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Cleveland Art Market Opens on Madison Avenue

Valerie Konopka was attracted to Lakewood and inspired to open the Cleveland Art Market at 16806 Madison Avenue.

Valerie Konopka never intended to own an art gallery.

When the 26-year-old Berea native finished up her MBA program at Baldwin-Wallace a couple years ago, she began working as a sales representative for a pharmaceutical company.

After she was laid off a couple times, she decided to set out on her own.

Last month, Konopka opened the Cleveland Art Market at 16806 Madison Avenue.

“There are other galleries around here, so I assumed they were doing well,” said Konopka. “It’s a great area. And this community appreciates art.”

Madison Avenue Turning Into an Art District?

Cleveland Art Market features the work of about local 35 artists, with mediums ranging from paintings, to pillows, to jewelry. Konopka said the idea is to offer “affordable” art — all the items in the store are sold for less for $150.

She’s got some items — including custom paintings — of her own for sale.

Konopka said she “lucked out” with the space, just to the west of Lakewood Hardware and surrounded by other art galleries. When she moved in, the interior of the space had already undergone a renovation, with exposed tin ceilings, refinished wood floors and shelving units on the walls.

“I’ve always wanted to open my own business,” she said. “I was just tired of being laid off. I planned on opening my own business when I was in my 30s when I had more cash. But I didn’t want to wait.”

Want to sell your art at the Art Market? Visit the website to find out how.

The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. The store is closed on Monday.

