To the unsuspecting passerby, the cacophony on the first floor of the historic Templar automobile factory in Lakewood signals the work of men in their hard hats and work gloves. But on the two floors above them, more than 30 of Northeast Ohio’s rarely seen visual artists diligently work on their original mosaics, throw rugs and backpacks. “I love coming into my little world,” says Robb Durr, a sculptor who make statues out of bronze.
Known as the “Screw Factory Artists,” the collection of artisans unveils their cloistered workspace on Saturday, when they invite shoppers to get a jump on their holiday gift-buying sprees. “We only open our doors to the public four times a year,” says potter Gina DeSantis, who’s organized the open house. “This is not an event to be missed.”
To say the least. The reclusive artists include Mallorie Freeman, whose monoprints earned her the title of Northeast Ohio’s “Best Visual Artist” by Scene Magazine this year. Martha Cliffel will give a peek at how she cuts glass plates to create her mosaics. And the eccentric, bicycle-riding Michael Hudacek will explain why he travels the world “one pedal stroke at a time” to design his one-of-a-kind courier and tote bags along with his “big boy backpacks.”
As far as DeSantis is concerned, the art “balances beauty and function.” “It becomes part of someone’s daily routine. We have a number of mugs in the cupboard but we grab the same one every morning. It becomes a reflex; a comforting action in our day,” she says. “In a time of technology and reproduction, the charm and handmade tactile nature of ceramics objects have become more precious. There is a beauty not only in the ritual of creating but in the use of things made with creativity.”