Paula Atwell wasn't born an artist. She didn't pursue any art form in college, instead achieving a degree in English and a minor in accounting. After logging years in standard 9–5 jobs, she had an epiphany—it was time to do something for herself. Taking this newfound motivation to action, Paula enrolled in a beading class and followed it with forays into metalsmithing, crafting, and soldering.
These experiments in creativity led her to join the Lake Erie Artists co-op in 2003, where she began to show her eclectic jewelry at their booth during local festivals. When the co-op became incorporated in 2005, Paula's business world experience made her an obvious choice to lead the diverse group of artists in forming their own gallery. Today, the co-op-turned-gallery now carries hundreds of art pieces that span a range of media.
Producing blown-glass sculptures and handcrafted metal jewelry and pottery, the artists each specialize in a few select media as decided during the gallery's annual game of spin-the-paintbrush. The staff at Lake Erie Artists Gallery is also a strong proponent of local business, encouraging their patrons to browse Shake Square after looking at their wares. In project-oriented classes taught by working artists, students explore jewelry and painting and leave with their handcrafted pieces.
Glass Bubble Project's owners Mike Kaplan and Chris McGillicutty are business partners, friends, and working artists. Beginning in 1998, they repurposed their garage space into a working studio where professional artists and students create side by side, firing delicate one-of-a-kind masterpieces—and, according to Cleveland Magazine, the occasional grilled cheese sandwich—in the shop's 2,000-degree furnace. Their glass-blowing and welding classes teach adults and children to create one-of-a-kind artwork as nearby artists at work bolster creativity. Besides classes, the studio invites guests to watch their free public demonstrations and grants private studio time to artists in need and broken bottles looking for a fresh start.
The shop's resident artists craft and sell sconces, chandeliers, and vases from recycled glass and repurposed metal. Nicknamed “Clevetion Glass” to simultaneously lampoon delicate Venetian glass and celebrate Cleveland's heartiness, their blend of industrial parts and elegant glasswork toughens up the décor of private residences and commercial buildings, such as the Ritz Carlton, all across the country.
The Akron Art Museum's collection showcases art after 1850, allowing visitors to breathe freely and without fear of catching the plague from Medieval shrouds. Works by Ohio-affiliated artists such as Frank Duveneck are joined by renowned pieces by Andy Warhol, El Anatsui, and Doris Salcedo, as well as traveling exhibitions. The upcoming exhibit Who Shot Rock & Roll: A Photographic History 1955 to the Present features 175 pictures by photographers including Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, and Annie Leibovitz.
Although The Canal Fulton Glassworks opened in 2009, the timber-framed structure that it inhabits was built nearly two centuries ago. Inside, the business has transformed its historic dwelling into a modern-day showcase of Ohio-based artists, with more than 3,000 handmade works on display, from glass and ceramics to furniture and paintings. The gallery also shares its artistic prowess with the community during hands-on classes, including glass-making workshops that focus on paperweights, pendants, and beads.