Joni Nowak RN/CCRN April 04, 2013 at 01:02 PM
It looks great! I'll be stopping by too. Luv the pic of the chandeliers made from old mason jars. I have to have one of those! Awesome........... :0)
maggie j robinson April 04, 2013 at 03:34 PM
I second the Madison Ave ART WALK idea. great idea. Summer's coming! Welcome to Lakewood Valerie!
Rustin McCann April 04, 2013 at 05:10 PM
This isn't an art gallery it's an art store, which is fine, but don't call it a gallery.
V K April 04, 2013 at 05:52 PM
gal·ler·y [gal-uh-ree, gal-ree] 6. a room, series of rooms, or building devoted to the exhibition and often the sale of works of art.
ian king April 04, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Hi Rustin, I totally agree with your comment. I support the energy and passion to open your own business, especially in NE Ohio in this lousy economy, but PLEAASE lets not have the marketing PR machine redefine the reality. To call the few shops along Madison Avenue a new arts district - is well - somewhat of a little art lie. By no means is this an arts district, nor are most of these shops selling what is termed fine art in most galleries around the country. Yes, local artists do display in these shops, but that is not the main focus of their business. A lot of arts and crafts, art trinkets, etc. predominate. Thus, these are art stores not art galleries. Cleveland DOES have art galleries that show and sell only real art by real artists = Bonfoey, some spaces at Screw Factory and 78th St. Studios, Busta, Spaces, etc. They don't sell art trinkets, art refrigerator magnets, etc. They sell fine art that has taken the artists they select to exhibit years to develop and create. So, in all fairness, lets call the 4 or 5 small shops on Madison what they are = art stores, and not art galleries. To do otherwise, is misleading, demeans real art created by real artists, and of course, sounds like Lakewood has an inferiority complex and is trying to be something it is not. Be proud Lakewood of what we have, but be real and truthful in describing what it really is.
V K April 04, 2013 at 08:10 PM
"Cleveland DOES have art galleries that show and sell only real art by real artists" ...well I don't think it gets much more demeaning than that. Just because a painting doesn't cost half a paycheck and YOU don't call it art doesn't mean that it isn't. Take your snobbiness somewhere else.
ian king April 04, 2013 at 08:35 PM
Hi VK - gosh, a bit sensitive about the misuse of the English language? My point was that there is a well established distinction between an art gallery and an art shop or art store or whatever one wants to call it. An established, well regarded art gallery like Bonfoey would not sell the work of the artists in most of Lakewood's art shops. Nor should they. That is not being snobbish, but understanding and accepting it takes a bit more work and insight to call oneself an artist than taking a few courses, or arts and crafts classes. But, then again, I guess in today's world, one can call onself anything and most will believe self-promotion. Instant gratification of one's image. But, then again, real artists spend years of sacrifice to master their craft and then express themselves. It doesn't happen overnight, nor in the world of reality tv and PR self-labeling. Perhaps you can visit one of fine museums that are free like the Butler, Toledo M of Art or the CMA. Real art by real artists - and its free!
ian king April 04, 2013 at 08:50 PM
Hi again - forgot to add that I wish any art shop/store great success. But it is a very very tough market to sell in - particularly in NE Ohio. If this shop's owner is not selling anything over $ 150. in her shop, well, all I can say is Good Luck! I am not sure how a business owner can make a living, pay the shop's staff a living wage, pay a commission to exhibiting artists, and then pay business insurance, rent, marketing, utilities, etc. on items selling for less than $ 150.? Volume would be the only answer, but this is Lakewood - Madison Avenue - afterall. Not usually thought of as a major business destination. Again, the owner has an MBA, so I am sure her business plan has strategized these operating expenses. But, with the recent closure of well known Local Girl Gallery, it is apparent selling any kind of nonessential product like "art" is a tough sell. Best of luck!
VT April 04, 2013 at 09:17 PM
I have to comment on the fact that it seems that a price tag is being used to determine whether something is "real art" or not. Ian, I'm not sure what your bug is. Perhaps what the store is selling could not be considered "fine art" but that does not make it any less art created by REAL artists. There have been major famous artists, who have given their work away for free, does that make then any less of an artist? Banksy for example has stencilled walls---just because it was street art for all to see, does that make him a "fake artist" There are famous artists who have made miniscule work (e.g. Picasso had a work that was just 6 1/4 by 4 3/8) So since that is more trinket-sized does that make it not real art as well? It's all well and fine to say that this shop might be different from others, and perhaps it is not high end, but it is indeed insulting to call the people who put work in there not artists. Art is in the eye of the beholder. Sure the quality may vary, but art is art. Getting all up in a bunch over semantics is just silly.
ian king April 04, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Hi VT - please read again my comments. Price is not the issue. It is the all too common misuse and abuse of the English language today to satisfy one's own needs, goals, identity, greed etc. In a world of short hand communication, dominated by such "cultural standard makers" as facebook, reality tv, american idol, housewives from where-ever, etc. = it is now all about the facade and not about the substance. All I am saying is that for hundreds of years, there have evolved proven/legitimate/established norms, histories, critiques and theories about what qualifies and does not qualify as art - I mean people spend years studying art to obtain BA, MA PhD in Art History, in Art Theory, etc. Just because one call's oneself an artist or labels whatever they create as art -- does not make it truthfully so. Wishful thinking aside in our culture of instant gratification, there still exist in the art world standards and qualifiers. It isn't about price, or high end, or whatever. It is about the looseness of labeling and falseness of marketing that exists in all areas of our life today: if I call myself an artist, I am an artist. If I call my shop an art gallery, then it must be an art gallery. Call it what you like, but that doesn't make it right.
