There is going to be a lot more color in MidTown Cleveland.
The CLEVELAND WALLS! The international mural program brings 23 world-class artists to town between Monday 23 August and Saturday 28 August 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 places such as Miami, Oakland, Hawaii, New York and Chicago.
Artists were selected from approximately 200 nominations relevant to the community and history of MidTown.
“MidTown’s history is diverse, from Indigenous peoples’ trails to the Dunham Stagecoach Tavern, Millionaire’s Row to industrial innovation, from the legacy of black music and entrepreneurship to the Health-Tech Corridor. Said MidTown Executive Director Jeff Epstein. “The mural artists represent the diversity of MidTown – 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 tasked with leveraging the diverse strengths of MidTown to develop a vibrant 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 includes artists, musicians, photographers and media partners focused on art, music and culture.
The festival headquarters at 7113 Euclid Ave., open daily during the race, is where visitors can get event information, see painting demonstrations, participate in hands-on activities, meet vendors. locals and participate in a wide range of films, musicals and educational programs.
This event will also feature a host of engaging and hands-on programs 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 lead discussions on various topics including the combination of art and entrepreneurship (August 23 at 6 p.m.), the relationship between artistic practice and social change (August 24 at 6 p.m.), and the process of collecting, curating and art exhibition (25 August at 6 p.m.). Events will be hosted by Illustrator Sequoia Bostick, CWRU Professor Erin Benay and Ideastream Community Engagement Specialist Shelli Reeves, and will be held at the program headquarters at 7113 Euclid.
“Strengthening the MidTown neighborhood requires not only adding the kind of new housing, office and commercial developments that we have seen over the past decade, but also adding public art and color to make the more dynamic and lively neighborhood, ”explains Epstein. “We have decided to partner with POW! WOW! Worldwide, an organization that hosts mural festivals around the world, to create an inclusive and vibrant event here to physically transform the MidTown neighborhood through vibrant art and programming while creating opportunities for local artists and uplifting their work.
CLEVELAND WALLS! Is set to serve as a stepping stone to rethink the MidTown with extensive plans to improve their green spaces and add bike lanes connecting the east side. MidTown has partnered with Pennrose Development to get tax credits so they can reclaim the Warner and Swasey Building on East 55th to convert it into mixed income housing. This is all set to begin within the next year or so, according to the MidTown website.
A group of documentary filmmakers including Samira Malone, Ron Sims and Andy Tran captured archival footage of the graffiti inside Warner and Swasey Building and made a documentary film about it. Their film will premiere on Friday August 27 with several other documentaries and will be rebroadcast on Saturday August 28. The screenings will be followed by an artists’ conference with Sims as well as several Cleveland graffiti artists.
“We believe that a rapid infusion of high quality art will transform the ambiance of our neighborhood for our residents, stakeholder organizations and visitors, helping our community to move from a passageway to a vibrant place”, Epstein continues. “CLEVELAND WALLS! will also uplift local artists, helping them connect with a global movement of artists and creatives … We hope people rediscover MidTown Cleveland and explore the incredible wealth of our architecture, history, people, our innovation and our future growth.