Fender's Keepers

GuitarMania sticks its necks out with 100 supersized Stratocasters.

GuitarMania, featuring 100 ten-foot, celebrity-decorated guitars Throughout the city On display through October


The 10-foot fiberglass guitar sat in the middle of David Deming's studio, ready to be transformed into a football shrine. "It wasn't so great looking [at first]," the Cleveland Institute of Art student explains. "But once I started, it just came to life."

With a $7,500 sponsorship boost from the Browns, Deming painted the 120-pound Fender Stratocaster replica, replaced the guitar's tuning forks with miniature goal posts, glued Astroturf between each fret, and drew likenesses of the jerseys worn by all 13 Browns Hall of Famers onto the guitar's body.

Deming's creation will be rolled out for display with 99 other supersized guitars throughout the city over the next couple of weeks as part of GuitarMania, a six-month fund-raiser for the United Way of Greater Cleveland, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Education Fund, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Celebrities -- including Yoko Ono, Joe Walsh, and the cast of The Drew Carey Show -- decorated guitars for the event. A baseball-themed Stratocaster by Indians shortstop Omar Vizquel even greets Tribe fans as they walk into Jacobs Field.

The guitars will be auctioned off November 9 at the Rock Hall, with organizers hoping to raise $1 million from the sale. Winning bidders will determine the axes' permanent homes.

"It's a great showcase of public art and pride in the city," says Meredith Kaplan, United Way's special events manager. "What's a better way to pay tribute to Cleveland than with a guitar?"

The United Way originally teamed up with the Fender instrument company to create oversized Stratocaster replicas. When the donated guitars arrived in town last year, 100 corporations paid $7,500 each to sponsor artists and celebrities to adorn and embellish them.

"This is a great way to give back to the community," Kaplan says.

There's no word yet on where one might find a 30-foot amp.

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