IN THE GALLERY
Now through December 23rd
Holiday Arts Gift Shoppe on Main
Raymond Towler, artist
In 2010, after spending more than 29 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Raymond Towler became a free man due to numerous rounds of DNA testing and the tireless work of reporters at The Columbus Dispatch and the legal staff of the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Rosenthal Institute for Human Rights.
When Raymond was wrongfully convicted of rape, he was 24 years old, an Army veteran, and an aspiring musician and artist. Despite
his imprisonment, he continued composing and became a popular performer in prison. Since his release, the Cleveland native and
multi-instrumentalist (guitar, bass, drums) has gone full throttle back into his musical career, becoming a contemporary jazz recording
artist and releasing three albums full of compelling vocal and instrumental tracks thematically driven by his newfound status as a free
man – This Freedom, This Freedom II and Life Is Good.
Raymond never put down his artistic self while imprisoned. He painted hundreds of pieces during his incarceration and was able to both sell his work and send a number of pieces home to his family and friends for safekeeping and gifts. These same paintings, made decades ago, still have a life in the free world, and some of them are now shared with you. Creating works of art, paintings, and music brought peace to Raymond and shielded him from a hostile environment that destroys many men. Raymond believes that the ability to continue to create is a lifesaver because when artists create, they can be free no matter wherever they are.
“I am most grateful these days for the opportunity to share my story, art and music with so many appreciative people,” Raymond says.
“I also feel very blessed that I am both physically and mentally healthy, and that I am able to reason and smile. Moving on from almost three decades of hell behind bars, I thank God daily for those gifts
that I have been given.”
Proceeds from the sale of Raymond's work will go to the upkeep of
Kelly McLaughlin, artist
Kelly McLaughlin is an Ohio resident. She has three adult children- Mickey, Tim, Kevin, and one daughter-in-law Sarah. Kelly was raised in Youngstown where her mother, siblings, nieces, and nephews live. Kelly works full-time at Lorain County Community College with students who have disabilities.
Kelly has always found peace and solace through creating art. In the past, she made Serenity Blankets as and Hope and Inspiration calendars to give to her loved ones and to spread hope and joy to others.
Kelly is an advocate for the Ohio Innocence Project and spends time with her boyfriend (Raymond Towler) working with and for X-Freedom Studio and the Exoneree Home. Kelly’s goal is to make a blanket for
every Exoneree in Ohio.
Within the past 2 years, Kelly has started painting (thanks to her daughter Mickey and friend Saida!) and creating art with Epoxy. She is now enjoying making butterflies, small vases, purses, and dream catchers with Epoxy and mica powder. Kelly calls her art- Serenity Gifts. As she makes each piece of art she prays for the person receiving the art.
She wishes peace, tranquility, a sense of calmness, serenity, and hope to each person who purchases her art. Kelly donates her proceeds to the Exoneree Home and the wellbeing of the Exonerees who live in the Home.
Alfred Cleveland is an artist who uses his gifts to serve, edify and add value to all he encounters. His life experience also serves to inspire others in finding meaning in the hardships they face.
With the help of the Ohio Innocence Project, Mr. Cleveland was recently released from prison on October 13, 2020, after 25 1⁄2 years for a crime he didn’t commit (google for fight). It was in prison that he developed several programs that addressed the core issues which brought men and women to prison in the first place and sought to help prevent these incarcerated men and women from returning.
On October 31, 2020, he developed CleveCo Studios, LLC, to implement his values in a focused and tangible way through art, film, screenwriting, music, poetry, and public speaking.
“People don’t necessarily need better jobs, more money, or even programs necessarily,” Cleveland says. “They need inspiration. If they get that, they will begin moving in a way that attracts every good thing they need to succeed. That’s the key!”
Cleveland is now living out that dream with his wife, Roberta, of 23 years, and working to inspire others every day! He and his wife recently released a book for couples entitled: 3 Strands, 1 Cord: A Couple’s Guide to Understanding Incarceration, and Cleveland himself simultaneously released another entitled, Baby Shark: The Childhood Genius of Daymond John, a collection of childhood experiences with Shark Tank’s, Daymond John, which is a guide for parents to help discover and develop their child’s
leadership and business skills.
Mr. Cleveland’s pursuits now include art on wood canvases and film/documentary work that will advance criminal justice reform efforts, and bring awareness to the fight against mass incarceration and wrongful convictions.
Alfred Cleveland, artist