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Wizard World lands in Cleveland with Rocky Horror, costumes and stranger things

Thousands of pop culture fans will descend upon the Cleveland Convention Center next week to attend the notorious Wizard World Comic Con’s 15-stop tour.

Running Friday, March 17 through Sunday, March 19, this year marks the third consecutive year that Wizard World has come to Cleveland. Each year, fans attend the weekend-long event to show off their costumes, meet celebrities, tour more than 100 vendors and exhibitors and attend workshops centered around topics such as cosplay, zombies, the Simpsons and super heroes.
 
“Everyone wants to be themselves,” says Wizard World PR manager Jerry Milani of the characters attendees become. “Wizard World is the place to come out and be themselves.”
 
Highlights of this year’s Wizard World include guest appearances by Anthony Mackie of Avengers, Captain America; Jennifer Carpenter from the cast of Showtime’s Critically-acclaimed serial murder series Dexter; Millie Bobby Brown of the Netflix original series Stranger Things; and Loren Lester and Kevin Conroy of Batman: The Animated Series. Locals will enjoy saying hello to Ted Sikora, creator of Apama – The Undiscovered Animal and Cleveland's resident superhero.
 
KISS fans will appreciate a guest appearance by the band’s front man Gene Simmons, who will be on hand for photographs and autographs before performing at the Agora on Saturday, March 18. “It’s an opportunity to meet him and also hear him on the concert side,” says Milani.
 
The concert will be followed by a Wizard World After Party, also at the Agora.
 
Saturday night screenings of cult classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a popular addition to the lineup from last year. This year, Rock Horror star Barry Bostwick will be in Cleveland and local shadow cast group Simply His Servants will be acting out the movie in tandem with the screening.
 
"It's a new, kind of different format for us,” says Milani of the screening and shadow cast.
 
Perennial favorite Nichelle Nichols of Star Trek fame will be in Cleveland all weekend. “She’s science fiction royalty,” proclaims Milani of the 84-year-old actress. “She’s really something else. She’s just a must-meet for so many people.”
 
Between 100 and 150 exhibitors will sell unique and hard-to-find items, says Milani, while replicas of famous cars from movies and television shows will also be displayed. Popular vehicles include the Batmobile, the Sanford and Son salvage truck and the Ghost Busters Ecto-1.
 
Guest from the comic strip and cartoon world include Simpsons illustrator Phil Ortiz, who is known to draw Wizard World attendees as Simpsons characters; Muppet Babies creator Guy Gilchrist; and Ren and Stimpy illustrator Bob Camp.
 
Saturday night is capped off with a costume contest, judged by professional cosplayers.
 
"There's a little bit of everything," says Milani. "We have everything in the world that's pop culture at our shows."
 
Wizard World Comic Con Cleveland runs Friday from 5 to 10 p.m.; Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets start at $35 for general admission, while three-day passes are $75. VIP packages and tickets to specific events cost more. Admission to Rocky Horror is $15.

'Immigrant Narratives' to be part of Cleveland Humanities Festival

On Saturday, March 18th and Sunday, March 19th at 7 p.m. in the Cleveland State University student center ballroom, 2121 Euclid Ave., SC 319, the local nonprofit Literary Cleveland will present Crossing Borders: Immigrant Narratives. This event is free and open to the public and includes a reception after each show, but registration is encouraged.
 
Cosponsored by Case Western Reserve's Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities and CSU’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, the two 90-minute presentations will feature staged readings of short essays, fiction and poems performed by a set of professional actors assembled by director Marc Moritz. The stories depict the emotional journey of crossing borders, both literal and metaphorical, and what it means to be both an immigrant and an American.
 
In “Crutches,” Jill Sell writes about her Czech ancestors’ uncertain passage through Ellis Island. “Food and Family,” a piece by Hathaway Brown student Crystal Zhao, describes a second-generation Chinese immigrant bonding with her mother over stories of childhood rebellion. The poem “Genesis” by Daniel Gray-Kontar addresses the journey of African-Americans from the south to cities such as Cleveland during the Great Migration.
 
Stories focusing on more recent immigration experiences include “Struggling to Survive,” in which Syrian immigrant Bayan Aljbawi writes about leaving her troubled homeland for the United States, an experience she describes as “escaping from one suffering to another: new culture, new country and different language.” In “American Promise,” award-winning novelist and Case professor Thrity Umrigar – who immigrated from India more than 30 years ago – confronts the current political climate and asks if the United States “will be a country that is as small and narrow as its fears” or “as large and glorious as its dreams, as splendid as the hopes of millions of its citizens, immigrant and native born … ?”

"Immigrant Narratives" is part of the second annual Cleveland Humanities Festival (CHF), which runs from March 15 through mid-May.
 
Per event literature: "The theme for 2017 is 'Immigration.' The CHF will utilize the resources of Cleveland’s leading intellectual institutions to explore the challenges and opportunities caused by the movement of people. Exile, immigration, deportation, migration — in the history of every nation, demographic shifts have been a part of the fabric of civic and cultural life. Nowhere is this more true than in the life of our own country. The forced deportations of the Middle Passage, the wholesale immigration of eastern Europeans in the nineteenth century, the recent relocation of refugees from Middle Eastern conflict, are only a few of the movements that have left their mark on American communities. The CHF will explore from a humanistic perspective the impact of immigration across time and within our own time through a series of coordinated events, including lecture, exhibits, theatrical performances, academic symposia, tours, and films."
 
This year's festival includes more than three dozen eclectic and provocative programs such as An Irish-Appalachian Journey (musical performance), a film screening and discussion of From Refugee to Neighbor, a field trip to Cleveland's ethnic markets and Immigrants in Ohio, a discussion about how newcomers enhance communities. That short list is a scant sampling of the extensive offerings, a full list of which is available here.

Some activities require ticket purchase and registration. Event venues are at points across the region.
 

'Becoming Imperceptible' comes to MOCA in a post-election world

Last summer, MOCA Cleveland's fourth floor Mueller Family and Rosalie + Morton Cohen Family Galleries featured the works of Mark Mothersbaugh in a multi-media explosion of color and playful commentary with everything from a mutated Scion to the Booji Boy mask of DEVO fame.
 
