You often hear the words "low life" and "Dave Desimone" used interchangeably around Cleveland these days. My inclination is that Desimone has suffered from that label for many years, but at least lately it has been for a good reason. In 2008, Desimone opened Low Life Gallery in the Waterloo Road Arts district of Collinwood, this blog's favorite neighborhood in Cleveland.
Since opening the gallery, Desimone has been one of the most creative and challenging voices in that neighborhood, helping to craft an edgy and artistic attitude for a neighborhood that until recently was only known for the wonderful Beachland Ballroom and a terrible George Clooney flick. In the couple of years I've spent hanging out there and the few months that I've been able to call Desimone a friend, I've been impressed by the man many times over, from his solid curatorial skills to his never-say-no approach to embracing new and good ideas on his street. This month alone, in addition to hosting yet another stellar opening reception this Saturday, Desimone has been co-hosting wiffleball battles, screening interesting films in his gallery, DJing the Beachland Brunch, debuting a new Waterloo Conversations mock-tv program, and just turning that street upside down in an altogether welcome fashion that has shook what's needed shaken (or do I have the grammar here backward?) and cultivated all the rest.
Dave somehow managed to find a few minutes to answer my usual Proper Noun of the Week survey in between all that rock and roll artistic devastation, and his answers are interesting, if a little dickish (especially regarding #2 - he is a dumb-ass Steelers fan, after all).
1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?
I've been in Cleveland since 2003. Originally from Youngstown which i still call home. Did a 7 year stint in Akron as well. Love the Rust Belt.
2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?
Seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers massacre the Cleveland Browns on Christmas eve a few year's back. I heart the Steelers.
3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work and/or art?
Grit, decay, rust, boarded up windows, lack of sun for weeks on end in the winter. All of this impacts my work. Decay is just a step on the road to re-birth so I embrace it.
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?
My ideal day would be to see Mick Jones of the Clash at the Beachland Ballroom followed by omelets and good conversation at my house. Can you send him a copy of this request?
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?
The day would start at Slyman's for a corned beef lunch, then to the Read More Books building for some trespassing, then to Suite Lorain for some antiquing, followed by a bike ride around town. Cleveland is very flat, thus very bikeable. Next up a nap. Dinner at Great Lakes Brewery. Round out the evening by seeing some good music at the Beachland (my favorite place on earth) followed by a hot dog night cap at Steve's Lunch.
6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?
Better public transportation.
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?
Provide them with the definition of the words Competence and Integrity and ask them to honestly evaluate themselves.
To meet Dave and check out his gallery yourself, stop by Low Life Gallery this Saturday, September 12th, for the opening of his latest exhibition, "Getting Weird," featuring the work of Stephe D.K., Ian PE, and Jake Kelly. The gallery is located at 16001 Waterloo Road in Cleveland. And if you fancy yourself a bit of an artist yourself, check out this link here for more info on the call for artists for Low Life's planned October spectacular.
Finally, if you found this post interesting, check out previous Proper Noun of the Week conversations about Cleveland and culture with the following interesting folks: Frank Revy, Bill Rupnik, Mina Hoyle, Brendan Walton, Leia Alligator, Arabella Proffer, Becca Riker, Greg Ruffing, and Mallorie Freeman.
3 weeks ago