lake affect artists' studios, event venue coming to campus district

A hip new studio space adjacent to the trendy ArtCraft building in the Campus District will soon be filled with artists. Professional photographers Dan LaGuardia and his partner Amanda Sinkey expect to open Lake Affect Studios, 1615 East 25th Street, in the first quarter 2015.
While a $30,000 vacant property grant from the city of Cleveland is pending, the two purchased the 30,000-square-foot building in March 2013 for $400,000 with funds from family. The space, which is actually three connected buildings, had been on the market since 2008 and had previously housed a manufacturer of display units and a mop factory. The oldest of the three structures was built in the early 1900s, and the newest was erected in the 1990s. The other building dates to the mid-1900's.
Eleven studio spaces are currently under construction, ranging from 535- to 1400-square feet with rents starting at $0.60 per square foot. Hence, monthly rents will start at $321 with an additional shared utility fee, prorated on the percentage of square footage each studio occupies.
"We wanted to get together a like-minded community of creative people that have a lot of energy and want to work together and bounce ideas off each other," says LaGuardia. Six tenants are already on the waiting list. They include photographers, a sculptor and a video production operation. LaGuardia and Sinkey will be "studio natives," occupying space other than the 11 units for lease. Their vision for the venture is reflected in the name. "Lake Affect is kind of a play on words that alludes to how we would like to 'affect' the area around us," says LaGuardia.
Sinkey works mostly with personal portraits and weddings. LaGuardia is a commercial photographer with clients such as JoAnne Fabric & Craft Stores, Philip Morris and Red Model Management. His work often requires travel, so why Cleveland?
"I was born in Cleveland and I wouldn't go anywhere else. I love it here," he says. "I can work regionally from Cleveland and still have my home base here." His work often takes him to Chicago and New York, which poses no problem. "Both are just a short plane ride away." As for the cultural comparison, "Cleveland is cheap and affordable. It offers every thing New York or Chicago could offer, just on a smaller scale."
The 6,000-square foot event space will be adjacent to an art gallery, which will serve as a cocktail area for event attendees and showcase for resident artists. LaGuardia has fielded healthy interest in the event space but one date, September 19, 2015, is already booked—for LaGuardia's and Sinkey's wedding reception. Decisions such as buttercream vs. fondant, however, will have to wait. For now, it's all about bringing Lake Affect to life.
"Our success depends on what we do from here on out," says LaGuardia. "I'm excited to get to work and pound the pavement and get the word out about this place and fill it up."

Read more articles by Erin O'Brien.

Erin O'Brien's eclectic features and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and others. The sixth generation northeast Ohioan is also author of The Irish Hungarian Guide to the Domestic Arts. Visit for complete profile information.
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