Public art born of John Marshall stone

cac logoRegal stone owls are now perched upon open books of knowledge, high above Jefferson Park, keeping watch over Lorain Avenue and inviting young and old to take a break and stop to enjoy the natural surroundings and recreational assets of the park.

Giancarlo Calicchia was inspired to add a little old world piazza to our Jefferson Park while watching people congregate in the town square of hometown in Italy this summer.  As a result of his inspiration, two columns were built in December 2014 in the park near Lorain Avenue, made out salvaged materials, mostly from the John Marshall High School (JMHS) demolition. Allega donated the concrete for the bases and PPG Industries donated the transportation of the stone to the park.

Mr. Calicchia first became connected to the neighborhood when Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation (BPDC) contacted him to work with us and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District on which stone and metal pieces of the former JMHS.  CMSD arranged for the stone to be salvaged before demolition and then stored to later be used in the new school and in public art throughout the community. The Berea sandstone entrance of the 1932 building was repurposed into the 3 pieces supporting the owl sculptures that adorn the top of each piece.

The public art utilized mostly in-kind materials and services, a 2014 Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC) grant provided the necessary monies to build the sculptures a base with the donated concrete and other labor costs to move the stone.  Jefferson Park was chosen as the site of the first installation because of the key role the park plays in the community.  BPDC is happy to announce that we were selected to receive a second year of funding from the CAC, which will continue the work of the W. 140th area public art plan by installing art on the campus of John Marshall High School, which incidentally opens in Fall 2015.

Phase II of the Jefferson Park artwork may be salvaged stone bench seating arranged for face-to-face conversation and BPDC is committed to applying for funds for Phase II so that the public art and the park continues to function as a gathering place to build community with a cozy, informal seating area in the grassy section in the northern part of the park in phase two of the installation.

The installation of columns is the first in a larger public art plan for the W. 140th St. neighborhoods because of the vital importance that corridor has to the lives of families in West Park, as it hosts 2 public elementary schools, one private school, and JMHS (and its temporary site a few blocks east on Terminal Avenue).

The public art plan is also being implemented this year on the corner of W. 140th St. and Lorain Ave., a very busy gateway to the W. 140th corridor of educational assets for all kinds of users, including youth who wait at a key bus stop there.  Plans include placemaking stone monument to let people know they are in West Park, wayfinding signage such as maps for pedestrians and public transit users, and benches made from stone pieces salvaged the 1932 John Marshall building.  This bus stop enhancement will be funded with a grant from Greater Cleveland Rapid Transit Authority (GCRTA) for improving transit-waiting environments.

Mr. Calicchia donated his time not only to create the sculptural columns, but also to gather input from school children at our local schools on West 140th Street for the art plan and worked with them on drawing their ideas about community and public art for our plan.

Giancarlo Calicchia is an artist, master sculptor and the founder of Calicchia Sculpture & Design Studio specializing in sculpture, large scale public art and design.  His mediums include stone, bronze, wood and glass. Mr. Calicchia was born in Italy and moved to the United States in 1957.  In 1979 he moved to Cleveland. Mr. Caliccihia worked on major architectural stone projects in many Cleveland buildings including Tower City, The Ritz Carlton Hotel, The Skylight Office Tower, and North Point, in additional to many other buildings around the country and in Europe and he has art recently installed in Kent and Miami of Ohio.