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April 17, 2024

First Mural Installed

Located in downtown Cleveland

Splashes of colors have been added to the downtown area now that the City of Cleveland has opened up the permitting process for murals throughout the community. What began as a winning project by public vote during a Team Cleveland Main Street promotion sparked years of work from multiple entities to create a system that would ensure longevity and proper installation of large-scale art work throughout Cleveland.

“The downtown mural was the winning project from Restaurant Week back in 2020,” said Cade Holder, former director of Team Cleveland Main Street. “Then, the pandemic happened and shut everything down. By the time the Chamber offices picked the work back up, there were more factors that needed addressing for installing painted artwork on buildings located downtown to be in compliance with standards of historic preservation, which is managed by the Heritage Commission.”

“Since most of the downtown area is in the Crosstie Historic District, [the mural project] was brought to the attention of the Heritage Commission. The Heritage Commission is the governing body that approves any changes to buildings in the area to meet the requirements of the Secretary of the Interior’s Rehabilitation Standards,” said Lynn Shurden, chair of the Heritage Commission.

Representatives from the Heritage Commission at the City of Cleveland began researching mural and public art guidelines in 2021.

“Myrtis Tabb, Nan Sanders, Chet Oguz and I formed a volunteer group and wrote guidelines for murals, not only in the Historic District, but anywhere throughout the City. Once these were written and approved by the City, a Public Arts Committee was appointed to oversee any applications for murals,” said Shurden.

The Public Arts Committee (PAC) serves as a resource for property owners and artists who hope to install larger-scale murals on buildings and property to ensure longevity and upkeep of the artworks. The committee meets as-needed to review public art installation applications.

“Art is an inspiration for all of us, and we should not be shy about using its magic in public spaces. I am very excited for Cleveland for its first downtown mural and feel that more people will be inspired, and new mural applications will follow,” said Chet Oguz, DSU Art Department Chair and member of the Public Arts Committee. “A lot of work goes into designing and completing a public project, and murals are no exception. The location, theme, design, and timely execution of a mural are important and must be done properly, aiming to serve the greater good of local communities.”

To begin a mural project, citizens must first fill out the application online at the City of Cleveland’s website, which requires letters and contracts from property owners and artists to outline the scale, timeline, and proposed design and color scheme for the project. All murals within the City of Cleveland must be approved by the PAC. If the mural is located within the Crosstie Historic District, it must also be approved by the Heritage Commission once it has passed review from the PAC. Upon passage from both groups, the Community Development office will issue a formal permit upon application, which means the project can proceed.

The first mural went through several drafts and proposed locations as guidelines from the Heritage Commission at the City were developed. The final draft was designed by Tasha Huerta and painted by Lawson King. Team Cleveland Main Street sponsored the mural and underwent the application and presentation process, with additional assistance from Robinson Electric Company and the City of Cleveland’s Public Works department. Building owner Raymond Huerta and tenants Craig and Hadonica Murphy of Delta Escape offered their building as the location for the first installation.

For those who are interested in the mural process, the application can be found online at the City of Cleveland’s website under the “Community” tab. Organizations like the Delta State Art department and Delta Arts Alliance have relationships and connections with artists qualified to install a mural and can be a resource for community members.