Canopy Collective, 3204 Studios Organize 'Smallest Artwalk in Cleveland History'

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This Friday, Canopy Collective and 3204 Studios once again partner for what Canopy owner Erika Durham describes as “The smallest artwalk in Cleveland history.” Both galleries host opening receptions for new exhibitions. 3204 Studios presents SummerSlam, a 90s pro wrestling-themed group art exhibition, while Canopy hosts Victor Melaragno’s whimsical, cartoon monsters.

“We at Canopy are excited to be doing another show in tandem with 3204 Studios,” says Durham. “Our galleries are seven blocks away from one another so you can go back and forth easily between the two.”

Before Canopy opened its doors, the space was formerly known as BUCKBUCK Gallery. During its run, local artist Mike Sobeck played a major role in exhibitions at BUCKBUCK. After BUCKBUCK closed, Sobeck found new studio space just down the street at 3204 Lorain Ave. 3204 Studios opened around the same time as Canopy, but only recently began organizing art exhibitions and public receptions.

“The space is mostly a studio space,” Sobeck says. “It replaced BUCKBUCK for me when we had to close up. I've been in it for a year and a half now, and just recently decided to use it as a gallery too. I personally handle all of the gallery aspect, and it's still a work in progress. Elaine Hullihen and Allison Polgar are the two artists that share the space with me. It seemed like a good opportunity to team up with Canopy to create a small art walk along with the other new attractions to Lorain Avenue such as the Plum Café & Kitchen, Platform Brewery and the B and G Tavern.”

From 7 to 11 p.m. this Friday, July 22, 3204 Studios presents SummerSlam, a group exhibition featuring new, pro wrestling-inspired work by local artists Grace Frank, Jason Look and Mike Sobeck.

“SummerSlam is a celebration of 90s wrestling and all the great characters that came from that era,” Sobeck explains. “Grace Frank creates intricate recreations of wrestlers such as Randy Savage and Sting using cut paper. Jason Look's mixed media drawings use cut outs from old magazines that he mixes with ink drawings. The inspiration for me is coming from the Cavs and their wrestling gear. I'm doing mashup drawings of Cavs players and wrestlers. I was so surprised to hear how big of wrestling fans they are, but you don't have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy this show.”

Perhaps a wrestling-themed art exhibition shouldn’t be surprising in Cleveland considering the WWE roster currently includes Cleveland natives Dolph Ziggler, Mike “The Miz” Mizanin and NXT standout Johnny Gargano (not to mention Cincinnati native and current WWE Champion Dean Ambrose).

Twenty years ago, Cleveland hosted the ninth incarnation of SummerSlam, WWE’s second biggest annual Pay-Per-View, in 1996. The event included the legendary Undertaker vs. Mankind Boiler Room match, which ultimately split the Undertaker from his longtime manager Paul Bearer.

SummerSlam will remain on view by appointment for three weeks after the opening. To make an appointment, contact Mike Sobeck through Facebook at facebook.com/3204studios or 3204studios@gmail.com.

Meanwhile just steps down Lorain, Canopy Collective hosts an opening reception for a collection of Victor Melaragno’s cartoon monsters from 6 to 10 p.m.

Melaragno’s lowbrow monsters, what he refers to as “SoonMoon people,” are inspired by his more than 40 years as a graphic artist in the sign business.

"I’ve always been drawn to anything offbeat and different in my pursuit of art,” reflects Melaragno. “The strange, dreamlike, weird, and experimental have always been important to me, and I take inspiration from the Lowbrow movement in particular here. Lowbrow art has been with me since before I knew the term, in the form of monsters. I’ve doodled monster-like creatures on any available surface for as long as I can remember. These creatures eventually became what I call the ‘SoonMoon people,’ where they proceeded to infiltrate everything from cards for my wife and children to small drawings in letters to friends.”

Throughout his career, he has integrated new skills, such as pattern-making, sign painting and neon-based work. This exhibition of new and recent work incorporates his acquired techniques.

“I’ve worked as a graphic artist in the sign business for over forty years now,” Melaragno expounds. “In this time, I began to learn new skills I could use to bolster my artwork. My knowledge of pattern-making, sign painting and neon work came together with my long-term interest in monsters to produce this show."

These whimsical cartoon monsters are reminiscent of 90s cartoons on MTV and Nickelodeon, if not a little stranger. His bright, saturated colors soften character traits like bulging, veiny eyes, wrinkled, sagging skin and sharp, fang-like teeth. Although their gaze breaks the fourth wall, their stares are more inviting than threatening.

“To me, Victor's work takes me back to the cartoons of my childhood in the 90s,” says Durham. “His monsters are grotesque but somehow playful and friendly. The vibrancy of the colors he uses draw your eye directly to them. Years of experience working in the sign industry has given Victor a unique take on art, incorporating lighting and skill sets specific to sign painting and construction.”

The exhibition remains on view in Canopy’s gallery throughout the weekend. Afterwards, the work moves to the consignment store in the front half of the building. Canopy Collective is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for special events.

(3204 Studios) 3204 Lorain Ave., 2304studios@gmail.com
(Canopy Collective) 3910 Lorain Ave., 216-309-1090, canopy-collective.com/

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