Welcome to CAN Journal.

There’s a moment, sure as flipping a light switch, when you realize something is possible. It catches your attention, like when a person passing on the sidewalk says Hello.


The visual arts scene in Cleveland is at that moment. And you’re holding the evidence in your hand, or perhaps reading it on a computer screen. The Collective Arts Network and CAN Journal represent Cleveland artists and galleries taking control of their own communication, becoming their own media. CAN is an art dialog made possible by the people and organizations that need it.

Just in case you’ve no idea what I’m talking about, let me fill you in. In Fall of 2011, the Collective Arts Network was launched—partly a magazine, and partly a deep networking project. Led by Liz Maugans at Zygote Press, Twenty eight executive directors and gallery directors from around Northeast Ohio drew names, then toured each others’ facilities and interviewed each other. This was no simple meet-and-greet with cocktails. As it happens, there was plenty of  meeting and greeting. And of course there were some cocktails.

But there was also a bit of homework. All those presenters of visual art also wrote stories about the other galleries’ histories and activities. The result was CAN Journal—an overview of who the galleries and organizations are, and what they do.

The first CAN Journal was more than just a handy reference guide to galleries of Northeast Ohio. It was also the realization that by working together the galleries could create something that didn’t exist before: a journal of their own, dedicated to helping them spread the word about upcoming shows, about artists, their art, and the way it touches the neighborhoods you live in.

What, you might ask, would motivate a group of galleries and art organizations to create a new media outlet? This, you might think, is not their job. But to any of the venues represented on these pages, the answer is clear as day: Cleveland is bursting with galleries and artists that liven the entire region, and especially old neighborhoods that are drawing people back toward the center of town. But those galleries get precious little attention from Northeast Ohio media. Most have tried to take up the slack using social media and blogs—but nowhere is there a coordinated, consolidated outlet for  anything more than listings of what’s coming up in town.

The Collective Arts Network and CAN Journal give galleries, artists, and art organizations a place to tell their stories. It also gives you a place to read reporting and commentary by some of the region’s best known arts writers. CAN is  organized by neighborhoods, and that’s not just to help you find them. It’s also because we know galleries help make a place special. They bring people in. They build communities.

CAN is people and organizations of the Cleveland art scene working together: to communicate, to reach out, to open the door so that anyone curious about the Cleveland art world can find out what’s going on and why it matters. In this issue you’ll find commentary by Douglas Max Utter, and Dan Tranberg, and a look ahead to a summer full of art festivals in the unmistakable voice of Erin O’Brien. And then there’s the main dish—copious updates from galleries, organizations, and even individual artists telling you what they have coming up.

So watch for CAN Journal in print quarterly, and online always at canjournal.org. And if you’ve got an art story that Cleveland needs to hear, please get in touch.

Michael Gill

Leave a Reply