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Issue Date: Downtown Digs 2007

Artistic Endeavors

Myra Orenstein
Funny how things work out. When property developers Karen and David Perkowski invested in a warehouse building across from The Plain Dealer on Superior Avenue, neither envisioned that Karen would get involved in the food industry, let alone operate a gallery. Yet now, Karen can’t imagine not being part of Artefino, a 30-seat upscale café.

“I don’t have a food-service background, but the manager we hired to run the café quit the day before it opened.” And so, with her urban planning degree and background in property development, Karen set out to “learn everything.”

The goal she and David had established was to create a hangout for the neighborhood. They have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. “We have regulars, and more and more people turning to us through word of mouth,” she says of the café.

But where is the “art” in Artefino? Well, that’s Karen’s domain, too. After taking over the responsibility from its originator, local artist Hector Vega, Karen’s passion for making the space work expanded into the art world. She sells mostly trinkets for under $20 and continues to discover new artists. “I just went to some shows and got four new artists,” she boasts. She and David are developing other locations in the neighborhood, including The Wooltex Gallery at Tower Press (they’ve hired a professional curator to manage it), a spot in the Klein News Building and others. They hope that their business model will continue to evolve.

“We have broadened our horizons,” she says. “I’m so proud of myself.”

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