Just in time for the holidays, we bring you an overview this year’s exhibition catalogs and other books on Cleveland Art.
RESTROOMS OF CLEVELAND
Arabella Proffer’s The Restrooms of Cleveland started as an Instagram joke, but she took it seriously when several people asked her to make it into a book. The result is a 9″ X 6″ volume documenting what the title says. They’re mostly women’s rooms, but there are a few exceptions. “I can’t quite articulate what the criteria was, but my gut always told me when it was something special. Bars, theaters, warehouses, grocery stores, dental offices, auto garages, utility buildings, private clubs, pinball arcades, museums, schools, breweries, retirement homes, churches, furniture stores, and coffee shops are just some of the places you will find.” You can pre-order until Dec. 1 here. And there’s a book release party and signing 6-10 pm Thursday, December 5, at Judd’s City Tavern, 10323 Madison Avenue.
Artists Archive of the Western Reserve
seenUNseen chronicles a remarkable exhibition of a remarkable collection. Three decades ago, the modestly middle-class couple Kerry and C. Betty Davis started buying fine art. Their home archive has grown into one of the most impressive troves of African American art. They have acquired work from dozens of up-and-coming, established, and historic artists, including Amalia Amaki, William S. Carter, Louis B. Burroughs Jr., Jacob Lawrence, and Norma Morgan. In the autumn of 2019, the Sculpture Center and Artist Archives of the Western Reserve hosted seenUNseen, the first exhibition of works from the Davis collection outside the Davises’ home city of Atlanta. Pieces from the Davis collection were paired with works by black Northeast Ohio artists, including Anna Arnold, Dexter Davis, Michelangelo Lovelace, Amber N. Ford, Lauren Mckenzie-Noel, and Darius Steward. AAWR is now publishing a catalog of Davis pieces and Cleveland artists included in the exhibition. The book features an exclusive essay by Douglas Max Utter, luminary of Cleveland painting and arts writing. For $27, the catalog can be purchased at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, located at 1834 East 123rd Street.
Falling from the Sky of Now was the most comprehensive exhibition of Douglas Max Utter’s works to date. Displayed at HEDGE Gallery from April to June of this year, it showcased works handpicked by Utter himself. The selected paintings span five decades of his career. The newly-released catalog from Falling from the Sky of Now includes commentary by Marianne Berardi, an author and doctor of art history. Readers can revisit the landmark exhibit, encountering some of Utter’s most significant works and better understanding his development as a painter. Featured images exemplify the intimate family and autobiographical scenes for which he is most famous, but also lesser-known experiments in urban landscapes, frank but soft-spoken eroticism, and mythology. The catalog can be purchased at artNEO, located in Suite 016 on the lower level of 78th Street Studios, 1305 West 80th Street.
The heART of Cleveland came out last year, but an exhibit of artists from the book is currently on view at BAYarts, and it is a unique and uniquely valuable resource. The volume situates contemporary Cleveland art in a historic sequence stretching back a century. Over essays written by art historian Henry Adams and artist-curator William G. Scheele, the lost story of northeast Ohio art is written through chronicles of the Cleveland School of painting, to the Kokoon Arts Club, and the legacy of designer and longtime educator Viktor Schreckengost. Readers can also survey the diverse community of artists practicing in Cleveland today, including Brinsley Tyrrell, Bob Peck, George Kocar, Liz Maugans, Douglas Max Utter, and many others. The heART of Cleveland can be purchased at BAYarts’ shop, in paperback for $35, or hardcover for $55.
Midwest Architecture Journeys is a travelogue, a history of the personalities who shaped Rust Belt skylines, and a rhapsody of flyover country. This anthology covers a staggering range of topics in design and urban planning. Essays examine the Midwest mausoleum boom, analyze how Minnesota architects have coped with extreme temperatures, and approvingly compare the Cleveland cityscape to “an old-school gay porn star.” In his review, CAN Journal’s Carlo Wolf wrote of the book, “These glimpses of Midwestern architecture afford a new look at a region too often associated with blandness and flatness. Some even suggest pathways toward a new, more collective society.” Midwest Architecture Journeys can be bought for $40 directly from Belt Publishing at beltpublishing.com. It is also available at Loganberry Books.
Despite living in San Francisco for decades, watercolorist Gary Bukovnik has remained loyal to Cleveland. He has retained the Bonfoey Gallery as a representative, and allowed the storied firm to be the sole US distributor of his most recent book, Forever Spring. Originally commissioned for Chinese collectors, Forever Spring is almost text-free, allowing Bukovnik’s floral paintings and sculptures to speak for themselves. Readers can appreciate Bukovnik’s broad creativity within a subject matter one might assume to be narrow: flowers. In his watercolors, we see Bukovnik depict lively blooms in the garden, in vases, and in blue-and-white porcelain that is art in its own right. In photos of installation works, we see him transform whole spaces, decorating the walls with floral painting and filling the air with sculpted butterflies suspended on mobiles. The Bonfoey also sells Watercolors, an earlier catalog of Bukovnik’s paintings. Forever Spring is $65, and Watercolors $45 at the Bonfoey Gallery, 1710 Euclid Avenue.
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Even after leaving the museum, visitors can continue their art history education through the institution’s careful and far-reaching scholarship. Catalogs from the CMA’s two most recent exhibitions offer deep dives into the Renaissance and Middle Ages. Michelangelo: Mind of the Master by Emily J. Peters and Julian Brooks explores the drawn works of the old master behind David and the Sistine Chapel. The book can be purchased in the museum store for $40, excluding tax. Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders explored how Middle Age Christians used the fantastic forms of demons and dragons to represent real-world cultural anxieties. A catalog sharing the exhibit’s title, written by Sherry C.M. Lindquist and Asa Simon Mittman, serves as a field guide to the beasts who stalk illuminated manuscripts. The book also contains a preface by acclaimed British fantasy author China Miéville. It can be purchased for $39.95 before tax. Both books can be purchased at the museum, 11150 East Boulevard, in the gift shop.
Eileen Dorsey Studio
This summer, Eileen Dorsey celebrated her tenth anniversary operating her studio gallery in 78th Street Studios. Shortly thereafter, she was the Readers’ Choice as the “Best Artist” in Cleveland Magazine’s Best of Cleveland. She has charmed and invigorated local collectors for decades with her energetic, neo-impressionist images of woodland scenes. Her canvases almost vibrate with light, color, and the living presence of nature. For the first time, viewers can trace the development of her distinctive style over seven years. With CAN Journal’s own Brittany M. Hudak, Dorsey has assembled a retrospective volume of her work, spanning the years 2010 to 2017. Eileen Dorsey: Walks through the Wilderness can be purchased at Dorsey’s studio for $18, or for $20 on Amazon. Dorsey’s studio is located at 1305 West 80th Street, Suite 105. You can order your very own copy on Amazon here.
Frank N. Wilcox: The Dean
Frank Wilcox, who graduated from the Cleveland School of Art and taught there after it was re-named the Cleveland Institute of Art, mentored the most famous names in the Cleveland School–Carl Gaertner, Paul Travis, and Charles E. Burchfield, among others. He left a prodigious output of landscapes and street scenes from his travels in Europe and around the US, and a lovely bunch of scenes in Cleveland and around Northeast Ohio. With complete access to Wilcox’s estate, Wolf’s Gallery created Frank N.Wilcox: The Dean, which is on view through November 30, and accompanied by a catalog of the same title featuring an introduction by CWRU Professor and CAN contributor Henry Adams, PhD, excerpts from Wilcox’s unpublished autobiography, and more than 200 images. Available at Wolf’s or wolfsgallery.com.