mural by Bob Peck

Photo by Becky Raspe

The mural by Bob Peck was inspired by outer space and the cosmos to challenge kids to think beyond the landscape..

September 14, 2015

Two new murals installed in Chester Avenue building

By Becky Raspe

At the start of the new school year, students of Campus International School (CIS), Cleveland State University’s partnered K-7 International Baccalaureate School at 3100 Chester Avenue, found two new murals installed in the lobby of their Chester Avenue building.

The murals were designed over the summer and completed by two local artists just before the school year began.
“I really wanted the students to come back to the school and have the murals as a welcoming surprise,” Mary Kate Grzelak, a fourth-grade teacher at CIS, who led the effort to get the murals done at the school, said.

“We have received so much great feedback from students and parents—I just really hope the murals create a place they want to be and are excited to come to each day.”

Grzelak was not alone in this effort—she contacted the local non-profit organization Graffiti HeArt to help organize and make her idea a reality.

Graffiti HeArt strives to inspire health and art in the community and to provide educational pathways to underserved youth in the area.

“A partnership with a school is core to our organization, especially to help inspire students and youth through this art form,” Stamy Paul, president and founder of Graffiti HeArt, said.

The organization kept CIS involved in the entire process including getting a feel of what the school was about and what they wanted the murals to encompass.

Graffiti HeArt enlisted local artists Bob Peck and Garrett Weider for the job.

Each artist had their own wall to design a work that complemented the theme of the school.

Bob Peck, who has worked on various projects, including art for Scion, Red Bull, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
and local murals at Cuyahoga Community College and Waterloo Arts Festival, depicted the earth, space, a space station and multiple galaxies in his mural—tagged with the word “EXPLORE” in a large graffiti-style font.

“The initial challenge was for me to use the theme of ‘global’ in my art,” Peck said. “I come off a graffiti art background so I knew I wanted to use [‘global’] as my initial focus. In the end, we went with the word ‘explore’ instead.”

“I imagined then all of the places I wanted to explore,” he continued. “One of my favorites is the idea of outer space and the cosmos. I wanted to reach out further and make the kids think about what’s beyond our landscape. I was inspired by my love of space exploration and the idea that there might be more out there for us to find.”

In contrast, Garrett Weider’s piece is more grounded. The massive mural depicts memorable Cleveland buildings, U.S. and international landmarks, including the Eiffel Tower and the Taj Mahal.

Weider’s graffiti style involves crating large Xerox collages out of paper pasted to the wall. In the past, he’s done multiple cities and mash-ups of various cities for Battery Park, Tremont Athletic Club and the Cleveland Summer Games.

“They wanted something that stressed the global nature of their school,” Weider said. “I thought, why not just add a bunch of iconic buildings to the Cleveland landscape? I just wanted people to walk by and just say, ‘Wow!’ The space was transformed into something cool and not just a regular brick wall anymore.”

Both artists see how important art is to adolescent self-exploration.

Weider really stressed that he wanted the students to get a better experience out of being at school.

“I always hated school, hated being cooped up,” he reflected. “Hopefully, the murals spark creativity. You grow up with all those clichés of ‘you can be whomever you want.’ It’s rare but it really does happen. Maybe the students grow up seeing us artists doing our thing and it expands their minds into thinking that anything can be possible.”

“Art is definitely a rare path in life,” said Weider. “But, maybe having these murals around will get them thinking that a typical job isn’t the only way to get through life. Maybe there is another way.”

Peck on the other hand, saw this as an opportunity not just to beautify one school out of the many in the district but also to spark change in Cleveland as a whole.

“All in all, I really like to use my talents to beautify and inspire,” Peck said. “A little bit of color goes a long way in a city like ours. It’s great to see Cleveland shining these days, and I’m just happy to be a part of making it a better place.”significant portion of Cleveland State University’s student body will dodge a tuition increase for the 2015-2016 school year.


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