I want to laugh when I hear that people are moving to Cleveland to practice their art. Then I want to spit in their faces. I want to do them grievous bodily harm. How dare they, I think. The nerve. Cleveland has never been the kind of place where it’s easy to be an artist; in fact, people who want to unravel the greater mysteries or search for universal beauty or answer the unanswerable questions usually leave Ohio, while those who stay often find themselves using art as a way to make life on the North Shore more bearable. In Cleveland, there just aren’t that many careers in the arts to be had. When I told my father I was thinking about going to the Cleveland Institute of Art, he said, “What kind of work can you find doing that?”
In fairness, he knew I lacked any sense of practicality. I wasn’t thinking about a career in graphic design. I wanted something like Warhol, but you know . . . more manly. But I was young and I didn’t have an answer to his question, so I did what he did. I found a job working construction in the steel mills.
–An excerpt from Eric Anderson’s essay, “Pretty Things To Hang On The Wall,” in Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland Anthology.