Rocky River - June 2024

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Rocky River

Art All Around Us

Rocky River is home to a world-class pottery museum, impressive public art installations, unique galleries and so much more.

The New Yorker Bowl

Often referred to as the Jazz Bowl, the New Yorker Bowl was commissioned by Eleanor Roosevelt around 1930. It was designed by artist Viktor Schreckengost, who was a sculptor for Rocky River’s Cowan Pottery Studio. The bowl is now displayed in the Cowan Pottery Museum at the Rocky River Public Library.

INSIDE: Get to Know Local Artists • Plan an Art Hop Around Town • Find Out Where to Catch Live Music SPECIAL PROMOTIONAL SECTION

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Experience the Not-For-Profit

From the City of Rocky River

Mayor Pamela E. Bobst

Executive Assistant to the Mayor Mary Ellen Umerley

Our Thriving Art Scene

Art serves many purposes. It can bring people together, beautify communities, foster creativity and provide therapy. Rocky River is privileged to have a vibrant art scene. In addition to our annual Fall Arts Festival, our Senior Center hosts its own art show and offers seniors ample opportunities to create through art classes, a robust theater program and more.

Many artists and creators call Rocky River home, some of whom you’ll get to know in this publication. Two of them have made it their mission to provide closure for people who’ve lost loved ones. As part of an organization called Loose Ends, these “finishers” complete arts and crafts projects that people were not able to finish themselves before they passed away. It’s truly a labor of love.

Our city also is home to a renowned art museum, the Cowan Pottery Museum. Located in the Rocky River Public Library, the museum holds more than 1,300 pieces of art from Cowan Pottery Studio, one of the leading potteries in the U.S. during the 1920s. We encourage you to stop by and explore this unique collection.

While you’re in town, be sure to visit some of our exceptional galleries and shops that specialize in local art and handmade goods. There are so many to explore in the city, and you’ll read about a few of them in the following pages.

And if you love music, look no further than our Summer Concert Series, where you can enjoy live music against the backdrop of Rocky River’s beautiful parks.

We look forward to seeing you in River this summer.

With kindest regards, Mayor Pamela Bobst

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ART for Everyone

Rocky River offers myriad opportunities to create, collect and appreciate art of all forms.


Laurie Schaefer, program coordinator for the Rocky River Senior Center, says that when it comes to the center, “the hardest is getting people to come in the door. Once they come in the door and they see this isn’t what their idea of a senior center was, that’s it.” They’re hooked. A major draw for the Senior Center is the impressive variety of opportunities for art and expression, thanks to the classes offered in its numerous classrooms and auditorium. Plans are underway to build a gymnasium and more classrooms.

The center offers classes in eight types of art, including ceramics, watercolor, pen and ink and acrylic painting. “It’s such a nice facility, and what we do is enthusiastically supported,” says Patty Tobin, who teaches ceramics at the center. “And if we need something within reason, it’s provided.”

Schaefer attributes much of that support to the mayor. “We have the backing of the mayor [Pamela Bobst], who is very supportive of the Senior Center and our services and classes,” she says. “Mayor Pam has our back in providing all these classes.”

Each year, the public is invited to see the art that’s created at the center. This year's Senior Center Art Show runs through June 3 and is now in its 32nd year.

“It’s a way for people to sell some artwork and a way for them to display what

they have learned and let people see what’s happening,” Schaefer says.

Artists don’t have to be enrolled in a Senior Center class to enter their artwork; it’s open to anyone in the area 55 years and older. The cost to enter is $4 per item, with the money going to the Art Show opening event.

There are opportunities for much more than visual art at the Rocky River Senior Center. Music classes and even a ukulele club (which has been so popular that three more classes were added), as well as dance classes including ballet, tap, line, theater, Irish, jazz and Zumba, are all on offer.

The center’s 300-seat auditorium presents approximately 12 professional performances a year in partnership with Local 4 Music Fund, and the Senior Theater (comprising seniors from the center) performs three days of shows twice a year with over 800 people in attendance.

