The Cleveland Arts Prize: Past Present and Future

Late in 2014 the Board of the Cleveland Arts Prize unanimously endorsed Alenka Banco as Executive Director. Barbara Robinson, Chair, Cleveland Arts Prize Board of Trustees shares, “Alenka not only has a thorough knowledge and long involvement in the Cleveland Arts Prize, she is highly respected by the community of artists and brings professional experience in business and community development.”

Says Banco: Every year, for 55 years, the Jurors of the Cleveland Arts Prize are overwhelmed reviewing the talent that this region boasts. On Thursday, June 25, 2015 at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland will once again recognize and celebrate this year’s Awardees. The Cleveland Arts Prize is more than an award, it is a legacy and with that comes pride and responsibility. Who are the artists who have influenced, taught and paved the road, that makes the cultural landscape of greater Cleveland the envy of other cities? In each upcoming issue of CAN Journal, we will take you back and reintroduce you to an Arts Prize winner from the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and the 20th Century. Let’s celebrate the artists that helped shape Northeast Ohio. Please visit our web site and reconnect with Cleveland’s arts legacy.


JOHN CLAGUE, Sculptor, 1928–2004


Born in Cleveland in 1928, Clague studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art (B.F.A. with honors, 1956) under Edris Eckhardt, Walter Sinz, Walter Midner, John Bergschneider, Julius Schmidt and William McVey. As a fourth-year student he was awarded a Yale/Norfolk Fellowship and, on graduation, spent an eye-opening year in Europe as a Catherwood Foundation Traveling Fellow. He taught sculpture at Oberlin College for four years, then at CIA for 15 years, becoming chairman of the institute’s department of sculpture, before retiring in 1971 to devote all of his time to his own work.

Clague’s sculptures have been exhibited in the Whitney Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Sculpture and in 28 May Shows at the Cleveland Museum of Art. He is represented in the permanent collections of the CMA (six sculptures including his 1960 bronze Flower of Erebus and his 1963 plexiglass Progression in Black and White), the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, the University of Massachusetts and the Williams College Museum of Art. His work is documented in the Archives of American Art of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and represented in The Sculpture of the End of the 19th and the 20th Centuries (Éditions Rencontre, Paris, 1966/67). – Dennis Dooley


HALE SMITH, Composer, 1925–2009


The list of eminent musicians who have performed Hale Smith’s music is as impressive as it is long, and extends to opposite poles of the musical world. It would be sufficient to name such jazz luminaries as John Coltrane, Joe Lovano, Ahmad Jamal, Chico Hamilton, Betty Carter and Eric Dolphy. But then you would have left out the likes of singers Jessye Norman, Kathleen Battle and Hilda Harris, as well as legendary concert pianist Natalie Hinderas (one of the first African Americans to have an important career in classical music), and the New York Philharmonic.

Alberta Turner

Alberta Turner

But they were all latecomers, in a matter of speaking, in spotting the musical gifts of this Cleveland-born prodigy. Duke Ellington, shown a composition by the 16-year-old Hale Smith in 1941, was sufficiently impressed to sit down with him and make suggestions as to some fine points. (A few years later, avant-garde composer Wallingford Riegger praised a song sequence young Hale had written as a student that became The Valley Wind.)

Hale Smith

Hale Smith


ALBERTA TURNER, Poet, 1919–2003


Born in 1919 in Pleasantville, New York, Alberta Tucker attended Hunter College, earning her master’s and Ph.D. at Wellesley College and Ohio State University. At OSU she met and married Arthur Turner, a brilliant graduate student who wore leg braces as a result of polio. In 1947, Arthur began teaching English at Oberlin College. The school’s nepotism clause limited Alberta to teaching only the occasional course, so in 1964 she accepted a part-time teaching position at Cleveland’s Fenn Collegealong with the directorship of its Poetry Forum, an ambitious project established a year or two earlier by the poet Lewis Turco. Turner continued in both capacities after Fenn was subsumed into the new Cleveland State University. In 1969 she moved to full-time status. The same year, at Oberlin, she co-founded Field, an journal of contemporary poetry and politics that over the next 20 years would bring her into contact with, and earn her the respect of, most of the eminent poets then writing in America and England.

She was 51 when the first of her own eight books of poetry, a small chapbook inspired by a recent trip to Alaska, was published by Triskelian Press in Oberlin.

Stephen Buccchieri

Stephen Buccchieri




Though Bucchieri may be best known for his many award-winning homes, he has also brought his gifts to larger projects such as the Gunning Park Recreation Center (1995) at West 168th Street and Puritas Avenue in Cleveland; his striking conversion of the old Murray Hill School in Cleveland’s “Little Italy” into galleries, offices and residences (1987), which has been called “the closest thing Cleveland has to a Soho” (Fine Arts in Cleveland: An Illustrated History, Indiana University Press, 1994); and the airy, welcoming HealthSpace Cleveland (2003). The museum’s exhibits teased and beckoned passers by through huge floor-to-ceiling windows, which flood the interior with natural light and are a dramatic departure from the windowless facade of its predecessor, the old Cleveland Health Museum, which had been built in the wake of the Hough riots of 1966.  




In 1998, after 16 years as a principal dancer with Ohio Ballet, Shimotakahara launched GroundWorks Dancetheater to advance his vision of collaboration with artists from other disciplines and present new dances that expand the perimeters of how and where dance is shown.

David Shimotakahara

David Shimotakahara

Collaborators have included composer Gustavo Aguilar and photographer Masumi Hayashi, to name but a few, and his Landmarks Series, which takes dance to places and buildings of architectural or historical significance, is creating new venues and new audiences for dance performance.

His distinctive choreography ranges from lighthearted and outright humorous to contemplative, bittersweet and dramatic, and expresses a high degree of emotion without being sentimental.

Cleveland Arts Prize

P.O. Box 21126

Cleveland, Ohio 44121