanging on charcoal black walls and artifacts from decades past sprinkled over wooden desks, card catalog cabinets, and tables.
Okay, now prop it all up on wooden slats of slate grey, driftwood tan, and sepia brown floors, and you have a solid mental image of The Good King's People's Liberty storefront right now.
Who is The Good King? It's actually more of a what than a who. The Good King is the work of artist Arian Armstrong that exists simultaneously as theater and charity. The physical objects, like dusty pawns roleplaying within a time capsule, work in tandem to paint the illusion of the aforementioned abandoned clock tower-turned-art studio. They beckon you to indulge the fantasy before slowly revealing a very significant reality stacked within a wooden crate filled with clipboards.
Though it's visually striking with an almost Wes Anderson meets Where The Wild Things Are monochrome aesthetic, the mission at the core of The Good King is what it's really all about.
Its real goal is to bring a sense of solidarity and community to those who are "fighting some sort of battle" through art. Arian makes a custom drawing for someone engaged in battle, then copies of it are given to people from the community to color. Once completed, the handmade pages are compiled and given to the proverbial warrior as a way to boost their morale.
The People's Liberty installation of The Good King opened on March 17, and the person for whom the project benefitted at the opening was a little girl named Kelsey. Given the affectionate title of "The Wonder Girl," Kelsey is a five-year-old battling a rare form of leukemia. The Good King created a custom drawing for her, printed it out, put it on clipboards inside a wooden box, and both kids and adults from around the city came to the storefront to color their contribution.
Arian's project isn't one to miss. Who doesn't love to color? And, more importantly, who doesn't love to color for a good cause? People's Liberty will host The Good King until May 12.
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The Good King exists beyond just People's Liberty, too. But if you're looking to color in this beautiful space, head to 1805 Elm Street (45202) across from Findlay Market.