Ohio City’s putting art in your face. It’s hard to miss the 10 large-scale pieces going up right now, changing the look and feel of the neighborhood and making it a social media destination.
“It’s really exciting to see it happen and it’s a totally different place than it was four years ago,” Mike Sobeck told us.
He’s a local artist who lives and works in the budding Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland. That part of town’s undergone some big changes over the last few years, with the opening of multiple new restaurants, shops, apartment complexes, bars and breweries.
Now, the neighborhood itself is becoming an art gallery thanks to the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion project. Since 2008, it’s paired local artists with 70 artists from around the world – creating in Cleveland. This fall, 10 local and six international artists are part of the Street Art Edition – changing the face of Ohio City.
“I will be forever close and bound to the city,” said Italian artist Michela Picchi.
Picchi says Creative Fusion’s three-month residency has been one of the best experiences of her life. She’s responsible for the giant tiger at Detroit and West 28th.
“I just started looking at the red bricks that were here before and I just said, ‘What I can draw here?’ And I just saw in my eyes this amazing flying tiger with the birds,” she told us.
The upside to outside art? Instant reaction. Picchi says more than a dozen people a day stopped to compliment her on her work as she painted in September.
“The feedback was amazing. Everybody was like something great is happening. So, I’m happy to be part of it,” she said.
A $150,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation supports all 16 artists for three months, September, October and November. An additional $85,000 is used to complete all 10 projects.
Ohio City is now home to the longest mural in Ohio, stretching 500 feet underneath the Shoreway. Brazilian painter Ananda Nahu is completing the finishing touches. Sobeck’s greasy, pop art piece is just around the corner from Picchi’s tiger. It’s a melting slice of pizza.
The 10 murals concentrated into a small area will enhance walkability, making the area look more colorful and feel safer. The artwork’s already gaining ground and popularity on Instagram.
“As there’s been a lot of buzz about the project, it’s started to bring more people into the neighborhood which is great, because there’s a lot of small businesses surrounding the murals. It’s a great way to bring more customers and more visibility to the neighborhood,” said Ashley Shaw with Ohio City Inc.
All of the pieces will be complete next week and you can see them during a free event with trolley tours, refreshments and interviews with the artists. That’s happening Saturday November 19 from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at St. John’s Church, in Ohio City.