Year-round, the Cleveland Plus tapestry of art, culture, music and food puts on its most vibrant and immersive display at the region’s many festivals and gallery hops, but with the onset of strolling weather, now’s the time to fully dive in and explore the offerings at two of the city’s most famous art walks.
On the East Side, the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday weekend each June find the historic Murray Hill neighborhood transformed by the ever-growing Little Italy Art Walk into an all-senses-enriching experience of dance, song, dining, wine tasting and more than 100 art exhibits.
You’ll find dozens of galleries, studios and specialty shops offering limitless exploration, from the Verne Gallery and its renowned Japanese art collection to Galeria Quetzal’s Hispanic folk crafts to the locally-championed Brian Jones Gallery.
And when it’s time to eat, more than 20 neighborhood restaurants mean a great meal, whether you’re in the mood for the rich Italian tradition of La Dolce Vita, the pastries of century-old Presti’s Bakery, or the new Asian cuisine of Tea House Noodles.
Across town, the near west-side Tremont ArtWalk has been a second-Friday-of-the-month institution since 1993, with an eclectic flavor and a close-knit feel all its own. What started as a seven-business combination of energy and resources has since involved more than 20 neighborhood businesses every month – a rotation of participants keeps things constantly fresh – and showcased the works of more than 1000 different artists.
From the recently-opened Aperture Photography and Variety Store to the studios of fourth-generation artist Rob Hartshorn to the mouthwatering creations at Lilly Handmade Chocolates, creativity and craftsmanship are around every corner.
That goes for the Tremont kitchens, too, whether you’re in the mood for the spicy southwest menu of Grumpy’s Cafe or something more out-there, like The South Side’s grilled German bologna on a pretzel roll.
And it’s all just a few steps away.
– Submitted by John Booth, guest blogger
The Cleveland Museum of Art is many things to many people. It’s a highly anticipated field-trip, a first-date, an escape from a hot summer day or cold and snowy afternoon. Free admission year-round makes going to the Cleveland Museum of Art an experience everyone can enjoy, just as founders intended when they proclaimed the museum would be “for the benefit of all the people forever” and a vast collection keeps people coming back for more.
One of Cleveland’s most visited attractions, the Cleveland Museum of Art is currently undergoing a massive $350 million expansion and renovation. Upon completion the museum will offer 20,000 square feet of new educational space and 35,300 square feet of new gallery space for total museum space of 595,500 square feet.
CMA’s collection boasts more than 30,000 works of art ranging over 5,000 years, from ancient Egypt to the present, and includes masterpieces from all over the world. Currently there are more than 40 galleries open with more to come. The museum’s permanent collection includes African Art, Ancient Egyptian Art, Ancient Near East, Greek and Roman Art, American Painting and Sculpture, Contemporary Art, Decorative Art and Design, Drawings, European Painting and Sculpture, 1500 to 1800, Medieval Art, Modern European Painting and Sculpture, Photography and Prints. 13th century through 16th century Europe, Western Medieval, Art of the Americas, Islamic, Textiles, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Indian and Southeast Asian Art will not be on view until the end of the building project.
In addition to the staple permanent collections, each year the museum offers world-class traveling exhibitions, musical performances, educational programs, festivals, guest speakers and a parade which attracts one of the largest crowds of any Cleveland event.
CMA is situated amongst a slew of other popular attractions in Cleveland’s University Circle. The most densely packed square mile of arts and culture in the county, UCI is also home to the Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland Institute of Music, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Glidden House, Case Western Reserve University and more.
– CA and FC
EDITOR’S NOTE: We talked to a few notable Clevelanders and asked them what they liked about Northeast Ohio. Here’s Derek Hess, renowned music industry artist.
Were you born in Cleveland?
I was born in University Circle.
And what part of town do you live in now?
I live downtown off Superior in a warehouse close to the Plain Dealer building. I’m digging it. I’ve been three years now.
What’s the best thing about your neighborhood?
It’s a really wide street so it’s easy to make u-turns. Slyman’s Restaurant is a few blocks over and of course I dig Slyman’s.
What’s your favorite restaurant?
I like the Mad Greek in Cleveland Heights. I’m 46 and getting up there. I was going to that place in the sixth grade. That just shows that a good restaurant lasts. That place has been around for decades.