In addition to learning something new or pursuing a passion, local seniors get a lot more out of spending time at the Senior Center, says Schaefer. “A big part of the value [here] is the socialization. That’s huge,” she says. “A lot of people think that when they retire, that’s it, and this is a whole new beginning. Being active and being social as you get older is so important.”

“Every classroom is full of creative people doing creative things,” adds Tobin. “There’s a lot of laughter.”

“Every classroom is full of creative people doing creative things. There’s a lot of laughter.”



The Rocky River Public Library, like most public libraries today, houses a lot more than books. But in addition to the various forms of media, the children’s programming and the many services offered, the Rocky River Public Library is a place of art, which is apparent immediately. There’s a community art case that showcases local artists (including library staff members) as well as nonprofits and other organizations, a staircase that features a mural, and art in the teen room created by Rocky River teens. The library also is home to the Cowan Pottery Museum, which holds a collection of roughly 1,300 pieces from Cowan Pottery Studio, where artists created pottery in Rocky River between 1920 and 1931.

“Now that the house [where Cowan Pottery was made] is no longer there, the museum is the main place. We are the hub of that art deco ceramics knowledge,” says Rob Isom, the library’s marketing manager.

Greg Hatch is a historian and the curator of the Cowan Pottery Museum. He points out that the museum is open for private tours, requesting that those who wish to visit call ahead to make sure someone is there to take them around.

Visitors also are invited to take part in the Crafting with the Curator program, which happens three times a year.

“It’s an art activity responding to a piece in our collection, specifically a piece on display,” Hatch explains. “All the activities this year are in response to our exhibit, Let There Be Light. Folks look at a candlestick design, and then we have a beeswax candle making craft to respond to that. Another activity will be where folks can make their own ceramic candlestick.”

During each activity, Hatch offers background and historical information.

“So many items were designed to have an everyday use,” he explains. “So the artist working on the design had to think not only of aesthetics but how it would be handled. I like to give the history and kind

of the marketing, the use, what the artist might have been thinking. It allows for a better conversation between visitors and the actual pieces.”

Every year, a Cowan Featured Artist is named, a working artist specializing in ceramics. Hatch chooses a prompt that relates to Cowan Pottery, like “things meant to be used,” or “experimenting with glazes.” He collects all the entries, then displays them anonymously, and the entire library staff votes on the featured artist, whose work is displayed during the month of August. The entire collection is online so every piece can be viewed at any time.

Rocky River Public Library patrons have even more ways to try their hand at art.

“Now we have a craft corner, like a takeand-make, where people can bring and take items,” says Dori Olivos, who works in the Adult Services department. “People donate and take high-quality fabric, paper, stamps, markers, unused craft kits and crepe paper.”

Library Director Jessica Breslin notes that other available items include ribbon and even driftwood.

“What’s there is super useful,” she says. “Libraries are the ultimate recyclers to begin with, and this is a way of extending that. People can find new hobbies without breaking the bank.”

In addition, the library has a collection of craft kits people can check out, including weaving kits, quilling kits, a punch-needle kit and a weaving loom, each of which comes with a list of resources to help them learn about the kits they’re using.

“Libraries are the ultimate recyclers to begin with, and this is a way of extending that. People can find new hobbies without breaking the bank.”



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The Loose Ends Project

Afew years ago, Seattle resident Jennifer Simonic had a life-changing experience. Her friend Patty’s mother passed away before finishing blankets for her two sons. “I have slept on Patty’s couch under the blanket her mother made,” she says. “I knew she’d want to finish blankets for all her children.”

While Simonic herself does crochet, these blankets were too large for her to take on at the time. But her friend Masey Kaplan said, “What if we could find someone to finish this for Patty’s mom?” A “finisher,” if you will.

Identifying a need, Simonic and Kaplan, who is also a fiber artist, started Loose Ends with a simple website. Now, not even two years later, there are 24,000 registered “finishers,” as they are known, in 64 countries. The site details each available finisher’s location, talent and skill level.

