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Apr 27

AUTHOR: Jasmine Bejar
CATEGORY: Stories of Impact

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Art & You: Matt Kelley

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Creativity is woven into the soul. More specifically, according to Matt Kelley, “It’s flavor, it’s personality, it’s character. Infrastructure is bones and veins, arts and culture are heart.”

Matt weaves arts and culture into everything he does; it being infused in his blood. His previous job didn’t do much for the betterment of the community, but now as the owner of One Lucky Guitar (OLG), a boutique creative agency in downtown Fort Wayne, it’s an immovable way in how they do business. At OLG, their mission is “We communicate brand soul.”

“By some measures, we’re an ad agency; we call ourselves a boutique creative agency, though, because we’re so much more than just a marketing firm. We help some of our community’s most exciting organizations tell their brand stories, and we actively engage in and support community arts and musical projects that help breathe life into our city.” You may recognize some of OLG’s breadth of soul in our community’s most trusted brands–Fort Wayne Trails, Young Leaders of Northeast Indiana, Start Fort Wayne, Brass Rail, Fort Wayne Philharmonic and, of course, Arts United. They’re also currently working on branding for Riverfront Fort Wayne, which is Matt believes is “important, legacy-level work, and we’re honored to be trusted with it.”

That being said, the creative soul reaches far outside of the 9-5 workday at OLG for Matt. OLG is home to The B-Side, an intimate performance space hosting a wide variety of musical acts. They also started Down the Line tens years ago and held the reigns for four years before moving onto other events (and opening The B-Side).

Outside of life at OLG and The B-Side, Matt carries his passion for music and creativity into the broader community. Matt also co-owns The Good Ones Clothing and serves on the Steering committee for Middle Waves Music Festival.

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Middle Waves comes to Fort Wayne in the form of a music festival, promising to be an incredible, monumental weekend for Fort Wayne coming in the fall of 2016. Middle Wave’s mission is “Momentum has a soundtrack, and it’s loud,” capitalizing and furthering the momentum of the community through the festival. In May, the steering committee is looking forward to announcing the date and initial lineup for Middle Waves. Sign up for the Middle Waves newsletter to have first-hand access to the info.

unnamed (1)Matt also plays mandolin and writes songs in the band The Legendary Train Hoppers. Having just reemerged after a ten year hiatus, The Legendary Train Hoppers are planning an exciting spring/summer, kicking off the Summer Nights at The Embassy on the new rooftop on May 25 (made possible by Arts United’s Amplify Art! grant initiative) and the Living Fort Wayne concert series and performing  at The Brass Rail with MARAH on June 2 (and Matt adds “This will be the best rock show in America on that night, I promise”). Later in the summer, they’ll be doing a special river show on July 21 near Wells Street Bridge.

The community in Fort Wayne has been crucial to Matt. “I’ve found my scene, a couple of scenes really, and I’ve tried to jam them together. That’s a blast. We sometimes say OLG has credibility in the barroom and the boardroom, and that’s exactly what I wanted to prove could be done.”

The creative opportunities in Fort Wayne are involved and abundant. Matt says, “[Art] has made feel alive, vital and in the moment. We have a sign on the wall here at OLG, it’s a quote from a Bob Dylan song, and it says, ‘He not busy being born is busy dying.’

“I think positioning the creative sector as a thought-leader is crucial. Yes, we can build new apartments, but who can’t? The arts make us who we are, they differentiate us, they allow us to offer something that’s irreplaceable.” Matt believes we are moving toward a communal attitude shift from “No, we can’t, we’ve never done that before,” to “Woah, that sounds cool. Not sure what it’ll be like, but let’s give it a go, I’ll try anything.”

We wholeheartedly agree.