Visitor columnist Darlene G. Michitsch is an associate professor of art heritage at Baldwin Wallace University. A native Clevelander, she has an abiding fascination in area artists — earlier, present and foreseeable future.
Northeast Ohio is wondrously awash in art institutions, from its esteemed museums to its pulsating gallery scene: The storied, century-outdated Cleveland Museum of Art the renowned artists of the Cleveland Faculty, relationship again to the late 19th century the city’s dominant part in the Federal Arts Task of the WPA for the duration of the Wonderful Depression.
All comprise a hallowed background in the visual arts.
This legacy expands, as Greater Cleveland rightfully boasts an energetic and dedicated community of graffiti artists. For the the best possible expertise of the region’s visual expression today, search to the streets.
Once commonly reviled as the obscure and unlawful by-product of the disenfranchised, graffiti art attained international legitimacy in the 1980s, largely through the perform of Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Emerging from New York City’s subway stations, the two young artists accomplished immediate celeb in transcribing their street “writing” onto studio canvases.
Very well promoted and eminently marketable, the work of Haring and primarily Basquiat commanded superior selling prices in their respective shorter lifetimes. The value of their art has astronomically accelerated in recent many years on the secondary (auction) current market.
For illustration, a 1984 untitled oil on canvas by Basquiat offered in 2017 for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s auction house in New York. Graffiti art has decisively come to be a valued commodity.
In the art world, these types of commodification denotes ultimate approbation. But it also runs the possibility of dulling the artist’s edge as marketability supersedes the message.
Graffiti art in Cleveland has not so acquiesced. For decades, street writing has marred Cleveland’s urban walls, with clusters in inner-metropolis neighborhoods. But this peculiar calligraphy varieties the DNA of the daring murals that these days remodel abject places into works of art.
Immediate, poignant, in some cases whimsical, Cleveland graffiti artwork often asserts its edge, in a wide range of kinds, declaring a myriad of items arguably, the finest artists are homegrown.
Foremost amongst the Cleveland graffiti artists who have stayed the course is Bob Peck, a town kid who “cut his teeth” on the “street writing” randomly bedecking his Cleveland west side community.
Originally intrigued, he quickly turned immersed in the so-identified as subculture, as a mature artist deftly mastering the stencil and spray can.
Peck’s distinctive type, asynchronously rhythmic and intensely chromatic, has garnered mural commissions from “North Coast Auto” on East 185th Avenue to “Spectacular Vernacular” on Lakewood’s Madison Avenue. He is a regarded leader in Cleveland’s graffiti scene.
Constantly the metropolis kid enamored of street art, Peck provides back. He is an ardent supporter of and integral to Graffiti Heart, a non-income that facilitates artist commissions and provides scholarships for underserved aspiring artists.
Of late, Peck has joined forces with area Pop graffiti artist R!ch Cihlar. Doing the job as “Don’t Worry!” the duo has established beautiful murals from East 79th Road to Westlake’s Crocker Park. “Don’t Stress!” held a key exhibition in November 2021 at Baldwin Wallace University’s Fawick Gallery, which successfully lifted major scholarship funds for Graffiti Heart.
Transcribed from brick walls and corrugated steel containers to canvas and artifacts, this graffiti artwork was not merely materially commodified. Keeping its edge, “Don’t Panic!” contributes to Cleveland’s ever-growing legacy in the visual arts by serving to to make sure that future generations of influenced artists with a thing to say will “take to the streets.”
To partake of this legacy, continue on to seem to the streets.
Visitors are invited to post Impression page essays on subject areas of regional or normal interest. Ship your 500-phrase essay for consideration to Ann Norman at [email protected]. Essays have to involve a quick bio and headshot of the writer. Essays rebutting today’s topics are also welcome.