The number of finishers has grown faster than the number of projects submitted, and Simonic is trying to get the word out via funeral homes and estate sales agents.

“I saw this and thought, ‘I want to do this for someone else.’ What a cool way to honor somebody.”

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Becki Algeri’s embroidery. The watering can is part of a quilt she and her mom are working on together to complete for a friend who passed away.

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Two Loose Ends finishers are based in Rocky River, and both are awaiting their first project. One is Becki Algeri, who picked up hand embroidery and Swedish weave (similar to cross-stitch) during the pandemic and heard about the Loose Ends project via social media.

“My mom had a friend who passed away a year ago and gave her unfinished project to my mom and said, ‘Do with this as you see fit.’ [My mom and I] teamed up, quilting and hand-embroidering, finished it up and sent it to her friend’s daughter as a remembrance of her mom. I saw this and thought, ‘I want to do this for someone else.’ What a cool way to honor somebody.”

Another Rocky River resident who is awaiting a project to finish is multimedia artist Linda McConaughy. Though she works in many forms, she chose to sign up as a quilter for the Loose Ends project. When asked how she’ll approach an unfinished quilt, she says, “I have a design wall in my studio. I would probably hang it up, look at what’s there first — patterns, color story — then see what’s available — what they had, or match, to the best of my ability, similar colors and shapes, maybe doing some sketches to figure out their direction.

“When I went away to college, my mom made a quilt for me,” she adds. “I still have it, and I’ll never get rid of it. Sometimes people start projects like that for friends or family and can’t finish it. I want to help them finish that so [those friends and family] will have something they can keep forever.”

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Fall for ART

The Fall Arts Fest, a daylong celebration of local artists, showcases a variety of mediums.

The already quintessential Old Detroit district, with its collection of unique shops, creative dining and entrepreneurial venues, will transform into a lively, local artisan fair for the Fall Arts Fest, on Sept. 14, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sponsored by the Rocky River Parks & Recreation Foundation, the event helps raise funds for valuable park improvements and an annual student scholarship, says Chris Klym, foundation president. Live acoustic music, 60 local artists displaying wares across mediums and eclectic shopping are just a few hallmarks.

“It’s an opportunity for our community to visit with and support local artists and makers,” Klym says, noting that the walkable venue and proximity to River businesses offers more to explore.

Check out the work of two Rocky River artists who will showcase their pieces at the 2024 event:

Fluid art by Meg Greenwald is made by combining artistic acrylics, house paint, pigment powders and sometimes “bling” like crushed glass or glitter to create functional pieces for the home.

“I love experimenting with different color combinations, the freedom of creating and the originality of each piece of work,” says Greenwald, an innate creator who has dabbled in various mediums over the years.

Now, her works are centered on adding a dose of paint magic to everyday items like coasters, trivets, charcuterie boards, serving trays, light switch plates and furniture, such as side tables. Greenwald gains inspiration from her surroundings and the most unexpected visual run-ins, such as noticing a pretty color combination on a tissue box or a color scheme on a pillow.

“I am also inspired by going to art shows,” she says, in anticipation of the Fall Arts Fest.

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Valerie Lesiak

Picture Book Studio

Valerie Lesiak’s home studio archives a rich and whirlwind art career of nearly 40 years at American Greetings, where she worked on projects including the Care Bears and gained inspiration from mentors like Ziggy creator Tom Wilson. She quips, “As a line designer, my art career started in the B.C. — before computers.”

Now in her Picture Book Studio encore, she designs whimsical, vibrant illustrations “painted” in Photoshop with layers of character and meaning. Notably, her Alphabet Soup series of 8-by-8-inch

canvases disguises letters in playful scenes. “You can choose to see the letter…or not,” she says.

Works in the Flower Fun collection include cheery daisies partnered with hydrangeas, or pitchers brimming with multicolored blooms. “My job was to come up with ideas,” she says, explaining that her brainstorming process is much like ideation for greeting cards. “If you were thinking of ‘birthday,’ what are all the different ideas you could come up with?”

