The gang at Graffiti HeArt is busy this spring helping facilitate public art opportunities for local artists with businesses throughout Northeast Ohio. This weekend, Graffiti HeArt helped organize the production of four new murals at Crocker Park in Westlake. Earlier in the month, Graffiti HeArt helped the CLE Urban Winery commission a mural for its new space in Cleveland Height’s Cedar-Lee District (slated to open July 1).
This weekend, local artists created four new large scale murals in front of mystified viewers and passersby. The artists painted on rollaway garage doors covering the soon-to-be open store fronts of local favorites the CLE Clothing Company, Colossal Cupcakes, D’s Accessories and Kernels by Chrissie. While the murals will be hidden during regular business hours, guests of the neighboring Hyatt are sure to enjoy the murals on early morning or late evening strolls. The murals and accompanying planters add much needed, distinctive character to the ultra-contemporary, (and ever-expanding) suburuban retail metropolis.
“This was a great project for Graffiti HeArt, allowing us to work with the Crocker Park developer and bring urban art into the suburban shopping area provides a whole new dimension and aspect to the area,” says Graffiti HeArt founder Stamy Paul. “This display of public art through local artists while supporting our non-profit organization continues to help get our word out about our mission, ‘To Inspire Health and Art in our Communities,’ and provide opportunities to raise money to fund our Pre-College Program scholarship through the Cleveland Institute of Art.”
Graffiti HeArt invited local artists known for both their street art and fine art gallery work. On Saturday, Rich Cihlar, Bob Peck, Ashley Nagel and Alex Tang worked side-by-side to produce three murals (Cihlar and Nagel worked together). On Sunday, Steve Ehret stopped by to complete the project with a few of his familiar, friendly monsters. The murals are surrounded by tall planters, also painted by local artists, including Bob Peck and The Sign Guy.
“I reached out to some of the artists that I admire and that have done commissioned and volunteer projects for Graffiti HeArt in the past for our cause, and coordinated the project,” explains Paul. “Bob Peck was the main artist that worked with the other artists to curate the four designs with Crocker. Rich Cihlar and Ashley Nagel created the Don't Panic mural, Alex Tang with the old school graffiti mural, Bob Peck with the contemporary mural and Steve Ehret, the monster mural.”
Graffiti HeArt was approached by Stark Enterprises last year about the possibility of incorporating graffiti-style murals into Crocker Park’s new micro-retailer spaces.
“Late last Fall, Stark Enterprises contacted Graffiti HeArt wanting to discuss possibly incorporating graffiti style murals in Crocker Park and their unique space for ‘micro-retailers’ and a pedestrian alley that is being compared to a ‘Fourth Street-esque’ pedestrian alley,” Paul elaborates. “It is between the site of the new six-story Hyatt Place hotel, near the corner of Crocker Road and Union Street, and the new Yard House and Texas de Brazil restaurants.”
In their initial meeting, Stark Enterprises expressed interest in reaching out to international artists from countries with stronger street art cultures. However, Stamy Paul used her experience with local artists to successfully persuade Stark to use local artists to create world class street art.
“Because Cleveland hasn't yet embraced the graffiti street art form that many large cities in the US and abroad have woven throughout their streets as part of the art scene and cultural fabric, the thought was that they would have to go outside Northeast Ohio to find artists that could provide the similar impact," Paul says. "I've had the pleasure of getting to know many of the Northeast Ohio artists and their work and knew that they could definitely show that our very own local artists not only have killer talent, but also draw graffiti and street art enthusiasts from outside of the area just to see their pieces. Part of Graffiti HeArt's purpose is to promote graffiti art and the artists, in part because of the stigma that only faraway places have distinct profound street art. It also exists right here in our back yard.”
The murals are currently on view 24/7 until the micro retail spaces open in May. Then, you’ll have to check them out before or after regular business hours.
Additionally, Graffiti HeArt and Bob Peck teamed up to create a mural for the soon-to-be CLE Urban Winery and its owner Destiny Burns, a Cleveland native, retired Navy officer and volunteer firefighter.
“All of our wine is branded to celebrate the city of Cleveland and its people, landmarks, districts and history,” Burns says. "We are handcrafting wine at our winery from juice imported from around the U.S. and the world. We will have 12 varieties when we open: Four white wines (Chardonnay, Viognier, Pinot Grigio and Riesling), four red wines (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah), three fruit-infused wines (Peach Chardonnay, Blackberry Merlot, Rose) and an ice wine. Handcrafted wine made from superior ingredients and something for everyone's palate. We will also have Cabernet Sauvignon adult slushies!”
The winery is a renovated former garage space. It will be divided into spaces for wine making and wine tasting. Guests will be able to witness the wine making process through large windows between the spaces.
“CLE Urban Winery is a working winery and tasting room in a renovated 1920s former garage space in the Cedar-Lee District of Cleveland Heights,” Burns says. “Our winemaker, Dave Mazzone, earned his Certified Wine Professional certification in Napa Valley, CA and worked in wineries in Napa and Northeast Ohio. He's awesome and will make some great wine! Our winery operations will happen behind large glass windows (and a gorgeous graffiti mural) in full view of our guests so you can really see and experience the process!”
The commissioned mural began as a discussion with Stamy Paul and Graffiti HeArt regarding a philanthropic interest in funding one of Graffiti HeArt’s scholarships for the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Pre-College Program.
“Destiny reached out to Graffiti HeArt and thought we would be a great philanthropy arm of her new winery,” Paul says. “Destiny called me and we discussed her interest in sponsoring a Graffiti HeArt scholarship, which would send an underserved student through the Pre-College Program at the Cleveland Institute of Art while also coordinating a graffiti project in her new space separating her wine making room and the area where patrons will be wine tasting. I contacted local artists and partnered with Bob Peck who also brought in Rus Sands to design and install a wine grape and Cleveland theme in her new winery. The artists installed the mural two weekends ago.”
Giving back is an important part of the business model for CLE Urban Winery. Burns promises more altruistic efforts once the winery opens its doors in July.
“Philanthropy is an important part of our business model,” explains Burns. “In addition to our work with Graffiti HeArt, we have two varieties of wine where a portion of the profits will go to local non-profits and to support first responders and veterans causes. In addition, we will host customer fundraisers as one of our core offerings.”
Additionally, Graffiti HeArt and CLE Urban Winery are discussing plans for more local artwork to fill the space, as well as monthly art-themed events.
“I also suggested the installation of a painted sign behind her bar and contacted a sign painter to install the sign - this will happen in the next couple of weeks,” reveals Paul. “Once opened, we will incorporate local artists' smaller pieces to display in the entryway of the winery. We are also discussing the possibility of hosting a monthly paint night, ‘Graffiti and Grapes.’ We look forward to a long lasting partnership with CLE Urban Winery.”
Interested in making your own wine? CLE Urban Winery allows customers to create your own wine batches with the help of their winemaker. A batch fills about 28 bottles and includes your own custom label. Burns also promises a Wine Club with discounts, special access to winemaking events and members-only receptions. The winery will host events with special areas for groups of 10 to 35, and the whole winery can be reserved for groups of up to 70.
Look for more information closer to the opening this July.
(Crocker Park) 189 Crocker Park Blvd., Westlake, 440-871-6880, crockerpark.com
(CLE Urban Winery) 2108B Lee Rd., Cleveland Hts., cleurbanwinery.com