What do you like best about living in Cleveland?
I have a handful of things. Number one, we live on one of the Great Lakes. One thing that’s important is that they’re the largest source of fresh water in the world. That resource is going to be one of the most desirable things in the next 50 years if not in the next decade. Our water isn’t going anywhere. Houston is out of water, L.A. is out of water and Las Vegas is out of water. Deserts weren’t made to have millions of people living there. Also, the sports teams are great. I live and die by the Browns. They play right on the lake and it’s an open air stadium on a natural turf. I like all of that. I like the climate, the season changes. We’re blessed with that. Nothing gets stagnant. The location is great. We’re not too far from the East Coast. We’re close to Chicago. A lot of businesses can be run from Cleveland and be successful without the expenses of a larger metropolitan area. Those are a few of the things I really dig.
Culture can widen the mind and spirit, but it takes a community to bring the two together. Just look at an enclave like Little Italy, where mind and spirit have never been closer. As the Italian cultural center of northeast Ohio — located at the base of Murray Hill, between University Circle and Cleveland Heights on the east side — Little Italy is a place where art, food, faith and frame of mind congregate in the spirit of a classic neighborhood.
“I enjoy the true sense of community and the warmth of the people,” says Father Philip Racco, pastor at the Holy Rosary Church (Little Italy’s epicenter for catholic culture). “For newcomers, it still has that sense of a neighborhood. You walk out the door and you don’t feel estranged. You feel connection.”
Community spirit certainly starts at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church (216.421.2995), the Baroque-styled house of worship, founded in 1892, that still celebrates mass daily. The parish has hosted Little Italy’s biggest celebration for the last 112 years — The Feast of the Assumption — that is a mixture of faith and fun that includes a four-day street fair with rides, food and live music.
“You might say the celebration that happens in the church pours out in the street,” says Father Racco. “The Feast of the Assumption is a celebration of life. Therefore celebrating at the height of summer with the bounty of summer — the food, the festivities and the music — is most appropriate.”
The church’s old-world charm spills out into the community as well, a blend of well-preserved homes, neighborhood bistros and more than 55 artist studios, galleries and boutique shops.
“The neighborhood certainly has its color,” says Jerry Keller of Keller Art Glass (216.721.0314 or http://www.kellerartglass.com) who’s been redefining the warm glass art world for the past 37 years with his glass guitars, mirrors and stained and etched glass windows. “The brick street has turn-of-the-century buildings made of stone with long-standing inhabitants that mix with college students and the newly hip.”
Whether it’s framing, photography, sculpture, painting or glass, Little Italy can probably satisfy your distinctive taste. But, speaking of tastes, what probably draws the most visitors to Little Italy all year around is its amazing variety of bakeries, cafés, bistros and cantinas. Chef Boyardee opened his first restaurant, Il Giardino d’Italia, in Little Italy in the 1940s, and today the neighborhood still has some of the best Italian eateries in Ohio, including the oldest restaurant in Cleveland, Guarino’s established in 1918 (216.231.3100).
“Our cooking today is as it was 90 years ago,” says owner Nancy Phillips, long time family friend of the original Guarinos and owner for 25 years. “And the [décor] style is still Victorian — much as it looked in 1918. One of my seven children tells me I should change it. I said I’m not changing anything. This is the way it was when I was a little girl and it’s staying this way. Sometimes people like to step back in history. Sometimes we’re in too much of a hurry to black-and-white tile everything — to glass everything — to polyurethane everything. People forget about the old woods and the antiques. And here it’s all still this way.”
Visiting Little Italy today is not so different than when immigrant stone cutters, masons and bricklayers, carving local streets and cemetery stones, started the community in 1885. The people have changed, the businesses have evolved, the church has receded and grown, but Little Italy still retains its nostalgic neighborhood charm and spirit. – Submitted by guest blogger Keith Gribbins
Cleveland Plus is home to some pretty artsy community festivals. SparxCity Hop, Cleveland International Film Festival, Cain Park Arts Festival, Ingenuity and Parade the Circle are among them. But an edgy new addition is entering the scene this year . . . the Weapons of Mass Creation arts, film and music fest is slated to debut May 22 + 23 at Parish Hall in the Gordon Square Arts District. The brainchild of Jeff Finley, co-owner of Go Media, the two-day event features a pretty impressive array of designers, illustrators, entrepreneurs, musicians and filmmakers showcasing their talents and participating in roundtable discussions and workshops. Excited to see a new event on the artistic horizon, we gave Finley a call to explore his vision for Weapons of Mass Creation. Here’s a little of what he had to say:
SF: What got you started on this idea?
