Take Cover

The cover of the very first CAN Journal, Summer 2012, featured an installation of color by Scott Stibich at the Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Reading Garden. Pictured in an archival box lined with paper by Cleveland-based artist Tony Williams.

Planning for the CAN Journal Archive party has us looking back through the years at art on the cover of every issue of CAN Journal. The cover of any publication is an iconic space, as Shel Silverstein and Dr. Hook noted about Rolling Stone, and all the more so for a quarterly magazine about art.

In just under 12 years, CAN has published 46 covers and never repeated an artist. All of the subjects, with the exception of Norman Rockwell and Claes Oldenberg, and a couple of architectural or studio details, were works by Northeast Ohio artists. Surveying the covers gives us a way of looking at how CAN Journal and the Cleveland Art Scene has evolved in a little more than a decade.

In the foreground, cover art for the Spring 2014 issue of CAN Journal featured art of Rev. Albert Wagner, and a story about plans for a museum in his honor.

In the beginning, the collective of 28 galleries that formed Collective Arts Network had the strong conviction that the cover image should represent something public, universally available, and important to the city–not a private commercial interest. It was entirely unclear how long CAN Journal would last, and therefore the stakes behind those choices were high. So the first three issues featured public art, or new, nonprofit museum buildings. Scott Stibich’s Figure/Ground–an installation of color responsive to the stone design of Cleveland Public Library’s Eastman Reading Garden—gave the inaugural issue its pink hue. The new building that houses moCa Cleveland was the subject of the Fall 2012 cover, represented in Herb Ascherman photo of then director Jill Snyder and chief curator David Norr. The Winter 2012 cover was photo from an artful angle on the hook from the overhead crane at Transformer Station, which was then a brand new addition to the neighborhood people would soon start calling Hingetown.

The cover of the Spring, 2017 CAN Journal featured cover art by George Mauersberger.

After that, the cover of CAN began to feature works by individual artists, chosen for their visual impact and the story behind them. Examples in the second year include a work of Julian Staczak in the Spring of 2013, on the occasion of publishing Henry Adams’ open letter urging Case Western Reserve University to bestow upon the artist an honorary Doctorate. In Summer 2013 we featured a detail from an action-packed, abstract painting by Dana Oldfather, who was one of several artists who spoke with CAN about their work of the past year. In Fall 2014, we featured a close-up photo of a Vandercook proofing press at the Morgan Conservatory, occasioned by a Wendy Partridge essay on the letterpress revival in Cleveland. And in Winter 2013, a self-portrait by Frank Oriti, who had recently been profiled in the New York Times, landed representation with a gallery in the Hamptons, and won the Cleveland Arts Prize. He had just finished a BFA at Ohio University two years earlier.

The Spring 2019 cover featured a detail from an iterated phogograph by Stephen Calhoun.

Through the years, the cover of CAN makes a line through Cleveland art history, including plans for the Reverend Albert Wagner Museum, big investment by the Cleveland Foundation in murals along the RTA Red Line and in neighborhoods, the CAN Triennial exhibition prizes, the strange birth of the Medici Museum in Youngstown, and more. The COVID pandemic showed its ugly mask. Anyone paying attention will see an increased presence of Black artists on our cover, beginning in 2014, but increasing dramatically in 2019. In the most recent year, our covers have so far highlighted: a mural created by Mr. Soul as part of a five-wall, six-figure project in the Buckeye neighborhood, supported by the St. Luke’s Foundation; Cleveland’s presence at the 2023 Venice Biennale; and a joyful portrait of Black feminine beauty, created by recent Cleveland Institute of Art graduate Crystal Miller.  Time will tell whose work will appear on the cover in Winter 2023-2024. We certainly won’t; at least, not yet.

For now, here’s a list of all the CAN Journal cover artists, from Summer 2012 through Fall, 2023.

Summer 2012      Scott Stibich

Fall, 2012             MOCA / Jill Snyder and David Norr, photo by Herb Ascherman

Winter, 2012        Transformer Station Hook

Spring, 2013        Julian Stanczak

Summer, 2013     Dana Oldfather   

Fall, 2013             Vandercook press at the Morgan Conservatory

Winter, 2013        Frank Oriti

Spring, 2014        Albert Wagner

Summer, 2014     Steve Ehret

Fall, 2014             Claes Oldenberg

Winter, 2014        Olga Ziemska

Spring, 2015        Douglas Max Utter

Summer, 2015     Claudio Orso

Fall, 2015             Debra Lawrence

Winter, 2015        Anna Arnold

Spring, 2016        Clotilde Jimenez

Summer, 2016     Graffiti / InterUrban Mural Project

Fall, 2016             Andrew Reach

Winter, 2016        Mark Thomas

Spring, 2017        George Mauersberger

Summer, 2017     Justin Brennan

Fall, 2017             Libby Chaney

Winter 2017         Mindy Tousley

Spring, 2018        Kate Sweeny / Spitball

Summer, 2018     Bruce Checefsky

Fall, 2018             Kristina Paabus

Winter, 2018        Red Nose Studio

Spring, 2019        Stephen Calhoun

Summer, 2019     Wadsworth Jarrell

Fall 2019              Michaelangelo Lovelace

Winter 2019-20   Dinara Mirtalipova

Spring 2020         James Ruby

Summer 2020      Artists wearing COVID Masks

Fall 2020              Black artists seeing no evil

Winter 2020         Osman Swimr Muhammad

Spring 2021         Norman Rockwell

Summer 2021      Lauren Pearce

Fall 2021              Barry Underwood

Winter 2021         Vivica Satterwhite

Spring 2022         Terry Joshua

Summer 2022      Dexter Davis

Fall 2022              John W. Carlson 

Winter 2022         Gregory Halpern

Spring 2023         Mr. Soul

Summer 2023      Lauren Yeager

Fall 2023              Crystal Miller

Winter 2023 David Buttram

Spring 2024 Amy Casey

Summer 2024 Kasumi

The Fall 2023 cover, featuring Radiant, a mixed media painting by Crystal Miller.

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

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