Last Friday, Adam Pendleton's Becoming Imperceptible took over the space. Like the Mothersbaugh show, it's an immersive experience full up with sound and visuals that reflect the man behind it all. Unlike last summer's offering, the current multi-media exhibition is void of color. The ceramic floor sculptures, framed Mylar prints, collage, silkscreens printed on mirror and two film installations are all depicted in black, white and gray.
 
While the two shows have commonalities, the narrative arc in time, politics and culture that separates them could not be more stark. When Mothersbaugh's Myopia debuted, the city was on the verge of the gentle summer months and giddy with the prospect of the Republican National Convention. Cleveland was, essentially, preparing for its close up.


 
Now a scant eight months later, division and uncertainty cloud the days. The city is covered in snow after an extended and eerie January thaw. Protests have filled Public Square with women and encroached on Cleveland Hopkins. More such events are scheduled.
 
Such is the current backdrop for Becoming Imperceptible. Different incarnations of the collection previously appeared in New Orleans and Denver, but both of those events closed prior to November 8, 2016. Hence, like the America it reflects, the exhibition woke to a new day when it debuted last week.
 
"I do think some of the things these images, these words, this language, signifies and represents will hit people differently now that we're post election," said Pendleton during an interview last Thursday, Jan. 26.
 
"We were sort of wondering what was coming and I think we're still sort of wondering what is coming, and I think one of the things we're all doing—as citizens, as artists, as Americans, as immigrants—we're trying to find the language to grapple with what's going on in relationship to democratic ideals.

"We're testing the health of our democracy and that's a very tenuous place to be. And I think art and the ways in which it can dwell and deal with abstraction is actually a very productive place to be when you don't know where you are."
 
He continues: "There's something about becoming—sort of perpetually becoming—that becomes urgent. Not to be fixed or stagnant, but to understand and accept that things change and you have to be a part of that change."
 
Looking forward, however, is often facilitated by a look back. Case in point: the video installation My Education: A Portrait of David Hilliard features David Hilliard, founding member and chief of staff of the Black Panther party, as he recounts an April 6, 1968 encounter with Oakland, CA, police:
 
" … and I said 'oh fuck' because the police are coming and they're not looking around and there's other police and all of a sudden all this shooting. All these cars, people are scrambling. There had to been about 12 cars. They're running all over the place."
 
The three screens feature Hilliard speaking along with scenes from the surrounding Oakland neighborhood that capture the mundane and make it anything but: "That wire fence was not there. It was a very low fence like that. The lady that owns this house was my son's godmother so I jumped that fence. I don't remember that being there," says Hilliard of the scene.
 
"And then shooting this way and then they're shooting out from this direction And there's helicopters and the place is blocked off and just hundreds of police everywhere. Then Bobby Hutton came out with just his shirt off and the lady, Mrs. Jackson, I hear her screaming, 'oh my god, oh my god, they just killed the little one,' but I have no idea if that's little Bobby because I haven't seen him since we all broke up and was running  … "

So it goes, with Pendleton removing one layer after another. Call it being there, with a film about events that transpired nearly 50 years ago becoming ever more relevant as the nine minutes of My Education tick by.

While the film plays out behind a closed door, Hilliard's voice will not be contained. Hence, he continually narrates each viewer's experience as they take in the rest of Becoming Imperceptible.
 
Pendleton noted the irony of the show's historic perspective amid today's cultural landscape. "It seems we've completely forgotten any kind of historical reference or framework and we're just sort of hurtling towards a known political and social space—meaning a kind of unproductive violent chaos," he said. "We've witnessed the outcome of intolerance, of xenophobia, of homophobia."


 
"The perception was that we had moved away from these things. And we're kind of suddenly forgetting our past and kind of reliving it," he said. "There's a kind of violent déjà vu, if you will, and I think that's difficult to grapple with."
 
Yet another video offering, Just Back from Los Angeles: A portrait of Yvonne Rainer, subtly conveys that insidious transfer of violence. The 14-minute film chronicles a conversation between Pendleton and the famous dancer, choreographer and filmmaker Yvonne Rainer.
 
She is a woman; he is a man. She is white; he is black. She is in her eighties; he is in his thirties. They are both alive, supping at an unremarkable New York diner as she reads a work that details the following killings: Eric Garner, July 17, 2014, Staten Island, New York City; Ezell Ford, Aug. 11, 2014, Los Angeles; John Crawford III, Aug. 5, 2014, Beavercreek, Ohio; Tanisha Anderson and Tamir Rice; Nov. 13, 2015 and Nov. 22, 2014, respectively, Cleveland.
 
As 1968 and the bullets recalled by Hilliard suddenly feel very, very close, Just Back from Los Angeles concludes with clips from Rainer's most famous effort, the 1966 Trio A.
 
My Education and Just Back from Los Angeles are cogent centerpieces in Becoming Imperceptible. They reside amid Pendleton's other stark historical reference images, daunting all-cap text assertions and black-on-black paintings, each of which speaks for itself as singular statement and as a voice in the orchestrated chorus of the exhibit as a whole.
 
Becoming Imperceptible is on display through May 14, 2017. It is joined by Lisa Oppenheim's Spine in the Toby Devan Lewis Gallery; Transport Empty from Zarouhie Abdalian and Joseph Rosenzweig in Stair A; and Jeremy Dellar's Video Works in Gund Commons.
 
For those on a budget, admission is free at MOCA for all visitors on the first Saturday of the month, courtesy of PNC Bank. Gund Commons and MOCA Store are always open to the public during regular museum hours.
 
MOCA is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.
 

MetroHealth transforms the medical arts with cultural arts

MetroHealth System is focusing on an aspect of healthcare that is sometimes overlooked: the power of the arts in healing.
 
Launched in 2015, MetroHealth’s Arts in Medicine is a cooperative effort to promote healing and create community through both the visual and performing arts. As a result, the hospital walls are adorned with paintings, dance and theater companies regularly perform in various spaces and music fills the hallways and atriums.
 
“There is a direct impact on patients and caregivers when arts is involved in healthcare,” MetroHealth president and CEO Akram Boutros says in this video about the program. “Art is healing, art is hope, art is life. How could you not include art in healthcare?"

MetroHealth Arts in Medicine from MetroHealth on Vimeo.

