CLEVELAND (WJW)– Art with a message is taking shape in downtown Cleveland weeks following a peaceful protest for George Floyd where rioters later shattered numerous store front windows.
A new initiative called “Voices of CLE Public Art Project” aims to replace plywood on storefronts with murals.
“I guess this is my vision of the future, of everybody kind of, just standing together multiple colors and origins,” said artist Glen Infante.
Cleveland-based artist Infante is the first to transform boarded up windows to art as a part of the project. He spent several days this week outside of Rebol restaurant in Public Square painting plywood with profiles of people in different vibrant colors.
“I think it’s our job as people to kind of take action and try to start the steps in changing the mood around you,” he said.
Heather Holmes, of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, said they are collaborating with several community partners, including city of Cleveland officials, to bring this project to life.
“Provide these artists, especially those of color, this opportunity, in this moment, to express their emotions, express their voice,” Holmes said.
She said the project connects local artists and business owners to create the artwork for facades and storefronts.
“We have business, we have artists, we have the activist community at the table engaged in this dialogue to ensure that we do this right,” Holmes said.
So far, she said, more than 50 artists signed on for the project, in addition to 20 businesses.
“Instead of driving around the city and seeing boarded up windows, to see something positive, see some art and send out the message of what we all believe Cleveland is truly about,” said Michael Nadolski, of Lago Custom Events.
Holmes said the “Voices of CLE” is designed to create conversation and healing in the community. She and Infante encourage more artists and businesses to take part.
“This is our chance to say something and I think we should take the opportunity,” said Infante. “We were given a skill so let’s use it.”