Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows: FRONT Triennial drawing intrigue in NEO

The 2022 FRONT International Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art opened in July 16 to wild acclaim. Exhibition visitors have noted the works range from fun and playful to more serious and cerebral.

Now that the FRONT Triennial is in full swing in Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin—chock full of exhibits and events for families and kids of all ages—featuring 100 world renowned artists working in a variety of media at 30 sites in three cities, we gathered some feedback from some attendees, and have some don’t-miss stops to make on your visit..

FreshWater special projects editor Marc Lefkowitz and others have been hitting just a few of the exhibits, and they say they have been awed by the scale and intricacy of the works.

Lefkowitz recently embarked on Bike Cleveland’s Miles of Smiles: FRONT and CAN Edition bike tour where he visited FRONT 2022 installations at Transformer Station in Ohio City, the Cleveland Public Library downtown, and North Coast Harbor. Lefkowitz says he plans to return to FRONT, perhaps on Bike Cleveland’s next tour, which is this Saturday, Aug. 13.

“Each of those venues has impactful and meaningful but also some whimsical approaches to the theme that FRONT is exploring this year,” Lefkowitz observes. “There were some of the excerpts from the Langston Hughes poetic invocations, and this year’s theme, ‘Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows’ at Transformer Station, and some wall text helping to interpret it.”
Cece Maurer, daughter of local architect Chris Maurer at FRONT PNC Exhibition Hub at Transformer Station.Ohio City
The FRONT  journey starts at the FRONT PNC Exhibition Hub at Transformer Station, where 
visitors can learn more about the triennial or simply relax in the lounge created by Shooting Without Bullets and Xhibition. Buy commemorative Triennial gear and hang out in the newly installed outdoor plaza.

The gallery features an interactive exhibit by Sarah Oppenheimer and Tony Cokes that combines architectural forms and moving images. In the coming weeks, the exhibition hub will also host a series of free family friendly art workshops in collaboration with the Art Therapy Studio.

Architect Chris Maurer took daughters Layla, 10, and Cece,7, who love art to Transformer Station to check out the interactive exhibits. “We enjoyed seeing the different art from local and international artists,” Chris Maurer says. “Our children have a fun time visiting the sites throughout town; it’s like a scavenger hunt!”

Down the street at SPACES, see Haseed Ahmed’s sculptural installation, “Vanquish the Void!” that uses a weather station and aeoliphones to produce a real-time film about how winds affect our lives.
Downtown Cleveland
View the fountains in North Coast Harbor just outside of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Science Center. Designed by Cooking Sections,To Those Who Nourish, 2022 will show visitors how artists are working within local ecosystems in new ways.

When our group arrived at the floating art installation beside the Steamship Mather, my first impression was the Mather looked livelier than I remember by the two columns of water shooting into the air to a height just above the deck of the giant tanker ship moored at Northcoast Harbor,” says Lefkowitz. “I had to fight the impression that this exhibit, meant to call attention to the recent water quality problems in the lake—such as a lack of oxygen for aquatic life—had been there all along. It was a revelatory moment.”

At the Cleveland Public Library, three artists—Andrea CarlsonJace Clayton, and Paul O’Keeffe all make an impression.

Jace Clayton’s “40 Part Part,” consisting of 40 audio speakers arranged in a circle where one can plug their mobile devices and upload a favorite tune. An interactive sound exhibit by Jace Clayton
is located in Brett Hall, consisting of 40 audio speakers arranged in a circle. An aural treat awaits those who plug their mobile devices and upload a favorite tune to Clayton’s “40 Part Part”. Plug in your blue-tooth enabled phone or device and listen as your favorite song is re-mixed and amplified throughout the space.

Once again, O’Keeffe marks out the territory of personal pain as a public experience in his large sculpture, says Lefkowitz, who notes O’Keeffe’s sculptures are found in many FRONT 2022 venues, grappling with the untimely passing of his teenage son Christian, an aspiring poet who took his own life 10 years ago.

“A more whimsical, perhaps, sculptural experience across the ornate reading room provided a nice lift,” says Lefkowitz of Carlson’s “Never-Ending Monument. “The birds perch on tall wooden poles sculpted to a fine finish and framed by the gilded ceiling of the Reading Room is a visual treat.”

University Circle
Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Gallery has an immersive virtual reality arcade with games and videos designed by Jacolby Satterwhite. The student lounge just outside the Gallery displays bright, colorful, tufted textiles by Toledo-based Loraine Lynn. 

In Quincy Garden artist Abigail DeVille created an outdoor installation of semi-figurative and abstract sculptures that references the tradition of African American yard art. In Quincy Garden artist Abigail DeVille created an outdoor installation of semi-figurative and abstract sculptures that references the tradition of African American yard art. 

In Wade Oval–between the Natural History Museum and The Cleveland Museum of Art– kids can engage with Asad Raza’s astronomical sculpture constructed out of plaster formed from crushed Zebra and Quagga mussels trawled from Lake Erie.
Downtown Akron
Let the kids show off their latest moves or create a Tik Tok on the interactive dance floor at Lock 4. It was designed by Dansbana!, a Swedish architectural firm known world-wide for their public dance spaces. Also join in some fun upcoming dance programming, including “So you think you can Dansbana!”

Step into the future at the National Museum of Psychology on the University of Akron campus. Visit the year 2038, where people will look back at the pandemic and how it created the conditions for the birth of The Hologram.

The Akron Art Museum is hosting a group show featuring 17 artists and has re-instituted in-person Family Days with games, studio projects, and family-friendly videos about art.

Artist and writer M. Carmen Lane says the interactive projects inspired their nephew.Part of my nephew’s birthday weekend celebration included travel to the Akron Art Museum," they say. “Daniel was so inspired by the work of his namesake, artist Daniel Lind-Ramos, that he built his own sculpture at the museum’s art space for kids.”

FRONT runs through Oct. 2. The FRONT website has a complete list of venues and interactive events, including art workshops at Transformer Station. Most of the exhibitions are free but be sure to check each venue’s website for visiting hours before heading out.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.