The budget for art and programming varies by project. Some funding comes through MetroHealth’s operations budget and some comes from the MetroHealth Foundation, while other projects receive donor funding.
 
Linda Jackson, director of the Arts in Medicine program in the Patient Experience office at MetroHealth, says that embedding the visual, performing and therapeutic arts across the MetroHealth system is a great way of accomplishing the hospital’s mission of inspiring a sense of hope, healing and community. She also notes the program's many goals extend throughout the system and beyond.

“First, we use arts to address population and health issues like opioids, gun violence and infant mortality,” she explains. “We want to integrate arts throughout the system – in waiting rooms, with patients and families, in staff and the community and through school health programs," says Jackson. "Cleveland is so rich in culture.”
 
To that end, several members of the stalwart local cultural network are involved including LAND studio, Cleveland Public Theatre, Inlet Dance Theatre, Kulture Kids, Dancing Wheels Company, Cleveland Print Room, Cleveland Ballet, Cleveland Orchestra, Cleveland Museum of Art, Zygote Press, and the Julia De Burgus Cultural Arts Center, among others.
 
Then there is also an extensive list of local individual artists whose work is featured in many of the new buildings in the MetroHealth Transformation Plan, which was revealed in November. The program extends throughout all of MetroHealth’s campuses.
 
Bringing diverse events to those campuses is a high priority. For instance, professional musicians perform on a regular basis, while Cleveland Public Theatre brought its Road to Hope performance to the outpatient center at the main campus. LAND studio worked with Jackson and other MetroHealth officials to curate the art that created the program’s vision.
 
“The three themes that really were prevalent were hope, healing and community,” says Erin Guido, LAND studio’s project manager. “These are the themes that tie in the whole art collection.” For instance, Guido explains that the critical care pavilion reflects poetic abstraction themes, while the Brecksville facility depicts perceptions of the outside world.
 
“There is a very big focus on local artists in Cuyahoga County, but in a purposeful statement,” Guido explains. “While it is a local focus, we’re also incorporating a lot of national and international artists.”

Jackson says the impact is impressive. "It can be as simple as how live music can help an oncology patient relax before an appointment or how, through the performing arts, we can help illustrate the devastating effects of gun violence on our community,” she says. “It's exciting that in just a short time our patients and caregivers are now seeking out our programming and also to know that we are just beginning and so much potential lies ahead.”
 
One component of the program highlights patients who have thrived after hardship. The Faces of Resilience project, shot by Cleveland photographer Paul Sobota last year, includes portraits of 14 MetroHealth patients who have thrived in the face of trauma. This month, the rotating exhibit will be installed in the waiting areas of MetroHealth's NICU and the Burn Care Center and Specialty Services Pavilion.
 
Last year, Community Partnership for Arts and Culture fellow and performance artist Ray Caspio hosted a month-long storytelling workshop with the hospital’s AIDS and HIV community – teaching participants how to tell their stories. The workshop culminated with a performance in the last week.
 
“It has been extraordinary to see the impact of our Arts in Medicine program,” says Jackson. “I witness daily the effect it has on our patients and equally on our staff - and there are so many examples.”
 
Jackson adds that the program has transformed MetroHealth on both physical and emotional levels. “We've brought spaces to life by adding a visual art collection that engages patients and caregivers and transforms an environment,” she says.

“We see how the arts therapies help patients recover and provide empowerment and engagement. Other people have the opportunity to engage in the arts that might never have the experience otherwise.” 

Perkoski's 'These Walks of Life' is a study in frozen motion

Those who walk religiously know the activity can be highly personal. A walking person may be in a rush. They may be deeply engaged in thought or a complex audio experience. They may be giggling over a podcast. Perhaps they are misting up over a lover's last whisper. Maybe they're tired. Maybe their feet hurt. Maybe those feet are the only mode of transportation they have.
 
In a new solo show, "These Walks of Life," Fresh Water's managing photographer Bob Perkoski has captured the essence of walking and its nuances with a collection of more than 40 images on display at Negative Space Gallery, 3820 Superior Avenue. "Walks" will run through mid-February.
 
The practice started out casually, with Perkoski taking clandestine photos capturing images of people while he drove around town – to and from shoots, grocery runs, wherever. Eventually, it became an intentional cataloging.
 
"I consciously started doing it in 2012," says Perkoski. "I put my camera on a high shutter speed so I'd catch it fast without getting a blur." The entire collection numbers in the hundreds and also includes people waiting for the bus or just standing along the street. Yet another category includes photos of bicyclists.
 
"I have people sitting on the corner, laying in the street," says Perkoski of some of his other images that are outside the scope of "Walks."
 
As for those included in the show, he took them at points all across town, including Playhouse Square, Ohio City, Clark Fulton, Little Italy, Woodland Avenue and Slavic Village among others. There are also two shots from out of town, one taken in London and another in Chicago.
 
All of the images are evocative and ironic in the sense that they are frozen images depicting motion. To be sure, the static background in each photo lends scale and contrast to the moving subject. One of the most jarring aspects of the show is also one of the most subtle: the voyeuristic feel of the images cannot be ignored – the majority of the walkers had no idea they were being photographed.
 
"I try to catch people that aren't looking at me. I just want them to be natural," says Perkoski of his subjects.
 
"You're wondering what they're doing and where they're going and what they're thinking."
 
"These Walks of Life" is on view on the second floor of Asian Town Center, which is a fascinating mall worthy of a visit on its own. The gallery housing Perkoski's work is in an annex to Negative Space and open for visitors whenever the mall is open, which is seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Contact Negative Space for extended evening hours.

Mural to bloom at Public Square bakery

Beginning next week, the employees at Bloom Bakery at the 200 Public Square location will tap into their creative juices to paint a 10-foot by 10-foot mural on the walls of the café.

Aiming to connect the arts with business, the project is a joint endeavor between Towards Employment, the non-profit organization dedicated to helping low income and disadvantaged adults achieve self-sufficiency through employment, the founder of Bloom and Negative Space Gallery executive director Gadi Zamir.
 
“We always wanted to do something with the space and tie in art,” explains Bloom general manager Logan Fahey. “This fits with our mission and uses art to represent what the business stands for. Through this mural, employees will be able to gain exposure to the artistic community and help create an artistic expression that is ingrained in Bloom.”
 
