Tags for: The Doors Are Open: Welcome to the CMA Community Arts Center
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The Doors Are Open: Welcome to the CMA Community Arts Center

June 11, 2021
Image of a person standing in front of a vibrantly colored mural with figures playing instruments in front of a backdrop of shapes and animals.

Located in the PIVOT Center of Art, Dance & Expression in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood of Cleveland’s near west side, the CAC houses the Community Arts staff and education outreach program. The community arts program hosts programs including Parade the Circle, Chalk Festival, Winter Lights Lantern Festival, and Studio Go. It’s aimed at creating arts experiences for audiences of all ages throughout Greater Cleveland by offering artmaking activities and events that encourage community and artist collaboration and highlight connections with the museum’s collections.

The CMA’s Community Arts Center space before the walls were built.

The CAC’s bare white walls and halls have been transformed into lively and colorful spaces filled with a mixture of exhibition areas, workshop studios for programming, and interactive stations. The inaugural exhibition, Parade the Circle: Celebrating 30 Years of Art and Community, showcases a collection of puppets, costumes, and masks created by the local art community. These items will then be permanently housed in a dedicated storage area within the Community Arts Center.

While organizing this project — and moving forward — our neighbors, local businesses, and partners were at the forefront. So it seemed natural to include murals by local artists that capture the spirit and energy of what the CAC represents. The muralists are: Bruno Casiano, Derek Brennan, Debra Sue Solecki, and Rafael Valdivieso.

Meet the Mural Artists

Bruno Casiano

Bruno Casiano is a Puerto Rican-American painter who has been living in Cleveland for the past 30 years. Casiano has a distinctive art form in which he combines traditional and contemporary styles. His style is rooted in, and inspired by, traditional Puerto Rican silk screen techniques known for using vibrant colors, imagery and shapes. His craftmanship adapts innovative collages, stencil and other non-traditional mixed media methods into his work.

“El Coqui Musical” design is an array of images and musical symbols that are familiar to Caribbean Hispanic culture, using my own graphic distinctive style, which is rooted in Taino geoglyph references. This style is a combination of stencil-like patterns commonly utilized in silk screening and Afro-Caribbean art. I use vibrant colors, images, and shapes to re-create a sense of hope and pride in the community with an imaginary musical rhythm flowing into your soul. The images in the mural flow freely on the wall, which gives the beholder a feeling of freedom and enjoyment. It has been great working with the CAC toward the mission of bringing hope and art to the community, which I love!

Derek Brennan

Derek Brennan is a Cleveland-based artist who began his career as a theme park caricature artist. His passion for drawing led him to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Bowling Green State University, where he discovered an interest in encaustic painting. After graduation, Brennan received an opportunity to create his first mural and decided to work as a full-time freelance artist. Since then, he has been creating murals around northern Ohio and illustrated three children’s books.

My mural was created to honor Parade the Circle and to mimic the feeling of a parade coming toward the viewer, making people feel like they could almost interact with the painting. Sound is one of the main senses that I want people to experience when they look at the mural. The energy of the brass instruments and the children’s laughter sings out of the painting as they admire all of the incredible and elaborate costumes and puppetry. Because I truly wanted this mural to be about unity of different cultures and different ages, I incorporated children’s drawings into my design to playfully bring a collaborative element to the piece.

I love being apart of this arts community here in Cleveland and now having a mural at the CAC has given me the platform to connect with so many more people in the community, which is such an honor.

Debra Sue Solecki

Debra Sue Solecki works as an art teacher by day and as a fine artist in her free time. She took her drawing skills to the streets in 2010, and since then she has been pleasing crowds at public chalk events throughout Ohio, like the CMA’s summer Chalk Festival. Her anamorphic style of 3-D-like art often plays into the surroundings in which she works.

It was an honor and pleasure to get to work for the CMA in their new community center. I chose to challenge myself by painting in the corner of the room and creating a creature that appears to be occupying part of the large studio space.

The larger-than-life octopus draws the Cleveland skyline. While he is literally creating the city he is also symbolically representing the groups of people who built this area. The sugar skull (calavera) design on his head pays tribute to the Latino population in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood of Tremont. However, the DNA of this octopus also has roots in eight different immigrant groups that settled in this section of the city. Each of these groups is represented by traditional ethnic patterns that creatively replace the suckers on his arms. Upon closer examination you will find Taino petroglyphs from Puerto Rico, German folk painting, Irish lace, Ukrainian pysanky patterns, Greek key designs, and patterns from Polish pottery, Russian needlepoint, and Syrian tile work.

Rafael Valdivieso

Born in Quito, Ecuador and now a Cleveland Heights resident, Rafael Valdivieso creates intricate compositions that contain hundreds of figures or faces layered into imaginary spaces that evoke a sense of teeming wildness and intertwine themes of human joy and struggle.

I believe the goal of the museum is to open windows of cultural exchange. The mural reflects the different disciplines of dance, music, and theater and strives to capture the diverse cultural expressions in Cleveland.

In creating a fantastical landscape of Parade the Circle imagery, my intention was to form a poem of movement and color to mirror the magic around us.

This project means a lot to me because it reflects the accumulation of my own experiences, collaborating over the past 16 years in various events with the museum’s community arts program — such as Parade the Circle, the Chalk Festival and the Lantern Festival.

The Community Arts Center will be open Wednesday to Friday, from 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please visit our website for the most up-to-date information.

Visit the CMA’s new space: 2937 W 25th St, Cleveland, OH 44113.