The reception to the inaugural posting of my Proper Noun of the Week column last week, featuring Frank Revy of the Waterloo Cafe, was pretty great, so I'm super excited to bring you round two today. Today's victim du jour is Bill Rupnik, Cleveland-based artist and proprietor of the William Rupnik Gallery.
I only had the good fortune of meeting Bill in the last month or so, but I've been enjoying the exhibits he's been curating at his gallery for quite some time. He's been promoting some of the best artistic talent in the city for a while now, including folks like Arabella Proffer, John Ryan, Mallorie Freeman, as well as his own work. Some of his recent shows, especially those featuring Tes One and Bask - have become among the most memorable Cleveland art events in recent years, and the future promises to hold even more awesomeness in store for the folks who keep showing up.
In fact, this Friday, Rupnik's gallery will be hosting the closing party for the much-celebrated Ales "Bask" Hotomsky exhibit, A Countdown To Awesome. The party goes down at the gallery from 7-10 PM, with an after-party for those of you afraid to leave the west side at Lave Lounge in Tremont (1307 Auburn Avenue, in Cleveland) immediately following the end of the reception at the gallery. During the after-party you'll be able to check out a sneak preview of Rupnik's next show, featuring Mallorie Freeman and scheduled to open on August 28 with the attention-getting name, "Spicy Dames and Tales of Mystery."
1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?
Bill: I have lived in Greater Cleveland for 32 years, but have lived in the city proper for 8 years. I'll gladly be a residing Clevelander for the rest of my life.
2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?
Bill: Cleveland winters... as much as I hate them.
3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work as an artist and a gallery owner?
Bill: Living in Cleveland influences me more than anything else. The diversity of people, food, culture, income levels, hardships, successes... Cleveland is arguably one of the biggest melting-pots in the country. Cleveland is the kind of city where you can easily be the "big fish in a small pond", as oppose to a city like L.A. or New York where its difficult to even be a "small fish in a big pond". I cherish the amount of opportunities that there are in this city to do anything that you like. It drives everything that I do.
4) What would be your ideal Cleveland day? Or, to put it another way, if it was your birthday and your nearest and dearest were all willing to do what you wanted, what would your day be like?
Bill: I'd wake up early and get breakfast at Yours Truly, spend the morning shopping for mid-century modern furnishings, then grab lunch at Hot Sauce Williams. Afterwards, I'd head back home, play with my cat (Spike) for a little while, then drive to Chagrin Falls to relax, people-watch, eat dinner at Joey's and grab an after-dinner cup of coffee. After that, I'd drive back towards downtown and make a stop at Lava Lounge in Tremont for drinks, then go home for sleep.
5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?
Bill: I'd take them on a drive and show them each of the important Cleveland neighborhoods, and specific points-of-interests within each neighborhood. We would be sure to visit downtown, The Flats, Ohio City, Tremont, Detroit Shoreway, Asiatown, Hough, Euclid Ave. Corridor, University Circle and Coventry. I'd focus on showing my friend historically significant places and architecture, everything from the Terminal Tower to the location where the '66 Hough Riots started. For food, we would eat breakfast at Tommy's in Coventry, a late morning snack at West Side Market, lunch at Hot Sauce Williams, an afternoon snack from a downtown hot dog vendor, dinner at Cleveland Chop House, bar food at Lava Lounge, and late night chinese at Bo Loong's.
6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?
Bill: More people that are committed to staying and living in Cleveland, and being proud of it. Using their creativity and ambition to build-up this city as oppose to tearing it down by criticizing it, mocking it, and hating on it.
7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commisioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?
Bill: For god's sake, encourage developers to stop destroying our historically significant architecture. Gutting the May Company and installing a chain restaurant like Cadillac Ranch is an absolute travesty. Make it more affordable for new, small businesses to occupy space downtown. Its the small business that bring real value and culture to a city, not the big, corporate department stores and chain restaurants.
To meet Bill and check out William Rupnik Gallery yourself, stop by this Friday for the Bask closing party. The Bask exhibit is an awesome one, and the receptions for these events have just been getting cooler and cooler. The gallery is located at 1667 E 40th Street in Cleveland. Check out the gallery's website here.