Five Bloom employees, all of whom recently came out of incarceration and are graduates of Towards Employment, volunteered to be involved in the project. Bloom employs 18 at its two locations, 16 of which are Towards Employment graduates.
 
“Everything we do is about providing opportunities to our graduates and employees,” says Fahey. “We want this mural to be emblematic of our commitment to providing training and employment opportunities to those with barriers.”
 
The mural is inspired by the painting “Purple Haze” by local artist James March, who specializes in abstract works.
 
Zamir, who is also an artist, will sketch the mural on Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8 and 9. The employees will begin painting it on Monday, Dec. 12. Zamir will help the employees through the process, then touch up the mural when it is complete.
 
Fahey says Towards Employment began talking with Zamir a few months ago about how to motivate the organization’s graduates through the arts. “He really has a passion for helping people with barriers to employment,” Fahey says. “He is an artist who was willing to open up to our graduates and let them into his studio.”
 
More than 6,000 people in Cuyahoga County are released from state prison each year, according to Towards Employment. The organization helps more than 500 of them with finding jobs. The organization helps a total of 2,000 people yearly in Cuyahoga County with its various programs.
 
Bloom Bakery plans two additional murals next year. Fahey says a second mural will be painted in the upstairs area of the Public Square location during the first quarter of 2017, while a mural at the Cleveland State University location – in collaboration with CSU students – is planned for next spring.
 
Bloom opened its bakeries earlier this year as a social enterprise venture.

Construction underway at new Ohio City music and early childhood education facility

Without fanfare, construction quietly began on the newest Music Settlement location in Ohio City in October, marking a huge step for the 104-year-old music education, music therapy and early childhood education institution.
 
“We’ve already started the initial groundbreaking,” says Patricia Camacho Hughes, the Music Settlement’s interim president. We’re moving forward and on schedule to open in August or September 2018.”
 
Settlement officials announced late last year that they had committed to 19,000 square feet on the first floor of the Snavely Group’s mixed use project on the corner of W. 25th Street and Detroit Avenue.
 
“It’s been really exciting to be doing it from scratch after 104 years of music,” says Lynn Johnson, the Settlement’s director of marketing and communications. “We’ve learned a lot.”
 
The Music Settlement was founded in 1912 and the institution has spent most of its time in an historic mansion in University Circle.
 
Hughes says they looked at multiple options for a second location and adds they are pleased to be constructing a building from the ground up.
 
“Starting from scratch, knowing what the square footage is and working with early childhood [education] requirements, we were able to work with the architects [VOCON],” she says, adding that factors like adequate soundproofing and layout were important.
 
The new location will house approximately 125 early childhood students and about 75 music and music therapy students. The settlement will employ a staff of about 50 at the W.25th campus.
 
The campus will include two music therapy suites with observation rooms and six ensemble rooms and a computer lab. The early childhood center will have six classrooms, a multipurpose room, dance studio, science lab, library, a secure playground, and a large-muscle room so children can move indoors during inclement weather.
 
The playground on site will help the Settlement fit right in with the neighborhood’s usual activity. “You’ll always hear the laughter of kids,” Hughes says. “But we’re used to hearing all those noises. People will understand what to anticipate – street noise, sirens, the sounds of music and kids laughing.”
 
Hours will be from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the classrooms used as practice areas once classes are over, in addition to the separate practice and music studios and therapy rooms. Instruction will run six days a week.
 
With the Music Settlement’s Bop Stop just steps away on Detroit, Johnson says the Ohio City community has already embraced the Settlement's growing presence in the neighborhood. “Ohio City and Hingetown have been so warm and welcoming,” she says. “They understand the value of keeping music and enrichment here.”
 
Hughes adds that the established artistic community in the neighborhood contributes to the excitement. “I love being on this corridor off of Detroit and the building is really a connector,” she says. “We’re actively working with other artists and nonprofits because we’re not in competition with each other.”
 
The Ohio City location is also a welcome addition for west side residents, who right now must make a rather long commute to University Circle. Hughes points out that some students come from as far away as Bay Village.  
 
“There’s a distinction between the west and east sides for those who use our services,” says Hughes. “Part of why we’re feeling so welcome is they’re aware of us, but they don’t have to travel across the river.”
 
Total enrollment at the Music Settlement is between 800 and 900, says Johnson, in addition to people who are served through the organization’s outreach programs at area high schools and community centers.
 
With the west side location, Hughes says she hopes community services will expand – especially with Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority’s  (CMHA) Lakeview Community Center just two blocks away.
 
“It’s also our mission to engage those residents to take part in our activities,” says Hughes. “We have fundraisers to expand endowment money to serve the underserved.”
 
The Music Settlement announced in early November that Geralyn Presti has been named the new president and CEO, coming from Forest City Realty Trust, where she served as executive vice president, general counsel and secretary. Presti has an extensive history with the Music Settlement, and her real estate law experience will prove helpful in the development of the new campus when she takes over in early 2017.

GLO opens in Artcraft building as a creative space for everyone

With its stunning views of downtown Cleveland and Lake Erie, GLO Cleveland is creating a reputation for being a collaborative studio and event space for those who want to express themselves in a supportive environment.
 
GLO manager Shelly Gracon, owner of Butterfly Consulting Group, and artist and entrepreneur Mike Bruckman had the vision of creating a space that both serves the community and uses a collaborative approach to building business. GLO is open to artists in all media, from film and production to painting and music.
 
“We came together with the mission of creating a collaborative space for all types,” says Gracon. “The name GLO signifies that bright and positive energy in the community. We want to bridge that gap with a creative space where [people] come to see each other, connect and build relationships.”
 
GLO’s 4,000-square-foot space on the fifth floor of the historic Artcraft Building, 2530 Superior Ave., has been open since late September, but officially kicks off its programming with an open house on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 3rd and 4th during the building’s annual ArtCraft Holiday Sale.

During the open house, one of GLO’s artist collective members, AyyeDeesMM – a multimedia hip hop collective – will perform. “They focus on the foundational pillars of the Hip-hop culture, which include hip hop music, spoken word, graffiti art and graphic design, hip hop dance, and DJing,” Gracon explains. “Through their performance, education and brand they promote the values of peace, unity, love, and having fun.”

