Coffee shop features gritty Cleveland artist

Maria Fazal, Staff Reporter

John G. is a name that may not resonate strongly with those outside of Cleveland, but most locals have seen his artwork at some point, whether they realize it or not.

His pieces are frequently featured in Melt Bar and Grilled as well as on the cover of Cleveland Scene, and he is also known for collaborating with fellow local artist Jake Kelly on the “Lake Erie Monster” comic book, marking him as a true Clevelander through and through.

Those who have seen a poster of a person clad in a blast suit preparing to deactivate a turkey bomb are probably familiar with John G.’s work. The artist designs posters to celebrate Melt’s unique monthly sandwiches. The aforementioned poster happens to show November’s delectable creation, The New Bomb Turkey.

His online blog is surprisingly simple, consisting of white font on a black background, and titled “The Poster and Comic Book Illustration of John G.”

There is no page describing his prodigious talent and unique vision. There is no page explaining what the viewers need to see to understand in his work. He leaves that job to his pieces.

John G.’s works range from gritty realism to smooth, whimsical pieces. Regardless of the piece, John G. has shown himself to be a king in capturing a striking amount of texture and emotion on a two-dimensional surface.

His attention-grabbing works have caught the eye of Loop in Tremont. The coffee shop is known for its trendy and unique environment as well as for its delicious coffee and CD and record shop.

This month, Loop is exhibiting some of John G.’s posters from concerts and other events. The exhibition is titled “No Gods, No Monsters” and includes works from the past five years.

The exhibition will also unveil his new zine, which is a self-published work containing images. There are typically very few copies of a zine produced, as it is not usually created for profit.

John G.’s posters are hung on a plain white wall at Loop in a manner reminiscent of his website. The posters aren’t framed or encased in gilded boxes. Rather, they’re out in the open, as tangible as anything else in the shop.

“I love doing posters because I treat it as dissolution of a story. When I draw a poster, I try to make it so that you can look at it and tell that there’s a narrative, almost like a comic book cover,” John G. explains. “Your brain as a reader of a single image can fill in, ‘I want to know if maybe it was this, maybe it was that’—it’s open to interpretation.”

His work is bold yet understated. John G. is a man who is not afraid to use black, and the pieces are often dark and aggressively shaded. In fact, some of his stippling and hatching is so intense that it almost looks like he spilled sand on the posters and left it to its own devices.

Somehow, John G. manages to see and capture something rare in his images, which are raw and open but still leave something to the viewer’s interpretation.

As he explains on his blog, “Drawing something accurate and detailed is what makes the piece work in a way that convinces the viewer of the reality of your image, even on a subconscious level. The weight of it balances on the energy of how it looks rather than the details. At least, I think that’s how it works.”

Exhibit: “No Gods, No Monsters”
Location: Loop in Tremont, 2180 W 11th St
Price: Free
Rating: ★★★★