Artist Spotlight- Nathan Ehlers & Emily Martis

North Collinwood has been greeted by a new resident couple this summer, Nathan Ehlers and Emily Martis! The couple discovered the neighborhood during Northeast Shores Development Corporation’s, Welcome to Cleveland Weekend, which gave an opportunity for artists from around the country to come in and find out what makes our neighborhood and city great. It only took one weekend for Emily and Nathan to fall in love with Collinwood.  A little after a month from their first visit Emily and Nathan invested in the neighborhood and took part in Northeast Shores Own Your Own Build Your Dream Program; a program that gives artists the opportunity to purchase homes for $6,500 by agreeing to take on the  responsibility of the rehab.

Both Nathan and Emily were new residents who had relocated to Cleveland after Emily got a job with General Electric. Originally Nathan is from Florida and Emily is from Wisconsin.  When they relocated they initially moved to Cleveland Heights, but after they attended the Welcome to Cleveland Weekend they were hooked on the idea of rehabbing their own home and having an impact on their community. The rehab project didn’t seem like much of a risk to the couple, they are both very self-motivated and share a do-it-yourself personality and were excited with the opportunity. They sat down and were willing to try something new and they didn’t have much to lose with the acquisition of the property only being $6,500.

Emily is an engineer but loves to take part in crafts when the opportunity arises whether it is knitting, soap making, or working with fiber. Nathan is a Chef who previously worked at the Knit Lion Inn at Penn State. When he moved to Cleveland, the rehab project gave him the opportunity to learn the trades since the majority of the work was done by him with assistance from Emily.  Both Nathan and Emily are artisans at heart and are always taking part in new projects.  The couple made it a point to learn something new every day on the project “Each person was responsible for sharing something new that they learned that day with the other person on the project” says Emily.  The couple taught themselves through the project learning everything from plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and everything in between. The results of the rehab project shows their artisan roots and that they were willing to try something new. If they broke something along the way, they learned from it and they corrected it. The couple has always taken part in do-it-yourself artisan food projects from cured meats, to making pasta from scratch. The Northeast Shores Own Your Own Build Your Dream Program gave them the opportunity to help build their artisan skills in the trades and at the end it resulted in a success.  I asked how the couple learned everything and they quoted “a lot of reading”.  The couple’s project really shows there dedication and hard work to make their own space at a small monetary cost for ownership. The couple received signoffs from all city inspectors and they went above and beyond Northeast Shores’ perimeters for the program.

With work finally completed, Emily and Nathan moved in the home earlier this summer and have already jumped at the opportunity to be involved in community art projects. Emily took part in the Yarn ‘N’ Yoga release at Euclid Beach and her work will be featured at the Yarn ‘N’ Yesterday Vibrancy Event, which is a temporary gallery exhibition at 16013 Waterloo Road on Friday, October 3rd from 6-9pm.  Emily will also be featured at Waterloo Phone Gallery in February, which is an art display in abandoned phone booth next to Russ Auto Care.

Emily and Nathan have been a great success of the artist residence opportunity in North Collinwood.  We hope Emily and Nathan the best as they settle in their new home.  Anyone who is interested on how to take on a do-it-yourself rehab project, in Collinwood, you can follow Emily and Nathan’s Blog http://thepurplefrontdoor.wordpress.com/, which gives an amazing look at all their hard work and accomplishments.