Canvas Fall 2019

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NORTHEAST OHIO | arts | music | performance

Fall 2019

Lauren Mckenzie Noel sparks dialogue Through her art

COLORI N G the world

ON VIEW SEPTEMBER 25, 2019 – MARCH 1, 2020


Produced by:

With support from:

Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music was orchestrated by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor. Key support provided by The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation. Major support provided by The Asper Foundation; CHG Charitable Trust as recommended by Carole Haas Gravagno; The Harvey Goodstein Charitable Foundation; Lindy Communities; The Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Family Foundation; and Cheryl and Philip Milstein. Additional support provided by Judith Creed and Robert Schwartz; Jill and Mark Fishman; Robert and Marjie Kargman; David G. and Sandra G. Marshall; Robin and Mark Rubenstein; and The Savitz Family Foundation. Special thanks to The Leonard Bernstein Office; the Bernstein Family; Jacobs Music; and the Milken Archive of Jewish Music, and USC Shoah Foundation. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this exhibition, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Image: Leonard Bernstein, 1956. © Made available online with permission of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Friedman-Abeles, Billy Rose Theatre Collection. Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations. Library of Congress, Music Division.

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Andy Dudik Eugene Sumlin (center) and the ensemble of “Ragtime” at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights.

6 Editor’s note

Michael C. Butz discusses this issue’s stories and introduces recent additions to Canvas


Scene Stealers

Actors, directors, managers, designers and playwrights who are shaping Northeast Ohio’s professional theater scene


8 On Deck

Noteworthy upcoming openings and events from around Northeast Ohio

10 In full view

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s “seenUNseen” will showcase local and nationally known artists of color

14 Developing landscape

Inaugural Cleveland Photo Fest aims to bring exposure to Northeast Ohio photographers

20 Coloring the world

Lauren Mckenzie Noel sparks dialogue through her art

38 Stage Calendar NORTHEAST OHIO | arts | music | performance

Listings for local theaters, dance companies and more, including schedules

Fall 2019

On the cover

Lauren Mckenzie Noel sparks dialogue Through her art

COLORI NG the world

“Do You See Me Now?” (2019) by Lauren Mckenzie Noel from her “Color of My Skin” series. 16 x 20 inches. Mixed media: acrylic, oil pastel, soft pastel, linseed oil and oil paint. Courtesy of the artist.

4 | Canvas | Fall 2019

40 Testimony’s ambitious sister

Documentary dramas staged across Cleveland’s theater scene tackle topics of historic significance

46 Curator Corner

The Canton Museum of Art’s “Toe Tag” by Juliellen Byrne

48 Listings

Local listings for museums, galleries, events and more

think outside the lines Every day, Hathaway Brown students of all ages are encouraged to expand their horizons and see the world in new and exciting ways. Our outstanding academic curriculum is made more vibrant by hands-on educational opportunities in all divisions. Creativity and innovation are at the heart of the HB experience, and students make their own unique and beautiful marks within and well beyond our classroom walls.

Discover what you’re made of at HB. Call 216.320.8767 to schedule your personal tour, or visit to learn more.

Editor’s Note

Editor Michael C. Butz Design Manager Stephen Valentine

President, Publisher & CEO Kevin S. Adelstein Vice President of Sales Adam Mandell TO WATCH VIDEOS LIKE THE ONE ABOVE AND SUBSCRIBE TO THE CANVAS YOUTUBE CHANNEL, VISIT


e at Canvas continually strive to improve upon the manner and frequency with which we report on what’s happening in Northeast Ohio’s arts community, and for a moment, I’d like to share with you some ways we’ve done so recently. Readers who picked up the spring issue of Canvas likely noticed that for every artist profiled in “Who’s Next,” our annual showcase of Northeast Ohio’s emerging artists, there was an accompanying video profile that could be viewed online. The feedback we received from those videos was overwhelmingly positive, thus we’ve added another for Lauren Mckenzie Noel, the visual artist (pictured above) we visited with for this issue of Canvas. If you missed our Who’s Next videos, I encourage you to watch them at CanvasCLEYouTube – and while you’re there, subscribe to our YouTube channel. Subscribers to the Canvas e-newsletter have likely noticed a number of updates. Beginning in May, the e-newsletter began offering weekly reports – rather than biweekly – of the many goings-on in the local arts scene. At the same time, we introduced “5 Questions,” a Q&A with a local curator, gallerist, artist or other creative community member about an upcoming or ongoing show. “5 Questions” leads each week’s Canvas e-newsletter, meaning it provides timely insight into shows and performances you’ll be hardpressed to find anywhere else. To revisit past editions of “5 Questions,” some of which pertain to shows still on view, visit To subscribe to the free Canvas e-newsletter, visit The last of our major updates pertains to newsstand distribution. Canvas readers in Cuyahoga County likely won’t notice

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any differences, but art enthusiasts in Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Portage, Stark and Summit counties will now be able to more easily find copies at local galleries, museums, restaurants and libraries. For a summary of where to find Canvas, visit As for this fall issue of Canvas, we again increase our “stage presence,” so to speak, by expanding our performance arts coverage at a time of year when many theaters and dance troupes kick off their new seasons. “Scene Stealers” is a profile package that showcases those helping to make Northeast Ohio’s theater scene one of the most vibrant and respected in the country, and “Testimony’s ambitious sister” examines how some local theaters stage documentary dramas to tackle some of the day’s toughest topics. In addition, we also check in with the directors of the inaugural Cleveland Photo Fest, which will take place at several locations across Northeast Ohio this fall, as well as preview the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s upcoming “seenUNseen” exhibition, which will simultaneously showcase work by local artists of color while giving the Atlanta-based Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art its Cleveland debut. Suffice it to say, a lot is happening in Northeast Ohio’s art world. We at Canvas are both excited about sharing those things with you in new ways and grateful that you turn to us for all of the information you need.

CJN Managing Editor Bob Jacob Controller Tracy DiDomenico Digital Marketing Manager Cheryl Sadler Events Manager Gina Lloyd Editorial Ed Carroll Jane Kaufman Becky Raspe Contributing Writers Bob Abelman Ally Benjamin Amanda Schenk Carlo Wolff Columbus Bureau Chief Amanda Koehn Custom Publishing Manager Paul Bram Sales & Marketing Manager Andy Isaacs Advertising Marilyn Evans, Ron Greenbaum, Adam Jacob, Nell V. Kirman, Sherry Tilson Design Larisa DaSilva Lillian Messner Jessica Simon Digital Content Producer Alyssa Schmitt Business & Circulation Tammie Crawford Abby Royer Display Advertising 216-342-5191 Canvas is published by the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, 23880 Commerce Park, Suite 1, Beachwood, OH 44122. For general questions, call 216-454-8300.


Upcoming openings and events from around Northeast Ohio. Event details provided by the entities featured. Compiled by Ally Benjamin and Amanda Schenk.

ALLEN MEMORIAL ART MUSEUM • “Afterlives of the Black Atlantic” | Aug. 20 – May 24, 2020 SPACES • “America’s Well Armed Militia” | Aug. 16 – Sept. 27 “America’s Well Armed Militia” will explore the Second Amendment’s effect on the past, present and future. The Second Amendment, ratified in 1791, states: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Six artists’ works will feature newly commissioned pieces focused on issues related to the Second Amendment and firearms. Sculptor Matthew Deibel’s focus will be the stand your ground law. Anatomy artist Michelle Graves: firearms in schools. Artist Danté Rodriguez: U.S./Mexico border militias. Painter Darius Steward: the Black Panther movement. Photographer Jared Thorne: gangs. Painter Nikki Woods: westward expansion. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Aug. 16 at 2900 Detroit Ave., Cleveland.

“Afterlives of the Black Atlantic” is an exploration of the transatlantic slave trade. The exhibition will feature works by modern and contemporary artists from Africa, Europe and the United States. The transatlantic slave trade was the largest forced migration in human history; 12 million enslaved Africans were transported across the Atlantic Ocean. In the U.S., 80% of all new arrivals prior to 1820 were born in Africa. The exhibition will open Aug. 20, 400 years after the cited start of the slave trade. “Afterlives of the Black Atlantic” aims to examine the impact of human trafficking and cultural exchange. An artist talk and opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Sept. 6 at 87 N. Main St., Oberlin.

MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CLEVELAND & CLEVELAND MUSEUM OF ART • “Collaboration of Liu Wei artwork” | moCa: Sept. 13 – Jan. 5, 2020| CMA: Oct. 13 – Feb. 16, 2020 Artist Liu Wei will stage his first solo U.S. museum exhibition. The show will be a formal collaboration between moCa Cleveland and the Cleveland Museum of Art, with different aspects of Liu’s art displayed at each museum. Liu is a well-known contemporary artist in China but his work – which explores the social and political aspects of Chinese society – has yet to spread to Western audiences. He creates geometric and architectural forms to reference his urban surroundings and uses various types of media for his work, including photography, painting, sculpture and installation. The Cleveland Museum of Art is at 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland, and moCa Cleveland at 11400 Euclid Ave, Cleveland.

Top left: Nikki Woods, “Gun Study” (2019), ink on paper, image courtesy of the artist via SPACES. Top right: “Manso,” a 1999 print by Cuban artist Belkis Ayón, is on view in the exhibition “Afterlives of the Black Atlantic” at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College. Image courtesy of the museum. Left: Liu Wei, “Purple Air No. 5,” 2016, oil on canvas, 86.614 x 86.614 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong via moCa Cleveland.

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THE BONFOEY GALLERY • “Darius Steward: Moving On” | Sept. 13 – Oct. 12 “Moving On,” an exhibition of new works by Darius Steward, will be on view at The Bonfoey Gallery and presented in partnership with Thomas French Fine Art. Steward works in watercolor to express social issues of identity, commodity, race and the placement of African Americans in western culture. He believes that visual communication is an agent for change. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at 1710 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

INGENUITY CLEVELAND • “IngenuityFest 2019: Dreamscapes” | Sept. 27-29 The 15th year of IngenuityFest follows the theme of dreamscapes, the surreal creation of a living daydream – celebrating the hopes and aspirations stirring in Northeast Ohio’s vast creative community and manifesting those dreams into a reality through nonstop, immersive experiences. The three-day event will bring more than 20,000 visitors to explore the multilevel Hamilton Collaborative warehouse, where there will be eight uniquely themed villages, each featuring dozens of individual exhibits. IngenuityFest will take place at 5401 Hamilton Ave., Cleveland.

ZYGOTE PRESS • Dinara Mirtalipova exhibition | Oct. 11 – Nov. 22 Dinara Mirtalipova, a self-taught artist raised in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, creates flower-studded compositions and distinct folk patterns with a modern take on old-world charm. Now residing in Northeast Ohio, she works from her home studio. Mirtalipova released an art book in 2017 titled “Imagine a Forest” that explores her illustrative style inspired by Eastern European folklore. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 11 at 1410 E. 30th St., Cleveland.

AKRON ART MUSEUM • “Open World: Video Games and Contemporary Art” | Oct. 19 – Feb. 2, 2020 Though 115 million Americans play video games, and visual artists are gamers, too, video games are rarely viewed as an influence on contemporary art. “Open World” will draw attention to this phenomenon through its featured artworks, including paintings, sculptures, textiles, prints, drawings, animation, video games, video game modifications, and game-based performances and interventions by makers who self-identify as artists. The Akron Art Museum will present a day-long arcade of indie video games and table-top games from developers, students and game creators. Open World Arcade will be held from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 7 at 1 S. High St., Akron.

Top: “Choices (Push and Pull)” by Darius Steward courtesy of The Bonfoey Gallery and Thomas French Find Art. Middle: Artwork by Dinara Mirtalipova courtesy of Zygote Press. Right: Butt Johnson Mario, Patron Saint of Brooklyn, 2003; Ballpoint ink on paper, 17 x 14 inches. Collection of Scott Hoffman, courtesy of Akron Art Museum.


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The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s “seenUNseen” will showcase local and nationally known artists of color

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VIEW By Alyssa Schmitt


he women in the center of many of fine art photographer Yvonne Palkowitsh’s works are inspired by stories she’s heard from real women in her life.

The idea for a scene might stem from a story her grandmother told or it might come from a conversation with friends, but each speaks to a level of truth and reveals a narrative that might otherwise go unnoticed. Some of the women show a vulnerability while others turn away from the viewer. Many of them are African American, like Palkowitsh, and often find themselves alone in the photo. Through each piece, she forces the viewer to see them and their stories. Acknowledgment and recognition – or the lack thereof – are overarching themes in the upcoming “seenUNseen” exhibition at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, where Palkowitsh’s work will be on view. The show will feature pieces from Northeast Ohio-based African American artists the public might not often see alongside nationally known artists of historic importance, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Charles White and Jacob Lawrence, whose work appears courtesy of the Atlanta-based Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art. Among the local artists featured will be Dexter Davis, Darius Steward, Tony Williams, Michelangelo Lovelace and Amber N. Ford. Momentum for and involvement in “seenUNseen” grew so large that, in addition to filling the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s gallery, it will overtake available space in The Sculpture Center next door. The show will run from Sept. 20 to Nov. 16.

