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Cleveland Artist Spotlights


No one can tell the story of our local artist communities better than the creators themselves. Learn more about the artists who have made greater Cleveland their home, and take your own lessons from their experiences. Submit an Artist Spotlight

Christina Bock

Christina Bock is a Cleveland-based personal branding photographer serving creative women entrepreneurs. Her mission is to capture the beauty and essence of her client’s brand with scroll-stopping images that they are oh so very proud to post.

Maíra Vianna

Brazilian singer, songwriter and student of the Tri-C music program, Maíra Vianna graces the Cleveland community with the soft rhythms of bossa nova, samba, jazz and now blues. Maíra hails from Minas Gerais, Brazil and carries with her a rich family tradition of music. She just released her newest album “Green Blues” on YouTube. “Green Blues” is a departure from Vianna’s previous style and is “the product of a Brazilian musician trying to write a blues—the bossa nova keeps trying to sneak in,” she says. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, Maíra persevered to complete and record the album with the help of Tri-C recording studios. While her vocals were recorded at Tri-C, her ensemble (which includes professors within the music program) had to record separately in their homes. “We stay strong, dreaming and producing art, with a lot of love to share, even during a pandemic.” She says. 

Aja Dandridge

Aja is an emerging Cleveland artist with much to offer in the coming year. She’s been a reluctant Clevelander all her life, but her imagination extends far beyond the city’s borders. Sometimes urban and other times out of the box, her artistry has a beat of its own. Currently, her work muses on African Magicalism and Mythology, often depicting fictionalized characters of ethnicity. Her portraits tell stories as seen through the eyes of her subjects.  

Hedwiga Wood. Bringing in the color of life

Hedwiga Wood is a curious individual, so much so she ended up singing solos in choirs, walking the runway, drawing fashion illustrations, painting in acrylics, and in the past two years, modeling in 3d. In Hedwiga’s mid twenties, a goal arose in her colorful noggin. "Hey, I’d like to make a living doing what I love," she says. She describes elements of her work as girly, hippie, fantasy and glamourous and creates using the values of curiosity, creativity, beauty, fun, and peace. 

Leigh Brooklyn: Creating A Women's Empowerment Movement

Leigh Brooklyn is a figurative artist living and working in Cleveland. Her work largely centers on raising awareness of marginalized and underrepresented communities and people. Learn more about the story behind her militia women series, encouraging women to find their inner warrior. 

A couple years ago I did a painting of a friend in a militia outfit that she created of her favorite comic book character, "Tank Girl". The piece ended up being more about gun violence in America as she held a gun with a target on her shirt, but she had a presence. She looked so strong and powerful in that painting that when it hung in a gallery a little girl came up to me and said, "I want to be like that when I grow up". In all honesty, I did too.

Malik D.B.

Cleveland Arts Community: Meet up-and-coming artist Malik D.B. - multi-media photographer and community connector. "My work is showcasing the wonders of Cleveland in a new updated way," he says. Aka TheInternetGhost, check out Malik's work on Etsy, Made Cleveland, Instagram and Patreon, and coming soon to Heights Arts.

Ash O'Connor, Made Cleveland

If you haven’t already heard the well-deserved buzz, Made Cleveland, the online multi-vendor marketplace for Cleveland artists and makers, has officially launched! A community-driven concept developed by Cleveland entrepreneur and thoughtful soul, Ash O’Connor, and a site designed by local artist, Deanna Dionne, Made Cleveland opened its online retail doors just a few short weeks ago (yes, during a global pandemic). “We planned on launching closer to the end of the summer, in preparation for the holidays, but we saw such a need for artists to generate income with the devastation of Covid, that we majorly accelerated our timeline,” says Ash. 

Megan Kuhar

Cleveland, meet Megan Kuhar! Assistant professor of Music Technology at Baldwin Wallace University, Megan is not only a musician herself (a percussionist performing in The Commonwealth), but also runs a branding coach biz for musicians, online course, Fan Finder and podcast “I help musicians learn about branding, marketing, technology and social media and how to build their brand online,” she says. 

Lena Atomika

I am a child of Slavic immigrants...born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio. I have recently relocated back to Cleveland to help my mother, after living in Los Angeles for 20+ years.

Moving on it's own can be difficult, and add to that the changing of one's day-to-day structure as a makes for the development of some unexpected and even overwhelming challenges. And as anyone, we do the best we can with what we have.

Georgio Sabino III

Twice an official photographer at The White House for President Obama’s invitation to photograph the Ohio State Buckeyes 2015 and the Cleveland Cavaliers 2016 National Championships, Georgio Sabino III continues to consistently create magic, not only in Cleveland and Ohio, but also all over the United States.

