[image-1]With locations in Public Square and the Campus District, Bloom Bakery isn’t your typical downtown lunch spot. Bloom Bakery is a benefit corporation, a hybrid of a standard corporation and a nonprofit organization, owned by Towards Employment, a nonprofit which has helped nearly 125,000 individuals recently released from state prison achieve and maintain self-sufficiency through employment in the 30 years since its inception in 1976.
Bloom Bakery refers to creating jobs as its “secret ingredient.” Through Bloom Bakery, Towards Employment helps inmates returning from state prison find jobs by employing graduates from Towards Employment’s reentry job readiness training programs. Each year, approximately 6,000 people return to Cuyahoga County from state prison. Bloom Bakery helps these returning citizens begin a new chapter in their lives through job readiness training, placement, retention and additional supportive services.
“Bloom” is a baking term for the golden-brown color of perfectly baked bread crust. As described on their website, the name of the bakery represents its ultimate goal: “To blossom and to thrive. Our employees’ training and experience will provide the ‘bloom’ on their resume – a recognizable symbol that they have met the exacting standards of production and customer service that the baking industry requires. At Bloom Bakery, we are not only passionate about providing jobs to people who most need them, but we are also passionate bakers serving the highest quality in handcrafted breads, pastries and café meals.”
As part of its Art from Within program, Negative Space Gallery has partnered with local artist James March and Bloom Bakery to produce a mural designed by local artists and executed by the bakery’s employees. The Art from Within program is designed to inspire individuals who have been incarcerated to express themselves through their creative talents.
“We’re really excited about this new mural which will make our Public Square location even more vibrant and highlight Cleveland artistic talent, while communicating our workforce development mission,” says Logan Fahey, general manager of Bloom Bakery. “But the best part is that Bloom staff members who are reentering the workforce after involvement with the criminal justice system get a chance to be part of this Cleveland artistic expression - and will help complete the final painting of the design. This a great opportunity for us to introduce Towards Employment graduates and Bloom employees to the artistic community – we believe in second chances and I’m hopeful this mural will be emblematic of Bloom’s mission.”
Local artists James March and Negative Space founder Gadi Zamir collaborated to help create the mural at Bloom’s Public Square location. The mural is based on March’s abstract painting “Purple Haze.” Zamir suggested March’s work during an early meeting with Bloom’s management.
Describing the initial meeting to begin the process, Zamir says, “Bloom Bakery didn't know exactly what to paint on the wall, but did provide a few reference pictures. As I was going through the pictures, one reminded me of one of my favorite abstract artists James March. I immediately grabbed my laptop and showed James’ work (yes, without his permission). I truly believe that I am one of James’ biggest fans. His work is thoughtful, rich, intricate and very impressive. As we were continuing our invasive shuffle through James’ photo albums we all agreed that ‘Purple Haze’ was the one. This painting is vividly colorful and the composition will work perfectly with the Bloom Bakery atmosphere. from there it was just getting James on board (three-minute conversation) and making some strategic plans.”
Zamir sketched the mural on the bakery’s wall two weeks ago, and Bloom employees began painting the mural early last week. During the painting process, Zamir assisted employees, and once the mural was complete, Zamir provided the finishing touches. Despite being an accomplished painter, this is the first mural March has been involved with. Throughout the process, March has been involved with preparing for and executing the mural.
“This is the first mural I’ve ever done, and it’s great to be creating it at Bloom Bakery,” March says.
The mural can be viewed now during regular business hours. The project is part of an ongoing partnership between Bloom Bakery, Towards Employment and Negative Space Gallery. Moving forward, the organizations are planning art exhibitions at Bloom to showcase works to the community. The Art From Within Program is funded in part by a grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture.
Bloom Bakery’s menu includes breakfast and lunch – from donuts, breads, pastries and desserts to soup, salads and sandwiches. Bloom Bakery is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. In addition to their location at 200 Public Square, a second bakery can be found in the Campus District at 1938 Euclid Ave. Both locations offer delivery and catering services. For more information, visit bloombakery.com.
(Bloom Bakery) 200 Public Sq. #129, 216-261-1111, bloombakery.com