May 2, 2013 By Ann Wishart @geaugamapleleaf.com
Grant Cleveland’s large paintings create a colorful show for the newly painted walls of the Fairmount Center in Russell Township.
About 60 art devotees from Russell and surrounding communities attended the opening of Cleveland’s display Saturday to admire the bold acrylic artwork and visit with the artist and center staff.
Visitors could be seen admiring the paintings, which Cleveland said fall into a category he describes as “abstract symbolism” and reading the descriptions posted beside each item.
His practice of writing a detailed explanation of the meaning of each painting and all its components saves the viewer from searching for the meaning of each painting and, in his experience, is unique in the art world.
“Each story explains what (the painting) means,” he said. “All of my stuff is saying something.”
When faced with an empty canvas, Cleveland said he doesn’t work from a sketch or any preconceived ideas.
“I start painting and find what I’m saying,” he said, adding as he works, the painting may seem familiar to him.
“It’s something I already know in my sub-conscious,” he said.
Having never studied art in a formal way, Cleveland has traveled widely and been to galleries in the United Kingdom, New York and the Louvre in Paris, he said.
He is inspired by all the impressionist artists and especially admires Monet, he said.
Cleveland said he has drawn all his life and his paintings are similar to Monet’s paintings.
His last show was at the Dick Kleinman Fine Art Gallery in EATON on Chagrin Boulevard.
A prolific painter, Cleveland, who is in his late 30s, said he has created 18 paintings in the last year.
They will remain at the center until May 22.
The facility on Fairmount Road just west of state Route 306 is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
He and his wife, Laura, live in Chagrin Falls with their three children.
Their daughter, Eleanor, 12, has been studying dance at Fairmount for nine years, Cleveland said.
When he learned the center was failing, he offered services as an entrep-reneur with his John Carroll University degrees in accounting and finance.
Last August he started talking to the center’s board of directors about pos-sible solutions.
In December, he became board president and progress has been very positive.
“The center was definitely worth saving,” he said.
There were some basic concepts that needed adjusting and accounting prac-tices to shift into place.
He gives credit to the center’s executive director Jessica Leary Allen and the staff for helping get the operation back on the survival track.
“The Center has been a fun little project,” Cleveland said. “It wasn’t a hard fix.”
Laura Cleveland chairs the advisory board and there is also a board of trustees that handles processes and partnerships, he said.
There are eight initiatives in place and, along with the volunteer Friends of Fairmount, everyone is working together to make the center a success, Cleveland said.
“It is a phenomenal force,” he said. “We can look forward to a bright future.”
His background as a “serial entrep-reneur” started when he was 14 with his first business, according to “Experience Reality and Reflect Through the Art of Grant Cleveland,” a softbound volume of his work.
Photographer, gardener and software designer, he is now CEO and president of DuneCraft, which he founded 10 years ago.
The company creates themed ter-rariums that are sold internationally.
More than 90 percent of DuneCraft’s products, which may be found at hobby and toy stores, are made and assembled in the U.S. and most of the components come from operations in Northeast Ohio, according to the book published by Halo Publishing International.