Five things: little known facts from inside the Cleveland Institute of Art

An indispensible asset to the city, Cleveland Institute of Art (CIA) opened in 1882 as the Western Reserve School of Design for Women. Ten years later it became the co-educational Cleveland School of Art and officially became Cleveland Institute of Art in 1948. With an annual enrollment of some 600 students, it is one of the leading arts colleges in the country.
However, from an anthropomorphic aardvark to a golden guy named Oscar, there are things about the venerable institution on Euclid Avenue in University Circle's Uptown neighborhood you may not know. Fresh Water contributor Hollie Gibbs has rounded up five fascinating entries that will forever change the way you think of CIA.

1. Art created by CIA staff and alums is … everywhere.
Hundreds of works of art in the Cleveland Museum of Art were created by CIA students and staff as were numerous pieces around the city.
Walk to the War Memorial Fountain on Downtown's Mall A to view the iconic landmark Peace Arising from the Flames of War by 1930 alum Marshall Fredericks, and then stroll in front of the nearby Drury Plaza Hotel to enjoy alumnus Max Kalish’s sculpture of Abraham Lincoln. CIA graduate Cora Millet Holden created the murals inside the Drury, the Federal Reserve Bank, and the Allen Medical Library.
Mark Twain sat for CIA's first sculptor alumna (class of 1884) Luella Varney Serrao when she created the bust on display at the Cleveland Public Library, and her sculpture of the first Roman Catholic bishop of northeast Ohio, Louis Amadeus Rappe, is outside St. John's Cathedral.
Clara Wolcott DriscollOne of the school’s first students, Clara Wolcott Driscoll, headed Louis Comfort Tiffany's Women's Glass Cutting Department, designing Tiffany's lamps, while stained glass artist Douglas Phillips (class of 1949) created windows for Lakewood Presbyterian Church, Cleveland’s Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, Fairlawn Lutheran Church, Painville’s First Church Congregational, and Lorain’s Agudath B'nai Israel Synagogue, among others across the globe.
Any person about town has had a chance to sit next to former CIA President (and class of 1967 alum) David Deming’s sculptures of Congresswoman Stephanie Tubbs Jones on the corner of East Boulevard and Wade Oval and Plain Dealer rock critic Jane Scott at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or admire his sculptures of former Cleveland Browns owner Al Lerner outside the Browns training facility in Berea and former Cleveland Indians Jim Thome and Larry Doby at Progressive Field. He also created the Hall of Fame plaques surrounding Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Out for a night on the town? A walk into Severance Hall’s Grand Foyer will take you past Elsa Vick Shaw's (class of 1913) 14 murals on the history of musical instruments.

Among other installations about town, Mark Reigelman (class of 2006) designed the planters along Euclid Avenue from Public Square to Playhouse Square and created the Rock Boxes along East 9th Street as well as the giant 2013 Reading Nest at the Cleveland Public Library. While the Nest is gone you can still curl up at any library with one of the Arthur children’s books about an anthropomorphic aardvark, thus enjoying the writing and illustrations of 1969 CIA grad Marc Brown who created the series. However, older readers may opt to pick up an issue of Brian Michael Bendis's (class of 1991) Ironman.

Former CIA President (and class of 1967 alum) David Deming with his sculpture of Plain Dealer rock critic Jane Scott at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Those entering or departing the city via Cleveland Hopkins International Airport may rush under Andy Yoder's (class of 1982) 1999 Home, School and Office, an aluminum with photo laminate installation of giant paper airplanes. And travelers may wish to pass the time watching one of the Transformers films or playing Batman: Arkham Origins or Magic: The Gathering video games, all of which feature characters developed by CIA class of 2004 grad Wesley Burt.
Don’t feel like going out? Take a look around your home. John Nottingham and John Spirk graduated from CIA’s Industrial Design program in 1972 before forming Nottingham-Spirk Design Associates, which produced the Crest SpinBrush, Swiffer SweeperVac, and the Arctic Twister ice cream maker.
2. CIA’s Cinematheque offers world class film in a stunning local venue.
Founded in 1986, the Cleveland Institute of Art's Cinematheque is considered by many to be one of the country’s best repertory movie theaters, according to The New York Times.
With a 2015 attendance of some 16,000, the Cinematheque shows approximately 250 different feature films and presents approximately 450 separate screenings every year. It is one of only four venues in greater Cleveland that still possesses the ability to show movies from 35mm film, which many film devotees deem head and shoulders above digital projection when it comes to quality.

The Cleveland Cinematheque Peter B. Lewis Theater
“Everything we present – acclaimed first run movies, essential film classics, thematic and touring film series, special guests – is a Cleveland exclusive at the time we present it, and the vast majority of our offerings never show anywhere else in greater Cleveland,” Cinematheque director John Ewing explains.
These events include presenting classic, foreign, and independent films 50 weekends of the year and hosting guests including esteemed directors and actors. Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe has visited the venue for two separate interviews including an audience Q&A and has said, "You're really lucky to have the Cinematheque in Cleveland." (Cleveland Institute of Art President Grafton Nunes produced Dafoe’s first starring role movie, "The Loveless," in 1981. Dafoe also gave CIA’s May 2015 commencement address.)
When cult film producer, humorous author, and vanguard hero John Waters presented his "This Filthy World: Filthier and Dirtier" one-man show in September 2014, he echoed those sentiments, telling the packed crowd that they need to support the unique movie house. He added that he would have spent much of his free time enjoying all that it had to offer in his adolescence. The Cinematheque does in fact offer discounted tickets to all CIA students and viewers under the age of 25 to encourage a love of artistic cinema in local youth.