SEEING LOCAL ARTISTS “seenUNseen” began to take shape when Artists Archives of the Western Reserve executive director Mindy Tousley was approached about exhibiting part of the 300-piece Davis Collection. For the past 35 years, Kerry Davis and his family have amassed a collection of paintings, works on paper


and sculptures on a modest budget from emerging and established African American artists. When Tousley explains the Archives’ mission of supporting regional artists to Davis, it resonated. “I suggested to him that because bringing in a collection like this is not really part of our mission statement ... that perhaps we could do a show of regional artists and put the work in with his collection all in one exhibition, which would help the regional artists because their work is going to be seen and going to be produced in a catalog and advertised alongside this other work,” Tousley says. Some of the local artists may have found it difficult to get their work into regional galleries or exhibitions, or some work in a medium that might not garner as much attention in the art world. Others, like Palkowitsh, who lives in Dover, Ohio, highlight concepts that might be overlooked. Yet each is working to have themselves, their work and their community be seen. “(The show) is going to point out that good art is being done all over from different kinds of people throughout history, and probably the conventional institutions have ignored a lot of it – the really big museums,” Tousley says. “I mean, we know they’ve ignored women, for the most part. They’ve ignored African American artists, too, for the most part, and African American women artists and maybe artists who are working in more traditional craft mediums, like some of the textile artists and quilters. I think it’s going to bring some of that out to the public eye.” Palkowitsh hasn’t personally faced challenges in showing her work but she knows others who have and recognizes the importance of providing an exhibition for those artists. Two pieces from Palkowitsh will be in the exhibition. “It’s really important that exhibitions like this are held because it really gives an opportunity to artists who are struggling to get their works into

“It’s really important that exhibitions like this are held because it really gives an opportunity to artists who are struggling to get their works into places – into museums, into galleries – to be represented, to be seen. It’s really, really important to have exhibitions like this, and collectors like Kerry (Davis), who see the significance of collecting these stories and celebrating artists of color and getting the word out there.” – Yvonne Palkowitsh, fine art photographer

Opposite page: “Guided” by Yvonne Palkowitsh, altered photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

Fall 2019 | Canvas | 11

places – into museums, into galleries – to be represented, to be seen,” she says. “It’s really, really important to have exhibitions like this, and collectors like Kerry, who see the significance of collecting these stories and celebrating artists of color and getting the word out there.” Through different opportunities over her career, Palkowitsh came across the Davis Collection and took note of its significance. “This is one of those situations you put them over to the side and think, ‘One day, one day I will possibly be a part of that,’” she says. When she heard there was an open call for artists to submit their work to be considered for the show, she was thrilled. “I couldn’t believe they were going to be in the Cleveland area and close to home,” she says. THE DAVIS COLLECTION The seen/unseen duality reverberates further in that “seenUNseen” will mark the first time the Davis Collection will leave the Atlanta area. The collection’s home is in Davis’ suburban residence in Clarkston, Ga., where it covers nearly every inch of the walls. The works transform the space into a gallery-style home museum that provides community access to the often unseen legacy of American artists of color. His collection started when he began work at the post office and bought his first house. Wanting to adorn it with something meaningful and representative of his heritage, he began purchasing art. He became familiar with artists in Clark Atlanta University’s collection and read books to familiarize himself with the work so if he saw it at a flea market or someplace else, he could purchase it. As he began networking more in the art world and even assisted in studios by framing art, he started collecting from local artists who were unseen, or rather, who were not as prominent in the art world. He looks for his African American heritage in the work, but when selecting something to add to the collection, he says he doesn’t always feel like he’s the one making the decision. “Pieces kind of select me,” he says. The collection itself has gone mostly unseen, usually being shown only to family members, church members and friends in the community, Davis says. His collection reached a national stage when it was exhibited at the Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries in 2016. The humble beginnings of artists in the exhibition reflect Davis’ own. “This is all about community,” he says. “I started out and no one saw my work (other than) people who came to the house, like church members, family and friends in the community. For us to share with another community, it feels really great. Plus, I just really appreciate being able to see works by other artists up there (in Cleveland).”

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Above: “Jazz” by Romare Bearden, silkscreen on paper, 1980. From the Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art. Courtesy of Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. Below: Anna Arnold, “The Storyteller” by Anna Arnold, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.


ARTISTS ARCHIVES OF THE WESTERN RESERVE • “seenUNseen” will be on view from Sept. 20 to Nov. 16 at 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 20, during which an appearance by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and a tribute to Cleveland artist Malcolm Brown are scheduled. • In related programming, “Collecting African American Art” with Kerry Davis will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 12 at Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. • In addition, a panel discussion featuring emerging, mid-career and established regional African American artists will be held at The Scultpure Center. To learn of details as they become available, visit

Tri-C® 2019-2020

Performing Arts Series Gamelan Çudamani Oct. 2, 2019

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Branford Marsalis Oct. 10, 2019

Ohio Theatre

An Evening with Paul Shaffer Oct. 13, 2019

Tri-C Fran and Jules Belkin Theatre

RUBBERBANDance Group Nov. 9, 2019

Ohio Theatre

Co-presented by DANCECleveland

Blue Note Records 80th Birthday Celebration:

The State of Jazz featuring Kandace Springs, James Carter and James Francies Nov. 13, 2019 Tri-C Mainstage Theatre

Cie Herve Koubi Feb. 15, 2020

Ohio Theatre

Co-presented by DANCECleveland


Stay tuned for more information. 216-987-4444 |

Inaugural Cleveland Photo Fest aims to bring exposure to Northeast Ohio photographers By Jane Kaufman


hotography comes into focus this fall as examples of many genres and techniques appear in 18 exhibitions in 13 venues for the inaugural Cleveland Photo Fest.

A total of 110 photographers from Northeast Ohio and a dozen more from across the country and around the globe will exhibit their images in galleries in downtown Cleveland and points south, east and west of the city. While the festival’s dates are bookended by Sept. 1 and Oct. 31, the concept has inspired events and additional exhibits that opened as early as mid-August and will close as late as January of next year. “We want to showcase the incredible homegrown talent from Cleveland because there is so much of it here,” says Herb Ascherman Jr., director of the Cleveland Photographic Workshop and Cleveland Photo Fest. “It’s not underrated, it’s under-exposed. Unfortunately, as you well know with the art scene, you have to go elsewhere to establish a reputation, because there’s no art-buying market in Cleveland. What we hope to do with our exhibitions is show Clevelanders that there is value in investing in Cleveland artists. We are the avatar.” Ascherman is one of three photo fest directors. The others are fine art photographer Laura D’Alessandro

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and Jim Szudy, the freelance photographer behind 440 Photography and founder of Berea-based Gemini Developers. Ascherman used a single word to describe what attendees can expect from the exhibitions: “Variety.” “They can expect a range of work going from 19th century absolute traditionalism classic imagery and pictorialism to the most contemporary, visionary, literally, digitally driven available today.” HOW IT STARTED The concept for this festival came from D’Alessandro. When the Cleveland native returned from several years of living in New Orleans, it took her awhile to find her footing in her hometown. That was complicated by the birth of a child and facing a diagnosis and treatment for breast cancer. “I had this really aggressive rare kind of breast cancer,” she says, adding that when she finally emerged from treatment, she had a revelation. “I should be doing what I’m meant to be doing and not just cleaning all day.”

D’Alessandro, 48, spoke first with Ascherman, 72, a portraitist, about a year ago. Through a mutual friend, she met Szudy, 48, and discussed her hope to create a festival in Cleveland similar to PhotoNOLA, the New Orleans Festival of Photography. In February, the trio began meeting weekly at Algebra Tea House in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood to plan Cleveland Photo Fest. “I know the old guard,” Ascherman says, “but (Laura) is extremely fluent in contemporary photography and contemporary photographers in Cleveland,” adding that Szudy, who is also marketing manager, is the group’s media savant. “The three of us have this synergy,” D’Alessandro says. “If three people with not much money can pull this off, anybody can do anything with their dream. It’s just crazy. It’s just very exciting, too.” Under the auspices of the Cleveland Photographic Workshop, which Ascherman founded in 1978, Cleveland Photo Fest short-circuited the lengthy process to win nonprofit status. But the festival still must wait a year to win eligibility for grant funding. D’Alessandro said by siting exhibits in venues throughout Cleveland and its suburbs, the three photographers hope to make the exhibits as accessible to as wide an audience as possible. “Even if somebody doesn’t have a car … you could at least get to a couple places,” she says.

Bruce Checefsky “Garden Scan Series” 2018. From “Cutting Edge Cleveland,” which will hang at The Good Goat Gallery during Cleveland Photo Fest.


KEY EVENTS The Cleveland Photo Fest will feature educational programming and artist talks – most of them free. “ART: as in ARTiculation: From 19th Century Techniques to the Smart Phone. Photography as Creative Expression,” a moderated panel at the Cleveland Museum of Art at 2 p.m. Sept. 21, will include audience interaction and discuss historical and contemporary impact of the creative photograph on modern culture.

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The panelists will be Ascherman; Linda Butler, secretary of the Friends of Photography; Cleveland photographer Donald Black; and Dr. Unni Krishnan Pulikkal, founder of PhotoMuse, India’s second photography museum. The moderator will be Ben Hauser, Column & Stripe Philanthropy co-chair and Cleveland Museum of Art educator. Attendees will be encouraged to turn on their cellphones to see visual examples of what the moderators are referring to during the discussion. That event is the result of a collaboration of Column & Stripe: The Young Friends of the Cleveland Museum of Art and Cleveland Photo Fest – one of many collaborations in the festival. Among the panoply of offerings, there will be a fashion show featuring fashion photographers shooting models during IngenuityFest 2019: Dreamscape, Sept. 27-29 at the Hamilton Collaborative in Cleveland. In addition, there will be at least one bit of performance art: Larry Rakow will play Professor Optix in The Magic

Michael C. Butz Lantern Show, which takes place at 2 p.m. Oct. 12 at The Good Goat Gallery in Lakewood. Rakow will take the stage dressed as an itinerant preacher from the

1890s, donning a top hat and using a type of technology that was first created in the 16th century. His color slide show will include hand-painted slides from the

Above: From left, Cleveland Photo Fest directors Jim Szudy, Laura D’Alessandro and Herb Ascherman Jr. – all with their cameras of choice. Bottom left: “Cutting Edge Fauve 4, for Henri Matisse,” Archival Digital Print, 17½ x 13 inches on 20 x 16 inches. © Abe Frajndlich 2019. Bottom right: Dr. Unni Krishnan Pulikkal 2019. From the exhibit “TRANSFORMATIONS,” which will hang at Foothill Galleries of the Photo-Succession in Cleveland Heights during Cleveland Photo Fest.

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‘Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music’ coming to the Maltz Museum Bernstein’s piano, conducting suit and family heirlooms are among the

approximately 100 artifacts and photographs that will illustrate his life, Jewish identity and social activism from Sept. 25 to March 1, 2020


he Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage announces “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music,” the first large-scale museum exhibition to illustrate the famed conductor and composer’s life, Jewish identity and social activism. Created by the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia to coincide with the maestro’s 100th birthday, the exhibition features approximately 100 historic artifacts and photographs – from Bernstein’s piano and conducting suit to family heirlooms – along with original films and immersive sound installations. “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music” is on view at the Maltz Museum from Sept. 25 to March 1, 2020. Audiences may be familiar with many of Bernstein’s works, notably “West Side Story” (1957), but not necessarily how his approach to music was informed by the political and social crises of his day. Bernstein used the arts to express the restlessness, anxiety, fear and hope of an American Jew living through World War II and the Holocaust, the Vietnam War and turbulent social change that shook his faith in God, in humanity and in government. The exhibition focuses on this theme in Bernstein’s work – what he referred to as his “search for a solution to the 20th century crisis of faith.” It explores how he confronted this “crisis” by breaking racial barriers in his casting decisions for “On the Town” (1944), addressing America’s changing ideas about race and ethnicity in “West Side Story,” and giving a voice to the human rights crisis during the Vietnam era in his provocative theater piece, “MASS” (1971), as examples. Ivy Weingram, who curated “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music” for NMAJH said, “Leonard Bernstein is remembered as a passionate, larger-than-life personality – a charismatic conductor, devoted educator and skilled musician. This exhibition will delve into his memorable works while also exploring a lesser known side of Bernstein – the second-generation American Jew who inspired social progress, both on and off the stage. As our nation continues to confront issues of race, religion and what it means to be an ‘American,’ Bernstein’s music takes on new, personal meanings for every audience that experiences it.” The exhibition brings together approximately 100 original artifacts and photographs, some never-before-exhibited in public. Artifact highlights include Bernstein’s piano, an annotated copy of “Romeo and Juliet” used for the development of “West Side Story” (originally imagined as “East Side Story”), the program for his Carnegie Hall debut, his conducting suit, his easel used for studying scores and composing, and much more. Bernstein’s Jewish heritage, so deeply ingrained in him by his parents and so intricately woven through his life and work, is conveyed through a number of artifacts, including the mezuzah that hung in his studio, the Hebrew prayer book he carried with him when he traveled, his ketubah (Jewish marriage contact), his family’s Passover seder plate and the Talmud (book of Jewish law) given to Bernstein by his father. The exhibition also features a variety of films, sound installations, and interactive media. Visitors will hear from Bernstein himself through archival recordings and documentary footage, alongside interviews with those who knew him best. Film clips of Bernstein conducting, his visit to Israel in 1967, and excerpts of “West Side Story” highlight key moments in Bernstein’s life and career. A state-of-the-art multimedia interactive invites visitors to explore the many layers to Bernstein’s original compositions, including how Bernstein the composer wove elements of synagogue music and his own family’s history into his works for film, Broadway and orchestra.

Leonard Bernstein conducting. Paul de Hueck, courtesy the Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc. To communicate the significance of Bernstein’s visit to a Displaced Persons camp in Germany during Spring 1948 – where he led an orchestra of Holocaust survivors – the museum displays video testimonies, courtesy of USC Shoah Foundation, from those who participated in this littleknown moment in Bernstein’s life. An original film conveys the enduring impact of Bernstein’s “MASS,” re-contextualizing the monumental composition by combining it with contemporary examples of the power of music. Another original film features interviews Leonard Bernstein’s annotated Copy of Romeo and Juliet. William with Bernstein mentees and Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet. fans, including Alec Baldwin Boston: Ginn and Co., 1940. Ed. by (voice of the New York Philharmonic radio broadcasts), George Kittredge. Leonard Bernstein Collection, Music Division, Library actor Mandy Patinkin, of Congress. By permission of The playwright Tony Kushner and Leonard Bernstein Office, Inc musician Wynton Marsalis. The Maltz Museum is proud to present dynamic public programs in partnership with a wide range of local institutions from The Cleveland Orchestra to Literary Cleveland to LGBT Community Center of Greater Cleveland. From listening to concerts to participating in family fun activities to exploring art and identity through lectures and panel discussions to watching documentary films, this season is sure not to disappoint. For more information on individual or group tickets visit or call 216-593-0575.