Lesiak says, “You can tell I lived in a greeting card world!”

What she loves most is seeing viewers’ sense of wonder and “aha” when they decode an illustrative letter and “watching them light up.”

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Visit River this Summer

Check out these super fun events for the whole family.

Taste of River

Saturday, June 15, 4-9 p.m. 1250 Linda Street

The Rocky River Chamber of Commerce’s annual Taste of River festival returns to Linda Street this year and will be bigger than ever, says Chamber Executive Director David Lipinsky. “We’re expanding our footprint, moving farther south on Linda Street,” he says.

Approximately two dozen Rocky River dining establishments will take part, with two beverage stations serving beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks. There will also be a band and full soundstage, creating a party atmosphere. Lipinsky notes, “Our goal is to highlight restaurants and bars in the area, to bring everyone together to celebrate our culinary community.”

Summer of Fun

Rocky River is the place to be this summer, thanks to the efforts of the Recreation Department and Chamber of Commerce, along with lots of help and enthusiasm from the community.

The Recreation Department is planning a Summer of Fun, explains Bob Holub, Rocky River’s director of recreation. “We’re really trying to focus on community-building. Everyone coming together — neighbors, friends, family, classmates — in a way that meets everyone’s needs and schedule, for a small-town feel,” he says.

The evening concerts will be family-friendly, but they’re also an opportunity for a date night, Holub says. Events will be held monthly with vendors, inflatables and more. Each event will conclude with a concert at City Hall Park and optional childcare (for a fee) provided by Recreation Department staff at Hamilton Ice Arena.

Summer Nights at City Hall Park

June 23

The Hilliard Hustle 5K, featuring local vendors and food trucks

CONCERT: Funkology

July 14 Car Show, touch-a-truck (service vehicles) for little ones, the annual Pie in the Park and food trucks

CONCERT: Revolution Pie

August 4

Kiddo Kingdom, including a petting zoo, a mermaid swimming at the pool, a bike parade, food trucks and touch-atruck, including diggers and the Zamboni

CONCERT: Perfect Choice

Check for event start times. All concerts begin at 7 p.m.

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Art Shop Hop

An eclectic collection of shops in Rocky River offers original finds packaged with a personable experience.

Pop into local boutiques and peruse Rocky River’s homegrown venues for artwork, handmades, antiques and one-of-a-kinds. Come along while we visit some local gems. 1 2 3 4 5

1 Exhibiting Ohio Talent

Since 1970, River Gallery has been dedicated to promoting and sustaining local artists, offering a diverse showcase of paintings, metalwork, blown glass, ceramics, fabricated jewelry and wood pieces. The collection is ever evolving and thoughtfully curated, says second-generation owner G. Ara Hamamjian.

River Gallery Tart Boutique Solari One World Shop Mitchell Sotka

At any one time, an average of 60 artists are represented in the gallery, and north of 90% of them are Ohio-based.

“I was born into this,” Hamamjian says, sharing a passion for art with his clients, who support gallery shows and many of whom have become friends.

“I enjoy curating the body of work that artists produce and present at the gallery — and the work speaks for itself,” he says, adding that artists also “bend his ear” and recommend talent for the gallery. “It’s a real relationship,” Hamamjian says.

if you go: “Be present and enjoy the work,” Hamamjian says. Check online for upcoming exhibitions.


Cheeky and Chic

Tart Boutique owner Valerie Priebe invites you to step into a dreamy space chock-full of fun, whimsical finds. “I’ve nicknamed the store, ‘cute shop,’ because that is what everyone says when they walk in,” she says, relating that many guests come in seeking gifts but treat themselves, too.

From Blue Q oven mitts, bags and catnip (each sporting witty sayings) to Amano

Studio jewelry pieces, Camp Craft cocktails and Finchberry lotions, there’s something in store to wear, display, set the table with or decorate your space.

Priebe also curates some local handmades from vendors like Furbish & Fire Candle Co., Cleveland Sewing Co. and Rocky River-based artist/illustrator Angela Oster. You’ll find some vintage items, too, such as pottery, glassware and vases. And don’t miss the selection of brass candlesticks.

