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Artful Unveils New Artist Studios in Cleveland Heights 

After two years of planning and six months of construction, the contracts have been signed, artists are moving in and Artful is finally ready to unveil its new artist studios in Cleveland Heights. In conjunction with the organization's two-year anniversary, Artful invites the public to tour the new space during its free grand opening event from 5 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, March 11.

The Heights area — consisting of Cleveland, Shaker and University Heights — is home to the highest concentration of artists in Northeast Ohio. Despite its high creative population, the area offers little to no studio space. Seeing an opportunity, Artful Ohio Inc. formed about two years ago in an effort to bring affordable artist studio space to the area. The nonprofit organization is a diverse collective of citizens, including artists, educators, local business owners and attorneys.

"It's been amazing to see Artful grow from an idea to reality," says founding board member David King. "I always knew the Heights area was artsy, but I was surprised by just how many artists call this area home. It's exciting to be able to offer support and affordable studio space to artists in my own community. And I believe Artful strengthens Cleveland Heights' tag line, 'Home of the Arts.'"

Artful's founding committee consists of executive director Shannon Morris, board president Brady Dindia, board secretary Rachel Williams, treasurer Lindy Grasser, and board members Sarah Curry, David King, Hillary Lyon and Eric Mundson.

Hoping to extend their impact beyond the walls of the studios, Artful has already begun to develop relationships with the community and fellow local organizations.

"Being involved in this project has brought so much to my own life, which I never could have predicted. It's strengthened friendships, led to new ones, brought to light wonderful partnerships throughout our area, and these are all the qualities we hope Artful will provide our area artists," says Dindia, the board president. "Strong people, strong friendships, strong partnerships make strong communities."

Artful is on the second floor of the Coventry School building at 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights, just steps from Coventry. The building is also home to several other organizations, such as Lake Erie Ink and Ensemble Theatre. Following six months of renovations, overseen by John Williams and Process Creative Studios, Inc., Artful's new home includes 17 individual studios. Although most studios have already been leased, Artful is still accepting applications from local artists.

The new resident artists represent a variety of media, including painting, printmaking, jewelry and more. Resident artists include Judith Barr (mixed media), Adam Brumma (3-D printing), Beverly Carter (jewelry and painting), Dick Dawson (painting), Angela Dobbins-Rivera (soaps, candles and skincare), Mandem (mixed media painting), Satu Papanek (sculpture and mixed media), Susan Prendergast (jewelry), LaSaundra Robinson (painting) and Laura Stack (painting). One studio has been set aside as a space for current college students and recent graduates. Three local students or graduates will be selected to share a studio at a discounted rate.

In addition to individual studios, the space includes a flex space, which will function as a classroom, lounge and gallery. One of the space's most unique architecture features is the interlocking Trusscore PVC walls used to separate the studios. A material used most typically in car washes and slaughterhouses, the plastic walls are brighter and lighter than original drywall, and the material features a semi-reflective quality that is accentuated on sunny days by the building's skylights. To help keep costs and rent low, volunteers — mostly Artful's founders — installed these walls themselves.

Currently in the midst of a three-phase plan, Artful's grand opening is surely just the beginning. Organizers hope Saturday's event will be an opportunity for the public to tour the space and offer important feedback to help the organization serve its community in the most useful ways possible. Guests will have opportunities to vote on potential types of classes and events, as well as the best days and times for the programming. "Now that we are up and running, I am looking forward to learning and creating together," says executive director Morris.

Would-be guests can register through the Artful Facebook event page or by emailing rsvp@artfulcleveland.org. Enter through Door #8 on the west side of the building. Handicap access is available via the South entrance, by Future Heights.

Following Saturday's grand opening, Artful is open to the public by appointment only. To make an appointment, contact Morris by email at shannon@artfulcleveland.org.

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