Glider, by Dana Oldfather

One year ago, CAN Journal was all potential: the vision—the possibility–that Northeast Ohio galleries and art organizations could put together their own magazine. As CAN launches hard into its second year, it’s even more apparent what this project actually is: The Collective Arts Network is the sum of its parts, and more. We are artists, galleries and art organizations, working together.


Both CAN and its member organizations have that in common: Our strength is the sum of our parts—especially individual artists who constantly reach out to each other, to neighborhoods, to the world at large to create the building blocks of culture. So what better way to mark the milestone of CAN’s first year, than through the eyes of individual artists working with our members? These are people who have impact, as you’ll see–bringing art to every corner of Cleveland, and taking Cleveland art and ideas to the world.


We asked a few of them to talk about what they’ve done in the last year, and to tell us what they’re working on for the next. Here’s a look at what several of them had to say.



Painter Dana Oldfather spent much of the last year in a dingy studio on Euclid Avenue—a space acquired specifically to make what would be her largest work to date, a monumental painting measuring more than 31 feet long and more than 5 feet high. The massive, abstract “Tap, Crack, Bellow,” also gave its name to Oldfather’s first solo exhibit in a museum, at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown.


Dana Oldfather

The exhibit featured “nine spanky new works,” hung in the Butler’s Davis Gallery. A 24-page, full-color catalog accompanied the show, including large color plates of each painting, an introduction by Butler director Dr. Louis Zona, and an essay by Douglas Max Utter. Tap, Crack, Bellow ran from March 3 through May 26.


It’s been an absolutely amazing experience and I’m so proud to have been given an exhibition in the first museum exclusively dedicated to American Art,” Oldfather said. “I’d like to give a special thank you to Richard Moore and The Bonfoey Gallery, who enabled me to make this work, and made the exhibit possible.”


In the coming year, Oldfather is one of four artists participating in SPACES 2014 Quarter Art program.

The program commissions four prominent artists from the region to create limited edition works that will be available to collectors. Other participating artists in 2014 are Stephen Yusko, Brandon Juhasz, and Kate Budd.


Oldfather is also looking forward to a group exhibition of NE Ohio painters at Kent State’s Downtown Gallery. Curated by Martin Ball, the show will run October 23 through November 16, 2013, concurrently with an exhibition of painters from the American Abstract Artists Association.



Ieri-Oggi-Domani. Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.


In Claudio Orso’s own words, the last year was “dominated by puppets.” The domination began when Claudio created a dragon for Oberlin’s annual Big Parade—a 30-foot orange, smoke-spewing dragon powered by two “double bike contraptions.” That got the attention of Oberlin Conservatory Sinfonietta director Timothy Weiss, who commissioned the artist to create puppets for the Sinfonietta’s production of Manuel De Falla’s one-act puppet opera,  El Retablo de Maese Pedro or Master Peter’s Puppet Show, which was performed in November.


Dragon, by Claudio Orso

I never worked so hard at art, ever,” Claudio says. “Bless the ignorance-of-consequences, which endlessly propels us to try what we never tried before, unreasonably thinking that we can actually make it happen.”


For the production, he built two nine-foot puppets, each animated by a person inside, plus 40 fully articulated shadow puppets, each approximately 40” tall. He also built a shadow puppet theater with backgrounds for them to play in. It’s appropriate, Claudio observes, that on premiere night he performed as Quixote, “a role that appears to fit me and my endeavors.” The production travels to Columbus next Spring.


In the present, Claudio is part of a group of printmakers paired with union workers to create art for a Labor and Trades show at Zygote Press. Orso is working on a large woodcut, paired with retired U.S. mail carrier April Stoltz. The the Labor and Trades Show opens in July.


In the future, Orso plans a trip to Virginia City, Montana, where he’ll make knapweed paper and woodcut prints of Calamity Jane to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the discovery of one of the nation’s richest gold deposits, which led to the founding of the town.




