THE BLACK HOUSE GALLERY
"What is for me is for me."
Absolutely no one understood why I would live in an abandoned house for two years while transforming it into a living art space and attempting to renovate it. Luckily, I didn't need them to.
The idea for the The Black House Gallery came to me as a bit of a fever dream in February of 2016. I had recently reawakened my artistic nature after more than a decade of soul crushing office work. I was searching for my next step, a way to give myself the freedom to create and build my dream life. So when a sleepless night led me down a rabbit hole of alternative living styles and ended with artists in the Detroit metro area taking over and rehabbing abandoned homes, I was sold.
By May, I had taken up residence in an abandoned home in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of Cleveland. This area, considered blighted and crime ridden, was the perfect place for me to hide from the world in plain sight while creating an artistic safe haven for others like me.
I spend the summer of 2016 settling myself and cleaning out the home. I developed relationships with the neighbors and decided on my course of action. I decided to start my journey with an appreciation of an artform that is centered around the appreciation of spaces like my new home, urbex photography.
I used Instagram to find local urbex photographers and organized the inaugural show in July of 2016. This show, titled Abandoned, featured more than 1000 urbex photos by 11 emerging urbex photographers. The show was a hit with 125 people attending the opening and raving about the unique experience. During the following two years The Black House Gallery hosted a variety of other group shows for grassroots artists as well as art classes, graffiti field trips and the occasional artist bar-b-que.
As intended, this once forgotten space became a safe haven for artist of all disciplines, races, social statuses and genders.
Unfortunately, all things must come to an end. While focusing on the artistic vision of the space, I had also been fighting a loosing battle with the city of Cleveland to keep the property while getting it up to code. The home was eventually demolished forcing me to close this chapter and appreciate the beautiful memories it left us with.
Today, a local bee apiary stands in the place of The Black House Gallery. Hood Honey is a community based bee apiary and farm that was started by on of the supporters of The Black House Gallery in an act of legacy and defiance. Its founder, was not willing to let the my vision of community and togetherness be forgotten and has creates a space that continues to honor and uplifted the community in remembrance of The Black House Gallery and his grandmother who once lived on the street.