CONVERGE: the LGBTQ arts event in photos

When Kelly Pontoni, collections registrar for the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AARW), first began envisioning an art exhibit around Northeast Ohio’s LGBTQ+ community she dreamed big.

“From the beginning, I had this vision of canvassing Ohio and Cleveland with LGBTQ+ art,” Pontoni said for an August 26 preview of CONVERGE. “It’s turned into this huge program that I couldn’t be happier about.”

Now that CONVERGE art exhibition of more than 200 works of art by 71 regional artists, is coming to close on Saturday, Oct. 16, it is probably safe to say the nearly-two months of exhibits, live and virtual programming, and MetroHealth’s display of part of the AIDS Memorial Quilt

CONVERGE was held in partnership with the LGBT Community Center of Greater ClevelandLake Erie CollegeJudson Manor Retirement Community, and MetroHealth, and was made possible in part with a 2021 $23,400 general operating support grant that nonprofit AAWR received from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC).

FreshWater managing photographer Bob Perkoski was out and about at several CONVERGE events, documenting the artists, their works, and the people who came out to enjoy the exhibition.

Part of the CONVERGE exhibit included sections of the AIDS Quilt that memorialize midwestern lives lost from AIDS.

Founded in 1987 in San Francisco by Cleve Jones, today the AIDS Quilt is composed of more than 49,000 panels on more than 6,000 blocks. MetroHealth, which has displayed the quilt annually since 2009, held a workshop with Stitch Cleveland and volunteers to make additional quilt panels with local families, partners, and friends of people who died of AIDS-related illnesses.

This weekend, Saturday, Oct. 16 and Sunday, Oct. 17 AAWR will host Dollmaking With PRIDE! With Joyce Morrow Jones, when attendees can make their own dolls.

The CONVERGE  Closing Reception with be tomorrow, Thursday, Oct. 14, from 4:30 to 7:30pm. at Lake Erie College's Royce Hall for the Fine and Performing Arts, 391 Washington St, Painesville. Reservations are not needed, but masks are required on campus and social distancing will be observed.

Read more articles by Bob Perkoski.

In addition to his work for Fresh Water, Bob Perkoski is the official photographer for LAND studio and Cleveland Burlesque. He recently published a book of his photos Rust Belt Burlesque. He's had work published in other books like LGBTQ Cleveland by Ken Schneck, Rust Belt Chic: The Cleveland AnthologyRust Belt Chic: The Pittsburgh Anthology and Moon Cleveland by Douglas Trattner. Previously he was co-founder/art director for Balanced Living Magazine. His substantial portfolio includes news coverage, portraiture, commercial imagery and fine art. Perkoski's first solo show, These Walks of Life premiered in December 2016 in Negative Space Gallery. Visit Perkoski Photography for complete profile information.   Originally from Conneaut, Ohio, Perkoski now lives close to the city in Parma. He has been Fresh Water's managing photographer since the publication's September 2010 inception.