'Canvasing' the Neighborhood

To Joan Perch, art just doesn't imitate life — it creates it.

"Artists bring an incredible synergy to the space they occupy," she explains. "They have this knack for building something where there was nothing."

For the second year in a row, Perch, owner of ArtMetro Gallery in the Colonial Marketplace ARTcade, is leading an art-appreciation class like no other in the second-annual Urban Gallery Hop, which takes place Sept. 17 and 18.

Take a seat on Lolly the Trolley for a tour of Cleveland's galleries and artists' studios — 105 in all — crisscrossing downtown and neighborhoods such as Ohio City, Tremont and Midtown. More than 2,000 people attended last year's inaugural junket.

An advocate for Cleveland's art scene since she opened her first gallery in 1991, Perch says the time is ripe for the artistic community to receive the recognition it deserves.

"When I first entered the business a decade ago, established galleries were doing their own thing and there was no support system in place to help each other out," she recalls.

Perch says she is encouraged that the city's business and tourism sectors are realizing that artists are viable tools for economic development. But there's still work to be done.

"The next challenge is to make sure our regional artists are given the opportunity to make a living right here in Cleveland," she says.

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