Cleveland artist opens art gallery in building he tried to rob 14 years ago

CLEVELAND - On Saturday, artist Will Sanchez will open his new art gallery on the west side of Cleveland.

It is in the same building he tried to rob at gunpoint 14 years ago.

“I sort of just kept pushing, kept believing,” Sanchez said, as he put the final touches on his gallery and paintings Friday morning.

The building sat vacant on the corner of West 54th Street and Storer Avenue in Cleveland for years. It used to be home to a mom-and-pop corner store, one that Sanchez used to frequent for cigarettes.

Then, one day in 2004, he came in for much more.

“I went and got a mask, a weapon, walked into the store, pointed the gun at her and within seconds, I couldn’t do it,” he said. He gave the owner his gun, leaned against the counter, and waited for police.

He was convicted of attempted aggravated robbery with a firearm and sentenced to 18 months in prison.

“People with records, it’s very difficult to go back to the life you had,” Sanchez said.

But he was determined to turn his life around — and turn back to his passion of painting. He worked in the community for years, training other artists, honing his own craft. He worked at his day job as a quality control supervisor and saved up money.

Then, when he saw the building he once tried to rob was for sale, he said he knew it was meant to be.

“I guess, personally, I wanted to be able to say, I moved on and did something beyond what I was,” Sanchez said. “I thought I’d have overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame, but I guess I felt a little peace.”

La Cosecha Galeria, which translates to “The Harvest Gallery,” will have its grand opening at 6 p.m. Saturday.

It is located at 5404 Storer Ave. in Cleveland. The activities begin at 2 p.m.

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