Most important, Priebe says, “I want Tart to be a place where everyone feels welcome.”

if you go: Take time to peer in the windows — and plan on taking a few pics. Priebe’s creative displays started a while back when she dressed some skeletons to showcase. She continued changing them for the seasons. Scenes include the skeletons trimming a Christmas tree, chasing a pot of gold and riding a bicycle built for two. “They even got engaged and then married as Frankenstein and his bride, and they’ve ridden a giant, inflatable red dog through a winter wonderland,” Priebe says. The skeletons dressed as Barbie and Ken on a pink snowmobile were also a hit.


Importing Italian Inspiration

With a cozy fireplace and full kitchen display stocked with handmade, imported Italian pieces — from biscotti jars brushed in vibrant colors to tableware and artwork — Solari Home is designed to transport guests to the Old Country while offering a taste of how they could transform their living environments.

In fact, the shop was inspired by owner Terrie Viets searching for pieces for her own home. The hunt led her overseas to Italy, where she began meeting with artisans and families in generations-old ceramics workshops. One exclusive line Solari carries, Ubaldo Grazia, dates back to the 1500s.

At Solari, nearly every piece in the store can be customized, Viets says.

“There is no limit to the shape, size or design,” she explains. From dinnerware to

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linens, the shop’s partner vendors, such as Grazia, will create pieces from scratch.

Since starting Solari Home 22 years ago, Viets has made 57 trips to Italy. Her shop is a constantly evolving collection of treasured pieces that are also everyday favorites for the home. You’ll also find Murano glass jewelry, hand-painted handbags, paintings and artwork representing talent from all regions of Italy.

“The first thing people say when they enter is, ‘It’s so warm and colorful,’ and Solari means ‘sunlit,’” Viets says.

if you go: Solari Home offers tours of Italy, tastings, cooking classes and other events.


Fair Trade Finds

Celebrating 45 years in Rocky River, One World Shop started in the basement of Lakewood Presbyterian Church. It was created as a fair trade Christmas market to counter the holiday’s over-commercialization and support people living in poverty who lacked a market for the items they produced.

Today, One World Shop retains this mission as a nonprofit, where a team of

volunteers can help you select interesting items that support and empower artisans and their families. From unique musical instruments like African thumb pianos and djembe drums to colorful baskets, body care products and jewelry, every purchase promotes fair trade and sustainability.

These values are intertwined. For example, artillery jewelry from Ethiopia and Cambodia are earrings or necklaces made from bombs or bullets. “They dig up the shards, melt them and recycle them into jewelry,” explains Colleen Cannon, retail coordinator.

One World Shop also works with Hopes Landing in Tiffin, Ohio, a rehabilitation home for women surviving domestic abuse and human trafficking, who make candles and lotions.

if you go: Check out one of the shop’s new classes, such as quilling, and an around-the-world chocolate tasting.

5 Beautiful Things

Explore a thoughtful collection of antiques, artwork and eclectic merchandise styled by designer Mitchell Sotka in his eponymous Old River boutique that inspires

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“a way of living.” Pieces range in age and style, from the 18th century to modern day.

Furniture mingles with fine art, decorative porcelain pairs with crystal collectibles, and there’s vintage barware, silver, jewelry, plus a timeless design aesthetic that informs Sotka’s selections.

“People have said they come here to relax and be inspired by beautiful things,” says Sotka, who also provides in-home design services.

if you go: Mitchell Sotka hosts a variety of trunk shows, celebrating local artisans and jewelers.

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Bradstreet’s Landing

The Art Around Us

Rocky River is a creative tapestry with a growing variety of public artworks, including inspiring sculptures and vibrant murals.

Functional public art by way of creative bike racks, a thought-provoking sculpture that reminds us of our responsibility to be engaged stewards, and inspiring murals that transform buildings into message-bearing canvases are some of the ways Rocky River is a venue for expression.