Cultural Maraca” Dott Schneider has frequently incorporated topography in her works. In April of 2012, for example, her show “Missing Pieces” at Legation Gallery presented Ohio maps that led viewers to oversized puzzle pieces she had made and stashed all over the state. Later the same year, her exhibit of paintings, “Molecules,” dealt with places she’d been in and around Cleveland.


Dott Schneider

But von Schneider has had a lot more than her own work going on lately. Not only did she return to school –taking classes at Tri-C, toward an eventual art history degree from Case—but she also got married. And launched Miller Schneider Gallery (16008 Waterloo Road, Cleveland ). Exhibits so far have included works of Megan Dietz and Tyler Zeleny.


Von Schneider will add lots of fuel to her topographical firestorm this summer as she and her husband honeymoon on a transcontinental road trip through the united states.


I’m excited about documenting the different topographies. I want to bring [material] back to my studio for further development. My upcoming solo exhibition at Brandt Gallery in Tremont opens on my birthday, October 13, 2013, and will bring these new works out for your edification. I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back in the studio. I’m looking forward a great spring and summer and an even more involved year. Suddenly, turning 45 is gearing up to be kick ass. It’s a great time to be an artist in CLE.”


Any single aspect of Jason Lehrer’s 2012 Wyoming Artist Expedition could serve as a milestone. From the trip itself, to the artistic collaborations, to the resulting show, the project combined art, travel, and environmental activism to bring the artists’ perspective to one of the nation’s hottest debates–whether to allow fracking beneath the public wilderness.


Jason Lehrer and Ivan Andres Lecaros-Correa

As Lehrer wrote one year ago in the inaugural issue of CAN Journal,Great art gets attention and sparks discussion. Using our ability to visually interpret the world we’ll educate, inform, and inspire people around one of the most controversial issues facing America, oil and gas drilling on our public lands.”


The roster of artists included Michael Loderstedt, Lori Kella, Mic Marusek, Lindsay Olson, Jeff Hubbell, and Lehrer himself.


Art created in response to the trip was exhibited in A Vanishing Wildness: Works from the 2012 Wyoming Artist Expedition, in the Spring at William Busta Gallery. The show will travel to Laramie, Wyoming in August and may also make an appearance in Utah in the Fall.


Meanwhile, back in Cleveland, Lehrer has been collaborating with artists visiting Zygote Press via the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion program. In Fall of 2012 he worked with Chilean print maker Ivan Andres Lecaros Correa. He’s currently working with Mexican artists Daniel Ruanova and Mely Barragan. He credits Kathleen Cerveny of the Cleveland Foundation, and Zygote Press director Liz Maugans for their work bringing international artists to Cleveland, and Zygote.


Lehrer has also been busy with contract printing collaborations, including with Christi Birchfield on a Julian Stanczak seriograph commissioned by MOCA Cleveland, and a collection of large and medium-sized paintings by Doug Sanderson, for exhibit at William Busta Gallery.


For the coming year he plans another Artist Exhibition, more contract printing collaborations, and a solo exhibit of his own work.



As always, Matt Dibble has been looking for ideas and exploring them in his large and modern abstractions. Last year the Cleveland Museum of Art captured the artist at work when a crew visited his studio. You can now watch his creative process in one of the nation’s hottest new interactive museum exhibits, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Gallery One.

Ahoy, by Matt Dibble


People often ask me why I still paint this way. Why Modern? We have moved into an ironic period of art, and frankly, I don’t find it very satisfying. Modernist approaches to painting still interest me in a big way, however. Not unlike the effect of the Rembrandt self portrait, I find Modernist painting to be more real, more sincere.”

Like the people who bring you CAN Journal, Dibble has been editing. “Over the winter I have been looking at work going all the way back to the 1980s. I have been removing some of the unsuccessful paintings from the stretchers and cutting them up and re-configuring them into new compositions. . . . I have also been working with oil paint on wallpaper. After the painting is dry, I mount it to a stretched canvas. These paintings are an ongoing series of small work called Bastard Rainbow.”

