MORE THAN AN IDEA
MORE THAN A BORDER OF FLOWERS
In April, William Busta brought to the CAN office a yellowed, newsprint tabloid we had never seen before. The Guide to Cleveland Art Week was published September 19, 1980. The occasion was a week-long celebration of art coordinated by NOVA—the New Organization for the Visual Arts—in cooperation with the Cleveland Press. The Guide offered listings of galleries and studios, a map for a walking tour, and even a passport-style promotion to encourage visitation of a dozen highlighted galleries. Other pages profiled institutions—some enduring, like the Museum, some that now have new names, like the New Gallery of Contemporary Art, which we now know as MOCA, and some long gone.
Busta was executive director of NOVA, which led the effort. “I was young and moving fast at the time,” he says. He got the Press arts editor Dick Wootten behind it, and so the paper sold sponsorships to major corporations and foundations to help cover costs. Wooten’s boss, Press editor-in-chief Herb Kamm, wrote in his introductory letter that Cleveland Art Week “is more than an idea whose time has come.”
Déjà vu, you say? Of course. For decades everyone from civic boosters to grass roots artist groups and larger organizations have created events to celebrate and amplify the Cleveland art scene.
But we are confident in saying there has never been anything like what’s coming in the summer of 2018.
In addition to the usual, city-wide spread of exhibits, this summer Cleveland will see not one, but two major, curated shows. FRONT International has coordinated the resources of eight presenting partners to bring 60-some artists from around the world. They’ll create installations that will fill galleries, of course, but also churches, an apartment building, the skeletal Singer Steel building, at least one vacant lot, a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Playhouse Square inside and out, the Federal Reserve Bank, and even the Steamship William G. Mather.
Cleveland artists will not take this influx laying down. Indeed, they are independently mounting an enormous response in CAN Triennial and a multitude of other exhibits all over the region. CAN Triennial received 540 applications to be a part of its curated exhibit and site-specific installations. It will fill 78th Street Studios inside and out—from rooftops to stairwells to more familiar exhibit spaces—with new works by some of the most accomplished and familiar artists in Cleveland, and some you’ve never heard of. You’ll find more details on these pages, and in our special exhibition guide, to be published in June.
In his introductory letter to the Guide to Cleveland Art Week, Kamm went on to quote the leftist, muckraking reporter Lincoln Steffens: “Art is like a border of flowers along the course of civilization.”
We love flowers (especially the ones captured on our cover by Bruce Checefsky), but in 2018, given what artists and galleries have done for Cleveland neighborhoods in the last thirty-five years, and the way they have taken up some of the most important issues of the day (from environmental crises to politics to race relations), and given that even without activism art is an outpouring of ideas that both inspire and document the ages, we have to say it’s a bit more than a border.
In fact, this summer in Cleveland, art is front and center, all over town. Read on to find out more. We look forward to seeing you.
Editor / Publisher