GLO has already hosted an after-hours party after a Night Market Cleveland last summer, a D.J. for an event and the filming of two music videos in the space. Gracon says she wants to keep the momentum going with yoga classes and wellness programming and artist uses in other mediums.
 
“We’re trying to get some photographers in here because the natural light is so incredible,” Gracon says. “We really want to open it to everyone and not be an exclusive space. We want to work together.”
 
GLO will also rent the space out for private events, says Gracon, which will help fund artists’ projects and programming. “The private event money allows us to offer space to artists,” she explains, adding that GLO is attractive for private events “because we have the view that we have. We want to use it all day, all evening, every day of the week.”
 
Memberships in the artist collective start at $100 per month and offer access to studio space, networking events and workshops and discounts on GLO rentals for private shows and parties. And additional fee gives members access to GLO’s wellness collective, which includes yoga, meditation and other fitness classes.
 
This weekend's open house is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Anyone interested in touring the space can also contact Gracon for an appointment.

Rock Hall comes of age, decks out for its 21st birthday

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame turned 20 years old last year, which prompted discussions of a new strategic plan to keep on rockin’ and give the museum an updated look and feel while keeping up with technology.
 
“We’re 21 years old and the inside joke is: ‘We’re of age. What are we going to be when we grow up?’” says Todd Mesek, the Rock Hall’s vice president of marketing and communications. “We’re looking at this with a new set of eyes. It’s about looking at how we can really engage people and make it exciting for everyone.”
 
Achieving that goal means looking at every generation and rock music style. It’s about telling in-depth stories and connecting visitors to the artists and musicians showcased in the museum.
 
“We’re going deeper, telling stories and making it engaging,” says Mesek. “For the Baby Boomers, the Rolling Stones might be an entry point, but we want to take them to Bruno Mars and Lady Gaga – make that connection point. If you’re 17, there are a lot of connections to classic rock – who’s doing it today, who’s carrying on that torch.”

Many of the exhibits will be more interactive, Mesek says, like the new permanent exhibit on the first floor, Backstage Stories, which chronicles how live concerts are produced, or the Paul Simon exhibit that includes film footage of the musician in his everyday life.

“It’s not just the music, the artist, the genre,” says Mesek. “It’s how it crosses over in other parts of their lives.”

The planned Garage Zone, will be a true hands-on experience with an educational element, where visitors can make their own music. “It’s a space where they can touch instruments, pick up a guitar or mix a soundtrack and learn what happens in a mix down,” Mesek explains.

Another future planned project is the Signature Experience, which will combine enhanced inductee exhibits with a signature multimedia presentation production by Oscar-winning filmmaker Jonathan Demme.

The experience will begin before visitors even step inside the Rock Hall, though. The giant Rock Boxes, installed before the Republican National Convention, are now permanent public art pieces lining East 9th Street - AKA Rock and Roll Boulevard - playing music and drawing visitors to the museum.

“It’s a long walk so we wanted the space to really come alive,” says Mesek of the trek down East 9th to North Coast Harbor.

Last Thursday, Nov. 17, the Rock Hall officially dedicated its giant welcome message – seven-foot-high red letters, spelling out LONG LIVE ROCK on the 65,000-square-foot entrance plaza. “People are climbing on them every single day,” says Mesek of the letters. “And they light up at night, adding energy to it.”

The atrium also has a new look, painted red, gold and black. “The red symbolizes the passion and energy of rock and roll; the black represents the edge and grit of rock and roll; while the gold, used sparingly, represents the inductions,” says Mesek.

The museum store has been redesigned to better meet the needs of visitors looking for more than just a souvenir t-shirt, as well as create a better layout with a relaxed atmosphere.

“There’s a place for people to sit down and charge their phones,” says Mesek of the new store, which is also keeping up with the times in a way. “There are fewer CDs, but more vinyl in matching consumer trends. We have lifestyle products that are co-branded with the inductees, like women’s scarves and cool unique t-shirts you’d wear out to a club.”

An “all-access” café, featuring cuisine from local celebrity chefs Michael Symon, Jonathan Sawyer, Rocco Whalen and Fabio Salerno, will offer unique, tasty dining, and no admission ticket is required. Mesek says people are encouraged to dine at the café for a casual lunch or as part of the whole Rock Hall experience.

“They’re so excited,” Mesek says of the chefs involved. “Rocco was joking about changing his name to RockHall. We wanted something that is fresh and forward-thinking.”

By next summer, a permanent stage with new sound and lighting systems will grace the entrance plaza for live entertainment. The popular beer garden and food trucks and plenty of greenspace will also add to the outdoor venue. “Sit down, have a beer, grab something to eat,” Merek says by as a welcome to future visitors. “It just adds to the experience.”

Other improvements include an updated ticketing system, which will speed up on-site and online advance ticket purchases and motorcycle parking.

Holiday decorating goes over the top, meets steampunk, the British and Higbee's

The holidays are approaching quickly and creating that perfect table décor for the season can be difficult. Want to see how the pros do it?

More than 25 of Northeast Ohio’s top interior designers will show off their tablescapes at Ohio Design Center’s Entertaining by Design, this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 4 and 5.

All proceeds benefit Malachi House, a non-profit organization that serves the terminally ill who have limited or no financial resources and are in need of special home care in the final stages of life.
 
The juried competition began in 2012 as a small demonstration, but has grown to a much larger event. In recent years, attendance has grown to as many as 900 during the two-day event.
 
“It started as a one-day event with one person doing a how-to demonstration and then we realized how popular it is,” says event spokesperson Latoya Hunter. “It seems that every year the designs are becoming more and more elaborate and taking up more space.”
 
An open call for designers was issued back in March, and those who showed the best ideas will display them at the show. Some of the designs are over the top, Hunter says, with some of this year’s themes including Holiday at Higbee’s, Steam Punk Masquerade and British Invasion.
 
Holiday at Higbee’s, created by Cuyahoga Community College design students, harkens back to 1984, with Mr. Jingeling preparing for the holiday season at the once-beloved department store.

Steam Punk Masquerade, by 2 Sisters Design, represents a fusion of Victorian design and 19th century industrial elements in a futuristic masquerade atmosphere.

