The Face of Art in Cleveland: An Apology


“I guess that’s the face of art in CLE.”

That was one artist’s response to the cover image for CAN Journal’s Summer, 2020 issue. As you will see, it is a matrix of close-up photos of Cleveland artists and gallery directors wearing home-made COVID masks in the effort to slow the spread of the virus.  The issue is filled with stories by Northeast Ohio art organizations about how they have been affected by the COVID crisis, and so for the cover we invited the organizations to send us COVID mask selfies. We posted in artist groups on social media. Dozens responded. We put 42 on the cover, and more inside.

However, the cover image does not accurately reflect the Cleveland art scene. It doesn’t reflect the rich diversity of people making, showing, and looking at art in this part of the world. As editor, I take sole responsibility for that. As a publication that means to serve galleries and artists in Northeast Ohio, we have a unique and very public responsibility in the discussion of racial equity. I apologize. I simply have to do better.

I’d  like to thank the people who spoke with me candidly about this. They include individual artists, administrators, and members of the Collective Arts Network board of directors. I am especially grateful to the people of color who reached out via social media and talked with me about it. Those conversations helped me.

One of CAN’s board members recently said he was optimistic for the good things that could come out of the COVID crisis. When I asked him to clarify, he said he thought it would highlight the need for equity and unity. I want to support that effort.   In this case I came up short, and I’m sorry.

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

Leave a Reply