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Friday, August 7, 2020

'Inside Out' Pop-Up Exhibition Transforms Coventry Storefronts

Posted By on Fri, Aug 7, 2020 at 7:04 AM

click to enlarge PHOTO BY GLEN INFANTE
  • Photo by Glen Infante

‘All About Love’ is the theme for the '60s-inspired, reimagined Coventry art walk project launching Friday August 7th from 5-10 p.m.

‘Inside Out' is a street-wide gallery where local artists will be displaying large works in storefronts along Coventry Road. The social distancing-friendly exhibit, which will feature installs by more than 12 local artists and run through the month of August, is a collaboration between Contrast High, Pop Life Universe and Culture Jock.



"We see the retail landscape shifting in the direction of offering transformational experiences, and we hope this exhibition will inspire more Cleveland neighborhoods to embrace immersive public art," said Joda from Pop Life.

Coventry Village is usually a hot spot for summer events and activities including live music, art festivals, sidewalk sales, movies in the park, and more, but all that summer programming has been canceled due to COVID-19.

This reimagined art walk is an attempt to inject hope and vitality in a usually bustling district, to reconnect the close-knit neighborhood to the Cleveland community at large and to support independent businesses of Coventry Village.

The project hopes “to bring value to storefronts left vacant or hampered by the economic downturn,” according to Mallory Phillips of Dreamhouse Marketing and Executive Director of The Coventry Village Special Improvement District.

“This is a place where artists and art-lovers alike, thrive. We want to inspire, connect, spark conversation, and encourage the people who live, work, shop and play in the area. This is our way of supporting local artists, neighbors, and businesses in a unique, bold, and health-conscious way, given the challenging environment," says Phillips.

“One of the challenges we're facing right now in Coventry is the number of vacant storefronts we have. With an ever-evolving retail landscape (even more so now in the "COVID Era") our district has struggled in the last decade to attract new businesses. The Coventry Village Special Improvement District and local organizations like FutureHeights have taken a renewed interest in the revitalization and growth of this incredible and magical neighborhood. We're investing time, energy, ideas, and resources into attracting new business concepts and supporting the existing businesses in the neighborhood. INSIDE OUT provided a unique opportunity to showcase many vacant storefronts in a really stunning and inspiring way. We really hope to fill out all of these spaces again with vibrant, interesting new businesses, art, and experiences, in the coming months!"

Conforti and Scordos, co-founders of Contrast High, initially conceptualized a "walk by/drive up" exhibition while quarantining here in Cleveland. They did a pop-up installation concentrated on "embracing the moment for what it is" at Xhibition, a boutique in the Van Aken district.

“‘Inside Out’ provokes the question, ‘How do we reframe our perspective?’” Conforti said. “We choose to embrace the moment and be optimistic of the future. If real change happens from the inside out and not the other way around, then we choose art to instigate the healing.”

“I consider art a reflection of politics, because art is identity,” said Alexis René Moten, founder of Culture Jock. “Supporting art is now more critical than ever, because art has an audience willing to listen. People want change, they want healing. Art has a way of making people more compassionate.”

The project is sponsored by the Coventry Village Special Improvement District and is reaching out to the community through crowd funding, the donations from which will go directly to the local artists involved. Most of the works on display will be painted on or displayed in the storefront windows, so there is no commission taken from store owners and the works are not for sale, however the artist can be commissioned to do other projects.

The artists and designers include: Joda Mueller, Aaron Williams, Isaiah Williams, Dakarai, Kisha Nicole Foster, Mary Weems, Da'Shaunae Marisa, Candace Cunard and Bruce Conforti among others.

Many of the artists will be available at the opening on Friday.

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