On Thursday Cleveland Browns All-Pro defensive end Myles Garrett revealed the latest #VoicesofCLE public art installation, in collaboration with Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA), Destination Cleveland and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. Commissioned by Garrett, the new multi-paned work is by local artist Glen Infante whose #VoicesofCLE pieces have adorned many facades throughout the city center. Following last year's civil unrest, the public art initiative began to provide a platform, especially for those of color, for expression and to spark the necessary conversations and actions to inspire change.
Myles Garrett has always been committed to using his platform to leave a footprint in Northeast Ohio.
Garrett, the Browns' 2020 Walter Payton Man of the Year — which recognizes NFL players for their commitment to the community in addition to their on-field excellence — played an active role throughout last season in creating and encouraging dialogue about social justice issues and racial equality. He also was instrumental in assisting with COVID-19 relief efforts and teamed up with Cleveland Hope Exchange and local businesses last season to provide more than 24,000 pounds of food and additional resources to those in need amid the pandemic.
He left another stamp on the city Thursday. This time, it was visual.
In collaboration with local artist Glen Infante, Garrett unveiled a "Cleveland is the Reason" mural as part of Infante's #VoicesofCLE public art project, which was created in 2020 following civil unrest over social justice issues and is meant to provide a platform, especially for those of color, for expression and to spark the necessary conversations and actions to inspire change.
The mural was inspired by Cleveland icons of sports, culture, and rock 'n' roll and features paintings of Jesse Owens, LeBron James, Jim Brown, Machine Gun Kelly, Tracy Chapman and Toni Morrison. The mural is located at the Cleveland Visitors Center on Euclid Avenue and was created in collaboration with Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA), Destination Cleveland and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission.
"It was for a love for Cleveland, honestly," Garrett said. "It was a passion and compassion for people, so I just wanted to give everybody something to look at and smile upon when they come down the street."
The mural was unveiled one week before the NFL Draft begins in Cleveland, which will welcome Ohio residents and football fans across the country.
"We're thrilled for the location of this mural," said David Gilbert, president of the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. "We're lucky that our office is in such a central place to downtown, such a vibrant place. And also just the fact that these two organizations in Destination Cleveland and Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, that both are key to selling our city to the world, we really can think of no better place for the mural."
For Garrett, contributing to the mural was a perfect way to encapsulate two things he loves most: art and Cleveland.
Garrett has previously expressed love for poetry and other forms of artwork and expressed an interest in weaving his artistic interests with his appreciation for Cleveland. Ever since the Texas native arrived with the Browns as the first overall draft pick of 2017, Garrett has expressed admiration for how the city has embraced him as a leader for the Browns and the city.
Now, with a colorful mural officially on display in the heart of Cleveland, Garrett has one more way of visually showing how strong his bond is with the city.
"Being able to work with an artist and see his process and finished product is great for what I want to do, and it turns out great for Cleveland," Garrett said. "It's a city that has accepted me. It's my second home."