19th century, which captivated audiences at the time, offering the then-novelties of projected color images that featured movement. Rakow found the script for the morality play he will deliver in the bottom of a box of the handpainted glass plates. There will be two poetry readings accompanying photography exhibits related to the written word at Mac’s Backs – Books on Coventry in Cleveland Heights. Local photographers will hold a sale and pop-up show at the Sell and Show Show at The Good Goat Gallery. At that event, photographers will set up tables to sell their works from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 5. Then, the artists will hang works of their choosing to create a pop-up exhibit as art enthusiasts enjoy a reception.

“It’s completely democratic,” Szudy says, regarding the fact that photographers will make their own decisions about which images to hang. Accompanying an exhibit of 19th century silver, platinum and gold techniques, Ascherman will speak about those early approaches to the medium at the Oct. 10 opening reception at Foothill Galleries of the Photo-Succession in Cleveland Heights. D’Alessandro and fellow fine art photographer Samantha Bias will offer an opportunity for people to make sunprints on handmade paper at 2 p.m. Oct. 19 at Prama Artspace in Parma, using natural light to create art on photo-sensitive paper. Just in time for the winter holidays, Ascherman will lecture on “Taking


383 BROADWAY • “FireFish Festival 2019“ and “U MIX” (Sept. 20 and Sept. 12; reception 4 to 11 p.m. Sept. 20) at 383 Broadway Ave., Lorain. CLEVELAND BOTANICAL GARDEN • “Forests, Gardens and Friends” and “Wayne Mazerow: Texture and Light” (Aug. 13 to Oct. 6; reception Aug. 13) at 11030 East Blvd., Cleveland. CUYAHOGA COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY, BEACHWOOD BRANCH • “Beachwood Photography Group Annual Exhibition: Portrait Perspectives” (Nov. 3-30; reception 2 to 5 p.m. Nov. 3) at 25501 Shaker Blvd., Beachwood. DOUBTING THOMAS GALLERY • “Off the Wall” (Dec. 13 to Jan. 12, 2020; reception 6 to 9 p.m. Dec. 13) at 856 Jefferson Ave., Cleveland. FOOTHILL GALLERIES OF THE PHOTO-SUCCESSION • “Transformations” (Sept. 11 to Oct. 8; reception 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 11) and “Silver Platinum Gold” (Oct. 10 to Nov. 1; reception 5:30 to 8 p.m. Oct. 10) at 2450 Fairmount Blvd., Suite M291, Cleveland Heights. GALLERY Ü CLEVELAND • “Repeat” (Aug. 30, Sept. 6, Sept. 27-29, Oct. 25, Nov. 29; receptions 6 to 10 p.m., Aug. 30, Sept. 27, Oct. 25, Nov. 29) at 5401 Hamilton Avenue, Cleveland. THE GOOD GOAT GALLERY • “Cutting Edge Cleveland” (Sept. 6 to Oct. 3; reception 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 6) and “Sell and Show Show” (Oct. 5-30; sale 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Oct. 5; reception 4 to 6 p.m. Oct. 5) at 17012 Madison Ave., Lakewood. IMAGES PHOTOGRAPHIC ART GALLERY • “UPHEAVAL: Richard Margolis, Photographs: Anti-War and Ku Klux Klan Rallies 1965 – 1966” (Sept. 15 to

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Better Pictures” at noon Nov. 15 at the Orange Art Center in Pepper Pike. UBIQUITOUS IMAGES All three organizers view the cell phone as both a blessing and a curse to the field of professional photography. “The once proud profession of professional photography has become eroded by the fact that everyone has a cellphone and everyone can take pictures,” Ascherman says. “On the other hand, that very fact has democratized the process to the point where everyone can take pictures and share them accordingly.” “We want to show something greater than Photoshop, something greater than the image on your phone,” Szudy says. “We want to show the necessity of the actual printed image of a picture.”

Oct. 12; reception 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 15) at 14406 Detroit Ave., Lakewood. INGENUITYFEST 2019: DREAMSCAPES • “Cleveland: The Rhythm of Fashion” (Sept. 27 to Sept. 29) at 5401 Hamilton Ave, Cleveland. LIVE PUBLISHING GALLERY • “Darren Feist: London Fashions” (Aug. 8 to Oct. 15) and “Portraits: New Faces in Portraiture” (Jan. 9 to March 30, 2020) at Murray Hill Schoolhouse, 2026 Murray Hill Road, Suite 103, Cleveland. MAC’S BACKS – BOOKS ON COVENTRY • “Poetography” (Aug. 30 to Oct. 15; reception 6 to 8 p.m. with poetry reading at 7 p.m. Aug. 30) and “Altered Landscapes” (Oct. 25 to Nov. 30; reception 6 to 8 p.m. with poetry reading at 7 p.m. Oct. 25) at 1820 Coventry Road, Cleveland Heights. ORANGE ART CENTER • “Masters of Portraiture Invitational” (Sept. 13 to Nov. 18; reception 6 to 8 p.m. Sept. 13) at 31500 Chagrin Blvd., Pepper Pike. PRAMA ARTSPACE • “Take a Good Look! Brush High School Student Exhibition” (Aug. 23 to Sept. 18; receptions 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 23 and Sept. 18) and “Beyond the Camera – Manipulated Photography” (Sept. 18 to Oct. 24; receptions 6 to 9 p.m. Sept. 18 and 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24) at 205411 Pearl Road, Parma. TOAST • “Laura D’Alessandro: Into the Ether” (July 19 to Sept. 13) at 1365 W. 65th St., Cleveland. For event listings and additional information, visit







AUG 31 24667 Cedar Road Lyndhurst OH 44124

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COLORING the world

Lauren Mckenzie Noel Sparks Dialogue through her Art 20 | Canvas | Fall 2019

Michael C. Butz

By Carlo Wolff


he attic studio where she creates fearless work is an oasis for Lauren Mckenzie Noel, a gifted artist who left her sunny Florida home for grayer Cleveland three years ago.

Mckenzie is 30, of mixed race, recently divorced, and the mother of Dylan, 10, and Keegan, 9. The three live in a big, old duplex in Cleveland Heights. The family moved here for the schools; Keegan is on the autism spectrum and non-verbal, though he writes on an iPad and invents his own toys. Getting him special education was the right and necessary move, Mckenzie says. She spends her days in the studio while her boys are at school. “This is my sacred space,” she says of the studio. “I come here to have my therapy session.” This exuberant, expressive woman doesn’t want her sons to view life through the lens of limitation, so for her, “US,” a two-part show last spring in which she collaborated with the boys, was a particularly rewarding family affair. “I really feel like God gave me the ability to speak to him through my work and I wanted to nurture that,” she says of Keegan, adding, as a society, “we don’t talk a lot about the siblings” of those on the spectrum, so the show was also “Dylan’s story.” Her own story is one of struggle and survival – and, perhaps, success: She will be featured in separate shows in Cleveland in August and September. Her work sells for $200 to $9,000, and for “SELF,” a solo show, prices will range from $1,050 to $9,600. Mckenzie has come a long way since she became a full-time artist. Seven or eight years ago, she was living in her native West Palm Beach struggling to build a cake business. It wasn’t working. Around that time, Keegan was diagnosed, throwing her life out of balance. Serendipitously, her landlord commissioned a work of art by her, “it kind of just blossomed from there, and the boys were – and have always been – my key motivation.” NO LIMITS Mckenzie’s art is about pushing boundaries and changing perceptions. Her topics are rich: being female, being a woman of color, family. “SELF,” which will consist of nudes of Mckenzie, her


two sisters, her mother and sister-in-law, aims to celebrate women in various shapes and stages. These nudes, which will go on display Aug. 17 at KINK Contemporary, are vibrant and vigorous; Mckenzie is no shrinking violet, nor does she portray other people as such. The palette of these proud nudes is earthy, the brushstrokes are swashbuckling, and the revelation – a

truism, even a cliché, to Mckenzie – is that women are beautiful, with no need to conform or be idealized. The “SELF” show will be “centered around trauma, motherhood, sisterhood and the conversations and relationships we have with our body,” Mckenzie says. “I feel like that has pushed me to be incredibly vulnerable. It’s very realistic, so it exposes a lot.” She doesn’t consider these nudes “sexual at all.” Rather, they’re realistic, she says: “I’ve had a lot of messages from other mothers – ‘Oh, my God, my stomach looks like that’ and ‘Thank you for painting me’ – seeing themselves in the work.” At times, she feels “most beautiful when I’m painting myself,” she says,

Above: “For Awhile Now” (2019) by Lauren Mckenzie Noel from her “Life in Color” series as seen in her home studio. 48.3 x 70 inches on canvas. Materials: acrylic, soft pastel, oil paint. Courtesy of the artist. Opposite page: Mckenzie in her home studio in Cleveland Heights.

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Left: “Dylan” (2018) by Lauren Mckenzie Noel and her sons, Dylan and Keegan, from the artist’s “US” series. 36 x 48 inches on wood panel. Mixed media: oil paint, acrylic and oil pastel. Courtesy of the artist. Above: “Bernice” (2019) by Lauren Mckenzie Noel from the artist’s “Blind Contour” series. 52½ x 56 inches on canvas. Materials: oil paint, charcoal, oil paint, acrylic. Courtesy of the artist. adding the “SELF” paintings are about “having a body that’s stretched, that’s grown, that’s aged and is beautiful in all its shapes and forms. It feels good to encourage other people through your work.” Mckenzie wants “SELF” to stimulate discussion about motherhood. Women’s roles have always been very restricted, she says, adding “your role as a mother doesn’t have to be limited or be your only face.” Anna Young and Michael Marras are fans of Mckenzie. They’re excited to display “SELF.” “What drew us most to Lady Noel’s work was her ability to capture an individual’s identity through her perspective,” the co-founders of KINK Contemporary write in a statement, referring to Mckenzie by her social media moniker. “Every execution of a painting is applied with unique interpretation. Lauren’s portraits of people communicate fiercely with their eyes. Very few artists can accomplish this connection in a portrait, specifically a contemporary one. “Her preferred color palette also speaks for itself. The vibrancy of her

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bold color choices parallels her chosen figure’s impressive gaze. In the few months we have been working with Lauren to prepare for the upcoming show, her body of work has already evolved notably in a new direction.” Other examples of Mckenzie’s art will be on display Sept. 20 through Nov. 16 in “seenUNseen,” a show featuring African American artists at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood. GROWING UP MULTICOLORED Mckenzie’s American mother is of Scottish, Irish and Welsh descent. Her father is Jamaican, with roots in Ghana and Benin. What does being multicolored feel like? “Sometimes it sucks,” she says. “Sometimes, as much as I don’t like the box, it’s nice to fit in a box, especially when it has to do with race. I definitely don’t have it as hard as my Jamaican side of the family, but I constantly feel like I have to fight for my identity.” She had “some trouble” during her senior year at the Alexander W. Drey-

foos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach; she “got into some medicinal things and I was pretty angry for a little bit as a kid. There were things that had happened to me in my past that were suppressed, and I think a lot of that piled up; I did a lot of self-sabotaging. A lot of drinking was involved, a lot of skipping school.” Somehow, she righted herself, and says she’s “doing fantastic,” raising her kids and creating paintings. She feels a special sense of accomplishment when it comes to her murals, which included a temporary work on LAND Studio’s café art wall in Public Square as well as permanent pieces at Fairfax Elementary School in Cleveland Heights, the Tremont Athletic Club location in University Circle and at The Cleveland Flea’s business incubator, The Creative Clubhouse. Perhaps her highest-profile work is a mural at East 36th Street and Euclid Avenue in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood. Completed last year, the mural required Mckenzie to ride a cherry picker three stories high, and she’s scared


Creativity Takes Center Stage at Hawken Given that Hawken School has always been a haven for creative minds, it’s no surprise that opportunities for students to participate in the arts abound. While many other schools are forced to cut funding for the arts, Hawken’s programming continues to grow and thrive, enabling students to participate at various levels no matter what their age or experience.

A designated arts wing on Hawken’s Lower and Middle School campus featuring four classrooms designed for exploration, creation and performance represents a physical manifestation of Hawken’s commitment to the arts. Beginning in early childhood, music educators work with students to reinforce a love of music and to provide a basis for the development of musical concepts and skills. In third grade, students are introduced to the soprano recorder; in fourth and fifth grade, students select a string, woodwind, brass, or percussion instrument for musical study; and from third through fifth grade, students can opt to participate in Lower School Choir, which presents an annual musical production. In the Middle School, chorus, strings and band are offered as part of the curriculum. Students also have the opportunity to be part of the Jr. Hawken Players’ Society through participation in the annual musical either on stage, behind-the-scenes, or in the pit orchestra. At Hawken’s Upper School, students can select from a wide variety of music, dance and theater courses including Acting Fundamentals, Advanced Acting, Chorale, Concert Band, Creative Movement, Jazz Band, Global Rhythms, Stage Craft and String Ensemble. Outside of the academic day, small performing groups like Hawken Harmony provide additional opportunities for students interested in musical performance. One of the most popular clubs at Hawken is The Hawken Players’ Society (HPS), which produces at least one play and one musical each year. Open to all students regardless of prior experience, HPS productions are largely student-driven. Under the guidance of adult mentors, students are given the latitude, tools and responsibility to take full ownership of their role as an artist, whether in set design and construction; props, costumes or makeup; marketing and graphic design; acting, singing, dancing; and even assistant directing. Working local professionals also serve as guest teaching artists to help students build and hone their skills. Over the last several years, Hawken has brought home three Playhouse Square Dazzle Awards for best technical execution, best musical, and best supporting actress.