JF: I’d been going to events like Gainesville’s The Fest and Berea Fest and thinking they were inspiring. I even did a poster for the DIT Fest in Kent. I liked the bands at these festivals, but even more I liked initiative people were taking to organize these events. It was really positive. I decided I wanted to have a little artistic control and curate my own event. I just felt compelled . . . like someone needs to do this so it’s gonna be me. And I was pretty passionate about having arts and film incorporated in to whatever I was creating.
SF: How would you sum up this festival?
The Cleveland Institute of Art was originally founded in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. It wasn’t until 1949 that the school would officially become known as The Cleveland Institute of Art and in 1956 would find a new home at its present location in University Circle amongst the cultural gems of Cleveland. As part of one of the most densely packed square mile of arts and culture in the country, CIA fits right in offering top-notch education to aspiring artists. From somewhat humble beginnings, the Instute’s reputation has grown and it is now among the top professional art and design schools in the country.
Public programming at CIA includes a lengthy list of national and international exhibitions, visiting lecturers, faculty and student artwork, a film series and continuing education programs for people of all ages and abilities. Here are some ways you can take advantage of all the Cleveland Institute of Art has to offer:
Gallery Exhibitions Wander into CIA’s Reinberger Galleries located in the Gund Building at 11141 East Boulevard. These free galleries serve CIA art students, faculty and the community as an educational resource. Gallery hours are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday 10am-5pm, Friday 10am-9pm and Saturday 10am-5pm.
CIA Cinematheque The Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque presents movies in the 616-seat Russell B. Aitken Auditorium located in the Gund Building at the corner of East Boulevard and Bellflower Road in University Circle. CIA shows more than 250 films each year including indie films and classics you probably won’t see elsewhere. Admission is $8 and concessions won’t break the bank. Park for free in the adjacent CIA lot. Click here for this week’s film schedule and here for an extended schedule.
Lecture Series The Visiting Artist Program invites artists of regional, national and international renown to CIA to foster the exchange of ideas and methods and to enhance education.
Check CIA’s website for evening lectures and don’t miss Lunchtime Lectures each Friday from 12-1pm when a visiting artist discusses their work and takes questions. Lectures showcase a wide variety of presenters who are active in fine arts and design. Lunchtime lectures are free and open to the public.
For more information visit www.cia.edu. –Submitted by CA
You may be familiar with the always free Cleveland Museum of Art unveiling renovations one amazing gallery at a time, or the well-known Akron Art Museum, but did you know that Cleveland Plus is also home to the largest art gallery between Chicago and New York? Recently, I had the opportunity to visit four Cleveland art galleries where I met some of the friendliest locals and learned that the region’s art scene is both inviting and affordable.
The Brian Jones Gallery
2021 Murray Hill Road, Cleveland
216.229.5110 / www.brianjonesart.com
In 1999 Brian Jones, a native Clevelander, decided to pick up a paint brush. With no formal training and a little encouragement from his daughter, he quickly took to the hobby. Today, his colorful pieces can be found in 38 states and nine countries and now in his charming Little Italy gallery on Cleveland’s near east side. Packed with Italian eateries, boutique shopping and a handful of galleries, Little Italy is a popular Cleveland spot for tourists and locals alike and the perfect place for him to display his eclectic taste and bright palette. Jones offers original pieces as well as prints at varying price points providing something for everyone. He also showcases work by local sculptors. Note: Cleveland’s historic Little Italy neighborhood dedicates the first weekend of June to their annual art walk. More than 20 galleries and studios feature international, national and regional art in all media. Meet visiting artists and browse special exhibits featured throughout the galleries and shops.