Films are shown in the newly opened state-of-the-art Peter B. Lewis Theater auditorium, which boasts 4K digital projection and 7.1 digital surround sound in addition to the dual 35mm projection. 
For a list of upcoming programs, see Cinematheque's bi-monthly calendar.
Julian Stanczak - Modulations in Red, 19653. The Op Art movement was born of CIA graduates and faculty in the 1960s.
In the early-1960s, a group of artists emerged from CIA to create the Op Art movement with abstract pieces (often black and white) comprised of patterns of movement, vibrations, swelling, and warping that often create optical illusions. CIA class of 1954 graduate Julian Stanczak's show Optical Paintings at the Martha Jackson Gallery was the first to be referred to as "Op Art" by Time Magazine in its Oct. 23, 1964 issue. Stanczak had just started teaching painting at CIA that year - which he did through 1995.
“It [the Op Art movement] came while he [Stanczak] was on faculty here,” Reinberger Gallery director Bruce Checefsky explains. “It was something he developed in Cleveland.”
Stanczak, along with several other members of CIA’s staff, including then CIA President Joseph McCullough, had studied under Josef Albers at Yale University.
"Joe McCullough brought his [Albers’] theories on color to Cleveland,” Checefsky says.

Richard Anuszkiewicz (CIA 1948–1953) also studied under Albers. A founder of the Op Art movement, Life magazine called Anuszkiewicz "one of the new wizards of Op” in 1964. A member of the National Academy of Design, his works are in permanent collections internationally.
Richard Anuszkiewicz in his studio 1965Checefsky explains that Op Art became part of popular culture in the ‘60s but faded out when Minimalism came in.
“There’s been resurgence in the interest in Stanczak’s work for the past 10 or 15 years,” he says. “He is considered one of the top five painters who are very collectable and also the most expensive.”
CIA has several pieces of his and his wife’s art in its Study Collection, which includes pieces gifted to CIA from noted alumni that are put on permanent display at CIA for current students to enjoy, absorb, and learn from.
Checefsky says of the collection, “It’s a way to reach back into our own history and own that history and the impact it has had nationally and internationally.”

4. One CIA alum helped model a Big Hero that's garnered big accolades.
Zack Petroc entered CIA with a passion for anatomy and graduated with a BFA in sculpture in 1997. He went on to work as a visual effects artist on Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow then began working at Walt Disney Animation Studios while they were making Tangled. He worked on Wreck It Ralph before working as a model supervisor for Big Hero Six, for which he headed the team that modeled all the characters, sets, and props. The film went on to garner a bevy of awards including a 2014 Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Petroc then worked on Moana (expected to be released in late November 2016) modeling and creating characters and sets.

“I'm proud to say I went to the Cleveland Institute of Art to get an education, not a job,” he says. “I'm grateful for having attended a program that encouraged me to develop my drive and ambition, in conjunction with an open perspective on creative thinking. This approach played an instrumental part in allowing me to forecast future trends in my field and remain viable in an evolving industry.
“The design philosophies I was exposed to while attending CIA created a foundation of common language for critiquing my own art, and the art of others, that I apply on a daily basis in our collaborative, studio environment.”
He also owns Zack Petroc Studios, which focuses on developing unique new content and teaching 3D anatomy. A new platform website - – is in the works for next spring. For updates, follow Petroc on Twitter @zackpetroc.
5. The Drawing Department is chaired by a reality television star.
In 2011, the Bravo network’s reality show "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist" featured CIA drawing department chair Sarah Kabot on eight episodes – each of which garnered more than a million viewers. Given just 12 hours to complete pieces of art in various styles, Kabot was challenged to work outside of her comfort zone. After all, her 2011 exhibit Unfolding Space at the Akron Art Museum installation took six months to create and two weeks to install.

Sarah Kabot - Unfolding Space; 2011 Akron Art Museum
Kabot was chosen from a large number of other artists who vied for the position at open castings in Chicago, New York and Los Angeles, among other cities and made it to the top six of 14 contestants in "Work of Art." She took the chance partly in honor of her father.
“My father was gravely ill at the time of casting,” she explains. “He lived in Michigan and I was concerned that if I were cast and away in New York for a month that I might not be able to be back in the Midwest quickly enough to be there for him in his time of need. I asked him what he thought about the strange opportunity, and he encouraged me to take the chance to be on the show. He believed one should have adventure in one's life.”
The adventure was a positive one. Kabot says that most everybody cast was kind and professional, and she is still in touch with other artists from the show. In the end, the art is what matters most to her.
Sarah Kabot“Art careers are long,” she says; “TV is short. If an artist has talent, ambition, a sense of the historical and contemporary art-worlds, and continually works their butt off to make art and exhibit it, that artist will ultimately find an appreciative audience. On TV, the art comes in a close second to the story the directors and producers want to tell.”
One of this year’s Community Partnership for Arts and Culture $15,000 grantees, Kabot regularly shows her work in solo and group exhibitions around the U.S. She is currently working on a series of drawings, sculptures, and animations based on memorials and monuments.
“My goal is to share this work with a wider community through national exhibitions,” she explains, “but also to communicate to groups outside of big cities [by] bringing a portfolio of my work to local libraries in the region.”
The Cleveland Institute of Art is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.


Read more articles by Hollie Gibbs.

Hollie Gibbs earned her bachelor's degree in journalism from Kent State University and studied photography at School of the Visual Arts in Manhattan. Her articles and photographs have appeared in numerous local and national publications. She spends her free time playing guitar, taking pictures, and traveling.