There's about to be a whole lot more color in MidTown Cleveland.
The CLEVELAND WALLS! International Mural Program is bringing 23 world-class artists to town between Monday, Aug. 23 and Saturday, Aug. 28 to install 19 new public murals in the neighborhood.
This includes 11 local artists such as Glen Infante, Robin Robinson and Gary Williams, while the 12 national artists are brought in from locations including Miami, Oakland, Hawaii, New York City and Chicago.
Artists were selected from roughly 200 submissions aligning with MidTown’s community and history.
“MidTown’s history is diverse, from the trails of indigenous peoples to the Dunham stagecoach tavern, from Millionaire’s Row to industrial innovation, from the legacy of black music and entrepreneurship to the Health-Tech Corridor,” says MidTown’s Executive Director, Jeff Epstein. “The mural artists represent MidTown’s diversity - in their own heritage, in their individual artistic styles, and in the subject matter of their murals.”
CLEVELAND WALLS! is a collaboration between MidTown Cleveland, an organization charged with leveraging MidTown’s diverse assets to develop a dynamic neighborhood, LAND Studio, a Cleveland-based nonprofit implementing a wide range of public art installations, cultural programming, and civic space development projects across the city, and POW! WOW! Worldwide, which encompasses artists, musicians, photographers and media partners focused on art, music and culture.
The festival HQ at 7113 Euclid Ave., open daily during the run, is where visitors will be able to get event information, see painting demonstrations, participate in hands-on activities, meet local vendors and participate in a diverse array of film, musical and educational programming.
This event will also feature a slew of engaging and hands-on programming from local arts and culture groups such as Shooting Without Bullets, Twelve Literary Arts, Museum of Creative Human Art, Graffiti Heart, The Distinguished Gentlemen of the Spoken Word, and collaborators from AsiaTown.
Throughout the week, artists will host discussions on various topics including the combination of art and entrepreneurship (Aug. 23 at 6 p.m.), the relationship between artistic practice and social change (Aug. 24 at 6 p.m.), and the process of collecting, curating and exhibiting art (Aug. 25 at 6 p.m.). The events will be moderated by illustrator Sequoia Bostick, CWRU Professor Erin Benay and Ideastream Community Engagement Specialist Shelli Reeves, and held at the program HQ at 7113 Euclid.
“Strengthening the MidTown neighborhood requires not only adding the type of new housing, office, and retail development we’ve seen over the last ten years, but also adding public art and color to make the area more vibrant and alive,” says Epstein. “We decided to partner with POW! WOW! Worldwide, an organization that curates mural festivals around the world, to create an inclusive and dynamic event here to physically transform the MidTown neighborhood through vibrant art and programming while creating opportunities for local artists and elevating their work.”
CLEVELAND WALLS! Is poised as a springboard to the re-envisioning of the MidTown neighborhood with extensive plans to enhance their green spaces and to add bike trails linking the eastside. MidTown has partnered with Pennrose Development to attain tax credits so they may salvage the Warner and Swasey Building on East 55th in order to convert it into mixed-income housing. All of this is to commence in the upcoming year according to MidTown’s website.
A group of documentary filmmakers including Samira Malone, Ron Sims and Andy Tran captured the archival footage of the graffiti inside Warner and Swasey Building and made a documentary film about it. Their film premieres on Friday, Aug. 27th along with several other documentaries and will re-air on Saturday, Aug. 28. The showings will be followed by an artist talk with Sims as well as several Cleveland graffiti artists.
“We believe that a rapid infusion of high quality art will transform the feel of our neighborhood for our residents, stakeholder organizations, and visitors, helping our community move from a pass-through corridor to a dynamic place,” continues Epstein. “CLEVELAND WALLS! will also elevate local artists, helping to connect them with a worldwide movement of artists and creatives…We hope people will rediscover MidTown Cleveland and explore the incredible richness of our architecture, history, people, innovation, and future growth.”
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