“Public art builds community; it uplifts you and makes you think,” says Mayor Pamela Bobst, highlighting numerous projects throughout the city. “It’s a source of pride and provides an outlet for local artists,” she adds, relating that even some public trash receptacles are fresco canvases.

Sculpting Stewardship

A sculpture of a steelhead fish emerges from the reimagined Bradstreet’s Landing pier, the work of local public artist, sculptor and industrial designer Stephen Manka. The symbolic feature is designed to be filled with plastic bottles — a message to keep the beaches clean. Artist James Ray created the storytelling piece. “This emphasizes the importance of Lake Erie as a natural resource and our responsibility to properly dispose of waste,” says Director of Public Safety-Service Rich Snyder.

Mayor Bobst adds, “This is a special place with beautiful lake views, and the sculpture is a reminder that we need to protect it.”

Civic Creativity

Murals throughout the Rocky River Recreation Center were created with intentional themes that align with each space. Artist Stina Aleah reinvented the expansive

Daniel J. Chavayda, AIF®, CPFA

Daniel J. Chavayda, AIF®, CPFA

Registered Principal Wealth Consultant

Registered Principal Wealth Consultant

2932 Wooster Rd., Suite 101

Rocky River, OH 44146-2922 440.333.1980 Office • 440.815.2272 Fax

2932 Wooster Rd., Suite 101

Rocky River, OH 44146-2922

440.333.1980 Office • 440.815.2272 Fax • •

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Join us for a tour of town with this artistic snapshot of the city.
Steelhead fish sculpture at

walls with works that speak to each room’s purpose. For instance, a mind-body space features a lotus flower, and the indoor rowing room is painted with Cleveland’s skyline, rolling waves and vibrant fish. “She has brought new life to these spaces in a very meaningful way,” says Holub.

These murals add to a foundation of public art that began with a 2013 croquet-themed bike rack project triggered by a letter from then 13-year-old Eric Ulchaker, who suggested to Mayor Bobst that the city could use more bike racks. She embraced his interest and enlisted the beautification committee, “which took the idea and ran with it,” she says.

More recently, a colorful and symbolic tree of “hands” arranged as leaves honors donors to Elle’s Enchanted Forest inclusive playground. And the new Safety Town campus with whimsical winding roads and buildings that resemble Rocky River landmarks is just as much art as it is a space to teach safety lessons.

Wild Imagination

Rocky River Public Library is home to a new immersive mural, A Walk in the Park, by Evan Laisure, located in the staircase leading to the children’s area. Featuring more than 150 plant varieties and animal species native to Ohio, it is educational, entertaining and “gets your creative juices flowing,” says Jessica Breslin, library director. Spot scenes from the Metroparks, playful creatures and a landscape that “brings the outdoors in,” Breslin says. “It’s very much in line with Rocky River Public Library’s history of providing access to art in a public space.”

RRCITY.COM 15 Saturday, July 13th, 2024 Scan to purchase tickets Depot Street | Rocky River It isn’t Summer without the Sunflower! Plan a fun evening out with friends and family at the fun and famous Sunflower Wine Festival! Wine and craft beer gardens, live music and fabulous food! Set your sails… for a real hometown lifestyle. Rocky River gives you beauty, charm and stunning views of Lake Erie. We have homes you want, the real buyers you need and the best agents to make everything Smooth Sailing. Meredith and Gloria Hardington 19204 Detroit Road, Rocky River 216-618-2040 Don’t Wish, Just Call The SALEmaker Team! PUBLIC ART COURTESY ROCKY RIVER RECREATION CENTER AND PUBLIC LIBRARY
The rowing room at Rocky River Recreation Center A Walk in the Park by Evan Laisure
Discover the Difference of True Partnership The Kraft Roethler Group Joseph W. Kraft, CFP®, Managing Director 200 Public Square, Suite 1650 Cleveland, OH 44114 216-737-7384 One person alone can have an enormous impact, but when we combine the talent, hard work and determination of a team, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirement. ©2023 Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated. Member SIPC. MC-1036751.

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