The Casual Curators: Erika Durham Anthony Koch

Co-Founders, Canopy Collective

Founded this spring in Ohio City's Lorain Avenue antiques district, Canopy Collective is an antique and regional art consignment boutique, gallery, artist studios, classroom, screening room and more. As co-founders Erika Durham and Anthony Koch explain, the space is really whatever you wish it to be.

"I think what makes us different is most easily understood by being in the space," explains Durham. "There are many great shops in Cleveland where you can buy handmade art, crafts, vintage items and antiques, but what sets us apart is our ability to morph the space into just about anything. We are so excited to continue to meet new artists and creative minds and grow this fantastic community of people. One of the nicest compliments we receive is that our space feels very comfortable and 'like home,' which is what we were aiming for all along."

Canopy, which populated the old Buck Buck gallery space, hosts an eclectic variety of classes including painting, tango, movement exploration, yoga, digital photography, three-dimensional design and children's art classes. So it's sort of a shop and sort of a gallery and sort of a studio for just about anything the duo are into. It also hosts the PenPal Social Club every other week in collaboration with online publication The Red Heart Press.

"We are both from Cleveland, and our families are here," says Durham. "We also have been part of the growing arts scene in a variety of ways and were so excited to see how much support the people who live here are willing to give to artists and artisans. It seemed like the right time to jump into a big creative project."

They have nine studio artists that run the gamut from writers to muralists to photographers to wood workers. That end result stemmed from a vision for the Collective that the two had in the initial planning phases.

"We started working with eight other people last year with an idea to start a non-profit focused on music and art, with community events and classes," recalls Durham. "After looking at a few spaces for that specific project, we started to realize that it was going to be incredibly difficult to meld the worlds of 'practice space' and 'fine arts space' because of noise and scheduling issues. Once we came to the conclusion that it wasn't a feasible project, we branched off with two friends (Adam Jaenke and Lisa Paulovcin) from the group and changed gears to a for-profit business focused on the art aspect. The idea morphed over time and came to be what it is now."

Moving forward, Durham and Koch have a full schedule planned through May 2016. In the coming months, Canopy will host a number of special events featuring many emerging local artists.