Crossroads: Newer Galleries Exploring the Intersection of Art and Music

The social spheres of musicians and visual artists have overlapped for centuries, but recently the founders of several newer Cleveland venues have made a point of encouraging and nurturing such crossover. Chief among them are Alex Tapié and Brian Straw, whose multi-disciplinary space, Survival Kit, opened in December of 2010 in a 4500 square-foot loft on the third floor of the West  78th Street Studios. After five months of demolition and renovation, Tapié and Straw
created a spacious gallery and performance venue expressly designed as a social space for artists, musicians, and performers. The space also houses a multi-room recording studio and a showroom/vintage shop called Lu-Owl, which features the work of clothing designer Rochelle Beres.
Tapié, an artist and musician who graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a degree in Fiber and Material  Studies, and her partner Straw, a singer, songwriter, and sought-after recording engineer, previously were living and  working in a loft space in the flats, and performing with their band, Buried Wires.
“We were involved in both worlds, art and music, so we wanted to connect them,” Tapié said. She had also created event-based performance works in college and missed the collaborative social dynamic that she experienced there. Similarly, Straw had been involved in Speak in Tongues, a notorious West-side performance venue that emerged in the mid-1990s and closed in 2001, and was interested in creating an alternative platform for the music community.

“Brian and I would joke about the idea of developing a ‘survival kit’ of everything we needed as artists and musicians,”  Tapié said, “so, that’s where the name came from.” Now, a year and a half into it, their enterprise has blossomed into a lively hub of creative activity. Each of their exhibitions is up for eight weeks. Past shows have featured such artists as  Sarah Isenhart, Rebecca Cross, the late Anthony Bartholomew and Dana Oldfather. Events featuring several musical  groups are held for the opening and closing of each show, as well as mid-way through each run. In the meantime, Straw is in the process of recording albums for local singer/ songwriter Joey Beltram (of the band Good Morning Valentine) and  for Christopher Sikon and Matthew Childers (of the band Me).

While both Tapié and Straw maintain part-time jobs in order to pay the bills, their mission of creating their own Survival Kit offers a concentrated punch of cultural sustenance for all that gather at their space. Survival Kit is located at 1305  West 80th, Suite 303, in Cleveland. Call 216.533.4885 or go to
Among the newest venues to the Cleveland scene is another that mixes the art and music scenes: Buckbuck Gallery in  Ohio City, hosted its first event, “Palookafest 2012” on April 27, featuring visual art by Michelle Murphy, Scott  Pickering, Paul Sydorenko, Jim Karpinski, and Bob Peck, as well as music by New Lou Reeds, Filmstrip, and Batt Lion. Proceeds from the event went to Ohio City Writers, a non-profit creative writing center in the neighborhood. The brainchild of two Cleveland-based designers, Joe Lanzilotta and Derek Maxfield, Buckbuck’s mission is to serve as a creative workspace and forum for developing and showcasing everything art and design. According to Maxfield, he and Lanzilotta, both of whom work full-time for advertising agencies, originally were looking for space to do their own screen-printing projects. They got into their space, a former auction house, in March, and started to build walls. But when Ian from the Polookaville Café, located two doors down, asked if they could host the café’s one-year anniversary, plans changed and he idea for the gallery was born. Look for Buckbuck’s next event on July 7. Buckbuck is located at 3910 Lorain Avenue (between Fulton and West 41st) in Cleveland.
Another recent labor of love, Rotten Meat Gallery opened its doors on December 23, 2011 in a former lighting factory in Cleveland’s   Asiatown neighborhood. Business partners Dan Miller (a painter and printmaker who studied art at  Cleveland State University) and John Kalman (a musician who can often be found working the door at the Grog Shop, a concert venue in Cleveland Heights) renovated the space themselves, which involved Miller emptying his bank account and selling his motorcycle. The gallery focuses on emerging and established local artists.

“People forget that Cleveland is an artistic city,” Miller said, “so the whole idea was to make the gallery Cleveland-centric.” Miller also said he always has been struck by how pretentious the art world can be, and so he chose a gallery  name that he felt was “the opposite of pretentious.” In addition to openings, which are held on the first Friday of each  month, the gallery is open on Saturdays from 1 to 5pm, and by appointment. Rotten Meat Gallery is located at 1814 East 40th Street. Obsolete opening night April 6, 2012 at Rotten Meat Gallery. #4B in Cleveland