VT April 04, 2013 at 10:12 PM
And just because one thinks they are an art critic like you does not make them so. Now if you wanted to call yourself a troll, I wouldn't comment on that. What makes you the expert on what art is anyhow?
ian king April 04, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Hi again VT - It has been my experience in life that when someone has no logical or well informed position to debate/establish discourse from, they usually go for attacks on the personal - much easier for the simple minded to digest - or they casually dismiss the position/statements/facts the other has successfully established. Kinda reminds one of Joe the Plumber doesn't it?
V K April 04, 2013 at 11:02 PM
Sigh...it looks like a definition is needed, once again: troll 1 (trəʊl) 6. slang ( intr ) computing to post deliberately inflammatory articles on an internet discussion board She wasn't attacking you, just pointing out what you are doing. I'd think someone so obsessed with wording would know this term, but I guess not. Ironic that your comeback IS attacking, though, calling her simple minded and all...
VT April 05, 2013 at 12:20 AM
I'll ignore YOUR personal attack. (And really, no need to think of yourself as simple minded) ;) So I pose the question again...Ian, what makes you the expert on art? By your own logic, you should have some sort of a Phd or something in order to be able to make valid assessments of what constitutes art, right? Tread carefully there though Ian, as there are countless people who DO have higher degrees in art that will completely refute what you have said. I don't think anyone is telling you not to have your opinion, but you are being told to quit trying to pass your personal opinion off as a fact. There has been continuing debate since the dawn of time what objective standards can be used to define art. Heck, canvas painted green has considered art as much as a blob of bubble gum in some circles. (Just compare the modern art wing at the CMA to the Renaissance wing....should the modern art wing not exist due to the lack of complication in regards to the works of the older masters?) It is YOUR opinion that what is sold at her shop is not art. But quit trying to insist that is a fact, as you have no quantifiable data to back it up.
ja April 05, 2013 at 01:54 AM
Well said VT. When you create art for the public to enjoy and possibly purchase you are an artist. Art as many say is "in the eye of the beholder". Mr. King lighten up a bit please and let Ms. Konopka enjoy her art gallery!
ian king April 05, 2013 at 02:23 AM
Hi Ja - Please read my comments thoroughly. I wish only the best for any new business in Lakewood, NE Ohio, etc. We all know this area is in dire economic condition compared to a lot of the country, and truly needs renewal and rebirth to survive into the next decade. And of course, I hope the owner of this new art shop in Lakewood will enjoy her new business adventures in the art shop world!
ncoast April 05, 2013 at 03:55 AM
At the risk of being accused of a "personal attack" leet me say that , in my opinion Ian is more a "Debbie Downer"! He has educated us to understand that its all over in Northeast Ohio with this rotten economy & Bible thumpers, and we had better just accept it. Ian has counselled us to understand that when a business from outside our borders wants to invest some coin in this sorry rust belt town we should shut-up and be appreciative and so much more. I have on often stated that I agree in principle with Ians position, but disagree wwith how he comes to and states that position. Its nothing short of sad when he teamed-up with Rustin to state something they apparently know little about (if Rustins middle name is Belt theyd make a great team!) LOL . Applied Art is as beautiful and valuable to an individual as Fine Art. Regardless' no where was the term "Fine Art" used in the article. Many pieces of Applied Art do become "priceless", if that is really important tto what these business dreamers are trying to accomplish. Does anyone know, exactly, why Local Girls Gallery closed?...other than Ian. I owned an Arts & Craft supply business for 12 years. We taught the Applied Arts as well as the Fine Arts, and believe me the Applied Arts (sales & teaching) paid a lot of bills! To be an ENTREPRENEUR is to step out on to the ledge..GOOD LUCK1 a
Art Forartsake April 05, 2013 at 04:20 AM
Oh Ian... As a very successful commercial as well as fine artist, my career has spanned the last 30 years. I get so tired of condescending pseudo-intellectuals like you who post such drivel as "real art by real artists". If the Free Stamp is fine art, anything Ms. Konopka sells is too. Most fine artists I've met usually can't pay their bills. Bonfoey, a "true" art gallery in your opinion, has the work of two real artists for viewing on their web site, Mary Lou Ferbert and Joseph O'Sickey. As usual beauty is in the eye of the beholder. IMO, Mr. O'Sickey's' work looks like something produced using one, of any number of Photoshop filters, and Ms. Ferberts' pieces are nothing original and would seem appropriate for sale at World Market. If they spent years perfecting their craft, it would really appear to have been a waste of time. Just because Bonfoey calls these two individuals artists, doesn't make them artists. Your words, not mine.
dougmoore April 05, 2013 at 05:15 PM
Art..I agree with your statement, but hope you would acknowlege that the peoples art you speak of is up to an individuals interpretation. But it is "ART", just as Ians writing is "writing". Most of us know that great galleries can very much specialize & great galleries can offer a wide range of mediums! We also know that if an "art district" is possible it must start with brave pioneers & all should be welcome. To me "ART" is "FREEDOM". It seems Ian will continue to try & educate the rust belt masses..the fun part is watching him backtrack from his arcane statements! Youre all invited to see my Matisse refrigerator magnets..I wonder if other PATCHES are this much fun?
Rustin McCann April 05, 2013 at 05:16 PM
It is the conversation around art that defines art.
Lauren Hansgen April 05, 2013 at 05:38 PM
I personally had this conversation with Rustin after reading this article and couldn't originally bring myself to comment because I could imagine how, for lack of a better term, butt-hurt, people would be. I would not dare criticize this venture for being a brave, new small business or for being what is: an art store, an arts and crafts boutique. But it is simply not an art gallery. Art galleries differ from museums in that they are generally not collecting institutions, offer works for sale, and primarily show an artist's most recent body of work. However, like museums, art galleries are powering the development of a region's artistic legacy. They, quite literally, make art history. No matter the difference in price between a O'Sickey canvas and a painted coffee cup--you still would never compare put them in the same category.
