The Year 2021 : What did CAN Do This Year?

CAN Journal, Winter, 2021 – 2022. Photo: Vivica Satterwhite, inaugural artist in the street photography series Photo Poets, curated by Aja Joi Grant. Design by JoAnn Dickey.

The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are the short season of taking stock, the week before the calendar year turns. So what did CAN do this year?

CAN’s First Strategic Plan

You may have tuned in to the public presentation via Zoom of CAN’s first-ever Strategic Plan. Thanks to support from the Cleveland Foundation and the Gund Foundation, we worked in partnership with The Osgood Group, our Board of Directors, and a long list of key stakeholders to take this significant step. If you are one of the many who participated in interviews or took surveys, thank you! You have helped us begin to evolve. Among the many things we learned is that we need to aggressively pursue greater diversity at all levels—on our board, on our staff, in the organizations we serve, and in our content.  As you may have noticed, we have made some progress. Stay tuned. We have lots more to do.

Among the other things we learned: you deeply value the fact that CAN appears in print.  You want to see CAN Triennial continue, and grow. You’d like to see us produce more content, and make more regional connections. You want CAN to be sustainable in the long term.   As we said, stay tuned.

COVID Adjustments

CAN soldiered on through the COVID pandemic, making certain adjustments, of course. As we said early on, it was never more important than during this time of social isolation to have ways to keep in touch, and so CAN’s members and writers didn’t miss a beat, and our circulation did not waver, and neither did our tradition of networking / launch events. We did make certain precautions, however: Our 2021 launch events  hosted by Lakeland Community College, Deep Roots Experience, Kaiser Gallery, and Sankofa Fine Arts Plus were all presented with extra long pick-up windows so artists and gallery staff could pick up CAN Journal for their venues and still avoid crowds.

CAN Triennial 2022: You Are Here

After the first Pandemic year’s delay, in 2021 our curatorial team resumed planning CAN Triennial for Summer, 2022. After months of conversation they chose as a title and theme You Are Here. You are here geographically, in Cleveland, in Cuyahoga County, in Northeast Ohio. You are here in the present. You are here in the midst of all the realities and surrealities that define our lives. The curators joined us to announce the theme at Deep Roots Experience Gallery in May.

We partnered with more than a dozen venues, clustered in neighborhoods around the city.  We launched the website, opened the application window for artists, and received hundreds of applications before the deadline. As the year comes to an end the curators continue to consider applications, and will announce a list of artists early in 2022.

Election Coverage

For the first time, CAN took a journalistic role in an election. We’ve covered arts-related issues before, of course, especially having to do with public funding of the arts. And earlier this year we couldn’t help but report on the resignation of Susan Alan Block from the Board of Directors of the Ohio Arts Council after it became known that she made bizarre statements in support of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol.

But for the first time ever this year, during an election, CAN asked the candidates some questions. As a non-profit organization, we cannot support a candidate, of course. However, we did wonder what each of the candidates in the race to be Mayor of Cleveland  would have to say about their personal experience and policy ideas relevant to the arts. Mayor-Elect Justin Bibb (and indeed all the candidates) answered all our questions.

New Staff

When the longtime manager of CAN’s weekly e-newsletter took a full time role at Zygote Press, we had the opportunity to hire Jada Renee Hobson to fill that role. Since July, Jada has managed the CAN Weekly, gathering events, assembling them, and sending them to your in-boxes, free of charge, every Tuesday. When you need to spread the word about your art events, send them with links to her, via

We were also joined this summer by Development Assistant Leah Trznadel, who in the new year will become Development Manager as Stephanie Kluk focuses her full attention on her new print studio, FIG Creative.

New Feature

The print magazine CAN Journal has a number of features you can count on, and they all appear online at, too: We always have the most comprehensive preview of the next quarter’s art events. We always have listings. And of course we always have artist profiles and interviews.

In our Winter 2021 issue, we inaugurated another new feature, in response to the recent years’ surge of photographic activity. As you may have noticed, the region has the Cleveland Print Room, Cleveland Photo Fest, Photocentric Gallery, and the Community Darkroom of Akron, to name a few. To that we add Photo Poets, a new Street Photography feature printed quarterly in CAN, curated by Aja Joi Grant. Our inaugural photo poet is Vivica Satterwhite, whose work graces our Winter 2021-2022 issue cover.  You’ll see work of a new Cleveland street photographer each quarter going forward.

2021 By The Numbers

We saved the numbers for last. CAN published a total of 168 stories in print:  56 Feature Stories, including artist profiles, interviews, and news reports, and 112 Member reports, from 45 different organizations, including:  Akron Art Museum, Art Books Cleveland, Art Every Space, Art House, Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, ArtNeo, ArtSource, BAYarts, Bonfoey Gallery, Cain Park, Cleveland Arts Prize, Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Print Room, Deep Dive Art Projects, Deep Roots Experience, Edward E. Parker Museum of Art, Flux Metal Arts, Framed Gallery, The Galleries at Cleveland State University, HEDGE Gallery, Heights Arts, High Art Fridays, Kent State University School of Art, Loganberry Books Annex Gallery, Kings and Queens of Art, La Cosecha Galeria, LAND Studio, Lakeland Community College, Mansfield Art Center, Maria Neil Art Project, Morgan Conservatory,  Sankofa Fine Art Plus, The Sculpture Center, Summit ArtSpace, Survival Kit Gallery, Cleveland Photofest, Prama Artspace, University of Akron Emily Davis Gallery, Ursuline College Wasmer Gallery, Waterloo Arts, William Busta Projects, Walkabout Tremont,  Valley Art  Center, Yards Projects, Zygote Press.

We published 64 Blog Posts. The overwhelming majority of them were exhibit reviews, but we also interviewed all seven candidates for Cleveland Mayor, asking questions about their arts experience, vision, and policy ideas. All seven of them—including Mayor-elect Justin Bibb—committed to 1) create a cabinet level position for the Arts; 2) dedicate a line item in the city’s budget to support of the arts; and 3) work with the arts community to develop an Arts and Cultural Plan for Cleveland.

Here’s a run-down of our top-ten posts on, including some stories that originated in the magazine and others that were online only.

We published 52 editions of the CAN Weekly e-newsletter, spreading the word about literally dozens of openings, artist talks, benefits, and artist opportunities every week.

And we saved the best for last: While CAN’s print circulation has stayed strong as ever, our online interactions in 2021 have exceeded those of any previous year by more than 21 percent.

Thanks for being a part of CAN’s success in the last year. Please join us as we continue to highlight and explore the work of artists in Northeast Ohio and beyond in the coming year.

The opinions expressed on CAN Blog are those of the individual writers. Art is somewhat subjective. Well, somewhat. But yes, everybody's a critic.