Hawken School also places great value on the visual arts, often in collaboration with the performing arts department. An annual Early Childhood Art Show, a Visiting Artists Program, the annual Evening of Art and Music, the creation of artwork to accompany the fourth and fifth grade musical, middle school set design, and the Biomimicry Art and Science Forum mark just a number of the many highlights of visual arts programming on Hawken’s Lyndhurst campus. Visual Arts offerings for Upper School students include Art Fundamentals, Art and Design Principles, Graphic Design, Drawing and Painting, History of Western Art, Photography, Sculpture, Ceramics, AP Studio Art, Animation, as well as several advanced courses in these subjects. The recent opening of Stirn Hall, with its Media and Communications Lab and Fabrication Lab, has opened up a whole new world of creative, interdisciplinary possibilities. The Creative Movement class has worked with Groundworks Dance Company on a collaborative project, which took students to Playhouse Square to perform. In addition, numerous classes including the Design and Engineering and Comedy classes have utilized the new spaces for creative, hands-on projects. Last fall, the Goldberg Innovation Lab opened on the Lyndhurst campus. Now, even our youngest students are able to immerse themselves in the art of creative design. Visit to learn more about the full menu of arts options available at Hawken. To learn more about visiting our campus, go to or call 440-423-2955.

To watch a video of Mckenzie, visit of heights. “There were some tears while I was up on that lift,” she says, “but I never want to shy away from things that terrify me.” She still gets “a high” from overcoming that hurdle. “What’s the point of life if you’re not constantly challenging yourself and growing?” As she worked on that mural, a community dialogue began. “The area is predominantly black over there, and I just remember some of the conversations I had with some of the local individuals,” she says. “There were times I actually cried, because you don’t realize how much it’s needed to have representation until you have representation. There was even a bus of kids, who were predominantly black, and seeing me up on that lift, (they were) like, ‘Oh, there’s this black girl who is painting this giant mural in their city, which hasn’t happened.’ “Most of my work is centered around portrait work, and it is of people of color predominantly. So, the conversations there have been, also, incredible. And the support I’ve gotten through that work has been amazing through my own community.” TALKING THINGS OVER Mckenzie wants her art to spark conversations about gender and race. As a biracial person, she is “figuring out where I fit in the scheme of things,” she says. The issues, for her, are complex and go beyond the personal. “It’s an interesting time to be black and white, it’s an interesting time to be anything right now,” she says. Mckenzie wishes “it wasn’t about picking sides, but right now it’s very important for me to be an ally to my fellow black brothers and sisters and making sure I’m speaking up for them because I’m light-skinned, and with that comes privilege. I want to make sure I’m using my privilege to do good.” Being a woman in a white-maleoriented art scene represents another hurdle, particularly in Northeast Ohio. “I want to make sure that that’s not a limitation, either,” she says. “So, it’s guns blazing to make sure I have space in a room. “I don’t know too many galleries that represent women of color here. I’m pretty sure I’m the first, or one of the first, women of color to do a mural here – which is an issue. There aren’t many shows geared toward women of color,” she says. “There’s not a rainbow. We don’t really have a rainbow of representation in Cleveland.”

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“Unburdened” (2019) by Lauren Mckenzie Noel from the artist’s “SELF” series. 32 x 42 inches on canvas. Material: oil paint. Courtesy of the artist.

The West Side is “very white,” Mckenzie says, while there “is more of a rainbow on the East Side”; there’s a “line straight down downtown.” She’s still getting used to what she considers the lack of diversity here. “Cleveland, I think it has potential, I think it’s trying to change and evolve,” she says. “I just think there’s so much work that needs to be done to bridge those gaps, and also to make sure it’s being done in the right way.” Mckenzie seeks to infuse Cleveland’s cultural scene with color as vivid as it is in her portraits. “I love color, and Florida is super, super colorful,” she says. “It also goes in with my Jamaican heritage; it’s a very colorful island. I’ve never been afraid of

color. I think we’re meant to celebrate color. I think the world needs far more color.”


LAUREN MCKENZIE NOEL • “SELF,” a solo show of new works, will be on view from Aug. 17 to Sept. 20 at KINK Contemporary, 1305 W. 80th St., Suite 103, Cleveland, at 78th Street Studios. • Mckenzie will also be part of the group show, “seenUNseen,” which will be on view from Sept. 20 to Nov. 16 at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland.



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26 | Canvas | Fall 2019


hen we reflect back on a live theater production we’ve seen, it is often a specific moment that we recall – an instant when a playwright’s idea, a director’s vision, an actor’s performance or a designer’s creativity surpasses an audience’s expectations. And then something special happens. In the art’s argot, that moment is generated by a “scene-stealer” – someone whose work draws an audience’s attention, takes its breath away and captures its imagination. Northeast Ohio’s thriving professional theater scene – which boasts of the second largest unified performing arts center in the nation in downtown Cleveland’s Playhouse Square as well as an abundance of “outside-the-square” stages across the region – has no shortage of scenestealers. Nine have been selected for this Canvas feature. Their disciplines include acting, directing, management, and the designing of seasons and stagecraft, and together, the group represents both rising stars as well as individuals whose gravitational pull have long influenced the orbit of other theater artists.

By Bob Abelman


Robert Muller


hen Raymond Bobgan, now 52, took the reins at Cleveland Public Theatre in 2006, after years of it serving as his artistic home, he inherited an organization rooted in the urban-revitalization vision and social justice mission of James Levin. Levin, who returned from New York City in 1981, was determined to form an experimental, risk-taking, community-rooted theater group similar to Off-Broadway’s Cafe La MaMa, where he worked as an actor and director. But Bobgan also inherited an organization riddled with debt and located in a rough Detroit–Shoreway neighborhood on the West Side of Cleveland, with no viable plan for fiscal or creative survival, least of all success. And so he went to work. “For a while,” he recalls, “I was executive director and technical director of the theater.” He was also a grant writer, applying for and winning financial support from the state of Ohio and a range of foundations, as well as the overseer of the continuing renovation of CPT’s 1912 home, the Gordon Square Theatre, which is the oldest operating venue in the city. But Bobgan, who lives a short bike ride from his theater, is also a passionate artist who has been pushing the boundaries of conventional theater for decades, starting as a student at the University of California at Irvine, where he studied under experimental theater giant Jerzy Grotowski. It was his artistic vision, sense of innovation and bold creativity that led to the theater’s metamorphosis and its current state of success. “We may be near collapse, but let’s stop trying to compete with the LORT houses in town – the Cleveland Play House and Great Lakes Theater,” he told his colleagues, referring to the League of Resident Theatres, a profes-


Steve Wagner Raymond Bobgan and Cleveland Core Ensemble, plus other performers, in rehearsal for “Red Ash Mosaic.” sional theater association. “Let’s be good at what we do … work that nobody else in Cleveland is going to try. And I want to create an environment for artists, for creators, that feels safe and challenging at the same time.” So, rather than Bobgan-the-executive-director pulling programming as a logical cost-saving effort, Bobganthe-artist initiated even more and even riskier theater to solidify the CPT brand.

“Thousands of artists have been given the opportunity to create and develop important and inspiring theater because of Raymond’s vision and tireless work. If he heard me say that he would be quick to add it’s because of his staff, his wife Holly, and the people who support and believe in CPT. He’s thoughtful in that way. But very few people can be an executive and an artist so brilliantly.” – Chris Seibert, writer/director/ performer and former Cleveland Public Theatre education director

He sought to reinforce the word “public” in the theater’s name by expanding artistic collaborations, launching Teatro Público de Cleveland – a 35-member ensemble of Cleveland’s Latino theater artists – and escalating community engagement that connects the Arabic and Asian-Indian communities to theater. As a result, CPT is one of the few non-culturally specific professional theaters in the country that regularly produces seasons with 50% or more representation of women and 50% or more representation of artists of color. He has produced new scripts by local playwrights that were deemed outside the comfort zone of other theaters in town, such as Jen Silverman’s “Akarui” (2012), a sprawling tale of sexual identity, and Eric Coble’s “My Barking Dog” (2011), a wonderfully bizarre piece of storytelling, physical comedy and inventive wordsmithing about the ramifications of civilization’s continuing encroachment on the wild. And he has staged his own work in partnership with other artists, including “Red Ash Mosaic” (2017), an inventive piece inspired by ancient texts such as “The Egyptian

Fall 2019 | Canvas | 27

Book of the Dead,” as well as the works of the mystical Persian poet Hafiz. Bobgan recently affiliated his theater with the National New Play Network, an alliance of professional theaters that collaborate in innovative ways to develop, produce and extend the life of new plays. In 2018, he was appointed president of its board of directors. His efforts have generated many honors, including the 2017 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio, for which he was singled out for his “sustained, impactful and visionary leadership.”

The Cleveland Foundation presented him with its 2018 Homer C. Wadsworth Award, which is given annually to a local leader who has “demonstrated creativity, innovation, risk-taking and good humor in a civic, volunteer, nonprofit or public sector role.” “For the first eight years, I kept thinking that running the theater would get easier when we grew to a certain size, achieved some notoriety and stopped worrying about the roof leaking or the electricity being turned off,” admits Bobgan. “But some things are harder. It’s the art that makes it all worthwhile.”


RAYMOND BOBGAN • Cleveland Public Theatre world premiere of “Masks of Flight,” a visceral and dynamic meditation on humanity’s desire for freedom and love amid our incessant tendency to control and manipulate. Created by Cleveland Core Ensemble (Raymond Bobgan, Faye Hargate, Holly Holsinger and Darius J. Stubbs) and directed by Raymond Bobgan, the production will be staged from May 29 to June 13, 2020, at 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland.


Steve Wagner


n the play “Rastus and Hattie,” black friends visiting white friends are served dinner by two black robots, the titular characters that are salvaged prototypes of a kitchen appliance developed by Westinghouse in the 1930s. The play was selected for the prestigious National New Play Network’s (NPX) National Showcase of New Plays, was a 2019 finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference in Waterford, Conn., and the Bay Area Playwrights Festival in San Francisco, and according to an NPX press release, “offers a playground that makes some pretty bold statements about race and history.” The surreal “The Art of Longing” follows the lives of three graveyard shift security guards at the Cleveland Museum of Art, all the while playing with various stereotypes of blackness and gender identity. The play was a finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative

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Steve Wagner From left, India Nicole Burton as Samir, Nailah Mathews as Kreesha and Greg White as Grady in Cleveland Public Theatre’s “The Art of Longing.” Women Performance Writers, a semifinalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s 2017 National Playwrights Conference and received its world premiere in the fall of 2017 at Cleveland Public Theatre. The 10-minute play “The Bomb,” a dark comedy about two ex-lovers who run into each other at a Black Lives

Matter protest, has been published in “Black Lives, Black Words,” an anthology that aims to explore the black diaspora experiences in some of the largest multicultural cities in the world. These are among the innovative and daring works created by 2018/2019 Nord Family Foundation Playwright Fellow Lisa Langford.

Langford, 53, earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. – “most of my writing is inspired by something historical,” she adds – and studied acting at The Juilliard School in New York City. She completed her theater training at the American Repertory Theater Institute for Advanced

“The Cleveland theater community is blessed with an abundance of wildly talented women. While it would be foolish to try to compare the unique abilities of these artists, I can honestly say that when it comes to passionate, unapologetic, fearless storytelling, no one outshines Lisa Langford. She wields her powerful pen to crash through borders, unravel history and shatter misconceptions along with our hearts. Lisa continues to be one of the boldest, most brilliant, most talented truth tellers I know ... and I can’t wait for the rest of the world to experience her work.” – Anne McEvoy, actor and director

Theater Training at Harvard. Langford worked with Maya Angelou to develop Angelou’s line of social expressions, “Life Mosaics.” Later, she received her MFA in playwriting from Cleveland State University’s NEOMFA creative-writing program, which provides writers with a platform to hone creative skills, explore the finer details of the craft and expand the scope of their creative energies across four participating universities.

“I had great professors, many of them local playwrights, directors and novelists who opened me up to a whole new way of storytelling,” Langford says. “And I made lifelong friendships with people whose artistic feedback helps me grow as a playwright.” Further development came from Dobama Theatre’s Playwrights Gym, a place, she says, “that always makes me smile. It’s reassuring to know you have a place to hear your

work come to life. I wrote ‘Rastus and Hattie’ because I needed something to read on the night I signed up for – and that’s a play that’s given me some great opportunities, like the 2019 Joyce Award, which is shared with Cleveland Public Theatre.” That award is given by Chicago’s Joyce Foundation for collaborations between talented, socially-engaged artists and equally dedicated cultural organizations in the Great Lakes region. “We believe Lisa is one of the most important voices emerging in American theater,” says Raymond Bobgan, CPT’s executive artistic director. “Toni Morrison, my favorite writer ever,” says Langford, “became an author because the books she wanted to read hadn’t been written. She inspires me to write roles I’d like to play as an actress, particularly older characters with agency. I want to see that onstage.”

Langford believes Cleveland’s evolving theater scene is ready to take greater chances and produce more original plays by local playwrights. “I live in Cleveland Heights, which is ‘Playwrights Central’! I run into Eric Schmeidl, Eric Coble, George Brandt, Christopher Johnston, Amy Schwabauer, Faye Sholiton, Juliette Regnier and others,” she says. “And Dobama, Karamu and Ensemble Theatre are minutes away from where I live. Sounds like a good matching to me.”


• Lisa Langford’s play “Rastus and Hattie” will receive its world premiere Oct. 5–26 at Cleveland Public Theatre’s Gordon Square Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland.



“true triple-threat” is a musical theater term reserved for elite performers who can sing, dance and act with equal and astounding acumen. Vicky Bussert, who has served as head of the music theater program at Baldwin-Wallace University in Berea since 1996 and is a resident director of Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland’s Playhouse Square, is a different kind of triple-threat: director, educator and difference maker.


