Flying This Holiday? Check Out Art At Cleveland Airport

Travelers rest in the baggage claim area of Cleveland Hopkins Airport on a December afternoon
Travelers rest in the baggage claim area of Cleveland Hopkins Airport on a December afternoon [Carrie Wise / ideastream]
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AAA forecasts around 7 million people will fly this holiday season. If you’re one of them, brace yourself for a busy time in the security line, retrieving luggage and catching a ride.

But along with the hustle and bustle at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, there’s also respite in the form of art.

More than 150 works of art line the walls of the Cleveland airport — much of it created by artists here in Northeast Ohio. It’s all part of the airport’s art program.

“It started 10 years ago. So we're celebrating our 10th anniversary. It was an initiative that came out of the mayor’s Arts in Everything Initiative,” said program manager Shari Cloud.  

Many of the works show off the city, like imagery of Lake Erie or the downtown skyline. The art hangs in walkways, around the baggage carousels and in waiting areas.

"Tranquil Moment" by Jennifer Bachman, a Cleveland police officer.

Some of the art is permanent, but much of it rotates. The airport puts out requests for art throughout the year, enlisting the talent of students, Northeast Ohio artists and even city employees.

“The city of Cleveland has over 7,000 employees. And so I said, ‘Well, at least one of them has to be an artist.’ And lo and behold, we have quite a few photographers and artists that are a part of the City of Cleveland,” Cloud said.

Works by area students reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Cuyahoga River burning.

"Create Life" by Sara Bitter, student winner in the "Celebrating Clean Water. Igniting the Future" exhibit.

Cloud doesn’t select the art herself. A panel of artists and gallery owners review the submissions. The program aims to provide both artists and the city exposure to more than 10 million travelers passing through annually.

On the way into the airport from the main parking garage, a gallery space currently features artist Walter Grossman’s “Earth Landscapes.” He studied with Ansel Adams, known for his black and white landscape photography. Grossman’s images highlight nature in Ohio and beyond. Several of his photos are also on view in a small waiting room on the baggage claim level.

Ash Cave, Hocking Hills [Walter Grossman]

“It just gives you a calming, subtle mood,” Cloud said about Grossman’s work.

Feedback from travelers confirms the calming effect, she said.

“What we want to do is provide a place where you can relax,” she said.

Some of the art also inspires selfies, particularly the “Man of Steel” in the baggage claim area. It’s part of a permanent exhibit about the city’s connection to Superman.   

“A lot of folks take pictures in front of Superman with their hands on their hips,” Cloud said.

Next time you’re at the airport: Look around. There’s a lot to see.

The Superman exhibit at the Cleveland airport. [Carrie Wise / ideastream]

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