Launched in May, the new Graffiti HeArt gallery provides a more permanent home for street art. The 4,600-square-foot warehouse houses lasting graffiti and murals as well as rotating gallery shows sprayed onto temporary walls.
It’s also the new headquarters for the Graffiti HeArt nonprofit, providing fair commissions for graffiti artists, as well as workshops for budding creators on topics such as aerosol safety and gallery curation.
The organization has commissioned more than 60 projects in Ohio and Puerto Rico, such as Gordon Square’s More Heart Than Art, and provided $69,500 in scholarships at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Pre-College Program.
“I’ve always envisioned having a gritty warehouse where graffiti artists can come from all over to have a safe place to tag, create and learn the craft in a way that’s transferrable to legal commission work,” says Stamy Paul, who founded Graffiti HeArt in 2013.
That entailed a hefty renovation process, transforming the former school storage facility into a grunge-chic open warehouse.
After buying the space in October 2018, the nonprofit removed drywall to expose the 1903 building’s original brick and replaced the entire roof. It also installed a new HVAC system, bathrooms and a kitchenette that can be used during event rentals.
But the biggest metamorphosis came courtesy Kelly Graval, or RISK, a renowned Southern California graffiti pioneer who was one of the first to tag trains and overpasses.
In late May, he painted Graffiti HeArt’s exterior using a high-pressure spray application. Now, the warehouse is covered in saturated rainbow hues that bleed from one color to the next, like painted rain captured on brick.
“It’s going to be a landmark for people locally and art enthusiasts that follow graffiti are going to want to come and see,” says Paul.
The gallery also includes space for future innovators. After the 2016 demolition of the famed Fun Wall, a free-for-all scrabble of concrete near West 27th Street where taggers honed their skills, Paul hopes to fill the void with an open wall in the building’s courtyard where anyone can paint.
“We’re going to continue to go into the community through public art, corporate or community events,” says Paul. “But now, we’re also going to have a home of our own.”
museums & galleries
8:00 AM EST
July 15, 2019