The Pretentious Tremont Artists of the Literary Cafe
After moving to the Tremont section of Cleveland Ohio in the winter of 87-88’ artist Tim Herron quickly discovered a small cozy neighborhood bar called the Literary Café. Owned and run by a charming couple Andy Timothy and Linda Baldizzi. Tremont and the Literary Café in particular were becoming a welcoming spot for artists, video productions, musicians, poets and everybody and anything creative. It was here that Tim, while sketching in his drawing pad with fellow artist Brian Pierce came up with a solution to the perpetual problem for artists: how to arrange for steady practice in a cost efficient manner while at the same time securing fresh models on a weekly basis. Traditionally, one pays professional models to sit for portraits. Herron and Pierce, however realized that the Literary Café, where they were regulars, presented an abundance of potential sitters. They approached bar patrons with a trade: in exchange for three hours of their time, they would be privy to works of art created in front of them, of them, and for them.
After overhearing a conversation where Tremont was described as a bunch of pretentious artists we naturally had to call ourselves “The Pretentious Tremont Artists of the Literary Café”. We only had a handful of artists in the beginning. Jim Gerber and 80yr old Joe Nagy along with his son Scott were some of few artists to join us early on. Tim’s early portraits were on 32” by 40” paper with the model posing for two Friday nights from 10:00 to 1:00 in the morning. One night he would work on the portrait and on the following night he would work on the hands and eventually spend untold hours finishing the backround. Brian would work with color pencils on black paper. After several years of late night drawing we were joined by several artists of the Murray Hill Group that met on Wednesdays and liked the prospect of also drawing on Friday nights. Tims large format was replaced with a much smaller size 16” x 20” which only required one sitting and the time was moved to 8:00 to 11:00pm.
The first artist of the Murray Hill Group to join us was Larry Zuzik. Many artists have a hard time giving up their portraits for free but Larry like Tim and Brian enjoyed the steady stream of models and willingly donated their portraits to the person who earned it – the sitter, while at the same time doing so in front of an audience of bar patrons, most of whom are surprised to see live portrait drawing while they were having drinks. Following Larry were Howard Collier, Jack Flotte, Jeff Suntala and Juan Quirarte. Jia Wang stopped in when she heard some artists were going to draw her co-worker and has been with us since. Jennifer Newyear a fellow art student at Cooper School of Art in Cleveland found out about us and joined soon after. Years later Kathryn Heim, Anne Lyon, Maria Polk, Deb Steytler, David Heller, Jeff Erdie, Cassandra Dracup, John Troxell, Anthony J. Robinson joined us followed by husband and wife artists Nancy Lick with Pat Phillips along with Deni Ziganti and John Scavnicky. This formed the core of the group as it stands right now. After starting around 2005 we have been joined by hundreds of artists and encourage anyone no matter the skill level to stop in and draw with us. In July of 2016 our location changed because Linda and Andy sold the Literary Café and moved to Florida, we also changed the name to "Pretentious Cleveland Portrait Artists", as our group now consists of artists from all over greater Cleveland. We have been drawing at my studio The Manly Pad in Tremont, A yoga studio in Ohio City, Waterloo Arts in Collinwood, Forest City Brewery in Duck Island (by West Side Market), a restaurant in Lakewood which is now changed hands and Artful Cleveland (the former Coventry Elementary School) in Cleveland Hts. The time has also changed, we now draw every Friday night from 7:30pm till 10:30.