Individually and Collectively: A City of Immigrants with a Chorus of Voices – We All Do Better When We Work Together


This issue of CAN marks the beginning of our sixth year. Depending on when you start counting, our fifth anniversary is either just about to happen, or came sometime during the last six months.

On this occasion, we can’t help explore who we are, and why we are here. And in light of the national and international political climate, with lines being drawn between the left and the right, and the divide exacerbated by oversimple, populist messaging, I can’t help but think about how CAN fits in that dialog.

CAN is the embodiment of the idea that we all do better when we work together. We pitch in, one by one, and create a collective voice. The core mission of this magazine, and the bulk of our content is an expression of that idea—an inclusive chorus of Cleveland galleries, each announcing their presence, showing you what they have going on, doing something which, individually, they could not accomplish.

And if you look at the feature stories in this issue, you will see the idea of individual identities within a collective explored in other ways, too. Cuban Writer Laura Ruiz Montes, visiting Cleveland via the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion program, takes a look at the collective voice of Latino artists here, each individually lending music to the chorus, their diversity adding to the spectrum of nationalities represented in this city–this nation–of immigrants. Indeed, we’ve devoted an entire, English/Spanish section to the Creative Fusion Cuba cohort, making these projects and opportunities accessible to more readers than ever. Meanwhile, Douglas Max Utter profiles the work of an immigrant–2017 Guggenheim winner / KSU professor Mahwish Chishty–whose work explores the terror of war conducted by drones, by covering their forms with Pakistani folk imagery.

In addition to these thoughtful explorations and musings, we offer practical insight from other artists and curators in order to help each other. Joseph Clark brings the second installment in our Growing the Pie series, to help you learn how other individual artists have been able to find gallery representation outside of the Cleveland area. And William Busta shares his observations from multiple artists he has represented, about some of the habits that have helped them develop successful careers.

Oversimple, populist messaging might cast collective effort one way, but don’t be fooled. The strength of diversity is that we are different. The strength of CAN is that galleries have their own individual voices here.  Yes, we are creating something as a collective. But we are doing so to build individual successes, so that individuals can thrive in the marketplace of ideas, and further, so that they can thrive in the market. Working together, we build the market. Our Growing the Pie series—CAN’s first-ever project grant, with public support from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture–is about expanding the market for art in Cleveland. This whole venture is extremely entrepreneurial.

As CAN begins its sixth year, we welcome new members, including Foothill Gallery, Loftworks Gallery, and Shaker Community Gallery. And we observe that our friend and CAN co-founder Liz Maugans is stepping down as executive director of Zygote Press. That’s kind of a big deal. There’s plenty more news. Read on.