Ben Oblivion

The scene: The artist is on a small riser. He has just delivered an insightful, well-spoken, if not slightly snarky monologue, articulating a lightweight existential crisis. He does this while gesturing in tandem with images projected on the wall behind him. He sports vibrant, sapphire blue hair, distressed Converse high tops and a DIY t-shirt that reads “I Am Stupid.” And reveals another underneath, “We Are All Stupid.” 

Leanna Mullen

A fresh, new face in the city, dancer, teacher and arts entrepreneur, Leanna Mullen chatted with Arts Cleveland last week to learn more about our arts community. As a super dedicated artist and teacher, she is already taking on some incredible work by championing inclusivity through dance. Leanna is thrilled to be getting started as North Pointe Ballet’s newest dancer, saying, “I’m so excited to be a part of North Pointe’s mission to bring ballet where there might otherwise be physical, economic or cultural barriers.” It’s a philosophy that mirrors her own, in which she sees ballet as an art for everyone. She wants her classes “to be a place where every student feels welcome, no matter the student’s ability level or previous ballet experience.” In addition to working with North Pointe, Leanna is also teaching classes three nights a week at the Baldwin Wallace Community Arts School, channeling her passions for both ballet and community outreach. “I think specifically in my teaching, I strive for my classes to be an encouraging environment, breaking stigma around ballet being a cold or impossibly strict art form.” 

Searius Addishin

Cleveland, meet Searius Addishin. An active performance poet, planner, program coordinator and educator, Searius finds himself back in the greater Cleveland area after a number of years of creative practice in L.A. Working 2 and 3 jobs in L.A. was the norm, he says, for many creatives, which left very little time to devote to making work. Being back in Cleveland and reinvigorated to push his craft to the next level, he came to Arts Cleveland looking to get reacquainted with our rich arts community. He took off running and started making connections across the city immediately! We’re excited to see him so energized by the incredible creative people and places we have to offer here and can’t wait to watch his artistic talents flourish. Cleveland is glad to have you back, Searius!

VIBE Collective

Based in Akron and just over a year old, VIBE Collective is passionately working to activate systems-level change for artists in Northeast Ohio. The community-based collective is comprised solely of working artists and activists, all volunteering their time to the cause of elevating the value of grassroots and marginalized artists in our region. We had the opportunity to talk with Amber Cullen and Nichole Epps, learn more about VIBE’s philosophies and their dedication to artists. We’re excited to connect with our fellow arts advocate neighbors in Akron! 

Jeremy Paul

Curator of the weird, deviser of hybrid media and Executive Artistic Director of Maelstrom Collaborative Arts, Jeremy Paul, is successfully blurring the boundaries of Cleveland’s creative worlds. MCA has emerged as a reinvention of its former self (the nomadic, theater company, Theater Ninjas, which produced for over a decade). With the shift led by Jeremy and the MCA Cadre over the last two years, “It has really been a massive transformation,” he says. “We built off of the ways we were already changing, but the way the company was structured, who we’re working with, the productions themselves have all shifted.” One of MCA’s most popular productions, Bricolage, pairs artists of completely different disciplines to collaborate and develop a new performative work.

Giorgiana Lascu

Actress, producer and director Giorgiana Lascu is breaking onto the scene with some exciting new DIY film projects, along with an infectious zeal and enthusiasm for creating. “I’m good at making something out of nothing,” she says, as she prepares to launch her new production company, Old Coal Pictures. 

Karen Snyder, Improbable Players

Since 1984, traveling theatre troupe, Improbable Players, has been igniting conversations around addiction and alcoholism through performance and student workshops by actors in recovery. We were excited to learn that this Boston-based theater company will be starting a new Cleveland chapter in 2019. Shortly after moving back to Ohio from Boston, theater artist, Karen Snyder, knew Cleveland was a prime candidate for this work.

Annie Zaleski

A Lakewood-based freelance writer who began her career primarily doing music journalism, Zaleski’s been published by the A.V. Club, NPR Music, Rolling Stone, Spin, Thrillist and Vulture. Locally, she’s written for Cleveland Magazine and other Great Lakes Publishing publications and for Crain’s Cleveland Business. She’s gradually expanded her repertoire to include business, culture, food and personality profiles.

Brews + Prose

Two enterprising young writers helped co-found what has grown into one of the most popular reading series in the region: Brews + Prose at Market Garden Brewery. Dave Lucas, PhD, a poet and SAGES Fellow in the English Department at Case Western Reserve University, and Mike Croley, MFA, a fiction and nonfiction author and visiting assistant professor of English at Denison University, had a plan to launch something new and different in the literary scene, built on the fundamental assumption that “literature is better with beer.”

RA Washington

In June of 2013, RA Washington opened Guide to Kulchur. To call his bookstore anything less than a community arts center would be an understatement. Yes, it features an exceptional and ever-expanding selection of small-press books, many by local authors, but it’s also the scene of community meetings, author readings, live music and performance events.