British Invasion by Kelly Millstone Interiors is inspired by the designers’ time living in London and their admiration of the spirit of the British people, complete with a stroll along Abbey Road.
 
Other designers are using hand-made plates from Italy, hand-made crystal table mats and thousands of dollars in exotic flowers, says Hunter. “They’re elaborate,” she observes.
 
A three-judge panel will choose winners in four categories: best of show, best interpretation of a theme, most over-the-top and best student presentation. A fifth award will be given to the design team garnering the most votes from attendees.
 
Event-goers will also have a chance to shop in many of Ohio Design Centre’s showrooms for furniture, accessories, lighting, rugs, art and other items.
 
The public event runs Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Ohio Design Center, 23533 Mercantile Road in Beachwood. A VIP party is planned on Friday from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. In addition to the tablescapes, party attendees will be treated to dinner and live entertainment.
 
General admission is $10. Tickets to the VIP celebration start at $125. Tickets for both admissions can be purchased in advance or at the door.

Inter|Urban launches website, announces phase two of the "Art & Culture Connector" along Rapid line

Nearly a year after receiving a $150,000 grant from the Cleveland Foundation to create public art along the RTA red line between downtown and Public Square, LAND studio last week announced the launch of the INTER|URBAN website.
 
The site highlights each of the 18 INTER|URBAN art installations and profiles the local, national and international mural artists and photographers who created them. The site also explores the Anisfield-Wolf Award winning literature that inspired each artist. The 81-year-old award, administered by the Cleveland Foundation, recognizes books that tackle issues of racism, diversity, equity and social justice.
 
The project, a partnership between LAND studio, the Cleveland Foundation, the City of Cleveland, RTA, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and the Anisfeld-Wolf Book Awards, originally came about in 2014 as a way to beautify the Rapid route for guests traveling from the airport to downtown for the Republican National Convention.
 
It quickly grew into something much more evocative. Sponsors asked the selected artists to add a relative cultural dimension to the works by responding to themes in the award-winning books they were given.


 
“We wanted to create a project that was not just murals, because a lot of cities are doing that,” explains Joe Lanzilotta, project manager for LAND studio. “The artists are directly responding to the literature, and it’s a perfect time right now for something like this.”
 
Lanzilotta says riding the RTA route, which is usually a passive experience, seemed to be the perfect forum to introduce issues about race and diversity. “It’s unconventional, but the perfect place to start a conversation about diversity,” he says. “Riders are introduced to these discussions in a place where they normally would not be.”
 
More than 300 artists submitted portfolios to LAND studios for the project.
 
Anisfield-Wolf scholars from CWRU helped choose the artists and pair each one with a book. “It was an interesting, very fun process to work with these scholars and it kind of worked out perfectly,” Lanzilotta says. “We knew right away when we sat down with them, we had something very unique.”
 
Eight of the 18 artists are from Northeast Ohio, while the rest hail from across the country and the globe, including Detroit, Austin, Texas, San Francisco and even South Africa. Cleveland native Fred Bidwell and mural expert Jasper Wong from Honolulu were hired to curate the project.
 
“We didn’t want the artist to take the book literally," says Lanzilotta, "we wanted them to interpret [their assigned works] – and take from their own experiences. We left if really open for them.”
 
This past June, all 18 artists descended upon the Rapid stops for one week, simultaneously creating their installments in time to welcome RNC visitors. The result is a series of distinctive works that add beauty to the Cleveland landscape and hopefully spark discussion.
 
“It celebrates our unique landscape and our unique approach to public art,” says Lanzilotta, noting how special the opportunity is. “We get a chance to start a discussion about social justice and equality. Each of us face these issues every day, whether it’s how we are viewed or how we view the world.”
 
The project was so successful, the organizations have already started to implement phase two – the expansion of INTER|URBAN along the eastern portion of the RTA red line, from downtown to University Circle. Phase two is scheduled to begin next summer.
 
LAND studio also produced a video, chronicling the first phase of INTER|URBAN.
 

INTER|URBAN from LAND studio on Vimeo.

However, the vision goes beyond a second phase. In the video, Lillian Kuri, program director for the Cleveland Foundation states that she would like this project expand to as many of 70 projects along the RTA system.

“You could ride any line and understand how powerful this is and how the creative community has risen to say we’re a community that cares about race, equity, inclusion,” she says. “And then over time as we evolve as a community we continue to tell that story so that in a few years the entire RTA system will actually be the world’s largest art gallery that is talking about how we have come together to deal with these issues.”
 
Lanzilotta adds that he would like to include more interactive facets in phase two such as performance artists and literature. “We really hope to engage riders,” he says, noting that this initial foray is a sort of trial or proof, with significant opportunity in the future. “This could be a project that occurs every year to highlight the rich, cultural diversity of the region,” he says.

“We want another layer of Cleveland’s arts and culture scene. We want people to travel here from all over to see this.”


LAND studio is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

LAND studio issues wide regional call to artists for temporary public art in the 216

Anyone who has been out and about in Cleveland over the past months has no doubt spotted some of the colorful creatures scattered throughout the city.

The temporary public art installation, created by Cracking Art, brought here by LAND studio and a grant from the Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, is here through next spring.
 
But when the snails and turtles make their exits, a new batch of temporary public art will take its place. Last week, LAND studio issued a call for artists within a 350 mile radius of downtown Cleveland to submit applications for three to six additional public art installations throughout 2017 and 2018.
 
“Public art can be really experimental, but then if it works out it’s an idea for something on a more permanent bases,” says Vince Reddy, LAND studio’s project manager, adding that the Cracking Art for the most part received positive reactions. "We want people to think of Cleveland as a place to view public art."
 
The Fowler Family Foundation is also supporting this new public art endeavor, which will have installments in Public Square, Mall B, East 3rd Street between Superior and Rockwell Avenues or in nearby publicly accessible locations. Selected artists will have a $40,000 budget for their works, which will be displayed at various times between spring 2017 and the end of 2018.
 
Reddy says they opened the call for artists to a 350 mile radius in order to attract both local artists and artists from neighboring cities, such as Pittsburgh, Detroit, Buffalo and Columbus. “More than half of the public art we do is local,” he explains. “Outside artists must work from their impressions of Cleveland, and we want to find out about artists from our peer cities.”
 