Finally, Dibble has been preparing for an exhibition of new work at Tregoning and Company in 2014. “It’s exciting for me to be represented by Bill Tregoning and gratifying to know that some of my paintings will be viewed in the most handsome exhibition space in town.”



Artist and writer Douglas Max Utter is absorbed in both his work and – if you’ve been active on the Cleveland art scene in the last twenty years – very likely yours, too.


Douglas Max Utter

Asked what he’s been doing in the last year, he says, “Following a recent move to a smaller studio, I feel I’m at a turning point. Most of the materials I use are easy to find, and packed with raw expressive possibility. They’ve often lead to new subjects and points of view. In a similar way I hope that the compression of my present circumstances will channel, and maybe deepen, my priorities. … Altogether I’m trying to build a bridge of thoughts, feelings, and portraits from my life, back to the mind of childhood and to my earliest interests. … There are scenes I would like to revisit and people I wish to remember, some of whom–like most of the 37 faces in our family’s album of tin type photographs–I never met. If my work has a central theme, it is probably the mystery of human identity, exchanged between persons or clutched close to the bone. In one way and another I’ve always tried to use painting to remember, and to re-imagine who I am and how I am in the world.”


What he doesn’t say is that he won the Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award for 2013, or that his paintings are part of a show this Summer at Survival Kit Gallery. He leaves it to other people to tell you that. For him, it’s all about the work itself:


Our lives are measured by our bodies, by our experiences, by our shadows. Paintings are another measurement that some people make. They’re things made by pushing materials around, however delicately or sloppily. Whatever the subject of my work, I’m also showing my hands and my hips and my shoulders clothed with the limits of my years, or the loneliness I feel as I push and move against and into the shift of things. I look for myself everywhere as if life was a mirror, and I am a dark jar filled with all of it.”




When Survival Kit gallery director Alex Tapie looks back at the last year and forward to the next, she sees periods of inspiration and growth. Survival Kit’s 2012 expansion made room for “overwhelming assemblages, large-scale drawings, and an environment altering group installation,” Tapie says. “ And, as always, we entertained our gallery goers into the later hours with musical performances ranging from experimental noise to free jazz to indie rock.”


And then came the winter hibernation.


We bundled up, kept moving, and survived late winter at Survival Kit, the gallery having closed for an eight-week hiatus.” She’s now happy to be back in action, with exhibits scheduled through most of 2013.


Survival Kit re-opened as a gallery in April. Tapie says the first show “kept intact our love for the conceptual and our ability to transform the room into an experiential space. “Space / Time” featured a video installation by Elena Harvey Collins, paired with works of abstract photographer Jason Robert Carroll. Tapie says she was honored to host a performance by The Cleveland Orchestra’s Chamber Ensemble on the exhibit’s closing night, May 17.


In the same month, and “in complete contrast,” she adds that Survival Kit was excited to host a performance by K Records founder and owner, indie stalwart Calvin Johnson, hailing all the way from Olympia, Washington.


The Summer months will bring “a dense, vibrant, and eclectic show featuring four artists who can’t help but get it right: the sensitive, layered prints of Christi Birchfield; the moody works of Douglas Max Utter; beautifully obsessive and immaculate collages by Adrienne Slane, along with newcomer Nikki Woods, showing off her painting prowess.”


Fallen ladders Look Like Satellites, by Christi Burchfield, exhibiting at Survival Kit

In the Fall, Survival kit will present deconstructed landscapes in painting and sculpture by Andy Curlowe, along with “raw and topographical” paper constructs by Kim Bissett. That brings us to the coming winter, which Tapie describes as “a blank slate, rich with possibilities on the verge of new year. Rest assured,” she says, “we won’t let you down.”