78th Street Studio: Cleveland’s Own Art Maze

Joseph Sussi, Fine Arts Reporter

Walking from the West Blvd – Cudell station, nearly 20 blocks from my destination, I felt the trip to visit 78 Street Studio was a mistake. The area seemed grim and rundown as I was lured towards the back-end of the Gordon Square Arts District. I finally reached W. 78 Street, waddling around trying to find the building. My confusion was short-lived as I noticed a parking lot filled with nice cars and crowds huddled around a small entrance. I stepped in, finally arriving at the 78th Street Studio.

Every third Friday of the month, Cleveland artists from midtown to deep into the westside, come together at the 78th Street Studio to exhibit their work in closed off galleries. The warehouse stretches across four floors, including the basement, with over 40 galleries. I started off in the basement where a room was filled with shoes for sale and made my way up to the first floor. The first floor housed a handful of small galleries with art scattered around the hallways to lead you through the labyrinth. Each gallery has beer and wine ready to be consumed, artists and curators waiting at your disposal for questioning, and, of course, art. The art ranges from the serene bliss of work by Michael Greenwald, to the more chaotic compositions by Rafael Valdiuieso, reminiscent of Hieronymus Bosch.

Moving upwards to the second floor, sculptures filled the rooms until I arrived at Randall Tiedman’s gallery, a local artist who specializes in landscape art, hybridizing the industrial wasteland under gloomy, miasma-like darkness. His work sparked my largest interest, but I could not stay for long and proceeded to investigate the Kenneth Paul Lasko Gallery, where cinematic icons were reproduced in paintings and prints, as well as the Bazaar, an open area where trinkets, hats, and prints were being sold. The third floor focused primarily on photography and captivated interest in its viewers.

Exploring the space exhaustively would require a period much longer available but provides the viewer with a full breadth of the art to explore in the midtown/westside areas. It is easy to become overwhelmed by the diversity of the art, especially due to the cross-cultural atmosphere it presents, but it should not be considered a repellant. What’s amazing about the studio is, for one, it’s free, and also that so many artists from around the area gather to make the event as lively as possible. You do not need to be an art enthusiast to enjoy the work, but only a curiosity for exploring an adventurous environment that is both welcoming and entertaining. Initially, I had no idea where I was or if I was even allowed there – I got there a bit early and didn’t see anyone for a while, occasionally getting lost in tight corridors with art looming over me, staring at me, any second and that creepy guy from the “Take on Me” music video was going to pull me into one of the pieces – but all this is part of the allure, as the owners of the studio advertise the venue as an “eclectic art maze.” My advice, don’t be deterred and refrain from casting a cloud of pretentiousness on the space, you may be surprised by what you may find within the warehouse walls.