Great directors know what they want and how to get it. Bussert knew what she wanted at 8 years old, when she began directing her own shows with kids from her neighborhood in Munster, Ind. And she knew that attending Barat College, an all-women’s school in Lake Forest, Ill., was how she would get to be a female director in a male-dominated profession. “An all-women’s college wouldn’t be able to tell me I couldn’t direct,” she says. She graduated in 1980 with a degree in theater and dance, and went on to earn a master’s degree in theater from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., and was the first woman to receive, in 1984, a Master of Fine Arts in directing. Fast-forward and Bussert’s résumé reads like a tome. It boasts New York directing credits that include “The Gig” at Manhattan

Theatre Club, “Dust and Dreams” at the York Theatre and concert stagings at New World Stages. Regionally, her work has been seen at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, Conn.; The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis; Cincinnati Playhouse; Portland Stage in Maine; Dallas Theatre Center; Firebrand Theatre and Pegasus Players, both in Chicago; and Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, among others. And she has directed national tours of “Into the Woods,” “Barnum,” “Once on This Island,” “Guys and Dolls,” “The Secret Garden” and “The Who’s Tommy.” International credits include the Danish premieres of “Avenue Q” and “[title of show]” along with the Danish and London premieres of “Lizzie,” a musical about the life and times of suspected murderer Lizzie Borden. The Berea resident put in 17 years as artistic director at Cain Park in

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“Vicky Bussert is both a superb director and a transformational educator. We have been working together for 17 years on a shared vision of creating theater companies capable of producing Shakespeare and musicals, in repertory, at the highest level. She has created one of the most powerful musical theater training programs in the country, and her students and alumni are central to the success and growth of our companies.” – Charles Fee, producing aristic director, Idaho Shakespeare Festival/ Great Lakes Theater/Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival

Cleveland Heights before assuming her current post at Baldwin Wallace University, along with facilitating a partnership with BW and the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. For the past eight years, Beck Center’s annual production schedule includes one musical infused with BW’s young talent under Bussert’s direction. “This partnership gives us a greater opportunity to seek out those shows that have appeal to younger audiences and require a cast of younger actors,” says the theater’s artistic director, Scott Spence. “The 20-minute drive from Berea to Lakewood gives my students’ brains time to shift into ‘I’m leaving as a student and arriving as a professional,’” Bussert says. “And their experience at Beck – the shorter rehearsal time on stage and the longer production schedule, the working with profession-

Courtesy of Vicky Bussert Vicky Bussert at a Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival rehearsal. als who do not operate the same way their teachers do, the audiences who are paying customers and not just supportive colleagues – offers valuable insight into the life of a working professional actor.” And professionals they will become. BW’s program, which auditions approximately 800 students each year and accepts 20, has been consistently recognized as one of the top musical theater programs in the country. And, for the past several years running, every senior showcase ends with every graduating student receiving professional agent or manager representation. Many have gone on to perform in Broadway shows such as “Aladdin,” “Anastasia,” “Les Misérables,” “Kinky Boots” and “Book of Mormon.” Just one month after graduating from BW this past May, Warren Egypt Franklin was cast to take over as Lafayette/Jefferson in the “Hamilton” national tour.

As director, educator and difference maker, Bussert firmly believes “in the transformative power of the four-year college experience.” It has most certainly worked for her students. And, it seems it has worked for her. Bussert was awarded $10,000 as a recipient of this year’s Cleveland Arts Prize, which is given by the Women’s City Club for artistic excellence and in recognition of those who help regional arts flourish.


• Bussert will direct “The Music Man” from Sept. 27 to Nov. 3 at Great Lakes Theater, 2067 E. 14th St., Cleveland. • She will direct the academic premiere of “Kinky Boots,” Nov. 12-24 at Baldwin Wallace University’s Kleist Center for Art & Drama, 95 E. Bagley Road, Berea.



he conductor has his score, the director his script. The choreographer? Nothing but an inten-

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tion, hopefully an inspiration and a room full of bodies.” That, according to Martín Céspedes, is the tabula rasa that is musical theater choreography. He should know, having spent the last 15 years in Cleveland engaging in that enterprise at nearly every professional theater in town af-

ter a career touring the nation in celebrity-studded productions of Broadway shows that include “The King and I,” “South Pacific” and “Man of La Mancha.” When he takes on a new project, Céspedes, of Westlake, finds the intention behind the dance-to-be by listening to the

musical’s cast album, which he does repeatedly in the isolation of his studio. “The potential for dance arrangements,” he confides, “resides in the recording. I stand in front of the mirrors, set up my phone camera, and I riff, notating the length of the dance break, the time signatures – slow, 3/4, 4/4 – and envisioning

style of music – waltz, rumba and so on.” He then performs and storyboards possibilities as he visualizes himself in the specific situation the dialogue has created for the music and taps the emotion that the music has created for the dance. The results of this creative process were most certainly on display during the recent world premiere revisiting of “Jane Eyre” by Cleveland Musical Theatre, where Céspedes’ graceful choreography created dramatic, fluid tableaus that captured – along with Gothic lighting design and period-perfect costuming – the tenor of Eyre’s haunting childhood memories so vividly described in Charlotte Brontë’s 1847 novel. Though inspired by and often paying homage to the choreography created for the original Broadway productions he is re-staging, Céspedes is driven to follow his own muse and find his own voice. “While Jerome Robbins and Bob Fosse have created the footprint,” says Céspedes, “the actual steps need to be your own.” His ability to tell a wordless story in his own voice was first recognized during his childhood in the Manhattan neighborhood of Harlem, where New York City Ballet principal dancer Jacques d’Amboise visited his elementary school as part of an outreach program that would eventually become the National Dance Institute. Céspedes was singled out and taught theater movement and ballet, which when combined with the vivacious Latin rhythms

Courtesy of Martín Céspedes Martín Céspedes and Seth Judice at work on “Billy Elliot” for the Beck Center for the Arts. he learned from his mother, would become the core of his own choreography. But his signature style – which colleagues have described as “cinematic” – came later. It started with his love of film musicals. “The first time I saw ‘West Side Story,’” the 58-year-old recalls, “I was as amazed by the cinematography as the choreography.” Years later, while cast to perform ballet in the PBS-televised opera “Le Cid” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., “I came in and

“Martin enters the creative process with a heightened sense of curiosity, which allows him to take risks and explore options. And he’s a true collaborator who unifies all aspects of production with sensitivity, heart and a commitment to storytelling. He’s a Renaissance Man. Truly magical!” – Terri Kent, producing artistic director of Porthouse Theatre and a professor at Kent State University


watched the camera placement rehearsals and noticed how they angled the audience’s perspective and shaped the dance numbers.” He realized that dance did not necessarily need to be defined or confined by the proscenium arch. If you’ve seen the mega-musical “Hamilton,” you may recall choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler’s staging of the deadly duel between Hamilton and Burr. As if in a movie, the slow-motion action of the actors rotated 360 degrees on a turntable built into the stage to create a highly cinematic interpretation of the shooting. Céspedes does this kind of work as well, but without the turntable or any other technology. Just a “room full of bodies.” He creates the equivalent of wipes, dissolves, close ups and unique vantage points through movement alone, and he does this for

musical numbers as well as their transitions from and back into a dramatic scene. Because of the audience’s overt familiarity and comfort with cinematic storytelling from its movie going and television watching, notes Céspedes, “the audience is transported without ever realizing it. And that is the magic behind every musical.”


MARTÍN CÉSPEDES • Céspedes will choreograph “Hair,” Nov. 1-10 at Kent State University’s E. Turner Stump Theatre, 17 Theatre Drive, Kent. • Céspedes also will choreograph “Shrek: The Musical,” on stage from Dec. 6 to Jan. 5, 2020 at the Beck Center for the Arts, 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood.

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alista Zajac prances rather than walks, as if always on the verge of breaking into dance. Or taking flight. And she sings show tunes 24/7. These and other noticeable symptoms of someone born to perform musical theater have contributed to an impressive professional résumé, talent agency representation and placement at the top of the short list of most sought-after local actors. And she’s a 14-year-old, all 4-foot-10 of her. “While most kids her age are listening to Ariana Grande, Calista listens to Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz and Ben Platt,” says her mother, Jessica, who blames herself and her husband, Louie, for giving Calista the acting itch by exposing her to Broadway musicals when she was just 3 years old. Louie, having performed “legendary” spotlight work while at North Royalton High School, credits his daughter’s immense talent to heredity. Perhaps, but Calista’s remarkable drive, unyielding dedication and laser focus – as well as years of vocal training at Helen Todd Voice Studio in Cleveland Heights and dance lessons at Emjaez Dance Studio in Bay Village – haven’t hurt. She is particularly adept at losing herself in her characters while, at the same time, finding something of herself to inform their portrayals. And she finds joy in absolutely everything. Her first high-profile professional acting experience – playing Little Cosette in the 2014 production of “Les Misérables” at Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland, alongside seasoned Equity actors – reinforced what everyone had been telling her about her abilities and, says Calista, “bolstered my confidence. I was also working with actors-in-training from Baldwin Wallace (University), so I got a sense of what would be required

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Andy Dudik Calista Zajac as Winnie in “Tuck Everlasting” at French Creek Theatre. of me in the future if I wanted to do this for a living and make it in New York City.” Which she does. Other opportunities immediately followed, which have not gone unnoticed or underappreciated by local theater critics. “Zajac displays astounding acting chops,” notes one review regarding her recent performance in Dobama Theatre’s “The Nether,” Jennifer Haley’s cunning and creepy exploration of the dark side of the web. Calista played Iris, a winsome little girl who appears to be the consenting recipient of many men’s sexual desires but is actually an online avatar for a male adult. “Oh, we had a long family talk before Calista auditioned for and accepted this role,” her mother says. Local audiences may remember Calista from Joel Paley and Marvin Laird’s outrageously campy comedy “Ruthless” at the Beck Center for the Arts in Lakewood. She played a precocious 11-year-old song-and-dance

sociopath named Tina Denmark, who knocks off a rival in her grade-school play in order to land the lead role. “Like her character’s inspiration – the similarly named Rhoda Penmark in the film ‘The Bad Seed,’” states one review, “young Zajac’s feigned syrupy sweetness seamlessly and convincingly transitions into the death stare of a natural born killer. If you ever wondered what ever happened “Calista is that rare creature: an instinctual talent with the drive and determination to train and study with an eye to perfection. Sharing the stage with her is like working with the most seasoned professional! And like all the greatest talents, she is kind and interested and fully authentic.” – Matthew Wright, professional actor, director and professor of theater at Oberlin College

to Baby Jane in the film about a deranged former child actress played by Bette Davis, well, here’s the backstory.” In July, Calista, of Broadview Heights, starred in the French Creek Theatre musical “Tuck Everlasting,” which is based on a children’s novel by Natalie Babbitt. She played an 11-year-old living in the woods of New Hampshire who must make a decision with everlasting consequences. True to her now well-established approach

to her art, she came to rehearsals astoundingly prepared and performed with uncanny realism. “With spunk, a sense of adventure and just a touch of rebellion,” one review observes, “Zajac perfectly embodies the character who I looked up to and longed to be when I was younger – and there’s sure to be little girls in the audience who are now doing the same.” And, if you looked closely, the young actor could be seen prancing.


• Calista will play the role of “Sofia,” the youngest member of a multi-generational cast in Dobama Theater’s “Dance Nation,” Clare Barron’s Pulitzer-finalist play about the exhilaration and raw terror of being in a competitive middle-school dance troupe. The production will run March 6-29, 2020, at 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights.



he basic formula for a modern staging of a play hasn’t changed very much over time. Lighting, sound, set, costume, direction, stage management and performance are among the required elements. But now the language of live-performance storytelling is evolving rapidly, courtesy of projection design. What was once an experimental and expensive complement to other design elements has become an accessible and integral part of a production’s manufacturing of atmosphere, landscape, perspective and animated special effects. Now the immediacy of theater and the density of computer-generated imagery have joined forces so that the lines between set design, lighting design and projection design blur and audiences can’t tell where one stops and the others begin. Ten years ago, projections on Broadway were viewed with trepidation. Not anymore. Take as an example the 2012 play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the


Steve Wagner Photography Joshua McElroy as Char and Natalie Green as Ella in Dobama Theatre’s production of “Ella Enchanted.” Night-Time,” which landed at Playhouse Square while on tour in 2017. Throughout the show, the symptoms of the central character’s Asperger’s syndrome – particularly his sensitivity to stimuli and the heightened state of anxiety it generates – were visually captured and displayed on every surface on stage through hightech stagecraft requiring 234 sound cues, 373 light cues and hundreds of projection cues.

On the local front, T. Paul Lowry, 44, is the projection designer of choice when it comes to solving visual production problems, telling and propelling stories, and making moments on stage look particularly cool. “Projections have now become a dramaturgical element in many Cleveland productions,” says Lowry, of University Heights.

He first started designing projections while a student at Arizona State University in Tempe and holding a workstudy job with the university’s Institute for Studies in the Arts, where theater artists were experimenting with new, cutting-edge technologies to tell their stories. “At the time,” he recalls, “it was just a fun thing to do; it wasn’t something I thought I would get into, but

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“T. Paul is a true theater artist. That is to say, he is adept at his craft, collaborative in what he creates, and every choice he makes serves the storytelling. T. Paul is always exceedingly thoughtful and artistic in the ways he works with projection surfaces and how the video design interacts with the overall production design. It’s an added bonus that he is a lovely person to work with – funny, flexible, intelligent, collaborative, positive and a diligent worker.” – Nathan Motta, artistic director, Dobama Theatre

the seed was planted.” After moving to New York City, and after a lot of trial and error, he produced his first projection-driven project in 2007. When he started designing projections professionally, he was usually brought into a project late in the process, after the set was designed and because the creative team was looking for a specific effect.

“Now, theater companies bring me into the process at the beginning” and he approaches his work the same way he would building sets and lights. Says Lowry, “I see it as a tool to tell the story, support a narrative vision. I usually start with reading the script to find opportunities for projection. And then there are meetings with the

director and other designers, where I look to connect the projection design to the other storytelling elements. Then, it’s about creating content.” He is particularly proud of the work he did on “Ella Enchanted” during Dobama Theatre’s 2018 season. Based on the romantic fairy tale “Cinderella,” the musical was first a novel that inspired a 2004 live-action film whose $30 million budget offered an abundance of computer-generated imagery. None of that CGI was as enchanting or possessed the same level of bibbidi-bobbidi-boo as Lowry’s animated images of big skies and sweeping landscapes projected on a rear screen and the proscenium arch, as well as the creation of stage magic and character enhancement. “I was able to bring my young children to a perfor-

mance,” he adds, “and show them what I do.” What he does, says frequent collaborator Nathan Motta, artistic director at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights, “is take what exists and elevate the audience experience. We’re so fortunate to have him working in the Cleveland theater community.”