Furthermore, Reddy says the larger field will introduce the city to new perspectives. “There are a lot of good artists with great ideas who don’t know how to express them,” he says. “This is an opportunity for some artists who may never have worked in public art.”
 
Rather than asking applicants to outline their ideas, Reddy says LAND studio is asking for qualifications and a one-page statement as to why they want to participate in the project. “We’re asking they not just submit ideas, just to submit their qualifications,” he explains. “We’re looking for people who have really thought about it. We’re asking how they would approach it. We’re hoping to get a big response.”
 
Interested artists should read the application requirements and submit their materials by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 28.

From West Africa to West Boulevard: an artist's journey

Born in Accra, Ghana, West African artist Harry Larweh uses African mahogany and Rosewood for his craft. He reimagines the beautiful wood into meticulously carved tables, wall hangings, chairs and both small and enormous works of art. Touring the vast inventory throughout his garage and backyard workshop in his West Boulevard neighborhood home, Larweh explains a simple premise for his artistic process, “All these creations, I see the wood and I just start creating.”
 
Young and with a passion to travel, Larweh moved from Ghana to Holland where he met his wife. In Holland, Larweh continued to explore his love of woodworking. Visits to antiques shops and galleries reaffirmed a passion that he'd nurtured his entire life.

“I didn't realize when I started, I just grew up doing it,” Larweh notes of his journey into the arts. After a decade in Holland, Larweh returned to Ghana and then finally made the move to Cleveland to be with his wife, who had moved to Ohio to be closer to family.
 
Most of Larweh's family still remains in Ghana, and his passion for his homeland is apparent. “I am a self taught artist," he says. "I have very good people back home.” After an eight-week visit earlier this year, Larweh arranged to have a freight container full of Mahogany planks shipped to the United States. “It is difficult and expensive”, he describes of the delivery.

The move was enabled in part by the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), and allows him to use materials from his homeland, keeping him focused and excited to create. ECDI relationship manager Rebecca Mayhew, who worked directly with Larweh, explains, “I love Harry's work. It is just marvelous, that here we are in Cleveland, and we have an artist carving this amazing African mahogany furniture...Not everyone is in the position for a bank loan, and that is why ECDI is so important. We help the individual start a business or continue their business with our loans.”

ECDI, a statewide SBA lender, started in Columbus in 2004 before expanding to Cleveland in July 2012 and Akron in November 2014. Since 2004, ECDI has benefited local communities with small business loans throughout the state of Ohio, and assisted over 8,500 individuals - people like Larweh.

Not only does ECDI provide loans to small business owners, but they also provide contact and network information to the clients. Mayhew continues, “We are hoping to connect him (Larweh) to the appropriate contacts so he can find potential markets for the raw wood planks and his art.”
 
Even with the assistance, Larweh says it can be difficult to find a niche and earn enough to make a living in the art community, but he has found an audience. “I do things differently, I just create … I am finding people who are admiring a lot.” As Larweh explains, however, making a living as an artist is a challenge of its own, “It is early. As for the art, I knew it wouldn't be something that would be selling just like that.” He soldiers on nonetheless, continuing to design his own pieces and looking forward to providing high quality materials to his fellow artisans.
 
Larweh's work is available for sale on etsy.

ECDI Cleveland is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Being there: MOCA's fall exhibits ignite all senses

The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) reopened its doors last Friday after a short hiatus following the wildly successful Myopia exhibit. While completely different in tone from the Mark Mothersbaugh show, the new installations reflect a unique and unexpected study in contrast that stimulates every sense.
 
Visitors are well advised to start at the top, as it were, in MOCA's fourth floor galleries, wherein Wall to Wall: Carpets by Artists unfurls. The contents are aptly described by the title – these are carpets, which sounds mundane at first blush. The content is anything but, with lush and gorgeous images that are beautifully served by the textile medium.
 
A sampling of the 30 works: Faig Ahmed's Oiling (2012) literally melts the concept of a traditional middle eastern rug design while Deep Purple, Red Shoes (Polly Apfelbaum, 2015), invites visitors to walk upon it, provided they remove their shoes. Nautilus shells notwithstanding, Infinite Carpet (Pierre Bismuth, 2008) recalls the golden rectangle of geometric fame. And speaking of arithmetic, Joseph Kosuth's L.W. (Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics), 2015, will have viewers indeed believing that "2 + 2 + 2 are 4."


 
Traveling to the next component of the 2016 show sounds benign enough, but – as regular visitors have come to expect – MOCA's Stair A refracts the experience. While attendees navigate the twisting stairs, Anthony Discenza's audio installation A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats advises them thusly:
 
"Think Suicide Girls meets the Pillsbury Dough Boy."
 
"Think Baywatch meets the Cuban Missile Crisis."
 
"Think Jersey Shore meets Stephen King."
 
The deep resonant voice, which is fitting of any voice-over John Q. Public is fed by media sources at every turn, is so convincing, attendees may indeed be inclined to plop down and listen to all the suggestions within the 23-minute installation.
 
"Think art deco meets Jurassic Park."
 
Once visitors right themselves from that experience, they're met with a simple, albeit somewhat distressed, closed door in the second floor Toby Devan Lewis Gallery, which is the entrance to Anders Ruhwald's Unit 1:3583 DuboisPer MOCA, "The exhibition presents several life-sized rooms and corridors based on a permanent installation that Ruhwald is creating in one apartment of this building." That building is in Detroit. Ruhwald searched for the appropriate spot for his evocative project for more than a year before settling on it. The MOCA installation is a test run of sorts; it will be dismantled after the exhibit closes on Jan. 8 and permanently installed in the Detroit location (scheduled opening, May 2017). In addition to Unit 1, the building will also include a community space in the basement and living quarters for the artist. 

For now, the door to Unit 1 in MOCA gives way to a completely different world from which visitors have emerged. Void of color, sound and very dimly lit, the interior of the exhibit is populated by the artist's imposing ceramic sculptures, bathroom fixtures and, among other random objects, a 1941 photo of a beach by Diamond Head on Oahu, Hawaii, that was taken just months before the attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
Unit 1 does include two sensual components the other exhibits lack. Not only does it smell of charred wood evocative of campfires as well as arson, visitors are encouraged to do something that might otherwise get them asked to leave a museum: touch all the interior components of the mysterious space, some of which offer a primal element of life: warmth.