The Bonfoey Gallery
1710 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland
216.621.0178 / www.bonfoey.com
Monday-Thursday-8:30am-5:30pm, Friday-8:30am-4pm and Saturday-9am-3pm
Established in 1893, The Bonfoey Gallery is Cleveland’s oldest, most comprehensive gallery and the largest art gallery between Chicago and New York. Making no waste of their 14,000 square feet, Bonfoey offers a wide selection of artwork in various mediums from both regional and national artists, custom framing (thanks to a huge storage of various moldings and frames), art appraisal and art restoration. The gallery also offers professional artwork installation in corporate or residential settings, as well as full-scale pick-up and delivery services. Art consultants can provide on-site consultation in the home or office to help you choose pieces and arrange them appropriately. For more information or to schedule an appointment to meet with a consultant call 216.621.7033.
MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland
8501 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland
216.421.8671 / www.mocacleveland.org
Tuesday- Saturday-11am-5pm and Wednesday-11am-5pm
As Cleveland’s forum for interpreting culture through contemporary visual art, MOCA Cleveland connects visitors to the dynamic art and ideas of our time. MOCA, now in its 42nd year, started as the New Gallery in a small storefront on Euclid Avenue. Today, you’ll find the museum housed in a series of converted Roebuck’s Department store spaces connected to the Cleveland Play House on Carnegie Avenue (parking is free in the Cleveland Play House lot if no events are being held). MOCA hosts between nine and 12 exhibits per year, changing every three to four months in more than 10,000 square feet of space. In addition to not having a permanent collection, they generally focus on living artists or artists from the past 50 years, many of whom are regional. MOCA is always free on Fridays and it takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to make your way through the museum. The guards are very knowledgeable and always willing to answer questions. But, if you’re interested in more information while touring the museum, use their guide-by-cell program. Small icons on labels indicate a number you can call to hear the artist speak more about a particular piece. (They have a version for children too!)
1305 West 80th Street, Cleveland (Located within 78th Street Studios)
216.832.8212 / www.wgsproductions.com
Kokoon Arts is more like a large living room than a gallery. An intimate setting provides a place to sit and chat and eclectic art lines the walls throughout the space. On view is both contemporary and historic work largely from Northeast Ohio, changing every three months or so as well as the occasional exhibit from artists outside of the region to keep Clevelanders educated on what’s happening elsewhere.
Kokoon Arts, part of the 78th Street Studios, is located on Cleveland’s west side in the up-and-coming Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. The building itself is incredibly charming, housing Kokoon Arts as well as several other galleries and workspaces. Monthly openings take place on the third Friday of the month allowing visitors the freedom to roam five world-class art galleries, tour artist studio space and explore architectural design, art auction, art supply, clothing design and music and entertainment businesses. –Submitted by CA
For 14 years, both visitors and locals have gathered in Tremont on the second Friday of each month to explore the ever-changing Cleveland neighborhood. The first Tremont ArtWalk took place on February 12, 1993 with just seven businesses combining energy and resource to showcase the area. Over the last 14 years, more than 100 Tremont businesses have participated in their successful quest to introduce the popular near-westside neighborhood to curious travelers and enthused locals.
Explore Tremont today and you’ll stumble upon trendy shopping, culinary gems, great pubs and art galleries galore. The eclectic mix of Tremont offerings proves to have a little something for everyone. From handmade chocolates and local artistic creations to exciting restaurants with or by great chefs (Dante Buccozzi, Rocco Whalen, Pete Joyce, Michael Symon, etc.), there’s plenty to see, taste, do (and in which to indulge).
The Tremont Artwalk, an exciting night out for both newbies and Tremont regulars, happens the second Friday of each month and participating businesses are listed online prior to then. Hop online ahead of time to map your destinations if you’re unfamiliar with the area and check back often for new additions. Look for special offerings at some artwalk locations.
For other information about the Tremont Artwalk visit www.tremontartwalk.org.
Click here for a few more photos from the most recent Tremont Artwalk. –Sumbitted by CA
EDITOR’S NOTE: Little Italy’s Artwalk takes place annually in June, October and December. Visit the Little Italy or Murray Hill Art Walk websites for more information. Meanwhile, the multi-location Sparx City Hop takes place September 11, 2010 from noon-midnight. Click here for more information.