Artistic interpretation: First two murals completed in Murals Across the City campaign

In May, Destination Cleveland put out a call to local artists for mural designs on Cleveland buildings—depicting the values and principles of what makes Cleveland unique.

“We were looking for photo-ready branded works,” says Destination Cleveland PR manager Jen Brasdovich. “We saw such great success with the six Cleveland Script signs, that now we’re hoping to showcase the personalities of each Cleveland neighborhood.”

In September, Destination Cleveland and project partner Graffiti HeArt chose six artists from more than 150 submissions to complete their murals.

The artists chosen are Lisa Quine, Kelle Schwab, Isaiah Williams, Bob Peck, Ian Burleson, and Stina Aleah.

Schwab and Quine began their murals in mid-September—Schwab on the side of the Vic’s Floral building at 6304 Fleet Ave. in Slavic Village and Quine on a building at 8004 Lorain Ave. in the Detroit Shoreway. Both artists completed their works last week.

“It was the last sunny day before a week of rain,” Schwab says. “I’m so grateful I got it done. When you work outdoors, you’re at the mercy of the weather.”

Murals Across the City Project - Kelle SchwabMurals Across the City Project - Kelle SchwabSpirit of the Land

The focal point of Schwab’s mural is the luna moth, “a large, beautiful moth that is native to Cleveland and is a mint green-blue,” she says. “I thought it was a fun way to celebrate the exciting nightlife Cleveland has.”

The moth in the mural is flying upward, “symbolizing Cleveland’s desire to grow,” Schwab adds. “And the [mural] has forget-me-nots, known for their perseverance in challenging environments. It shows a wonderful sense of tenacity for Cleveland.”

Schwab also includes local architectural elements like the Guardians of Traffic, a bridge, the Terminal Tower, and the West Side Market—and one of Destination Cleveland’s brand phrases, “The Land.”

Everything depicted has meaning, says Schwab, and she designed her mural to be reflective of Cleveland after COVID-19.

“I put so much symbolism in my murals,” she says. “A moth symbolizes new beginnings and understanding after the pandemic. They represent the light you see in darkness. It’s good symbolism to have in there in post-pandemic times.”

Schwab says she has been overwhelmed by the support and love the community has shown while she painted. “A lot of people from the community have come up and hugged me,” she says. “People say, “I’m so excited to see this every day and it gives me hope.’ That was incredibly meaningful to me. The number-one word I hear every day from the community is “hope.’”

Billboard for the city

Quine has painted more than 100 murals in six states and two countries since she started painting in 2016. She says even she is surprised by what she’s accomplished and incorporated those goals and the theme into her 26-feet-wide, 18-feet tall Lorain Avenue mural on the side of a 22,000-square-foot storage facility.

The message on the mural reads, “The Land WHERE ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE” in large white block letters with a black drop shadow.

Lisa Quine - Murals Across the City ProjectLisa Quine - Murals Across the City Project“I kind of looked at it like we’re making a billboard for the city,” Quine says of her mural, which depicts Lake Erie, sailboats, the Goodtime III, and the city skyline. “It shows gratitude that anything really is possible, dreams come true. I thought I’d be a graphic designer for the rest of my life. Now I have just over 100 murals under my belt.”

With its location on Lorain Avenue, Quine says she is pleased that her mural can be seen by cars driving on I-90 Westbound and folks simply strolling down the street.

“There are large letters, bright colors, and a lot of details when you get up close to it,” she explains. “You can see it from the highway and by the walking foot traffic.”

Quine says her mural does create an impact, while also sending the message of Midwest values and work ethic.

“There is a sense of anything is possible,” she says, “with Midwest people working culture here and that mindset of hard-working people getting things done.”

Quine adds that the mural also depicts Clevelanders’ sense of unity. “In Cleveland, they’re rooting for you—they want you to follow your dreams.”

More to come

Destination Cleveland’s Brasdovich says locations and timing for the other four murals are still in the works, adding that more than 25 building owners across the city expressed interest in having a mural painted.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.