• “Stupid F**cking Bird,” Sept. 6–29, and “Wakey Wakey,” from Oct. 18 to Nov. 10, will both be staged at Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights. • “Sherpa Dreams (A Tale of Nepal),” will be staged from Sept. 14 to Oct. 6 at Talespinner Children’s Theatre, 5209 Detroit Ave., Cleveland.



angston Hughes’ poem “Harlem,” penned in 1951, asks “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?” Lorraine Hansberry attempted to address these questions in a play – her first to be produced – that debuted on Broadway in 1959 and was performed earlier this year at Ensemble Theatre in Cleveland Heights.

The now-classic “A Raisin in the Sun” serves as a celebration of African American strength garnered through generations of personal struggle and slow-coming social change. And, for actors Eugene and Nicole Sumlin – who are husband and wife playing husband and wife Walter Lee and Ruth Younger in this production – performing together is a celebration of their shared passion, but it has not been a dream deferred. “Nicole and I have been blessed to be in about five shows together, not counting vocal recitals. And we actually got to share the ‘Raisin’ experience with our

son, Easton, which was truly magical and something I don’t think we will ever forget,” recalls Eugene. Easton played the Cleveland Heights couple’s on-stage son, Travis.

“Eugene and Nicole are two of the most genuine theater artists that I have had the pleasure to come to know in recent seasons. There is such a heartfelt integrity to how they approach their work. Having worked with them both on the wonderfully successful ‘Raisin in the Sun’ last season, and with Eugene in ‘Alabama Story’ earlier that year, I only look forward to working with them again! I found that they look at theater in a lot of the same ways that I do! I am pleased to not only call them fellow artists, but also friends!” – Celeste Cosentino, executive artistic director, Ensemble Theatre

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In addition to performing, Eugene, 43, is Compassionate Arts Remaking Education coordinator at Cleveland Play House and resident director at Heights Youth Theatre in Cleveland Heights. Nicole works as the Cleveland Play House’s academy and curriculum manager. Like most professional actors in this town, there is always the need for other, more stable employment to allow them to perform their art. “I’ve taught music for 17 years as a classroom teacher,” says Nicole, 38, “and I never even thought about pursuing my own performing on the stage. But I decided to try my hand at some theater after we saw Audra McDonald – one of my main theatrical inspirations – in ‘Porgy and Bess.’ When I first heard her voice, that’s when I knew there was a place for me.” Nicole’s first role was Sarah in “Ragtime” at Near West Theatre in 2012, a role that was played by McDonald in the original 1997 Broadway production. And then came the opportunity to play Billie Holiday in this season’s Beck Center for the Arts’ production of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill,” a role that won McDonald her sixth Tony Award. “‘Lady Day’ never even crossed my mind. No, that’s Audra territory. That’s not for Nikki,” she recalls saying before Beck Center for the Arts Artistic Director Scott Spence cast her in what is essentially a one-woman show. “Sometimes it’s just that clear who should take on a certain role,” Spence told during the show’s rehearsals. “I quickly knew that Nicole would have that great combination of sheer talent, as well as dedication to the material and Billie Holiday herself. The commonality: Both Billie and Nicole are magical performers.”

Andy Dudik

Nicole Sumlin and Eugene Sumlin as Adam and Eve in “Children of Eden” at French Creek Theatre. Eugene’s dream role also came earlier this year. “I have been blessed to be a part of some amazing productions and do some dream roles in ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Porthouse Theatre and ‘Parade’ at French Creek (Theatre). And, with ‘Raisin,’ I feel like I had just been chasing that role for a long time – just waiting to be the right age and have the opportunity to give it a try. I believe that every African-American male actor should take a crack at the iconic Walter Lee.” But then came “Ragtime” at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights and the role of Coalhouse Walker Jr., a Harlem jazz pianist who turns a personal injustice into a revolution. “I never thought I would play Coalhouse. I just held the role in such high esteem, I didn’t think I could do it.

I was afraid, but when the opportunity presented itself, I knew that saying no out of fear would be something I would regret for the rest of my life.” What happens to a dream deferred? The Sumlins are living proof of what happens when a dream is pursued and realized.


EUGENE AND NICOLE SUMLIN • Nicole will perform in “Rastus and Hattie” by Lisa Langford, directed by Anne McEvoy, Oct. 5-26 at Cleveland Public Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland; and “Breakout Session (or Frogorse)” by Nikkole Salter, directed by Beth Wood, from Feb. 22 to March 14, 2020, also at Cleveland Public Theatre.



he trademark of great stage management is its invisibility. If done properly, a stage manager’s


work is seen but not recognized by an audience. And paradoxically, as resident stage manager of the Tony Award-winning Cleveland Play House, John Godbout is among the most high-profile members of a production team in the rehearsal room and in the

control booth during a performance. His work begins one week prior to a show’s first rehearsal, when he digs into a script and meets with the director and designers. During rehearsal, he is essentially the chief organizing officer – the gatherer and keeper of informa-

tion, the essential go-between for all departments, including technicians and administrative staff, and the person responsible for all scheduling. And, as an Actor’s Equity Association stage manager, he makes sure all union rules are followed to protect and properly treat performers.

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Cleveland Play House The cast of “Yentl” under Gobout’s stage management at Cleveland Play House. He is also responsible for creating the prompt book, which contains all design plots, blocking notation, and eventually, all of the technical cues that will be so instrumental during the run of the show. Once in production, he calls the show, which means readying and cuing all of the technical elements that occur during a performance. “The easiest way to describe calling a show,” says Godbout, a young 50-yearold with an acerbic sense of humor that sets him apart

from most in his field, “is that it is similar to what a conductor does with an orchestra. Except, instead of music, I conduct lights, sound, scenery moves, projections and atmospherics like fog and haze. And if there are pyrotechnics or cast members flying through the air, I coordinate those cues as well.” And he moves at a remarkably quick pace in the course of a very short creative process. The first professional production he called after graduating from Eckerd Col-

“Creating a play requires artists to be open, vulnerable and daring. To take this leap, artists need to feel safe and supported in an organized, well-run and efficient environment. John is an expert at creating and maintaining well-structured, disciplined and fun rehearsal rooms. Also, he is one of the best in the business at calling a show – he has a deep understanding of theatricality and what works onstage. He has a keen eye and ear, great musicality, and is diligent about maintaining the director’s vision of the production. His stage management is artistry.” – Laura Kepley, artistic director, Cleveland Play House

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lege in St. Petersburg, Fla., was a children’s show at Daytona Beach’s Seaside Music Theatre in 1992. “We were doing ‘Charlotte’s Web’ and ‘The Emperor’s New Clothes’ in rep,” he recalls, “and we had a total of two weeks to put on a musical with a full live orchestra.” The most complicated show he has ever called was “The Who’s Tommy,” also at Seaside Music Theatre. “There were over 700 technical cues in a 90-minute show. I typically give standbys (a heads-up warning) to the technicians before calling a cue. The crew was on perpetual standby for this show because I never stopped calling cues,” which is a huge adrenaline rush and dopamine fix for a stage manager. “I’d do that show again in a heartbeat.” Godbout has also worked as production or resident stage manager at Shakespeare and Company in Lenox, Mass.; Capital Repertory Theatre in Albany, N.Y.; Weston Playhouse Theatre Company in Weston, Vt.; and

North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly, Mass. But his home is the Cleveland Play House, where the Lakewood resident has worked since 2011, and earlier, from 2001 to 2008. “I think the biggest contribution that I make to any production is allowing actors to focus on their craft and freeing directors to do their work without worrying about every little thing.” And, of course, with a single utterance into a headset microphone, he makes a piece of theater come to life.


• Cleveland Play House’s “Into The Breeches,” from Sept. 14 to Oct. 6 at Allen Theatre; “A Christmas Story” from Nov. 29 to Dec. 23 at Allen Theatre; “Clue,” from Jan. 25 to Feb. 16, 2020 at Allen Theatre; and “Antigone,” from March 28 to April 19, 2020 at Outcalt Theatre, all at 1407 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

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THEATERS BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood P: 216-521-2540 W: The Beck Center for the Arts is more than a nonprofit organization that combines professional theater with arts education in Northeast Ohio. We create art experiences for all ages and abilities as individual as the people we serve. As a Small Professional Theater (SPT), we hire professional actors from the Northeast Ohio region.

2019-20 SEASON • Sept. 13 to Oct. 6, 2019: “Glengarry Glen Ross” • Oct. 4 to Nov. 3: “The Member of the Wedding” • Dec. 6 to Jan. 5, 2020: “Shrek the Musical” • Feb. 7 to Feb. 23: “The Scottsboro Boys” • April 3 to May 3: “Meteor Shower” • May 29 to June 28: “Disgraced” • July 10 to Aug. 9: “Something Rotten!”

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CESEAR’S FORUM 2796 Tinkers Lane, Twinsburg Kennedy’s Down Under, 1501 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 330-405-3045 W: Cesear’s Forum will present Michael Frayn’s “Copenhagen.” Based on a true 1941 meeting in occupied Denmark, three historical characters review their roles in understanding nuclear physics and the inevitable ethical dilemmas. Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., Sept. 20 through Oct. 26, with two Sunday performances at Kennedy’s Down Under.

2019-20 SEASON • Sept. 20 to Oct. 26: “Copenhagen”

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CLAGUE PLAYHOUSE 1371 Clague Road, Westlake P: 440-331-0403 W: FB:

A wealth of theaters call Northeast Ohio home. Canvas is happy to encourage readers to explore what the region has to offer by providing a list of organizations. For more stage listings, visit

We are delighted to begin our 92nd season of the arts, including 52 years in our beloved Barn! We thank every patron, volunteer, actor, designer, director, and other staff and crew for keeping the Westlake community vibrant with the arts! Special events will also be held throughout the season, so check our website,, for the latest information and tickets.

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2019-20 SEASON • Sept. 13 to Oct. 6, 2019: “Ken Ludwig’s A Comedy of Tenors” • Nov. 8 to Dec. 8: “The Christmas Express” • Jan. 17 to Feb. 9, 2020: “Heroes” • March 13 to April 5: “An Act of the Imagination” • May 8-31: “Pump Boys and Dinettes” DOBAMA THEATRE 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights P: 216-932-3396 W: FB: Dobama Theatre’s mission is to premiere the best contemporary plays by established and emerging playwrights in professional productions of the highest quality. Through educational and outreach programming, Dobama Theatre nurtures the development of theater artists and builds new audiences for the arts while provoking an examination of our contemporary world.

2019-20 SEASON • Sept. 6-29, 2019: “Stupid F**king Bird” • Oct. 18 to Nov. 10: “Wakey, Wakey” • Dec. 6 to Jan. 5, 2020: “The Old Man and the Old Moon” • Jan. 24 to Feb. 16: “Skeleton Crew” • March 6-29: “Dance Nation” • April 24 to May 24: “The Other Place”

MUSIC CLEVELAND INTERNATIONAL PIANO COMPETITION 20600 Chagrin Blvd. Suite #1110, Shaker Heights P: 216-707-5397 W: FB: The Cleveland International Piano Competition (CIPC) concludes its 2019 Concert Series with Shai Wosner and Cleveland native Orion Weiss in concert at Severance Hall’s Reinberger Chamber Hall at 8 p.m. Sept. 14. Program includes Schubert’s Piano Sonata for Four Hands in C Major, Lang’s Gravity and After Gravity, and Brahms’ Sonata in F Minor for Two Pianos. Tickets: 216-231-1111.

2019-20 SEASON • Sept. 14: “Shai Wosner and Orion Weiss”

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Fall 2019 | Canvas | 39

Steve Wagner

Documentary dramas staged across Cleveland’s theater scene tackle topics of historic significance 40 | Canvas | Fall 2019

By Bob Abelman


n this era of fake news – just as in other times of trial and tribulation – many serious theater artists are making sure there is an element of authenticity in their storytelling by merging journalistic principles with dramatic theatricality. Referred to as documentary dramas, these plays are built from historical and archival materials such as trial transcripts, interviews, newspaper reporting, personal or iconic visual images, government documents and autobiographies. They provide a dramatic narrative to often random or isolated factual details, resulting in a powerful theater experience bolstered by historical fidelity. Documentary dramas tend to surface when and where they are needed most. Many serve to recognize and mend past injustices in societies newly recovering from a legacy of colonialism or religious persecution. Such is the case with post-apartheid South Africa’s “He Left Quietly” (2002) by Yaël Farber,

grounded in the words of a man who spent three years on death row for a crime he did not commit, and post-conflict Northern Ireland’s “Des” (2000) by Brian Campbell, a one-man memoir about a radical West Belfast priest. The act of sharing the stories of past atrocities demands that a society confront its own recent brutal past while acknowledging that all involved must continue to live side by side. Some of these plays tell stories to guarantee those atrocities are never forgotten or repeated, such as the hundreds of works culled, verbatim, from interview transcripts of Holocaust survivors now cataloged at the National Jewish Theater Foundation in Coral Gables, Fla. They offer the theatrical narratives

of ordinary individuals responding to extraordinary circumstances and give voice to the countless others whose stories would not otherwise be told. Documentary theater has become, in the words of Nobel Peace Prize-winning South African cleric Desmond Tutu, “testimony’s ambitious sister.” Leading the charge locally is Cleveland Public Theatre, whose home is in the Gordon Square Arts District in Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, and Playwrights Local, which operates out of the Creative Space at Waterloo Arts in Cleveland’s Collinwood neighborhood. LIVING NEWSPAPERS In America, documentary drama got its start under the auspices of the Federal Theatre Project (1935-1939), which was established as part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. It was aimed primarily to provide relief to out-of-work actors and other theater professionals, but the funding of performances brought art and theatrical truth-telling to Americans who were suffering economically during the Depression. Jay Thompson

Opposite page: Wesley Allen takes center stage during Cleveland Public Theatre’s “Incendiaries.” Above: From left, Rose Portillo, Daniel Valdez, Evelina Fernandez, Edward James Olmos, Rachel Levario and Mike Gomez in the 1978 world premiere of “Zoot Suit” at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.


