Where Do We Go from Here?

CAN Journal, Summer 2024, featuring cover image by Kasumi, On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, still from looping video, 2024. Design by JoAnn Dickey.

Through the years, this quarterly column traces a narrative of Cleveland art. It strings together major events like the COVID-19 pandemic and local galleries’ responses to the Black Lives Matter movement, Cleveland’s art triennials, art sector news and exhibits, all highlighted in our current stories. The arc of Cleveland’s art history is especially prominent as we approach Summer 2024, and a confluence of circumstances raises the question on several fronts, with no pun intended: Where do we go from here?

Earlier this year, almost immediately after the CAN and FRONT triennials announced that they would not continue, a group of artists coalesced, led by Liz Maugans and David King, in hopes of organizing some sustainable, grass-roots art festival to fill the void. The group has been meeting at Artful—the collective of studio tenants at the old Coventry School in Cleveland Heights—and talking about everything from what disciplines will be included to where it could happen, and what it would be called. We’re rooting for whatever develops, and as soon as there are details to report, we will absolutely be there to spread the word.

More recently, leaders of the CAN and FRONT triennials, some partners, as well as funders, began a dialog about what we learned from the two iterations of those events, whose lifespans, counting the fundraising and planning, stretched from 2016 to 2024—and also what outcome, if any, there might be. We’ll keep you informed.

Also more recently, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture’s Board of Directors in a unanimous role call vote resolved to take a concrete step toward re-booting cigarette tax revenue: in November, they plan to ask voters to more than double the existing tax, to 70 cents per pack of cigarettes. Should it pass, the change would bring the arts sector an estimated $160 million over its ten-year lifespan, returning revenue nearly to what it was when the tax began. The resolution puts the ball in the court of Cuyahoga County Council to officially put the measure on the ballot. In the meantime, there are questions about how the money would be allocated, especially with respect to individual artists.  Also in the meantime, it’s up to the arts sector to organize, mobilize, and get out the vote. Once again, we’ll keep you informed.

This issue of CAN is full of hopes, dreams and visions. Our cover artist, Guggenheim winner and MacDowell Fellow Kasumi is one who never stops innovating, as you’ll see in her first-ever retrospective at Summit Artspace, resulting from a 2022 CAN Triennial Exhibition prize.

You’ll also find news of an installation and walk-through event on the subway level of the Veterans Memorial, a.k.a. Detroit-Superior Bridge. Once again artists are serving to bring public attention to a forgotten piece of the city, in hopes of creating a new, iconic feature in the landscape. Appropriately, creator and production manager Chuck Karnak is calling his installation Go Dream.

This issue of CAN explores the enduring impact of Cleveland art history in two important stories: James Stone finds contemporary relevance in works of Cleveland School painter Carl Gaertner. And in ARTneo’s member report, a show curated by Lawrence Waldman illuminates the influence of a bookstore on the evolution of art and ideas when the city was in its heyday.

Finally, Case Western Reserve University Professor Erin Benay tells of Pressing Matters—a program she founded in 2022 and has implemented in partnership with Zygote Press, with support from, and involving students from CWRU. Pressing Matters introduces Cleveland teens to printmaking as artistic practice and advocacy. Is there anything more forward-looking than empowering the next generation with art? We doubt it.

Of course in addition to those features, you’ll find previews and listings of coming events in dozens of venues around the region. As always, we look forward to seeing you.

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