Paul Duda: Impressions of Cleveland
Art lovers will enjoy the new Hilton Hotel on Lakeside Avenue. That’s because, in addition to world-class views and amenities, the Hilton boasts a panoply of works by Cleveland-area artists. In the main lobby, check out The Puppeteer by Don Harvey and Lake Erie by Barry Underwood. Ascend one flight and savor View from Cleveland Heights by John Troxell and a four-panel interpretation of Viktor Schreckengost‘s Jazz Bowl by Tremont artist Paul Duda.
Among the endless talent displayed at the Hilton, Duda is different. Like many, he’s a painter and illustrator, but Duda is primarily a “photo impressionist.” His images—most of which emphasize Cleveland scenes or objects created in Cleveland—have a luminous, slightly kaleidoscopic quality. They’re downtown Cleveland on its best day, the North Coast at its moodiest, or the West Side Market when its sounds, smells and sights are at their peak.
That’s all intentional, explains Duda, a lifelong Clevelander whose mission is to “create photos that look like paintings—images that combine realism and romance. I’m not seeking accurate journalistic portrayals,” he continues. “The idea is to use photographs as raw material and create visual interpretations.”
Duda notes that “locals used to be so anti-Cleveland. For decades, they drank the same negativistic Kool-Aid that affected most rust-belt cities. Fortunately, things are changing. Cleveland, and U.S. cities in general, are riding a wave. Yet many of those changes are simply a new appreciation of what was always here. New sights and amenities are everywhere, but I see people discovering beauty in scenes that are anything but new. I’ve always loved the area’s landscapes, iconic architecture and personality, and I want people to see things as I’ve always visualized them. The images I create are what my brain sees when I look at Cleveland.”
The images Paul Duda “sees” are on display at his galleries in Brecksville and Tremont. The latter is where Duda makes his home. In fact, he sees Tremont as a microcosm of the life, near-death and rebirth of American cities. “When I moved to this neighborhood almost 20 years ago, degradation was everywhere. Entire blocks were demolished or decaying. But there were still magnificent churches like St. Theodosious and St. John Cantius; iconic buildings like Lemko Hall and Lincoln Park Baths; and venerable establishments like Hotz Café and Sokolowski’s.”
Now Tremont is “back,” with new homes, new attractions and a new panache. As a result, Duda’s art—think of it as Cleveland meets Maxfield Parish—is selling better than ever. But as he’s always emphasized, what makes Paul Duda really happy is that more and more people are seeing what he’s always seen: Cleveland at its best.
c/o Tremont West Development
2406 Professor Ave.,
Cleveland OH, 44113
The Paul Duda Gallery
2342 Professor Avenue
Cleveland, Ohio 44113
Walkabout Tremont: September 9, 10, 11
Tremont Arts & Cultural Festival: September 17 & 18
Walkabout Tremont: October 14, 15, 16
Walkabout Tremont: November 11, 12, 13