Tremont’s Private Space for Public Art
Tremont isn’t yet known as a hotbed for public art—at least not in the way we usually define it, which is “pieces created for display in outdoor settings.” But public art can have other meanings, such as “places and spaces where members of the public can display their work and create art in a communal, supportive setting.” And that is how photographer and artist Barbara Merritt describes her new Tremont-based endeavor.
In October, Ms. Merritt opened 818 Studios, a surprisingly large second-floor studio above Fahrenheit restaurant at the corner of Professor and Jefferson Avenues in the heart of historic Tremont. And within those six rooms, a surprising variety of artistic undertakings are taking place.
First off, 818 offers gallery space for local artists. Ms. Merritt is keenly aware that, although Tremont is no longer brimming with art galleries, it remains home to dozens of professional and amateur artists working out of their homes. Regardless of experience or media, these people may find an exhibit venue at 818—for example, a one-man show or short-term “pop-up” display during Walkabout Tremont (second Friday of every month).
818 also is a resource-rich space for painters, designers, illustrators and even photographers in need of special lighting and (further down the road) darkroom facilities. In effect, Ms. Merritt has designed a creative “home away from home” for the one and the many, as well as a place where she can personally help budding artists find their visual voice. It’s an environment where people can grow, and friends and colleagues can convene for communal (and potentially instructor-led) sessions focused on a specific medium. Students can come to make art after or even during school hours. “It’s no secret,” Ms. Merritt notes, “that city schools are devoting less and less time to fine-arts instruction. 818 can work with educational institutions to help fill the gap.”
In many ways, Barbara is the right person at the right time in the right place. She has been a professional photographer and gallery owner for decades. With untold numbers of portraits to her credit, she looks forward to capturing new faces at 818. Barbara is currently a featured artist at the Cleveland Downtown Hilton and has taken part in nearly twenty Cleveland-based exhibitions. And most relevant to this story, she believes in the power of art to make peace, make friends and build community. That, in a nutshell, is one way that Tremont defines public art.
Walkabout Tremont showcases art and more on the second Friday of every month. Check out new art, fashion, music, food, drink and entertainment. Visit WalkaboutTremont.com.
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