 
Lastly, in the museum's first floor Gund Commons, which, along with the MOCA Store, is always free and open to the public during museum hours, Liz Magic Laser's nine-minute The Thought Leader (2015) will play through Oct. 19.
 
If the satin-voiced announcer in Stair A, with his Banana Republic and Rocky Horror Picture Show, fails to challenge one's sense of order, the main actor of The Thought Leader will surely do so. He's a young boy, perhaps age nine or ten, speaking Ted Talk style to an audience. His text, however, is gleaned from an 1864 work by Dostoyevsky.
 
"Can the decision to be less selfish ever be anything other than a selfish decision?" poses the young Alex Ammerman. "What you'll realize is that you actually enjoy feeling like there is no escape – that you'll really never change anything. Even if you could, you would do nothing because perhaps there's nothing actually there for you to change.
 
"The reality is that it is better to do nothing. This is my conviction."
 
Ammerman, incidentally, performs a more successful Ted Talk delivery than many adults giving actual Ted Talks. The result is a dizzying ping-pong game of age, content and expression.
 
The offering is the first of four segments of Acts of Speech. After Laser's showing concludes, Gund Commons will feature Yael Bartana's 51-minute True Finn (2014) Oct. 20 through Nov. 15. Metahaven's 11-minute City Rising (2014) will play from Nov. 16 through Dec. 12 and AH (2016), an 18-minute effort from Young-hae Chang Heavy Industries, will run from Dec. 13 through the show's close on Jan. 8.
 
The scale, size and diversity of all the works amid MOCA's fall 2016 offerings begs an in-person visit. For instance, the giant Maurizio Cattelan's selections from the 2016 Seletti Wears Toilet Paper collection in the main lobby alone is reason enough to step inside the beautiful structure on the corner of Mayfield and Euclid. It demands that viewers rethink the chorus line and, among other things, evokes the landline phones of yesterday, however anxiously.
 
Furthermore, the exquisite contrast between installations truly serves. Standing amid Ruhwald's giant (and oddly friendly) sculptures in "The Library" in Unit 1 makes the candy-like colors and airy positioning of Wall to Wall that much more pronounced and vice versa, while the video and audio installations serve as perfect connective tissue.
 
The fall 2016 MOCA show promises to turn your world inside out, if only for an hour or two. This is art as it should be.
 
The stunning 152-page companion catalog to Wall to Wall by exhibit curator Cornelia Lauf includes photos of all the carpets featured in the show as well as informed commentary and meticulous details on the featured works. It also expands the show with carpets designed by an array of other artists such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and Chuck Close. Available in the MOCA Store, $40.
 
MOCA is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, and closed most major holidays. General admission is $9.50, with reduced rates for seniors and students. For those on a budget, admission is free at MOCA for all visitors on the first Saturday of every month, courtesy of PNC Bank. Admission is always free for active military members and veterans, kids under five and museum members.

MOCA is part of Fresh Water Cleveland's underwriting support network.

 

Community-minded Artful lands in Coventry neighborhood

After a year-and-a-half search, the founders of Artful have finally found a home in the former Coventry School building at 2843 Washington Blvd. in Cleveland Heights.

Artful was founded in February last year by friends and local artists Shannon Morris and Brady Dindia to create an affordable space for local artists to come together and create, collaborate and sell their works. They’ve spent their first year introducing the concept of Artful to the community, assessing needs and looking for a space.
 
Now they are moving into the second phase of establishing Artful as the east side community for artists.
 
Morris, executive director of Artful, points outs that the Heights area, including Shaker Heights, Cleveland Heights and University Heights, has the largest population of artists in the greater Cleveland area, yet very little studio and work space.
 
The preferred location was always Cleveland Heights, but organizers scoured the city for the perfect home for Artful. They found the, 5,376-square-foot space on the second floor of the 60,000-square-foot former school through the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, which owns the building.
 
“They were very helpful and accommodating,” says Morris of the school district. “We went to go look at it and we were just like, ‘duh.’ Then we brought in our architect [John Williams of Process Creative Studios] and he said, ‘this is a no-brainer guys.’”
 
Artful will share the second floor with Ensemble Theatre. Morris says the abundant, large windows and swooping tall ceilings make a perfect creative environment. “There’s a lot of natural light and peaks throughout,” she says. “It feels so open and accessible.”
 
Currently the space is wide open, with enough room for at least 17 studios, a classroom, gallery and a programming area. Artful is pre-leasing studio space so tenants can configure them as they choose. Morris says a 10x10-foot studio will rent for $150 a month, which utilities and Wi-Fi.
 
"It's so exciting, but so scary at the same time,” Morris confesses.
 
Programming will be a critical component of Artful’s mission, especially after achieving 501(c)3 non-profit status last September. For instance, Artful has been working with a financial advisor, who will conduct classes on how to navigate financials and set up a business as an artist. The organization will also work with area gallery owners to determine what they're looking for in local artists.
 
“It’s about combining ideas with businesses and the community and working together,” explains Morris. “If the artist community is healthy, the whole community is healthy.”
 
Over the last year, Artful staff has kindled relationships with the neighborhood businesses along Coventry, especially Big Fun, the Grog Shop and B Side Liquor Lounge and Arcade, as well as Ensemble Theatre.
 
“It’s good to get young, fresh-minded things happening,” Morris says. “Community and arts working together make it fun.”
 
Artist Stephen Manka, who is known for his various public art around Cleveland, is working on a public art piece for Artful’s new home.
 
Artful is currently running a fundraising campaign to raise $75,000. An anonymous donor has agreed to match $25,000 of the funds raised. If they meet their goal, Artful can operate successfully for the next year.
 
Morris is particularly excited about a Chandler & Price letterpress the group has acquired. It was hand-forged by the Cleveland company in 1899. “It’s museum quality; it’s the real deal,” she says of the vintage press, adding that they plan to use the antique. She’ll be traveling down to Roanoke, Virginia to pick it up soon. “I think it’s so cool to bring it home to Cleveland.”
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