This is not business as usual.
Just before CAN Journal’s Fall deadline, Hunter Morrison painted a picture on the Plain Dealer’s editorial pages of Cleveland’s future–if the region continues “business as usual” policies of land use and infrastructure development. Morrison is the former Cleveland planning director who now leads the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium Initiative. If we continue in the same way, he says Northeast Ohio will see roughly the same number of people continue to shift from one community to another, moving into new houses, leaving an increasing number of old ones behind to fester in other neighborhoods. The number of abandoned homes will increase, as will the taxpayer burden.
Morrison was inviting the general public to a series of open house dialogues that would gather public input about how to do things differently.
Elsewhere in the same day’s paper, columnist Phillip Morris considered the response by people in East Cleveland in the wake of three more grisly murders: In a city whose resources were already stretched too far, about 130 people volunteered to search abandoned houses and yards to see if any more victims could be found.
These aren’t the kind of stories usually found in magazines about art. But this is not business as usual.
Those points are in this column because the kind of collaboration you see on these pages shows that once again, art organizations are already doing the kind of thing our leaders hope other sectors of Cleveland will do.
For decades in Cleveland, artists have been on the cutting edge, moving first into neighborhoods that need new energy for revitalization, and then working together to make it happen. A week after those stories appeared, Northeast Shores and the Community Partnership for the Arts and Culture hosted a welcome weekend for artists from out of town. The goal was to show them the glories of local culture and the affordability of our neighborhoods, especially Collinwood, so that the artists might consider bringing their own energy here.
Here in CAN Journal, you see artists and organizations doing that in anther way, working together to communicate, to let people know what they’re doing to make Northeast Ohio–especially Cleveland–a better place to live.
Of course CAN is far from the only place on the Cleveland art scene that’s generating collaboration. You’ve read in earlier issues about other artist-organizers, from CWAL to the folks at the Screw Factory to the City Artists at Work. Indeed, we can’t help but feel a kinship with yet another new venture along these lines, Soulcraft Studios.
Founded by Peter Debelak, Soulcraft’s first project was a member-based woodworking studio in the Hildebrandt Building on Walton Avenue. Then, recognizing a need among Cleveland furniture makers for a constant retail outlet to complement F*SHO, Debelak opened the Soulcraft Gallery–a showroom in the East 5th Street Arcade. Soulcraft carries furnishings by A Piece of Cleveland, 44 Steel, Stephen Yusko, and other local makers of unique furniture from our rust belt salvage.
Art magazines and locally made furniture outlets won’t change land use policy or the macroeconomic conditions that challenge Cleveland. But these and all the organizations you read about in the pages of CAN are examples of how Clevelanders can step up and build our own new economic engines. This issue is full of those stories, from the growing letterpress scene, to the Cleveland Museum of Art’s first exhibit at Transformer Station in Ohio City, to the dozens of upcoming exhibits and programs at galleries all over town. Thanks for reading. We look forward to seeing you at the shows.
Editor / Publisher
The Collective Arts Network was founded in 2011 by Zygote Press with support from the Ohio Arts Council and in cooperation with 27 other visual art organizations around Cuyahoga County.
Those pioneering organizations decided that by working together, they could create something new–something to fill a void in the Cleveland landscape–a reliable, print and online publication that gives voice to the multitude of art organizations that liven our neighborhoods and edify our lives.
They each agreed to contribute both effort and money to make that happen. The result was CAN Journal, which debuted in print in January, 2012.
Follow-up conversation with galleries and individual artists led to where we are today–a quarterly magazine that combines member organizations’ content with the reporting and commentary of independent writers on the arts in Northeast Ohio. Each issue offers organizations’ own in-depth previews of what’s coming in their venues, as well as reported news and opinion.
CAN membership is open to commercial and non-profit galleries, individual artists, and organizations whose primary business is the creation or presentation of art.