The Cleveland Museum of Art
The CMA is one of only a few major metropolitan museums whose regular admission is completely free, letting visitors lose themselves for days in the epic sweep of art history from ancient Egypt to the Renaissance to Pop Art. However, entrance to special exhibitions can put you back $15 if you're not a member, or you can fork over a few bucks to rent an iPad for additional info on the exhibits. Special events, like concerts or MIX cocktail night, can also get pricy. Located at 11150 East Blvd. Call 216-421-7350, or go to clevelandart.org
You've marveled at its architecture, now step inside and be intrigued by MOCA's galleries and performances. Their exhibitions are few, but each is ponderable enough to take up an entire afternoon, if you can put yourself in a generous frame of mind. Admission is $8, with discounts for students and seniors. If you don't take the bus, parking will lighten your wallet, too. Located at 11400 Euclid Ave. Call 216-421-8671 or go to mocacleveland.org
William Busta Gallery
Representing some of the most impressive homegrown talent, the William Busta Gallery recently celebrated a quarter century of dealing art. For much of its existence, it has boasted a well-earned national reputation that's been boosted by the New York Times. Located at 2731 Prospect Ave.. Call 216-298-9071 or go to williambustagallery.com.
For art that will make you question the definition of the term, Northeast Ohio offers no better venue. Scratch your head and expand your mind at their free quarterly exhibits, or the public art projects that can wind all around the city. Donations (or the purchase of a beer or glass of wine or two) at opening receptions are always appreciated, but admission is always free. Located at 2220 Superior Viaduct. Call 216-621-2314 or go to spacesgallery.org.
Tregoning and Company
No other gallery is so fluently in conversation with art's past. Recent exhibits have surveyed the work of an overlooked Abstract Expressionist, recreated photographic techniques of the 19th century, and even been paired with museum-quality catalogs situating displayed works in historic context. Located at 1300 West 78th St. Call 216-281-8626 or go to tregoningandco.com.
Doubting Thomas Gallery
One of Tremont's most fun Second Friday destinations, DTG has hosted group shows with off-the-wall themes like cats and Day Glo's screaming colors. Yet affiliated artists' senses of humor don't detract from careful attention to their craft. Located at 856 Jefferson Ave. Search for Doubting Thomas Gallery on Facebook.
Rotten Meat Gallery
Here you'll find a perfect balance of traditional painting and sculpture—often by intriguing up-and-comers or promising students—and unironic tributes to movies, TV and music in everything from fine art media to crafts to elaborately painted table top game figurines. Located at 1814 East 40th, Suite 4B. Call 216-469-4896 or go to rottenmeatgallery.com.
Gen Y' s pop paradise is a boutique of locally made T-shirts, prints, and fine art inspired by music, scifi movies, comic books, and more. Located at 17020 Madison Ave, Lakewood. Call 216-767-5610 or go to breakneckgallery.com.
River Gallery Art
Fine art ceramics, crystal, jewelry, decorative metalwork, and all things shining are to be found here. A rotating collection of local fine artists and crafts people exhibit their wares in this suburban boutique. Located at 19046 Old Detroit Rd, Rocky River. Call 440-331-8406 or go to rivergalleryarts.com.
Cleveland West Arts League
Maybe the most unpredictable arts collective in the region, CWAL's members will display anything from heartbreakingly sensitive portraits to mind-bending abstractions to painted reinterpretations of their favorite horror movie scenes. 1305 West 80th St., clevelandwestartleague.com.
When we say that Ingenuity Fest is a celebration of throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, we mean it in the best way. Billed as the place where the peanut butter of technology and the chocolate of art meet, the September festival features avant-garde installations, live music, unique performances, and DIY craft zones for kids and adults. Admission is a few bucks, and you're likely to shed a few more on concessions or a weird local vendor. Go to ingenuitycleveland.com.
Tremont Art Walk
Photography! Paintings! Books! Vintage miscellanea! Booze! The revival of the Tremont neighborhood is indebted in no small way to the creative types who have holed up in the area, and who open up their doors the second Friday of every month. You can look at all the art you want for free (but of course buying is always appreciated), but you'll be helpless not to lay down some cash for dinner and drinks at Tremont Tap House, or dessert at A Cookie and a Cupcake. Go to tremontartwalk.com.
78th St. Studios Third Friday
Don't be afraid to ask for directions! Yes, the former American Greetings complexes sprawling between West 78th and 80th Streets are big and confusing, but it's worth learning the lay of the land so you can visit 20 galleries on the third Friday of every month. You'll find everything from uncorrupted students displaying for the first time, to some of Cleveland's most accomplished living artists, to antiques from the 1920s when Cleveland was a vanguard of Modernism in America. It's an adventure twelve times a year. Go to 78thstreetstudios.com.