Monsters, Lake Erie, and reading highlighted in Lakewood mural

Lakewood is a little more colorful after the unveiling of a new public art piece by local artist Derek Brennan last Tuesday, May 1, at the corner of Warren Road and Detroit Avenue.

Brennan’s mural, “Imagination on the Lake,” spans approximately 13-feet by 9-feet over two inset panels of the brick building that houses Area Temps. “That’s the core of what I wanted,” Brennan says of the title, adding that the mural plays on legends of monsters in Lake Erie, other mysteries of the lake, and the fact that Lakewood sits on its shores.

Brennan was also inspired by how children can be enrapt by a story they are reading, choosing to depict children reading a book together atop crashing waves, with another child spying a dog and lake monsters with a telescope.

“As adults, we forget what it’s like to be a kid when everyday life [didn’t interrupt]," says Brennan. "I want [this mural] to remind them of books they read when they were kids."

Brennan, a Sandusky native who has done other murals around northern Ohio, worked as a caricaturist at Cedar Point for eight years before earning his BFA in painting and drawing. He responded to LakewoodAlive’s request for mural proposals after the nonprofit community development organization won a $50,000 community development supplemental grant—the maximum amount given—last spring from Cuyahoga County’s distribution of $1 million in casino revenue funds.

The mural is just one part of a streetscape project along Warren Road that also involves 14 new planters and an improved RTA bus shelter, according to LakewoodAlive executive director Ian Andrews. “We wanted to soften the hardscapes,” he explains. “We knew we wanted to have a mural, and we knew we wanted a bus shelter to make it better in form and function.”

Other improvements to Warren Road included converting the street to two lanes instead of four lanes, adding a turning lane, and adding a bike lane.

Andrews says they had nine applicants submit mural ideas, with Brennan’s chosen for its family-friendly appeal. Brennan designed the mural on his iPad, after which Brunswick-based Scherba Industries printed it on vinyl material and adhered it to the brick. “They put it up on the wall, so it adheres to the brick but doesn’t damage it,” explains Andrews. “It looks like it’s actually hand-painted.”

Andrews hopes Brennan’s mural will be the first of many in Lakewood. “We hope it spurs more public art in the community,” he says, adding that “Imagination on the Lake” had received a good response so far. “We’ve had people honking horns—they love it."

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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