Lauren Hansgen April 05, 2013 at 05:41 PM
Another thought: As an art historian and non-profit administrator, not only do I work directly with artists, but I also liaise with the public on a regular basis and work to bring these parties together. I realize that it will never not be that people reserve the right to name themselves ARTIST. But is this really appropriate? Real, professional artists are educated in their work, spend years learning from the best people they can, go to their studio every day to work (just as you would expect a musician to practice playing an instrument every day), and devote a huge amount of time to forwarding their careers, largely on their own. It is not at all easy. Why is this profession one that can be claimed by anyone? No one would dare say, "Hey, I'm a doctor!" or "I consider myself a firefighter, just because YOU don't like the way I put out fires doesn't mean I'm not a firefighter! Besides, what do you know about fighting fires anyway?" Stop doing this to the profession of artist.
ian king April 05, 2013 at 06:03 PM
Hallelujah Lauren! Finally some clear vision/insight in this tread. I really like your idea of calling these shops art boutiques. I think that term is spot on, and accurately defines their product/merchandise without language distortion or marketing misrepresentation. BTW, does anyone remember another art gallery that closed a few years ago - Dead Horse Gallery on Detroit? A very innovative gallery that showed new fine art artists that was unable to be commercially viable. Owning and operating a true fine art/aesthetic only oriented gallery, is a very tough business. That is why this area does not have that many true art galleries. Columbus has more and of course, Chicago, NYC, etc. Also, I think instead of calling this area on Madison an arts district - which it is not, no SOHO here - how about calling it what it really is from the products they sell: Lakewood's ACD = Arts and Crafts District. That is more realistically the reality of these shops/boutiques.
Rustin McCann April 05, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Lauren and I recently had a lovely conversation about the regional art scene for the website Half Cut Tea, check it out: http://www.halfcuttea.com/265/
dougmoore April 05, 2013 at 08:16 PM
Rustin- does your profound thought need crediting, or is it original? Lauren- Ill take you at your word that you do what you say you do, but then Im surprised you dont understand a simple definition. Are you a snob? Now we have a new term introduced..boutique. Q: across the street from this new gallery/shop/boutique are 3 businesses..a tavern, restuarant, & pub..they all sell beer..which one, as Ian may put it, is lying? Nowhere in the article do I see "fine" used, in fact I think "gallery" is used by the writer, not directly by Ms Konopka to describe her "market". When we, the un-washed, visit well decide how "fine" anything may be, & wed love to hear your opinion. Regardless..its a GALLERY! Ian- as for what to call this proposed district well wait for Rustin, Lauren & you to tell us.
Lauren Hansgen April 05, 2013 at 08:32 PM
Hi Doug, I don't know where your comment went, maybe you took it down. My engagement in online commenting forums is next to nothing...because it's incredibly difficult to have a productive conversation--such vitriol! If it makes you uncomfortable to "take me at word for doing what I say I do" I'd love to invite you to Cleveland Artists Foundation (located inside the Beck Center) where I work as Executive Director, so you can see for yourself that I was being honest and that my opinions, though opinions, are informed ones. Throughout the course of my art history education I always knew that I wanted to put my skills to use in a practical way--at a museum--where I would be able to engage with the public and show them that art is for everyone to enjoy. I don't approach art with "snobbery"--however, I do approach art and artists with a great deal of respect. I would enjoy showing you our latest exhibition or just talking about the local arts scene if you are interested. Please seek me out anytime. And just a note, my original criticism of the misuse of the word "gallery" was always directed at the author of the article, not the business owner--because yes, she is not the one who said it. All the best to her venture.
Lauren Hansgen April 05, 2013 at 08:33 PM
My mistake, I can see the comment now.
dougmoore April 05, 2013 at 09:40 PM
Lauren..I truly do understand you better now & take you at your word that you, "aproach art and artists with a great deal of respect". Also, I hope you realize museum & gallery, by definition, are interchangable; as is gallery & shop. Thanks for the invite. I consider THE BECK to be a great teasure, one that Lakewood almost lost. Ive spent many days at THE BECK, in the courtyard, in the cafe..even in the galleries & my daughter has taken classes there. I hope to meet you soon..coffees on me! PEACE.
Art Forartsake April 06, 2013 at 03:07 AM
doug... I totally agree. All art is up to personal interpretation, which is what makes Ian's comments so absurd. I visited the websites of the galleries/ artist colonies he posted and IMO found most of the work to be rather mediocre. As a matter of fact one of the "real artists" worked for me as an assistant years ago. A great person, but not a great artist then, or now. His most ridiculous statement was.."All I am saying is that for hundreds of years, there have evolved proven/legitimate/established norms, histories, critiques and theories about what qualifies and does not qualify as art." To me that statement indicates Ian actually knows nothing about art. What centuries old "norm" was used to qualify Jackson Pollack, Andy Warhol, Picasso or Rodin? Something tells me Ian has a stake in this gallery's failure. No one posts such pathetic vitriol about someone, or a business that doesn't affect them... unless it does.
Joshua McLaughlin September 03, 2013 at 03:58 PM
Looks like she is already out of business. I had a collection of photography for sale there and she appears to have packed up shop and disappeared. I haven't been able to get a response from here with the two emails and phone number I have. Does anybody have any info on how to get ahold of her?

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