Fall 2019 | Canvas | 41

The content of these early American documentary dramas – labeled “living newspapers” by FTP national director Hallie Flanagan – was typically drawn from everyday life, particularly the experiences of first- and second-generation working-class immigrants. The storytelling needed to be inspirational as well as reflective and offer, according to Flanagan, “re-thinking rather than remembering.” And so their form was decidedly modernist, embracing collage, montage and expressionism. And, because of limited financing, they were and are decisively minimalist. One example is “One-Third of a Nation” (1938), a play inspired by FDR’s second inaugural address statement that he saw “one-third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished.” Rather than tell a story, the play presented a subject – the abject state of housing in Depression-era America – which was illustrated by testimonials of its victims, slum statistics recited over loudspeakers and the performance of verbatim sections of floor speeches by U.S. senators. The play ran for nine months in New York City, where it was seen by more than 200,000 people, and it was performed 7,600 times on a nationwide tour on a shoe-string budget. Documentary plays have flourished since. In the 1960s and 1970s, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War and global economic upheaval compelled a new generation of theater artists to question and comment on media and government reporting about these events. In 1978, for instance, El Teatro Campesino in San Juan Bautista, Calif. staged “Zoot Suit,” which retold the story of World War II-era riots in Los Angeles among Chicano youths and white American servicemen over a contested murder trial. In the 1980s, many artists used the documentary form to tell more singularly personal stories of identity formation and the struggle against oppressive ideologies. Emily Mann’s “Execution of Justice” (1985), for example, chronicled the case of Dan White, who assassinated San Francisco mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk. More recently, Moises Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project” (2000) offered a breathtaking collage of monologues devised from interviews with townspeople from Laramie, Wyo., where a 21-year-old gay student at the University of Wyoming had been kidnapped, beaten and left for dead. Anna Deavere Smith’s critically acclaimed “Fire in the Mirror” (1992)

42 | Canvas | Fall 2019

Steve Wagner

From left, Courtney Brown and Tania Benites in Cleveland Public Theatre’s “Johanna: Facing Forward.” examined the Crown Heights riots, “Twilight: Los Angeles” (1994) exposed the tensions surrounding the LA riots and her “Notes From the Field” (2016) called out America’s criminal justice system and the centuries of injustice it’s built upon. It was based on interviews with more than 250 people touched by this injustice. Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen’s celebrated play “The Exonerated” (2002) is composed of interviews with individuals who have been released from death row. CLOSER TO HOME: CLEVELAND PUBLIC THEATRE According to executive artistic director Raymond Bobgan, the mission of Cleveland Public Theatre is to “raise consciousness and nurture compassion through groundbreaking performances of new and adventurous work by Northeastern Ohio artists. And this can be accomplished through stories that are factual as well as fictional.” This has resulted in staged world-premiere productions of original, locally generated documentary dramas, including “Johanna: Facing Forward” (2015) and “Incendiaries” (2015). Written and directed by Tlaloc Rivas, “Johanna: Facing Forward” is based on the award-winning newspaper series “Facing Forward” by Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter Rachel Dissell. The articles were published in September 2007 and chronicle the story of local teen Johanna Orozco, who just months before was sexually assaulted and shot in the face by her ex-boyfriend, Juan Ruiz. Grounded in Dissell’s reporting, the play explores Orozco’s early life, the complex-

ities of her relationship with Ruiz, the shooting, the surgery, the recovery and the trial. Orozco’s tireless activism after the shooting and its impact on domestic violence legislation are also touched on. “I wanted to create a theatrical companion piece to The Plain Dealer series,” recalls Rivas, “which only the power of the stage can convey. I wanted to have audience members engage in a shared experience with a story that took place in their own city.” The script was written in both Spanish and English to add an additional layer of authenticity to the people involved with Johanna’s personal, medical and legal journey from victim to survivor. But also, according to the playwright, “it was to make sure that the most important voice in the play was always going to be Johanna’s.” “Incendiaries” explores the race riots that tore through Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood on July 18, 1966, after a racially charged incident took place at Seventy-Niners’ Café. In the aftermath, gunfire left four dead and dozens injured. Hundreds of fires swept through the area as looters trashed stores, causing millions of dollars in damage. More than 2,000 Ohio National Guardsmen were brought in to restore peace. Conceived and directed by Pandora Robertson, this play – which transforms historical text, actual trial transcripts and documented citizen accounts into riveting theater – asks audiences to reflect upon the social injustice that happened in the past with the understanding that it is happening still. The play dramatically

visual arts

Growth and Change: Sigalit Landau with Yotam From Through October

Dorit Rabinyan October 29-30



a program of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland

Roe Green, Honorary Producer

The Band’s Visit November 5-24



Mandel JCC FilmFest September 5-16

Chagrin Documentary Film Festival October 2-6

Rami Kleinstein January 2020

Complete information on these events and more can be found at

Visit CIA Visit Cleveland Institute of Art this fall to tour our state-of-the-art facilities, explore creative careers, and all that University Circle offers.

Fall Open House Sat Oct 5


Portfolio Day CLE Sun Nov 17

2019 Faculty Exhibition through Oct 6

Fall 2019 | Canvas | 43

Tom Kondilas

From left, Samone Cummings, Joshua McElroy, Mary-Francis Renee Miller, LaShawn Little, Christina Johnson, Corin B. Self, Kali Hatten, Nathan Tolliver and Phillia in Playwrights Local’s “Objectively/Reasonable.” reenacts six days of Cleveland history using nothing more than seven actors, three chairs and a table. “I hope that our work can help build understanding and empathy that is much needed in these challenging times,” suggests Robertson. And who knows? If one event on the southeast corner of Hough and East 79th Street can spark tensions that escalated into riots, “then perhaps one play taking place at CPT (at) 6415 Detroit Ave. ... can spark the kind of dialogue between white and African-American members of the community that will keep this from happening again.” CLOSER TO HOME: PLAYWRIGHTS LOCAL During rehearsals for “Incendiaries,” 12-year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed by police just across the street from the Cudell neighborhood apartment of one of the CPT cast members. A documentary drama about the impact and aftermath of the shooting, titled “Objectively/Reasonable” (2015), was created by an ensemble of local artists – Mike Geither, Tom Hayes, Lisa Langford, Michael Oatman and David Todd – and given a world premiere production at Playwrights Local, an incubator of new works. Although there were some limited public protests about the Tamir Rice case in Cleveland, the city never exploded into fiery riots the way Baltimore did after Freddie Gray’s death while in police

44 | Canvas | Fall 2019

custody. In fact, its response was oddly tepid. Playwrights Local felt that a play using the actual voices of anonymous neighbors, friends, legal experts, activists, law enforcement officers and community leaders could help offer insight and perspective, ease the remaining tension and generate a healing emotional response. The result was slice-of-life monologues strung together to form a narrative of the tragedy, which offered a variety of shades of anger and disillusionment that did not shy away from ardent social commentary. “Theater has always provided a place for truth-telling,” says Todd, who is also Playwrights Local’s artistic director. “But much of it takes the form of a sustained analogy like ‘The Crucible,’” which

was set during the Salem witch trials of 1692 but offered perspective on the McCarthyism and House Un-American Activities Committee hearings that were taking place in 1953, when the play was penned. “When you remove that layer of metaphor,” as was done with “Objectively/Reasonable,” “you get to a pretty stark reality.” “This play is not just about entertaining, educating and informing,” suggests production director Terrence Spivey. “It’s a call for action and speaks out for those who suffer in silence.” Which is precisely what documentary dramas have done since their inception. And will continue to do when the world needs them most.


UPCOMING DOCUMENTARY DRAMAS ON CLEVELAND STAGES • “Live Bodies for Sale” by Christopher Johnson will make its world premiere from Nov. 22 to Dec. 15 at Playwrights Local, 397 E. 156th St., Cleveland. Roughly 4.5 million people worldwide are trapped in forced sexual exploitation. This documentary-style work captures the human trafficking crisis in present-day Ohio, presenting monologues and scenes derived from interviews with real-life survivors, empowerment advocates, law enforcement agents and legal professionals. • “The Absolutely Amazing and True Adventures of Ms. Joan Southgate” by Nina Domingue-Glover will make its world premiere from May 16 to June 6, 2020 at Cleveland Public Theatre’s James Levin Theatre, 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland. In 2002, Joan Southgate – a retired social worker and Cleveland-area activist – left the small town of Ripley, Ohio, to perform a 519-mile walk across Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Canada. She did this with one goal in mind: to highlight the courage and resourcefulness of freedom seekers and conductor families who risked everything on the Underground Railroad. This play is based on personal interviews as well content from Southgate’s memoirs and YouTube footage of her lectures.

C L EV EL AND A RT IST RE G IST RY.O R G Whether you're an artist or looking to commission or hire one, the free Cleveland Artist Registry is Cleveland's most comprehensive online resource for artists and collectors.



Fall 2019 | Canvas | 45


“Toe Tag” by Juliellen Byrne | Story by Becky Raspe it serves as a mother’s response to war and violence. Another noteworthy fact is the power struggle present in acts of war, with the top, larger head representing those in power whose policies decide the fate of every soldier. What response or emotions does this piece invoke? At first glance, this piece comes off as somewhat disturbing. Once you know the meaning of the piece, it evokes sadness, as well as a feeling of hopelessness, once you see the praying hands and the toe tags. It can also read as a call to action, seeing how the list of names and the power struggle between warfare and policymakers has only produced negative results. What’s noteworthy about the materials used or the process he or she employed for this piece? The materials used to make this piece were clay, cotton cloth, waxed line and wire-strung paper tags. The use of paper tags, in particular, holds a striking meaning that is crucial to the piece. This material was used to give the impression of price tags, showing that innocent lives are the price of war. How does it fit into the artist’s larger body of work? Several years before creating “Toe Tag,” Byrne started an ongoing body of work called “100 Dolls.” She gave herself until she was 100 years old to complete the series, making it an ongoing process. “Toe Tag” is one from the series.”

In the right hands, contemporary art can serve to contextualize current events and provide pointed commentary on the world around us. “Toe Tag” – which through the lens of the Iraq War remarks on the toll war takes on communities – demonstrates that Juliellen Byrne’s hands are quite capable in this regard. By combining doll-like heads and praying hands with slips of paper that list the names of people killed during the eight-year war, Byrne explores one of humanity’s oldest dualities – innocence versus violence – while seeking to sculpt viewers’ perspectives along the way. Kaleigh Pisani-Paige, curator of collections and registrar at the Canton Museum of Art, discusses the piece – part of the museum’s permanent collection – and what can be learned from it. CANVAS: What makes this piece noteworthy? What should viewers note when they see it at the museum? Pisani-Paige: What makes this piece particularly noteworthy is the juxtaposition between innocence and violence. Innocence is depicted through the double-ended doll with accompanying hands that are praying – two very virtuous acts. There is violence, however, shown through the paper “toe tags” that adorn the figure, each of which are covered in the names of soldiers killed in the Iraq War. This juxtaposition is a commentary on sending children off to war and the ultimate price of doing so. Byrne also notes that praying is sometimes all someone can do when a loved one is sent to war, and the feeling of powerlessness in this act. “Toe Tag” reminds us that every soldier sent to war is someone’s child, and

46 | Canvas | Fall 2019

What was happening at the time that might’ve influenced this piece? This piece was created during a period of international violence. In 2009, the Iraq War was fully active and hundreds of thousands of (international) troops were being killed in combat. What makes this piece relevant today? This piece will remain timeless because of the sons and daughters that will lose their lives in acts of warfare to come. There is also current relevancy in “Toe Tag” due to the political powers that remain in charge of violent acts, and the policies that are enacted to deal with such things. There is also a need for the public to remember the names of those lives lost, as this piece calls for us to do.


Artist: Juliellen Byrne Details: “Toe Tag,” 2009; clay, cotton, waxed line and wire strung paper tags; 45 x 14 x 9 inches. Images courtesy of the Canton Museum of Art. Acquired: The piece “Toe Tag” was purchased directly from the artist. Find it: “Toe Tag” is in the museum’s permanent collection and will be on display during the museum’s “Spirit of Clay” exhibition from Aug. 30 to Oct. 20.

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Excavations: the Prints of



August 23 - October 26 I Public Reception I Friday I August 23 I 5-7pm

Visit our website or social media for additional programming I Tuesday - Saturday, 11 am to 4pm I 525 Wick Ave I Youngstown I OH 44502 I 330.941.1400 Follow us on Facebook I lnstagram and Twitter Excavations: the Prints of Julie Mehretu is organized by Highpoint Editions, Minneapolis. Image courtesy of Highpoint Editions and Julie Mehretu. Youngstown State University does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, disability, age, religion or veteran/military status in its programs or activities. Please visit for contact information for persons designated to handle questions about this policy.



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Fall 2019 | Canvas | 47

LISTINGS MUSEUMS AKRON ART MUSEUM 1 S. High St., Akron P: 330-376-9185 W:

ALLEN MEMORIAL ART MUSEUM 87 N. Main St., Oberlin P: 440-775-8665 W:

ARTISTS ARCHIVES OF THE WESTERN RESERVE 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland P: 216-721-9020 W: FB: ArtistsArchivesoftheWesternReserve

Detail of “Man Walking Dog,” marker drawing, 2006, by Michelangelo Lovelace

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is a regional museum that preserves representative bodies of work created by Ohio visual artists. Through ongoing research, exhibition and educational programs, it documents and promotes this cultural heritage for the benefit of the public. Open Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.

THE BUTLER INSTITUTE OF AMERICAN ART 524 Wick Ave., Youngstown P: 330-743-1107 W:

COLLEGE OF WOOSTER ART MUSEUM 1220 Beall Ave., Wooster P: 330-263-2495 W:

CRAWFORD AUTO AVIATION COLLECTION The History Center in University Circle 10825 East Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-721-5722 W:

GREAT LAKES SCIENCE CENTER 601 Erieside Ave., Cleveland P: 216-694-2000 W:


12316 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 216-421-2665 W:

KENT STATE UNIVERSITY MUSEUM Rockwell Hall, 515 Hilltop Drive, Kent P: 330-672-3450 W:

MALTZ MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood P: 216-593-0575 W:

1001 Market Ave. N, Canton P: 330-453-7666 W:

The Maltz Museum introduces visitors to the beauty and diversity of that heritage in the context of the American experience. It promotes an understanding of Jewish history, religion and culture, and builds bridges of appreciation and understanding with those of other religions, races, cultures and ethnicities. It’s an educational resource for Northeast Ohio’s Jewish and general communities.




