'rooms to let' to transform vacant slavic village homes into pop-up art galleries

An innovative art installation that transformed empty homes in Columbus into day-long art galleries is coming to Slavic Village.

Rooms to Let: CLE will take place Saturday, May 17 on Forman Avenue. The event promises not only temporary art installations that transform vacant homes into interpretive displays, but also a block party and street tour featuring live music on porches and activities for the whole family.

Ben Campbell, Commercial Development Officer with Slavic Village Development, says he got inspired to bring Rooms to Let to Cleveland after seeing the impact it made in Columbus. He also loves the idea of hiring mostly local artists to help transform the houses. So he partnered with other SVD staff, Zygote Press and Rooms to Let: Columbus to bring the project to vacancy-pocked Slavic Village.

Rooms to Let isn't just an art show in an empty house; the project transforms the house itself into an art installation, transforming telltale signs of abandonment like broken drywall into symbols of fortitude, loss and renewal.

"Among the 11 installations created by 28 artists, visitors will find fabric pushing out of holes in walls, kitchen images painted on the walls of a demolished kitchen and a giant hole in a floor exposing a message on floor joists," Jim Weiker wrote last year in a Columbus Dispatch article. "Structural issues that would have been major flaws in a gallery have been seized upon as artistic opportunities."

Several curators -- Westleigh Harper and Michael Horton of MAKER design studio, Barbara Bachtell of Broadway School of Music & the Arts and artist Scott Pickering -- will select specific artists interested in transforming the abandoned and foreclosed homes. The houses are located in the area surrounding the Slavic Village Recovery project, and they're all slated for eventual rehabilitation.

"Given the larger context of Slavic Village’s unique history and the national attention received in the wake of the American foreclosure crisis, Rooms to Let: Cleveland creates an opportunity to see one of Cleveland’s most historic neighborhoods in new light," touts the project's Facebook page.

Rooms to Let: CLE is supported by a Cuyahoga Arts and Culture project grant.


Source: Ben Campbell
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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