Fine Arts and Fest

Breakneck Gallery

Matt MacDonald
Art is perhaps one of the more subjective things in life. What is art to one person may be garbage to another.

At Breakneck Gallery, owners Sean & Kristen Burns aim to do something extraordinary: they are bringing fine art to real people.

An Interview With Kristen Burns

How did BNAG get its start?

Out of the blue, Rich (the gallery’s previous owner) called Sean and said ‘Hey, I’m getting rid of the Pop Shop and you’re the first person that I thought to call,’ which was pretty flattering. So Sean called me and he asked me ‘Do you wanna take the Pop Shop?’ Naturally, I couldn’t say no.

Now is the Pop Shop going to reopen at some point?

He said, probably down the line. That’s why he wanted to keep the name. As of right now, he’s going to be concentrating on being a father. It was just one too many things with teaching and having the framing shop.

What’s the meaning behind the name?

Basically, we were trying to figure out what to call the place. It got to the point where we were just reading stuff off the walls and then adding the word ‘gallery’. Then, I was like, ‘Wait a minute! Breakneck Gallery’ Because of the Zapguns song, ‘Breakneck Girls’, the song’s about the girls that you would see when you are driving down the street and you would snap your head around to look at. It beat out ‘Floor Gallery’ and ‘Flyer on the Wall Gallery’!

What has the community reception been like for your first showing?

It was pretty good! Everybody who did come had a lot of good things to say. They liked what we had done with the place. They liked Josh’s (Usmani) art. The only bad thing was that it didn’t get promoted a lot. In a way, I’m glad because at that time, I didn’t think that we were ready to do a huge opening. We had just gotten the place 2-3 weeks before that and we were all there 12-13 hours a day. The one thing that I have heard the most was that we had picked really interesting stuff to view.


What did Josh think of the new owner's?

Josh was really psyched about it. Sean and Josh were both in a skate deck show where Sean won 1st place and Josh had come in 2nd place. Ever since then, he was a fan of Sean's artwork.

How do you think the Lakewood art scene fits in with all of the other Cleveland based art scenes?

It's starting to pick up. There's Crafty Goodness, which is all handmade items like clothes, and bags. There's Rockflower Studio, Local Girl Gallery and there is Deadhorse Gallery. There's a couple of other ones sprinkled throughout. And now with the University of Akron annex school opening in Lakewood and Virginia Marti being a fashion and art school, I think it will pick up even more and kind of give Lakewood that artsy type of feel. I'm hoping that if Crafty can keep going and we can keep going and a bunch of people can keep going that slowly it will keep opening up more businesses like how Lakewood used to be. I would love to see that. There's just so many empty storefronts, it's depressing.
What does the 'Breakneck' Future look like?

Um... Hopefully full of fantastic art sales (laughs)? Basically, we want to encourage the idea of music and artwork being of the same family. It seems like all of our musician buddies will go to any show for bands that they don’t really know and they'll support that because it's music. But then it's like pulling teeth to get them to go to an art show unless one of their friends is involved with it. Then it's like the same thing where our artsy friends who are at every gallery show all across the city but they can’t be bothered with seeing one of our friend’s bands play.

There's definitely a stigma attached to art shows and art galleries: people think they're stupid.

Yeah! That's where we got the idea for the 'Fine Art for real people' thing. It's, just a bunch of cool shit. Come in and have a beer, whatever you wanna do and check out some cool stuff and hopefully buy it, so we can pay rent (laughs)!
This is all just straight up Cleveland artists and merch. It's all local.
Breakneck Gallery’s “Valentines?... Schmalentines!” show will be on Saturday, February 11, from 6pm until 10pm. This show will give a rather jaded and perhaps humorous perspective on what is considered love in the 21st century. Local musician Joshua Jesty will perform and there will be a 21 and over after party at Mullens on Madison.