Murals are having a moment.
From Mike Sobeck’s whimsical pepperoni pizza slice smeared across a cinder block building on West 28th Street to Damien Ware’s vibrantly poetic Love Lunes Over Buckeye on Buckeye Road, the public art form seems to be brightening all corners — and brick surfaces — of the city.
Heck, our outdoor art even caught Instagram’s attention (#amazing). After local and international artists partnered to create 11 murals and art installations in Hingetown, the social media company picked Erin Guido and Joe Lanzilotta to create Love Doves — just one of five murals worldwide — in celebration of LGBT pride.
“As soon as art is outside, it kind of becomes everyone’s,” says Guido, a project manager for Land Studio, which has funded 33 murals from local, national and international artists over the past three years.
What Cleveland once regarded as a quick face-lift for blight in the 1970s has now become an exuberant manifestation of our city’s resurgence. “We’re using public art as a means for building community, building culture in a neighborhood and placemaking,” Guido says.
And you thought they were just cool backdrops for your #picoftheday.
Take this spring’s eight murals in the Gordon Square Arts District. As the heart of art on the West Side, the neighborhood is home to Cleveland Public Theatre and Near West Theatre, the beautifully restored Capitol Theatre, live music at the Happy Dog and 60 additional artist studios and galleries in 78th Street Studios.
“The street has to have the same vitality and vibrancy that’s inside the theaters,” Land Studio executive director Greg Peckham said at the project’s ribbon-cutting in May.
Whether it’s Lisa Quine’s typographical Dream Big vision, the whimsical creatures of Justin Michael Will or the explosive Latin-American mythology behind Dante Rodriguez’s mural outside Astoria Cafe & Market, the creative and economic energy builds upon itself like a kaleidoscope.
“I tend to favor the areas that have more public art and more color,” says Will. “It gives people a reason to be there and a reason to embrace it.”
By transforming public spaces such as the three-story green wall on the side of the Centers for Families and Children, which serves nearly 2,000 residents each year, into an accessible free work of art, the city’s artists unveil potential that may have been previously overlooked.
“All of a sudden it changes their world,” says artist Katey Truhn, who painted the mural alongside her partner Jessie Unterhalter. “It’s hopefully making them feel better or positive or hopeful so they can maybe make a change like that, too.”