Indie Art Galleries

May 16, 2016
Indie Art Galleries

Experience Cleveland's Art Scene Through Local Galleries


Cleveland can boast one of the most prestigious art museums in the country. We have a brand new contemporary art museum with an ever-changing array of international work. And the Cleveland Institute of Art is ranked as one of the top ten professional colleges of art and design in the country.

Think we’re showing off?

Nah. It’s the truth. But it’s only one side of the coin.

The fact is, that while this city is at no loss for major art institutions, it is independent art that is helping to fuel the city’s recent resurgence. Former factory spaces feature cutting-edge exhibitions and entire neighborhoods have emerged as a result of the local art movement.

These smaller spaces, which are curating the work of independent artists both near and far, are places to truly experience the authenticity that is Cleveland. Check them out:

78th Street Studios
Where else can you find a recording studio, clothing line, architectural design firm and a pinball machine business all in one building? That’d be the 78th Street Studios in the Gordon Square Arts District. Located in the former American Greeting Creative Studios building, the space is chock full of more than 40 working artists, makers and other creative businesses. Best time to visit? During their wildly popular Third Thursday evening open houses.

Transformer Station
Take a former substation converter that was used back in the day to power one of Cleveland’s streetcar lines and turn it into one of the most predominant art galleries around. That’s how we do things in CLE. The Transformation Station, with its 22-foot ceiling and clerestory windows, features 3,500 square feet of gallery space for the shared use by the Cleveland Museum of Art and the Bidwell Projects Collection. Inside, you’ll find contemporary art space for photography exhibitions, media installations, risk-taking abstract exhibits and the like. And, it’s all at no charge to the visitor.

The Bonfoey Gallery
The Bonfoey Gallery’s been around FOREVER. Okay, since 1893 to be exact. And, it’s huge. Like 14,000-square-feet huge. As Cleveland’s oldest, most comprehensive and largest gallery between NYC and Chicago, this Campus District gallery offers up a pretty eclectic variety of artwork in various mediums from regional and national artists. They also specialize in art appraisals and art restoration.

Cleveland Institute of Art
Art schools are cool. Everyone knows that. But, art schools with art galleries? Super cool. The Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA), located in its new home along University Circle and the Uptown district, is one of the top ten professional colleges of art and design in the country. Check out the school’s free Reinberger Galleries to see some of the nation’s most talented soon-to-be discovered artists.

Glass Bubble Project
You can view art. You can buy art. But if you want to actually make the art, then the Glass Bubble Project is where you want to be. Inside the galleries and studios of this Ohio City facility, visitors can create unique works of art by hand blowing glass and recycled materials. If making it doesn’t sound up your alley, you can also view work and watch demonstrations. Nicknamed “Clevetion Glass, ” the artwork being created is “industrial and clunky, kind of like the way we see Cleveland – tough and durable.”

Josaphat Arts Hall
A Catholic church doesn’t seem like the most obvious choice for an art gallery. But, in this case, it makes total sense. Built in 1915, the former St. Josaphat Roman Catholic Church is now a 22,000-square-foot arts hall complex that includes a gallery named Convivium33, and studios for painting, glass fusion and stained glass. Various artists lease space in the former nunnery and rectory. After two years of renovation, the building retains the beauty of a religious structure with dramatic windows and ornate archways.

Loop Café
Is Loop Café a coffee shop? A vinyl shop? A performance venue? An art gallery? If you answered “all of the above,” then – DING DING DING – you’re correct. In additional to exceptional coffee, roasted in house daily, Tremont’s Loop Café sells vintage vinyl records, new CDs and LPs, as well as the local made photos and paintings off the walls.

Screw Factory Artists
In a place where they used to make cars they now make art. That’s very much the backstory of Cleveland’s resurgence and is beautifully showcased through the Screw Factory Artists. Located in the west side suburb of Lakewood, the former Templar Auto Factory building is today a studio for more than 30 artists who work in a variety of media. Take a tour during one of their many free events.

The Sculpture Center
Bored with art that just sits on a wall? Try the Sculpture Center, which celebrates artwork of the three-dimensional variety. This facility is always free and open to the public, which is a good thing because the experience shifts with the seasons. During the fall, you’ll find the work of rapidly rising regional artists. When it’s winter and spring, you can catch current trends through the work of four to six early career Ohio sculptors. And, in the summer, view the juried artwork of over 20 artists.

SPACES Art Gallery
SPACES has some serious cred when it comes to working with artists. Since its inception in 1978, the Ohio City gallery has hosted the work of more than 9,000 artists. Pretty impressive, eh? The FREE gallery focuses on artist interaction, experimentation, public programs and residencies.

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