Local artisans who upcycle industrial materials from the rust belt into imaginative, yet functional household objects will be kick off the 2016 Heights Arts season with the gallery's “Remade in Cleveland” exhibit.
The work of Doug Meyer’s Rustbelt Rebirth, Kevin Busta, and designers with Rustbelt Reclamation will be showcased in an exhibit that features everything from furniture to accessories using repurposed materials dating back to 100 years ago in Cleveland’s history.
The artists use locally sourced wood and metal to create items such as custom tables, seating, lighting, mirrors, wall features, and tabletop objects such as clocks, serving boards and wine caddies.
“Cleveland is in its second cycle,” says Greg Donley, head of the gallery committee, founding Heights Arts board member and assistant director of creative services of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “One hundred years ago it was in its first boom. All of these things used to build Cleveland are seeing second lives.”
Meyer fell in love with ceramics while in high school, but instead turned to welding through a Job Corps program. He led the metal fab shop at furniture maker Cleveland Art before starting Rustbelt Rebirth in 2009.
“Things that get my creative mojo going: Science fiction movies, surrealist landscapes, googie architecture, electronic music, art deco and mid-century modern design, the streamlining movement, quantum physics, and mysticism,” Meyer says of his inspiration.
Meyer says he is glad Heights Arts is exploring the upcycle trend with Remade in Cleveland. “I'm glad to see that the movement is gaining traction and champions,” he says. “It's forced us all to look at things in a different light in terms of quality, design, and creative re-interpretation.”
Donley defines Meyer’s work as combining raw materials with bent metal. “Meyer simultaneously uses mid-20th Century modern design in a combination of raw materials,” he says.
Busta creates items like lamps made of industrial cast iron fixtures, while Rustbelt Reclamation takes mahogany molds used to make cast iron fixtures and turning them into art.
“Cleveland has a long history of making objects with function and design,” says Donley. “Almost everything in [the show] is stuff you live with – chairs, tables you can eat on.”
The show opens on Friday, Jan. 15 at 6 p.m. and runs through Saturday, Feb. 27. Gallery hours are Tuesday and Wednesday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursday and Friday 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturday 1:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
On Thursday, Feb.11 at 7 p.m., an artist talk and ekphrastic poetry event will be held, during which the artists will share their inspirations and challenges from working with salvaged and repurposed materials, while local poets Terre Maher, Mary Quade, Barbara Sabol and Barry Zucker will respond with original verse inspired by select objects in the exhibition.