Heights Arts Showcases Functional Creativity of Local Artisans in "Remade in Cleveland"

click to enlarge Heights Arts Showcases Functional Creativity of Local Artisans in "Remade in Cleveland"
Kevin Busta
This weekend, Heights Arts presents Remade in Cleveland, a special exhibition of beautiful yet functional objects, created by some of the region’s finest artisans, and intended for use in daily life. Remade in Cleveland opens with a reception in the gallery from 6 to 9 p.m. this Friday, Jan. 15.

"Resourcefulness and creativity are common threads binding these artists together,” says Greg Donley, who heads Heights Arts’ gallery committee, which organizes its exhibitions. “Rather than starting from a blank slate, they seek out interesting materials that have already been used for some other purpose and are now ripe for a second life. The resulting furniture melds practicality and imagination in functional objects that are intended for use in day-to-day life—but are also beautiful, compelling, often intriguing forms that sometimes evoke their past lives."

The exhibition features the work of Northeast Ohio artisans Kevin Busta, Doug Meyer (Rustbelt Rebirth) and the firm Rustbelt Reclamation. All three utilize locally sourced materials to create custom tables, seating, mirrors, lighting, wall features and tabletop objects such as clocks, wine caddies, serving boards and even “paper” planes.

Kevin Busta has come a long way since he graduated from Medina High School. After work dried up at his dad’s metal shop, Busta repaired boilermakers. His industrial skills helped him transcend into art and industrial design as he began to repurpose found objects and materials. He has been featured on numerous occassions in the New York Times, and his upcycled creations are highly coveted from New York to Los Angeles. He owns Kevin Busta Industrial Furnishing in Tremont (2188 Scranton Road).

“The works I'll have in the show are a combination of structure and colors not only inspired by utilitarian use, but what they are as shapes," explains renowned local industrial designer Kevin Busta. “My studio is based in Cleveland, Ohio. My furniture and art is inspired by the industrial remnants of the old factories and broken machinery that surrounds my environment. Using the industrial material to be re-purposed in my furniture designs is a lasting symbol of the utilitarian, Cleveland rustbelt.”

Doug Meyer works out a barn near his home outside of Cleveland under the company name, Rustbelt Rebirth. A huge mural’s depiction of an underwater scene alludes to the barn’s unlikely past as a scuba supply shop. Yeah, he even repurposed his own workshop.

“My work is made mostly of found objects and materials, each piece encoded with its own history,” says Doug Meyer of Rustbelt Rebirth. “This keeps each piece unique and often unduplicated. It wouldn’t be uncommon to see me buying wheelchairs from the thrift store on half-price day, or pulling shopping carts out of a pile in the scrap yard. It doesn’t take a genius to see the potential in everyday toss-outs, but it does take a lot of work to bring that potential to reality. It’s a way of life for me, and I love it. I hope you do too.”

Rustbelt Reclamation’s story is one of a business reinvented – or upcycled. The business now known as Rustbelt Reclamation actually started over 40 years ago as the Interior Products Company, a Cleveland-based manufacturer of commercial grade furniture and cabinetry. In late 2010, its new owners shifted the company’s direction towards a line of standard products and custom projects based on locally sourced, upcycled materials. The company’s recent success had humble beginnings – with, of all things, a bottle opener.

click to enlarge Heights Arts Showcases Functional Creativity of Local Artisans in "Remade in Cleveland"
Doug Meyer/Rustbelt Rebirth
“The idea for scaling up the Reclaimed Cleveland model was fueled by increasing interest, but is rooted in a simple product — the bottle opener,” the company explains on their website. “Our original bottle opener design was our first standard product, the first to ship to customers across the country and the first to garner inquiries for additional reclaimed product. With the demand apparent, our next challenge was to deploy resources and practices to make what has traditionally been an artisan model, a platform to produce upcycled products on a larger scale. This involved developing industry-leading practices for harvesting, processing, design and production. With the creation of the Rustbelt Reclamation brand, we have positioned ourselves to address customer needs with a wide offering of reclaimed wood-based products to be made available on an unprecedented scale. In doing so, we remain faithful to the heritage and quality inherent in our materials and are committed to producing the finest quality products that our customers deserve and desire."

Remade in Cleveland showcases the ingenuity driving our region’s so called “Rustbelt Revival.”

The exhibition remains on view through Saturday, Feb. 27, during regular gallery hours: Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 1:30 to 9:30 p.m. Closed Sundays and Mondays.

At 7 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 11, Heights Arts hosts an artists talk and Ekphrastic Poetry event. Kevin Busta, Doug Meyer and David Meyers of Rustbelt Reclamation will discuss the benefits and challenges to working with repurposed and salvaged materials. Noted local poets Barbara Sabol, Mary Quade and Barry Zucker will recite responses inspired by objects in the exhibition.

(Heights Arts) 2175 Lee Rd., 216-371-3457, heightsarts.org

Scroll to read more Cleveland News articles


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.