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Cleveland Artists Celebrate the City's Historic Championship 

Art and sports have rarely mixed in Cleveland quite like they did in the aftermath of last week's Cavs' championship. Artists throughout the city have been busy creating celebratory Cavs-themed work. It's almost impossible to catalog it all, but we've picked out some favorites.

Cleveland's printmaking oasis, Zygote Press, has produced multiple editions of Cavaliers-inspired works. Grants director and archivist Corrie Slawson created an edition of 17 four-color screen prints and sold them for $52 (one dollar for each year of Cleveland's championship drought). Slawson plans to donate the proceeds through GoFundMe.

"I was working on a piece for MetroHealth, and I made this design that, when turned on end and printed orange looked like a celebratory basketball," Slawson says. "And I thought, 'I'm going to make a poster to celebrate this.' I used the 1980s/1990s team colors, for aesthetics, and because that's how long I have been waiting for a Cavs ring. The figure is LeBron, screen-captured from my phone during Game 7. The edition of 17 all have homes already."

click to enlarge COURTESY OF VAN MONROE
  • Courtesy of Van Monroe

Cleveland-based Van Monroe is best known for his customized sneaker-based art. Monroe discovered his unique gift while playing college football at Miami University. Painting on canvas, Monroe created a special portrait of Kyrie Irving portrayed as the Human Torch during the NBA finals.

"'The Human Torch' is the first release in a series of paintings where I fuse a Cavs player with a superhero that matches his style of play or persona," says Monroe. "During the NBA finals, Kyrie Irving consistently left Warrior defenders helpless, as the threat to blaze by them or shoot over them was imminent. So I paired Kyrie with the Human Torch to exemplify the heat he placed on this opponent, from his ferocious dribbling ability to his scorching hot jump shot."

Local artist and gallerist Loren Naji gave his time capsule at the West 25th Street RTA station a Cavaliers-inspired facelift, adding the trademark "C" logo to his time capsule entitled "They Have Landed."

At the start of the playoffs, local graffiti artist Garrett Weider painted a Cavs-inspired mural on his friend's garage. After the finals, Weider updated the mural to celebrate the Cavs' victory. Like Corrie Slawson, Weider's design is inspired by the orange and blue of the 1980s-era Cavs.

"I kind of modeled the letters after the old-school logo," Weider says, "but definitely jazzed it up graffiti style. Lots of action and color to match how we were all anticipating a deep playoff run. So when we won, I had to include 'NBA Champs.'"

Just outside downtown you can find Israeli-born, Cleveland-based Gadi Zamir working in his studio at Negative Space Gallery. Although not a sports fan, Zamir was inspired by last week's events to create an image of a winged LeBron James dunking a basketball into a hoop attached to the top of the Terminal Tower, all against a wine-colored sky.

"This game brought so many people from all walks of life together," says Zamir. "It broke the glass and allowed creativity and inspiration to break free. Whether it's a sport or an art opening, as long as it brings people together in the quest for happiness and fulfillment, I am all in as well."

click to enlarge COURTESY OF KATE JOHNSON
  • Courtesy of Kate Johnson

Originally from Cleveland, but now living in Columbus, Kate Johnson created a hyper-realistic 11-by-14-inch graphite drawing of LeBron James with only a mechanical pencil after witnessing the scene downtown after Sunday's victory.

"My inspiration came from the atmosphere and the people of downtown Cleveland," says Johnson. "Seeing the Cavaliers bring home a championship was unbelievable. The fact that LeBron is dubbed 'King James' is only fitting. He united the city of Cleveland that night, in the way that a great leader should."

Jamal Collins posts speed art tutorials every week on his YouYube channel to help inspire and educate young artists. One recent post featured a LeBron James poster design tutorial with a full step-by-step explanation of the process.

"The poster is the city pulled out of the Earth, flipped upside down and LeBron getting up off his knees," explains Collins. "It just shows us as underdogs that never give up; four months later we win the championship."

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