CAN Journal’s Top Ten Posts of 2022

Media consumers everywhere know this end-of-year drill: Late December is the time when we look back, reflect, and make lists. Thanks to the internet, one of the easiest ways to do that is to report which posts of the last year were the most read. In 2022, that list validates some assumptions you might have: Recognizable names attract readers. So does actual, breaking news. But readers are interested in art, even from a historic perspective. And likewise, genuine accomplishment. We’ll leave that vague, for now. You’ll know what we’re talking about when you get to the list.

As usual, we’ve taken out of the running any so-called “listicles,” and any of our own announcements that would have made it into the top ten. As it happens, the top three posts in both of those categories in 2022 each checked both of those boxes. Without that rule, our announcement of artists chosen for CAN Triennial 2022, our listing of Summer 2022 Arts Internship Opportunities in Northeast Ohio, and our announcement of the CAN Triennial 2022 Purchase and Exhibition prize winners all would have made it into the top ten.

As it happens, those listicle announcements are all things we’re really proud of. In 2022, for the first time, we gathered a list of Summer Arts Internships, helping to connect young artists and administrators to the working world. We’re planning to do that again in 2023.. And perhaps it is not surprising that CAN Triennial came up twice in 2022. In partnership with 16 venues, it was an exhibit presenting works of 126 artists in 6 neighborhoods around Cleveland.  It is gratifying to see that people wanted to know who would be a part of that massive project. Similarly, we’re proud that our Exhibition and Purchase Prize program leverages the Triennial and CAN’s relationships to advance careers of artists by connecting them with solo shows at regional museums, and getting them in the hands of collectors. Watch for feature stories about those artists and the resulting shows, beginning in Spring 2023.

Also as usual, we’ve taken out of the running stories that were published prior to 2022. We want to highlight stories specifically from the last year. The top three stories that would have made it into the top ten if they had not been published in prior years are the perennially strong Making Sense of the Hills, a story about Andy Goldsworthy’s talk at the Cleveland Museum of Art (see our note about familiar names);  What Can We Learn from Susan Allan Block, which mused on the news that the former trustee of the Ohio Arts Council tweeted some mind-boggling things in the wake of the January 6 attack on the US Capitol; and Collector Sharon Milligan: Finding Identity and Comfort in Art, a story about a great collector and the president of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s associate group, Friends of African and African American Art.

So, having clarified all that, here’s our list of CAN’s Top Ten Posts of 2022:

KINK Contemporary Gallery co-owners (left to right) McKenzie Beynon and Anna Young. Photo by Jeani Brechbill Photography

10. A New Kink on Waterloo: One of our most read posts of 2021 was a story reporting on the revitalization of the Gold Building on Waterloo Road, with Michael Loderstedt and Lori Kella’s Photocentric Gallery as the anchor tenant. When that gallery closed, we were pleasantly surprised and thrilled to see the space filled almost immediately by another excellent gallery: Anna Young and McKenzie Beynon moved Kink Contemporary from their space at 78th Street Studios to a more prominent larger space, keeping the momentum going in the Waterloo Art District.

George Gustav Adomeit, Memorials, Oil on canvas, signed and dated lower right, 29 ¼ X 23 ½ inches, 1928, on view in The Golden Age of Cleveland Art. Loan courtesy the Union Club Foundation. Image courtesy WRHS.

9. Stories from the Golden Age of Cleveland Art: The level of attention this post got was perhaps a bit surprising: Stories from the Golden Age of Cleveland Art was a big survey show of regional artists of the 20th century, curated by CWRU Professor of American Art and CAN Journal contributor Henry Adams, presented at the Cleveland History Center. The overwhelming majority of artists exhibited passed away decades ago, and so did their friends, and so any popularity was not due to their social circles, but instead to interest in regional art history.  Gladdens the heart, doesn’t it?

Moonlight, a still from Amber Kempthorn’s animated film, Ordinary Magic: A Sunday in the Cuyahoga Valley, set to music of Benjamin Britten. The film had its world premiere October 15, 2022 at EJ Thomas Hall in Akron, Ohio, with Britten’s Four Sea Interludes, Op. 33 performed by the Akron Symphony Orchestra.

8. Amber Kempthorn: Extraordinary Magic: We were delighted by everything about —an animated film set to music of Benjamin Britten, with drawings by Amber Kempthorn, appreciating the Cuyahoga Valley, premiered with live performance of the music by the Akron Symphony Orchestra at EJ Thomas Hall.  The familiar antecedent for animation set to classical music is Disney’s 1940 film Fantasia. Kempthorn’s project was realized with support from a Knight Foundation challenge grant. When last we spoke, she was looking for new performance and screening opportunities for the piece.  We’re even more delighted that a lot of other people wanted to read Douglas Max Utter’s report about it.  

