Artists paint mural to boost morale as Cleveland begins COVID-19 recovery

Bob Peck and Rich Cihlar are two Cleveland artists with very different styles—both work with spray paint, but Peck is an abstract graffiti artist and Cihlar creates graphic pop art.
 

But when the two come together, they are Don’t Panic!—a collaboration in which their two different styles blend into memorable murals and other works.
 

Don’t Panic completed its most recent work this past Saturday, May 7th in a warehouse on East 79th Street near St. Clair Avenue. A mural was born out of Cihlar’s and Peck’s attempts to lift the Greater Cleveland community during a time of worry and sadness.
 

Don’t Panic! is a symbol to inspire, encourage, and elevate Clevelanders during unsettling times says the painting duo artists Bob Peck and R!ch Cihlar. Peck, resident artist at nonprofit Graffiti HeArt, and Cihlar, co-owner of E11even 2 gallery at 78th Street Studios, came up with an image of a phoenix rising from the ashes.
 

The message on the mural reads, “Cleveland…Temper us in Fire/And we grow stronger!” Peck says the mural is intended to be a message of encouragement.
 

“Right now, everybody feels burnt out and wondering how we are going to come back from this,” Peck says. “We wanted to use some kind of symbol of rebirth that is shiny and bright.”
 

They completed the mural in just five hours last Saturday, with Cihlar on a ladder pinning various stencils to the eight-foot high design before he painted his contribution. Peck followed, working over, under, around, and through the stenciled work with both spray paint and line work.
 

“Rich is the planner, I’m the impulse guy,” Peck says of their collaborations. “Without each other, sometimes I’d be rushing ahead too fast. We even each other out.”
 

Bob Peck and R!ch Cihlar paint together with abstract and pop art styles that collide like a candy colored explosion of organized chaos. Cihlar notes that the two artists always discuss their design ahead of time when creating a work, but also embrace each other’s style.
 

“When we put my pop art together with his graffiti, we kind of play off each other,” says Cihlar of their work. “We always discuss and play off of the abstract—it always makes the character or image come to life.”
 

The two hold an annual show that features both their individual works and their collaborations. “Bob’s [work] is on one side, I’m on the other, then we have the collaborations [in the middle] to see how they get sandwiched together,” he says.
 

Cihlar and Peck are currently making prints of the “Temper us in Fire” mural and will sell them to the general public. Keep an eye on Peck’s and Cihlar’s E11even Facebook pages.

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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