Shannon Morris, a 42-year-old Cleveland native and lifelong artist hopes to bring a new art gallery, studio and retail store to Cleveland Heights.
According to The Heights Observer, Morris says, “The idea has always been in the back
of my mind; the bottom line is that I want to provide affordable studio space on the East Side of Cleveland.”
Morris already established a new organization in 2015 called Artful, a non-profit studio and workshop space stationed in the former Coventry School building at 2843 Washington Blvd.
Artful’s mission is to “establish and nurture affordable space that supports and educates artists in their mission to create, sell and display their art while making creativity and inspiration more accessible to the community at large.”
Morris’ idea to build a convenient and affordable space for Artful to increase artist exposure and creativity is becoming a reality for not just Cleveland Heights, but most surrounding Cleveland neighborhoods, including University Heights.
Aside from affordable studio spaces for artists, Artful’s new location will provide rooms for workshops, focusing on session about marketing, new technology, etc., programmed by arts educators and Artful board members.
Artful will focus on educational programs, where students, interns and artists can learn aspects of art as a business. Morris also hopes to present other programs, such as yoga classes, community art lessons and a series called “Heights Nights,” which would be a coordinated evening of open studios and galleries with a shuttle that would rotate between Artful, the Cedar Lee Business District and Coventry Village.
The Artful studios will be constructed as flexible and adaptable spaces, allowing them to be open and visible to the public
According to a recent study, nearly 20 percent of all artists in Cuyahoga County live in Cleveland Heights. “There are so many artists living in the neighborhood. Many are working second jobs while trying to build their art into a career,” says Morris. “I want to create a space where people feel comfortable, an environment where people can create and collaborate.”
Morris grew up in Cleveland Heights and expanded her artistic knowledge by moving to New York City to study photography at New York University. Morris received her degree in 1995 and then returned back to Cleveland Heights in 2002.
Morris, who is married and has two children, says that she has always loved Cleveland Heights. “When I moved back to Cleveland from New York, I refused to move anywhere but Cleveland Heights,” Morris says. “I was adamant. I love the energy here, and I love the diversity. It’s also very walkable, and the people are unique.”
Thereafter, Morris opened a shop on Lee Road called “There’s No Such Thing as a Non-Artist,” which included a studio and other spaces where she held art classes.
“My goal was to make people feel creative; it was definitely a precursor to Artful,” says Morris.
Although “There’s No Such Thing as a Non-Artist” closed in 2007, Morris continued to focus her career on art.
Morris, not only a photographer, now creates furniture, lamps and jewelry, all generally made from recycled materials.
“Between the time the store closed and now, I have been making custom pieces for people. I basically do whatever comes to me,” Morris says.
Morris, with the help of her friend and Artful’s development dirtector, Brady Dindia, are in the process of advertising for her new groundbreaking gallery and studio space in Cleveland Heights. Her advertisements on Facebook received over 200 “likes” within the first week of posting.
Morris is currently looking for a fiscal agent to extend nonprofit status to Artful so that the organization can raise $75,000 for the soon-to-be completed project. Currently, Morris has spoken with Future Heights, the organization that publishes the Heights Observer, in addition to Heights Arts about the possibility for funding.
“Future Heights is working to facilitate the process and connect Artful to the right people,” said Deanna Bremer Fisher, the executive director of Future Heights. “Cleveland Heights is home to the arts, and I would love to see an Artful space in our city. We are doing what we can to help Artful find the right place.”
According to The Heights Observer, Rachel Bernstein, executive director of Heights Arts, says her organization does not yet have any official relationship with Artful, but is “very interested and supportive of their efforts.” Bernstein added, “Providing opportunities for artists to work in the Heights is an exciting development. Our entire community could benefit from this idea, and it would complement Heights Arts’ current programming nicely.”