Art of the Cut event at the Toledo Museum of Art showcases barbers’ artistic ability
The Toledo Museum of Art’s GlasSalon will be turned into a community barbershop Feb. 17 with local Black barbers demonstrating their artistic abilities as they perform 16 haircuts in four rounds inspired by styles through the decades from 1950s to 2000s along with a final round inspired by works in the TMA collection.
The Art of the Cut, which runs from 3 to 7 p.m., examines the intersection of art and health while celebrating local Black barbers and their roles as artists and men’s wellness advocates. The event is sponsored by Circle, a Museum affinity group whose diverse, civically, and culturally engaged members work with TMA to develop new, innovative ways of connecting the Toledo community with the Museum and with art.
“When Circle was relaunched in July 2018, its mission became to engage new audiences with the Museum through inclusive and innovative programming at the intersection of art and wellness,” explained TMA Leadership Fellow Alyssa Greenberg. “This event crystallizes that mission and is the perfect way to honor the barbers, who are artists, community leaders, and men's wellness advocates.”
The positive effect that art can have on health is often overlooked, Greenberg said.
“The Art of the Cut demonstrates the intersection between art and health. The event positions art as something that is a positive social good, art is for everyone, art is even for people who think art is not for me," she said. “For the barbers, their effectiveness as community leaders and men's wellness advocates has everything to do with their capacity as artists.”
To prepare for the final round, where the haircuts will be inspired by the TMA collection, the participating barbers toured the Museum.
“It was a wonderful experience to see how the collection influenced the barbers as they walked through the galleries,” Greenberg said. “I am excited to see how the inspiration the barbers found during tours translate to the haircuts.”
These predominantly African American barbershops are among the participants in ProMedica’s Barbershop Health and Wellness Program, which provides barbers education on prostate cancer and other screening as well as health educational materials for barbers to distribute to their clients.
“The barbershop program is about fostering trusting relationships between the community and health care providers while providing health screenings, health education, and resource information,” explained ProMedica Cancer Institute Community Liaison Robin Charney, who leads the program. “The response from the barbers has been phenomenal. They have the ear and the trust of the community and have allowed us to expand our health education and screening efforts.”
Events like Art of the Cut celebrates those community connections, she said.
“Art presents us with an opportunity to bring the community closer,” Charney said. “Every encounter we have with each other is an opportunity for wellness.”
Les Levesque from Tal Mon is one of the participating barbers and saw the wellness program as an important way to help his clients.
“Health and haircuts are two things that everyone needs so it was a natural fit to help educate my clients and the community about health screenings,” he said.
He wanted to participate in The Art of The Cut because of its opportunity to bring people together.
“We live in a divided society, so this is an important opportunity to bring people together for a cause,” said Levesque, who learned how to cut a variety of hair to serve his diverse clientele.
He first stated to realize the artistic nature of barbering when he could visualize something and then create it for a client.
“I could look at something and see something more,” he said. “I look at an apple but don’t just see an apple. I see apple juice, applesauce and apple pie.”
The Museum tour helped broaden his vision on how creative people can be.
“There wasn’t one particular piece that inspired me but seeing all of it made me want to be even more creative with a haircut,” said Levesque.
Joining Levesque as co-hosts are Jamal Grant (Da Shop), Tawann Gaston (Groomed), Stacey Fletcher (Fletcher's), Steve Parker (Steve's Sport-n-Cuts), and James Foster (James Foster).
Inspired by hair shows and fashion runways, the event will feature a live DJ and cash bar. The dress code is "Barbershop Sharp." ProMedica representatives will share health screening opportunities across Toledo’s neighborhoods as well as share health facts through trivia questions between rounds of haircutting.
The event is free, but registration is required. Registration is currently full, but a waitlist is available. To sign-up for the waitlist, visit https://www.toledomuseum.org/visit/events/sold-out-circle-event-art-cut.