Bursting with color: MidTown to bring in 19 murals, live entertainment during Cleveland Walls! event

For two years now, officials at MidTown Cleveland, LAND Studio, and Pow! Wow! Worldwide have been working on a mural and arts program to bring a slew of murals and a week of arts programming to the neighborhood. The coronavirus pandemic delayed the event last year, but now the week-long event is happening.

Next week, from Monday, Aug. 23 through Saturday, Aug. 28 CLEVELAND WALLS! International Mural Program will finally get underway. The event will bring 23 world-class artists—11 of them local artists—to the MidTown neighborhood to create 19 dynamic public murals.

MidTown executive director Jeff Epstein says the CLEVELAND WALLS! Project is meant to uplift the MidTown neighborhood through vibrant art and programming while creating opportunities for local artists to elevate their work.

He says this is a chance to celebrate the relationships MidTown has built and tell the story of the neighborhood’s diverse and vibrant community.

“We’re really excited about this, and we’ve been working on it quite a while,” says Epstein. “The idea was to bring in a lot of color and energy into the neighborhood that would transform this neighborhood overnight.”

There will certainly be a lot of color. Epstein says virtually every building and wall in the neighborhood is getting a mural—in just a week. “There are going to be a lot of murals, but we have a lot of walls,” he says. “The concentration of them with be in the East 55th Street and Euclid Avenue area, at the center of Euclid, with a couple in AsiaTown, a couple east on Carnegie, and one in Hough.”

For a full list of the mural artists, click here.

The 23 mural artists were chosen from about 200 submissions. The selection committee was made up of 12 arts experts in a variety of mediums who matched the chosen artists with the buildings. Epstein says this is the first mural event of its kind in the Midwest done by Pow! Wow! Worldwide, which has host large-scale mural events around the world.

“The cool thing about it is we’re now putting these local artists on the map with these international artists,” he says. “We hope this is a way of starting a ton of public art in the neighborhood.”   

The local mural artists include Julia Kuo, Jordan Wong and Chad Fedorovich, April Bleakney, Antwoine Washington, Dayz Whun, Darius Steward, Glen Infante, Gary Williams and Robin Robinson, and Starbeing.

At CLEVELAND WALLS! headquarters, 7113 Euclid Ave., visitors can 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.

Arts and cultural programming from groups such as Shooting Without Bullets, Twelve Literary Arts, Museum of Creative Human Art, Graffiti HeArt, and the Distinguished Gentlemen of the Spoken Word, Collaborators from AsiaTown will also bring entertainment throughout the week.

On Saturday, Aug. 28 at 7 p.m., Twelve Literary Arts founder and executive artistic director Daniel Gray-Kontar and his group will perform “In Search of the Land,” a 12-track exploration of Cleveland’s identity that was produced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Several artists from the album will fly into Cleveland to perform for the first time since the album’s release on Juneteenth this year.

The performance will be accompanied by a panel discussion moderated by Thirdspace Action Lab’s Mordecai Cargill.

Click here to get a full schedule of events.

To get the full experience when you go, stop by the CLEVELAND WALLS! headquarters, pick up a mural passport booklet and walk, bike, scooter, or drive to nearby mural sites to watch the artists in action.

Headquarters will be open Monday, Aug. 23 through Saturday Aug. 28 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the bulk of the programming occurring Friday, Aug. 27 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 28 from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.
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