The Cleveland Foundation Presents – Creative Fusion: Art can change the world. Or at least Cleveland.
When my wife Laura and I opened Transformer Station in early 2013, we hoped it would be an artistic success. After almost five years, 20 exhibitions and scores of concerts and events, I think we can claim progress towards that goal.
The success that we didn’t expect was the impact our investment had in the neighborhood. The lively sidewalk scene and all the new housing and retail development that has developed over the past few years has been amazing. Of course, the changes that created Hingetown started before we arrived, and many other people, new and old to the community, have collaborated to make it so vibrant. Nevertheless, it was exciting to see that Transformer Station could be such an important catalyst for development.
That got me thinking: if an arts and culture project like this one could bring people to a neighborhood, could an even bigger idea bring people to a city? That idea was the birth of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art.
By shining a bright light on our arts and cultural institutions and bringing curators, collectors and art-lovers to Cleveland, we are going to bring new recognition to the city as an arts and culture hub and a place to build a career as a creative professional. Artists living and working here are going to have an opportunity to observe and participate in the planning and installation of dozens of new works and exhibitions by artists from around the world.
The impact of FRONT will extend into neighborhoods, including Glenville, where our new Glenville Arts Campus is now under construction. Just a block from Rockefeller Park and a short walk from University Circle, an abandoned medical office building and a former daycare center next door will be the hub of our Artists Residency program.
We’re calling the office building “The Madison” because it was designed by Ohio’s first licensed black architect in the early ’60s. When renovations are complete, it will house 12 apartments for artists visiting through the Creative Fusion program. We are also working with local entrepreneurs to open a cafe space on the first floor. The building next door and the outdoor spaces between the buildings will be a flexible place for the community and visitors to interact with our visiting artists. With help from our Presenting Partners, it will serve as an art studio, classroom, theater, and space for demonstration, exhibition, and parties throughout a year-long run of programming.
When the exhibition ends in September of 2018, we will return the properties to the community — a fully renovated, strategic improvement to the Heritage Lane neighborhood in Glenville.
We are grateful to the Cleveland Foundation, which has provided vital support to FRONT through its Creative Fusion program, and also to the Famicos Foundation who is our Glenville neighborhood partner. Their support makes this project possible.
Although FRONTs draw for many visitors will be must-see new projects by artists of international repute, many will discover the strength of our local art scene. Local and regional artists will be an important part of the programming that leads to the opening of the exhibition in September. Of course, some will participate in the exhibition itself. I am particularly excited by plans underway for the galleries and artists of Cleveland to organize special exhibitions and events targeted at the visitors FRONT will draw. We are eager to share all of the things that our artistic community has to offer with all of our visitors.