Americans for the Arts

Well grounded in the arts, BG coffee shop gets national recognition

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News The one of the first events Grounds for Thought  hosted after the coffee shop’s founding 30 years ago was a concert featuring Indian music on violin and tabla. The beat has gone on ever since. Whether its art created by Wicks’ mother, Sandy, who started the shop with her husband, Jerry Wicks, or art exhibited by community artists from pre-schoolers to elders, the walls and windows have showcased the community’s creativity. Randy Bennett painting in Grounds for Thought during the 2017 Art Walk. The shop has served as a venue for musicians of all styles, from free form improvisations to bluegrass to psychedelic rock. Poets, fiction writers, and journalists have all said their piece in the place.  That support has literally spilled out into the streets — members of the Wicks family were key players in starting and nurturing the Black Swamp Arts Festival, and Laura Wicks, Kelly Wicks’ wife and shop co-owner, was one of a group of downtown female business owners who launched Firefly Nights Summer Festival series last summer. The shop sells used books as well as the newest publications by local authors. It sells used records, as well as new vinyl releases recorded in house by some of its favorite acts. That Grounds is an epicenter of the arts is well recognized locally. Now a national arts group Americans for the Arts has taken notice of what locals have long know, and honored the coffee shop with a 2019 Arts and  Business Partnership Award. The family-owned business is honored along with Nokia, Omaha Steaks, Warby Parker, and Northwestern Mutual. Previous years winners include corporate behemoths Microsoft, Hallmark, Scholastic, and Walt Disney World Resort. The Grand Ukulelists of the Black Swamp (GRUBS) perform. The award recognizes businesses “that have mutually beneficial, innovative, and sustained partnerships with the arts,” the Americans for the Arts’ announcement of this year’s winners stated. “These companies set the standard for excellence and serve as role models for others to follow.” Wicks said he was proud that Grounds was the only company from Ohio recognized this year, not to mention the smallest by far. The award is not just recognition for the coffee shop, he said. “It really speaks to all the great art there is in the community. If it wasn’t for all the poets and musicians and artists that are right here in our own…