Ron Shea is smitten.
He's just not sure with whom he's smitten.
The founder and brewmaster of R. Shea Brewing Co. spotted some colorful graffiti highlighting the word "BEER" in all capital letters around Akron awhile ago. He's been so mesmerized by the artwork that he wants to hire the artist to reproduce the work inside his new production brewery and restaurant opening this summer in Canal Place downtown.
He just doesn't know where to find the artist — or even how old the graffiti is.
Large "BEER" graffiti has been spray-painted on bridge supports along North Street in the city's Cascade Valley neighborhood and other locations. Shea is curious to find out why the artist decided to paint "BEER" around town.
"What's the story behind that?" he asked.
The artist appears to have an Instagram account under the handle "youngbeerski," where there are plenty of photos of beer graffiti, including the one taken by an Akron Beacon Journal/Ohio.com photographer for this story.
Unwelcome graffiti is illegal, of course — which explains why many people on social media are questioning whether Shea's interest is just a trap. But Shea is offering a paying gig, even saying he's willing to protect the identity of the artist.
He's got plenty of room for graffiti at his new brewery, which occupies 58,000 square feet on two floors inside a red-brick industrial building that was home to Benny's Rubber City Sports Bar & Grille in the early 1990s and Satchmo's before that. The space once housed a sand volleyball court, basketball hoop and game room.
"A lot of customers have identified with this location" because of its history, Shea said.
R. Shea now operates a popular brewpub in the city's Merriman Valley neighborhood. It's known for its flavorful beers, including Polymer Caramel Espresso Stout. The brewery has won the people's choice award three years in a row at the Art and Ale beer festival at the Akron Art Museum.
The artist, or anyone knowing how to get in contact with the artist, can contact Shea at email@example.com.
Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Read his daily beer blog at www.ohio.com/beer. Follow him on Twitter at @armonrickABJ.