The “Dream Team,” under supervision of David Smith, of the Cleveland-based Austin Finishing Company, working to restore the Robert Fillous sculpture, The Tree of Knowledge. From left: Madison Mattila, Manveer Singh, David Smith, Aislinn Murray, and Kalina Leyritana. Photo © Keith Berr Productions, Inc.

7. Rescued, Restored, and Redeemed: Fillous’ Tree of Knowledge to Rise Again in Berea: Here Christopher Johnston tells the story of a grass-roots effort to restore a beloved Robert Fillous sculpture that had been installed at Berea High School, and which –when the school was to be demolished, and a new one to be built–had an uncertain fate until some alumni stepped in. With support from former CAN trustee Keith Berr, they are well on their way to covering the cost of restoring the work and installing it at the new Berea Midpark High School. 

The Belden Building, with 19,000 square feet of artist studio space in the works.

6. New Artist Space at the Belden: Put this in the category of breaking news: CAN was first to report that 78th Street Studios Proprietor Dan Bush and partner Stephanie Hronek are developing new space for artists in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood. And it was timely news, right on the heels of reports that the Artcraft building would be emptied of its artists due to the City of Cleveland’s choice of that building as a location for its new police headquarters.

Joyce Morrow Jones, Ancestree: As Above, So Below, 2021, mixed media, 32 X 25 X 5.5 inches.

5. Powerful and Courageous: Joyce Morrow Jones at moCa: As Douglas Max Utter wrote, Joyce Morrow Jones is widely known to Cleveland’s gallery and art education scene as an accomplished fiber artist and the city’s premier maker of fine art dolls, produced for didactic and creative purposes. Her exhibit Black Butterfly at moCa Cleveland presents  mixed media sculptural dolls and other fiber and polymer works in two of the museum’s upper rooms. Considered as a group they’re a crash course in the tragic history of the African Diaspora in the Americas. Taken one at a time, they embody lessons in spirituality and survival, and are semi-votive objects dedicated to the gods and traditions of the Ifa religion of West Africa, and other African belief systems.”  In the months before and during the exhibit, Jones was onsite as moCa’s  very first Artist in Residence, inaugurating an exciting new phase of the contemporary museum’s programming.

Paul Tikkanen, Unusual Parade, 1950

4. Paul Tikkanen’s Paintings and the Prize He Left Behind: Big money – even in Cleveland terms – always gets attention. That and the compelling, slightly mysterious origin story behind the Ashtabula Art Center’s new painting competition drew a lot of readers to this one. The Paul and Norma Tikkanen Painting Prize, offered now annually by the Ashtabula Arts Center, offers  offering tens of thousands of dollars in prize money.  In 2023,  the online call for art is June 1-July 16. The exhibit will run October 4 – 31 at the Ashtabula Arts Center, with a reception and awards ceremony October 7. Separately, Lake Erie College will present a retrospective of Paul Tikkanen’s own paintings in June 2023, during the online application period.

The Cleveland Twist Drill Building, at East 49 and Lakeside

3. Artcraft Artists: A New Twist: A crisis always generates interest, and this was a story not only about that—the displacement of dozens of artists from the Artcraft building—but also about what is, for some of them, a great solution: A group of the long-established Sixth Floor Artists of the Artcraft moved en-masse to the old Cleveland Twist building, and took with them the long-standing tradition of a holiday artist market.

Works of Lauren Yeager at Abattoir Gallery, 2022. Photo by Field Studio.

2. SPACES To Curate 2023 Venice Biennale Archittetura; Lauren Yeager Among Exhibitors: We began to hear rumors months before anyone was about to talk about it publicly: A proposal by Lauren Leaving and Tizziana Baldenebro on behalf of SPACES was submitted to the US State Department, and was chosen for the 2023 Venice Biennale. SPACES will commission installations by five artists whose practices deal with the re-use of post-consumer content plastic as a raw material, including Cleveland-based sculptor Lauren Yeager. Watch CAN for updates. The exhibition opens May 20,2023. We’re hoping for a live feed from Venice during the CAN launch at Abattoir Gallery the night before, so stay-tuned.

Singer, songwriter and painter, John Mellencamp

1. Ain’t That America: Painter John Mellencamp in Mansfield: If you ever needed proof that famous names attract readers, here it is. John Mellencamp, previously known as John Cougar Mellencamp, and before that as Johnny Cougar, the singer-songwriter who brought us Pink Houses, Jack and Diane, Paper in Fire, and other hits has been a painter since the 80s. Who knew? A lot of people, actually. He has exhibited his work at the Butler Institute of American Art in Youngstown,  the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville, the Museum of Art in Deland, Florida, at ACA Galleries in New York, and at the Morris Museum of Art in Augusta, Georgia, and elsewhere. And in 2022 he brought his paintings to Mansfield.

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

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