Celebrated Cleveland artist Hector Vega, known for his bold and graphic paintings, has donated designs for a mural at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority's University Circle Station on RTA's Red Line.
A corps of 100 volunteers from Case Western Reserve University are being sought to paint the mural as part of the university's annual service day, Case for Community, on Friday, September 19. Site volunteers will also landscape the adjacent park with new plants, benches, tables and a community garden for neighborhood students and residents.
Activities kick off at 11 a.m. in Thwing Student Center with an Italian lunch donated by campus caterer, Bon Appétit and remarks by Case Western Reserve University President Barbara Snyder. At 11:45 a.m., volunteers will travel to volunteer locations. Go online for a complete list of service opportunities and to register by Friday, September 12.
The Center for Community Partnerships, which sponsors Case for Community, has undertaken the mural project as one of its major events for service day. In addition, another 500 volunteers will do over 50 specific projects at nearby community organizations and for events on campus during the service hours.
The most visible service project will be the art mural designed by Hector Vega. It is considered to be a major gateway for both Cleveland Heights and Cleveland as it is traveled daily by thousands taking private or RTA transportation by bus or train.
In addition to Vega's generous design donation, Sherwin Williams will provide paint and equipment to finish the project. Students from the Cleveland School of the Arts and Brush High School, under the direction of art teacher Sarah Curry, also a noted local artist and Vega's friend, will assist in sketching out the design and act as team captains in directing the volunteer painting.
Staff from the Office of University Marketing and Communications, Big Brothers Big Sisters (including Bigs from the School of Law and their Littles) and Jacqueline Nanfito from the department of modern languages and literature and La Nueva Alianza, the Hispanic student organization on campus, have volunteered to work on this project.
"Case for Community Day is one of those events that provide deep satisfaction as you create opportunities for others to serve the needs of others," said Latisha James, director of the university's Center for Community Partnerships. "In these few hours, we not only transform the lives of others in a positive manner, but the fabric of our neighborhoods as well."
Throughout the year, the university's faculty, staff and students invest approximately 400,000 in volunteer service hours. But Case for Community Day is special by bringing the entire campus together to volunteer as a team on the same day.
The 34, six-foot wide sections along the RTA Red Line's south bus loop provide a large canvas for Vega "to capture the energy and essence of the area." People, moving cars and buses, pedestrians, outdoor cafes and more make up images in the montage of life in the two cities.
"This was a great opportunity for me to do a mural in such a highly visible location," said Vega.
Assisting Vega with the sketching to scale of his mural drawings will be Advance Placement and portfolio students from Curry's art classes at Brush High School in South Euclid. Curry's students will act as team leaders for the event and help volunteer painters fill in the larger sections. On Saturday, the students will return to the site and help Vega blend the colors and touch up areas where needed.
The design captures the energy and essence of University Circle, Cleveland and Cleveland Heights in a montage of images from its healthcare industry to the vibrant flowers of Rockefeller Park's cultural gardens.
The new mural will replace a former design, donated by the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1999 and painted under the leadership of CIA student Kelly Chorpening.
Feeling a close connection to mentors in Cleveland Heights who have helped his career and the city he has lived in since immigrating to Cleveland at the age of eight from Gurabo Puerto Rico, Vega agreed to do the mural.
The Lincoln-West High School graduate, who now works for Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, is a self-taught artist.
His first commission came at the age of 11 years when a landlord paid Vega $25 to paint a picture to cover a hole in the wall in the family's rented west side apartment.
Vega calls it "good karma" to give much of his work to charities&emdash;especially those involved with children&emdash;from the annual heart design for the Cleveland Clinic Children Hospital's Heart Throb Ball to designs for a new sculpture for Rainbow Babies and Children Hospital. He also provides art for the Tri-C Jazz Festival.
"I acknowledge what my roots were like when I was a child. All kids are innocent, and they should be given a chance or shot at life," says Vega.
His commissioned works appear in private and corporate collections and have been done for various cities, who have sought Vega's talents to capture the spirit of their cities.
Case Western Reserve University partners with organizations throughout Northeast Ohio throughout the year. The university offers over 500 community outreach programs to nearly 600 community partners in the areas of academic, health, social service, community and economic development. As a campus, Case Western Reserve University faculty, staff and students invest approximately 400,000 hours of volunteer service each year; impact nine local school districts and 29 international countries. To learn more about how the university is engaged in the community, contact the Center for Community Partnerships at (216) 368-3909 or go online.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.