Floor-to-ceiling branches decorate the corners of Susie Frazier's new 78th Street Studios art gallery. Bark, leaves and driftwood that she's collected from the Cleveland Metroparks and Lake Erie shores are glued in frames on the walls, used as centerpieces on tables and included in ceiling fixtures.
"Nature is so integral in so many aspects of how you live," she says.
The 40-year-old organic fine artist started her career in 1997 by using century-old slate roofing tiles to create high-end mosaic furniture and home accessories. When she discovered that the dust from her materials was poisoning her bloodstream, she switched to a more holistic medium.
"It just hit me that to heal from some of the stuff I'm going through, I've got to reconnect and get grounded," she says.
Frazier is well-known in Cleveland for creating destinations. She co-founded Sparx in the City, the organization behind Ohio's largest art-walk event, Gallery Hop, and was contracted to redesign the Gordon Square Arts District's streetscape in 2007.
Her new space is part gallery, part boutique. It encompasses her fine art, high-end furniture, and products from her retail, lifestyle brand Earthminded Art that she started in 2002. Using organic materials, she creates pieces such as a ring made out of driftwood ($35) and place mats with her photographs of grasses and volcanic rock sealed onto masonite ($40).
"[Being able to] go and hide in the Metroparks or go wander the beaches, we're so lucky to be here, truly," she says.
Frazier's ultimate dream is to see 78th Street Studios built up where hundreds of local artists can show and sell their goods.
"I don't know how it's going to happen," she says, "but [78th Street Studios] is a perfect model of what could be done even bigger."
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