To Cleveland with Love

By Hollie Gibbs

Oh Cleveland and ye Clevelanders, shall I compare thee to the Cuyahoga?
Thou art resilient yet steadfast.
Rough weather doth freeze the tides of the Lake,
Whilst thou keep moving ever forward.

We as Clevelanders love our city, and there comes a time in every relationship when you want the world to know it. Now Cleveland is one step closer to reading a love letter addressed to its residents written in the inspired pop art of two of the city’s beloved artists scrawled across an Ohio City building.

The mural, titled “A Love Letter to Cleveland,” depicts a ribbon of words winding through visages of famous local residents, locations and events like the Cuyahoga River meandering through our dynamic landscape. The duo hopes the pop culture journey through Cleveland’s historic past and present will open dialogue between young and old, residents and visitors, while exciting community pride.

Gary and Laura Dumm were disappointed when their entry was not selected in a 2012 local mural competition.  But the tears of the brokenhearted often spring seeds of life and love anew. The husband and wife team became determined to find the funding to bring their mural to life. They were longtime customers of Orange Blossom Press, who offered the space on the back of their building. Now they are one of 20 awarded the CPAC Creative Workforce Fellowship Grant, awaiting only Ohio City’s approval of their design.

“We Are Fans of Cleveland, and for better or for worse, we are Clevelanders looking for more ways to promote Cleveland through our art,” Gary said. “People, places and things create a city. And we think that the most important of these — the real heart of the city — is its people.

“Cleveland’s fortunes have gone up and down on a wayward sine wave not unlike the path of the crooked Cuyahoga River (that dividing line between East Side and West Side, that is actually a lifeline for all — as long as it remains non-flammable),” he continued. “Ever optimistic, we feel that we’re on a definite upswing now, and we’d like to contribute to and help push further in that direction.”

Gary inked Harvey Pekar’s American Splendor comic from 1977 until Pekar’s 2010 death. Laura has worked as a graphic artist and a painter for more than 40 years. They often collaborate with her infusing his images with color.

“We have been lucky to make a living doing what we love,” Laura said. “Cleveland has let us be creative people, so this is our Thank You.”

With a proposed installation date in early summer, they already have rough drafts and even one panel of final artwork finished. Although, with so much to love about this city, they have not decided precisely who and what will comprise the final composition.

“We would like to open that discussion up to the neighborhood via social networking and our website,” Laura said.

“We would love it if other neighborhoods/cities wanted to do a mural like this,” she added. “We will work with them if they are interested.”

Check out the Dumm’s other work at


Hollie Gibbs has a BS in journalism from Kent State University and studied photography at School of the Visual Arts in Manhattan. Her articles and photographs have appeared in numerous local and national publications. She can also be found playing guitar with various bands and building life-size monster props.

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2 Responses to “To Cleveland with Love”

  1. We are so very proud of Gary and Laura and so very pleased to have Orange Blossom Press used as their canvas. Orange Blossom has been at this location for over 30 years and has seen Ohio City change and evolve first hand. Thanks to Gary and Laura for this incredible love letter!

  2. Congrats to Gary and Laura on this project.

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