A Banner Day on Superior


Elementary school may have been the last time the four men who came to my studio from Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries on Lakeside Avenue were ever asked to express themselves artistically. In August, Bobbi Reichtell of the Campus District asked me if City Artists at Work were willing to join with these men in developing designs for banners that would help build neighborhood identity along Superior Avenue. It had been a number of years since we created the first pole banners as part of the Superior Avenue redevelopment program. During the interim those banners were replaced with others, for which we raised the money.

Bobbi, Susan, and Lenny

Bobbi, Susan, and Lenny

The poles have been bare for a number of year,s and this seemed like a great opportunity to accomplish a number of things: First, the interaction between two groups who are stakeholders; Second, creating a group of designs that reflect the thinking of the groups; and Third, instilling a sense of ownership of the neighborhood.

The workshop was scheduled for the last week in September. Artists were recruited, and other volunteers from the Campus District joined in. Michael Sering, director of the shelter was instrumental in identifying men who had an expressed interest. The workshop was underway! We talked about how the banner designs might identify the neighborhood: The Art Quarter, the ethnic restaurants, churches and schools, the lake and business and social institutions.

The group was free to choose their own path. James preferred to work independently and became engrossed in his painting, even refusing to take a luncheon break, preferring instead to take his lunch back to the studio. His painting showed a single tree blown by the breeze against a brilliant blue sky. Chuck, who could easily have been a fullback for the Browns, was guided in the art of collage to create an abstract work reminding us of the waves on Lake Erie on a calm, sunny day. Jonathan was the most ambitious, developing an iconic view of Cleveland, and another collage reflecting urban life. Lenny managed to pull his design together with a series of lines that created an industrial site or construction.

Lydia, Susan, Jonathan, and Sue

Lydia, Susan, Jonathan, and Sue

A lively discussion was held when all the day’s work went on display. The works will be scanned and cropped to find the best banner designs. During the workshop, a video was made and will serve as means to help raise the funds to produce the banners through the website, Crowd Rise.

To donate in support of this effort, please visit crowdrise.com/BannerUp

City Artists At Work

2218 Superior Avenue

Cleveland, Ohio 44114