Chicago was by far the most challenging pop-up, and with good reason (downtown street corner on a cold, windy Friday before a holiday weekend), and when we got to Cleveland, we were still pretty keyed up from it. When we arrived at the Root Café in Lakewood on Sunday, we were anxious to get things going and start “selling” our free art. The photographers arrived, and Sarah and I were rushing around the bus to set up, get the photographers prepared for engaging people who may be incredibly uninterested, and get our game faces on. No need. Cleveland just a smooth, easy, lovely walk in the park. At one point someone asked how it compared to the Chicago pop-up, and I said, “Well, if Chicago was a hustle, Cleveland was a mosey”. Everyone stopped. Everyone was more than willing to chat a bit and take home a photograph. Was it too easy?
When we were able to get someone to stop in Chicago, the energy was high. The participant was surprised and excited and very interested to see all of the work and get to keep an image. Everyone in Cleveland was so nice and accommodating ("Sure, I'll take a photograph"), it was hard to determine if a real connection was being made.
And then there was Henry. Henry is 8 years old, and prior to this event, he did not own any original artwork outside of his own drawings. He fell in love with this Sarah Moore photograph from The Ten, and was beyond excited to learn she was there in Cleveland and could tell him more about her image. Henry was able to really articulate what drew him to the photograph and what he loved about it. It was a really special moment and definitely a highlight of the tour for me.
The next day Cleveland Print Room hosted a Memorial Day BBQ and Crusade talk, which was really relaxed and fun. Several of the people we met at the pop-up the day before came to hear the lecture, and it was great to get to check out this new facility. Shari Wilkins, the founder of the community darkroom which opened just a few months ago, was instrumental in getting the Crusade to come through Cleveland. It was not originally on the tour, but she made a compelling case, and was absolutely amazing as my "on the ground" person, coordinating the entire Cleveland stop. So thankful - there just aren't words.
On our way out of town on Tuesday morning, we had the supreme pleasure of meeting Fred Bidwell at Transformer Station, where he gave us a tour of the absolutely mind-blowing Todd Hido show. He graciously allowed me to ask him a million questions about his love of photography, how he started collecting, the mission of Transformer Station, and I will be sharing those in a future blog post, don't you worry.
And finally, the photographers! Shari Wilkins from Cleveland Print Room curated the five photographers for the local photographer showcase, which was unique to this city (I have curated the photographers in all of the other cities into the project) and super fun. A huge thank you to the five of them: Donald Black, Jr., Stephanie Mercer, Angelo Merendino, Dan Morgan and Julia Van Wagenen.