Real Art in a Real Neighborhood.

Last year over coffee, Cleveland Institute of Art professor Lane Cooper succinctly summarized my babbling by saying, “Oh, so you are about real art in a real neighborhood.” As we head into spring and the street comes to life again, I found myself reflecting on our changing community and what that tag line means.


The words ‘real’ and ‘authentic’ get tossed around a lot, sometimes to mask the opposite. What’s ‘real’ about Collinwood? First, we are urban and proud of it. We’ve got a great mix of people and unique spots to congregate in, public and private. Waterloo Road is getting dressed up with decorative pavers, benches and planters, but we’ll never look like the generic ‘small town’ outdoor malls in the ‘burbs.


The 20 colorful murals of Zoetic Walls, painted by local and international artists, call out to passers by that they have landed in a thriving, creative place. Jutting out from the old Croatian Hall, the Beachland Ballroom’s neon sign glows like a beacon for Indie music lovers, promising just about all that is good in popular music today.


There are stores aplenty, with merchants who built businesses from scratch selling the coolest hand picked vinyl, vintage outfits, classic toys and uniquely Cleveland wares. You can still get your keys made at Mac Locks, one of the oldest businesses on Waterloo, get the best hand-made sausage in town, pile your plate high at the Slovenian Home fish fry, or get hep dancing at Valerie Salstrom’s monthly swing party. And pretty soon there will be a slew of new independent eateries to choose from as some of the best restaurateurs in Cleveland stake their ground.


So what about the “real art?” Waterloo Arts Gallery exhibits emerging and established artists who are pushing expression into new realms. Now, five other notable galleries have joined the district, including Loren Naji’s new Satellite house.


But we aren’t just showing art in the district; fine art is being made all around the neighborhood. Whether it is Tim Callaghan painting in his studio at Waterloo Arts, printing at Zygote’s Z-Ink house, ceramics at Brick studio, sparks flying at Jerry Schmidt’s sculpture studio, Painted rain barrel workshops, fiber art at Praxis, graphic design at No Problem Printing, tattoo design at Rebel City, or the meticulous restoration of old stained glass windows at Azure, professional artists work here everyday. And Northeast Shores’ work to activate vacant spaces has been catalytic.


From Waterloo Arts steady outpouring of presentation and performance, to the annual blowout Waterloo Arts Fest (the last Saturday in June), we’re all about bringing our ‘real’ neighborhood together and making, seeing, hearing and experiencing ‘real’ art. So if you want a great mix of people, a little irreverence, a lot of DIY spirit and a huge dose of connected community, you might want to check it out.



Waterloo Arts

15605 Waterloo Road

Cleveland, Ohio 44110



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