Where art and history come together! “A Heritage of Harvest: The Industry of Agriculture in Western Stark County” (through “Nature Configu- 10/13); “Picturing Light: The Paintings of rations: The Draw- Richard Vaux” (8/17 to 10/6); “Nature ings of Sandra Configurations: The Drawings of Sandra Benny” (Oct. 12 Benny” (10/12 to 12/1); “Evolution of the to Dec. 1) Football Jersey” (through 1/12/20); “125 Years of the Greatest High School Rivalry” (through 1/12/20). Free.


3813 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 216-791-7114 W:

11030 East Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-721-1600 W:

CLEVELAND HISTORY CENTER 10825 East Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-721-5722 W:


121 Lincoln Way East, Massillon P: 330-833-4061 W: FB:


1 Wade Oval Drive, Cleveland P: 216-231-4600 W:

525 Wick Ave., Youngstown P: 330-941-1400 W:



11150 East Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-421-7340 W:

11400 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 216-421-8671 W:

Listings are provided by advertisers and as a courtesy to readers.

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AUG. 17

11 AM-8PM

AUG. 18 11AM-5PM


Official partner and stop on the SPARX CITY HOP tour MORE INFO: MEDIA PARTNERS

Located in the vibrant emerging scene of the Waterloo artdistrict of Cleveland, Framed Gallery displays works exclusively by African American artists. Among the pieces on display are works from emerging, mid-career, and established artists. Various contemporary works include those hand drawn or painted on paper, graphite drawings and assemblage.


B A N K | 216-282-7079 framedgallery_


framed gallery

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THE ROCK & ROLL HALL OF FAME 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-781-ROCK (7625) W:


38721 Mentor Ave., Suite 1, Willoughby P: 440-946-8001


1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland P: 216-229-6527 W: IG: @thesculpturecenter

“seenUNseen,” an exhibition presented in partnership with the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, features work by African American artists. From Nov. 29 to Jan. 10, 2020, see new work from emerging and mid-career sculptors in Ohio and its greater region. Open Wednesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. THE SHAKER HISTORICAL MUSEUM

16740 South Park Blvd., Shaker Heights P: 216-921-1201 W:

The Shaker Historical Society tells the story of Shaker Heights’ past, present and future, from the North Union Shakers to the Van Sweringens. Visit the Lissauer Art Gallery, which features local artists. A short walk from RTA Green Line’s Lee Road station. Open first Saturday of the month from noon to 5 p.m. Hours subject to change. Please call ahead.

Listings are provided by advertisers and as a courtesy to readers.

The Art Gallery in Willoughby specializes in quality custom framing and exhibits original work by local artists. The Gallery features handmade jewelry, glassware and other artist-made gift items, plus a full bead shop, The Beaded Lady. BE.GALLERY

14 Bell St., Chagrin Falls P: 844-234-4387 W: FB:

Located in the heart of Chagrin Falls, is a unique collection of exquisite American artisan-created pieces that inspire the soul. With more than 50 artists and in all mediums, fine handcrafted art, original paintings and gifts with meaning are our specialty. Find that perfect unique gift at! CLEVELAND PRINT ROOM

2550 Superior Ave., Cleveland P: 216-802-9441 W: FB:

The Cleveland Print Room wants to advance the art and appreciation of the photographic image in all its forms by providing affordable access to a community darkroom and workspace, gallery exhibitions, educational programs and collaborative outreach. CONTESSA GALLERY

Legacy Village 24667 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst P: 216-382-7800 247 Worth Ave., Palm Beach, Fla. P: 561-530-4507 W:

Contessa Gallery is a Fine Art Dealers Association Member that offers artworks of exceedingly high quality as well as art acquisition counsel to collectors, museums and institutions. Let the experts at Contessa Gallery assist you in selecting a gift of art that will serve as a legacy and be passed on from generation to generation. I F YO U ’ R E LO O K I N G TO


play like a kid again.

12712 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-229-5770




X Children’s Museum of Cleveland H AT T I E KO T Z



Hand-painted and quilted acrylic on vinyl handbag by Roxanna Ahlborn.

A destination for those seeking the unique in clothing, gifts and shopping experience or wanting to share the upbeat vitality and offbeat charm of Cleveland’s premier arts and antiques district. The gallery features one-of-a-kind and limited-edition wearable art, contemporary craft and special baby gifts in a relaxed and welcoming setting.

connects you to the region’s vibrant arts and culture scene. With just a few clicks, discover hundreds of events made possible in part with public funding from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

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Add Color To Your Life!


FINE JEWELRY • GIFTWARE • WATCHES 5244 Mayfield Rd - Lyndhurst, Ohio 44124 On Mayfield Rd between Richmond Rd & Brainard Rd, five minutes from Beachwood Place • 440-473-6554

Your Local Arts & Culture Connection 38721 Mentor Ave., Suite 1, Willoughby, OH 44094 (440) 946-8001

Keep your finger on the pulse of the local arts scene at The Art Gallery AMERICAN MADE! ARTIST MADE! LOCAL ARTIST!

Remember The Art Gallery For Gift Gifting

INGENUITY Dreamscapes 2019


ent Movem Ideas Tickets Fri: 6pm-1 am S o u nd $5/$10 Sat: 1pm-1am Sun: 1pmInnovation 6pm 5401 Ham ilton Avenu Connece Enter on 5 3rd or Mar quette Creativity Art Technology

r 27-29th

Jewelry – Glass – Pictures – Ceramics – Fabric – Classes

Faces/Heads This show will open Friday, September 27, running through October 25. This will be a unique show, combining heads of various historical figures in interesting, and unusual combinations. Other artists will have their unique perspective on Faces/Heads.

Tickets Available at

w helps o n t r o p p u Your S ream: Build the Dgenuity Membership

f In 9, Agents o more at New in 201 member now! Learn a nate Become la e v le c y it ingenu ���� �������

Loganberry Books Annex Gallery

13015 Larchmere Blvd  Shaker Heights, OH 44120  216.795.9800

@CanvasCLE Fall 2019 | Canvas | 51


1305 W. 80th St., Suite 105, Cleveland P: 440-554-6279 W: FB:

The Eileen Dorsey Studio is located in Cleveland’s largest indoor arts complex, “A Brother’s 78th Street Studios. Dorsey is celebrating Wedding Gift,” 10 years in business! Come celebrate with 32 x 48 inches, her during the art walks on every Third Friday oil on canvas by of the month from 5 to 9 p.m. Specializing in Eileen Dorsey colorful landscape and custom paintings, the perfect anniversary/wedding gift. EMILY DAVIS GALLERY

150 East Exchange St., Akron P: 330-972-6030 W: IG: emily_davis_gallery

The Emily Davis Gallery at The Myers School of Art presents contemporary regional and interna“Bite Your tional exhibitions from a wide range of media Tongue,” 2018, and contextual pursuits along with showcasing oil on panel by student, faculty and alumni talent. EDG serves the Katy Richards university community and region by creating an environment for questioning, discussion and inspiration. FLUX METAL ARTS

8827 Mentor Ave., Mentor P: 440-205-1770 W:

Our gallery features an inspiring mix of unique handcrafted artisan jewelry and decorative metalwork created by 25 local emerging and established artists. Flux Metal Arts is also a small teaching studio dedicated to offering an engaging variety of jewelry and metalsmithing classes, open studio bench rental and is your source for specialty jewelry tools and supplies. FRAMED GALLERY

15813 Waterloo Road, Cleveland P: 216-832-5101 W: Located in the emerging art scene of the

Waterloo Arts District, Framed Gallery is an exclusive African American Art gallery in Cleveland. This gallery displays emerging, mid-career and established artists creating contemporary works on paper, paintings, graphite drawings and assemblage. LEE HEINEN STUDIO

12402 Mayfield Road, Cleveland P: 216-921-4088, 216-469-3288 W: FB:

“Pattern,” 20 x 20 inches, oil on canvas by Lee Heinen

We are fine art painters working in oil or acrylic on canvas and recently on mirrored steel. Our subjects range from figurative to abstract. This is a working studio in Little Italy, so it’s best to call before visiting to be sure we’re there. Lee Heinen was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award FY 2017.

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13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights P: 216-795-9800 W:

Loganberry Books Annex Gallery features a monthly rotation of local artist exhibitions, with an opening reception on the first Wednesday evening of the month. M.GENTILE STUDIOS

1588 E. 40th St., 1A, Cleveland P: 216-881-2818 W:

A personalized art resource for individuals, collectors and businesses. We offer assistance in the selection and preservation of artwork in many media. Our archival custom framing services are complemented by our skill in the installation of two- and three-dimensional artwork in a variety of residential and corporate settings. TRICIA KAMAN STUDIO/GALLERY

School House Galleries Little Italy 2026 Murray Hill Road, Unit 202, Cleveland P: 216-559-6478 W: FB:

Tricia’s studio/gallery is housed in the Historic Little Italy Schoolhouse building. Visits are welcome by appointment. The studio features Tricia’s original oil paintings, Giclée and canvas prints. “Corah,” 24 x 18 inches, pastel She also offers custom-cut silhouettes, which make by Tricia Kaman for a special and unique gift. VALLEY ART CENTER

P: 440-247-7507 W:

The hub of the visual arts in the Chagrin Valley, providing local communities with art classes, exhibits and fine art shopping for almost 50 years. Each year, we offer more than 400 classes, workshops and summer camps for students, from children to seniors, beginner to seasoned professional.


Saturday, Aug. 24: Noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25: Noon to 6 p.m. Shaker Square, Cleveland P: 216-751-7656 W: FB:

Cleveland Garlic Festival will take place at Shaker Square on Saturday, Aug. 24, from noon to 8 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 25, from noon to 6 p.m. This year’s festival continues to bring the most delicious garlic-laden food, like garlic fries, Mitchell’s Garlic Ice Cream and Ohio craft beer, as well as live music and entertainment, a kids section and so much more!

Listings are provided by advertisers and as a courtesy to readers.

Presented by

F O R U M Friday and Saturday at 8pm

September 20

two Sunday matinées at 3pm

th thru


OctOber 26

OctOber 6

t h and


th th

Kennedy’s Down Under in Playhouse Square 1501 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland 216.241.6000 or

The Columbus Crossing Borders Project at The Gallery at Lakeland Sept. 11 | 3 p.m. - Sept. 12 | 5 p.m. View the art exhibit, watch a screening of the documentary “Breathe Free,” and enjoy a reception with international food and music. Free and open to the public.

Visit or call 440.525.7322 for more details.

A gallery & creative community studio for the jewelry & metalsmithing arts. Upcoming classes include: Fleur de Life

Daniel Carr

Introduction to Jewelry Silver Metal Clay Metal Etching Enameling Lost Wax Casting & much more!

Seventh Annual Student & Instructor Exhibition- November 1 - 23 Public opening reception Friday, November 1 6:00 - 9:00 pm. FREE Class Open House Saturday, November 2 starting at 10:00 am. 8827 Mentor Ave, Mentor, OH 44060


(440) 205-1770

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Saturday, Aug. 17: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 18: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1055 Old River Road, Cleveland W: FB: events/313905292607578

Flats East Bank will host Cleveland’s fourth annual Flats Festival of the Arts this August! Notable local and national artists will exhibit and sell their work by Cleveland’s waterfront, Aug. 17-18. The festival will be open to the public for the entire weekend as patrons enjoy the unique craftsmanship of each artist featured throughout the Flats East Bank. HUDSON GALLERY HOP

Fridays, Oct. 4 and Dec. 13, 2019; March 13, 2020 P: 234-284-9019 W: FB:


524 E. Washington St., Chagrin Falls P: 440-247-4884 W: FB:

Our introductory offer – $59 in 30 days – is designed to provide new Chagrin Yoga students a great deal in order to get off on the right foot with yoga! Offer includes: 30 days of unlimited yoga and barre, the ability to try all instructors and class styles, and support and guidance from our yoga advisor. CLEVELAND ARTIST REGISTRY

Gordon Square Arts District P.O. Box 602560, Cleveland P: 216-930-4566 W:

The Hudson Gallery Hop is an interactive event that promotes the arts and encourages creativity in all. Do the Hop at Hudson Fine Art & Framing, Fair Trade on Main, Uncommon ART, The Red Twig and Standing Rock Gallery from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 4 and Dec. 13, 2019, and March 13, 2020.

Gordon Square Arts District is proud to offer, Cleveland’s premier searchable artist database. The registry is a collection of artistic talent creating, designing and performing in Cleveland. Artists connect with opportunities to work, collaborate and engage with the community. Individuals and businesses can easily find, hire and commission artists.



Friday, Sept. 27: 6 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28: 1 p.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 29: 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. 5401 Hamilton Ave., Cleveland P: 216-589-9444 W: FB:

Ingenuity Cleveland ignites the creative spark among artists, makers and entrepreneurs through joy and collaboration. “IngenuityFest 2019: Dreamscapes” (Sept. 27-29) celebrates the organization’s 15th year by bringing you an entire fantasy, vividly imagined, waiting behind the doors of the 350,000-square-foot Hamilton Collaborative. There is something for everyone at this festival! NORTHCOAST PROMOTIONS, INC.

P.O. Box 609401, Cleveland P: 216-570-8201 W:

Northcoast Promotions, Inc. specializes in art shows, craft fairs and festivals. Please visit us at Walkabout Tremont Second Fridays, Third Fridays at 78th Street Studios and every Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day at The Old Firehouse Winery in Geneva-on-theLake. Visit our website for more events and details.

Jewish Federation of Cleveland E: W:

The Cleveland Israel Arts Connection 2019-20 Fall/ Winter Season features the finest in Israeli film, documentary, theater, music, visual art and literature. Brochures are available in early September. Download a copy at jewishcleveland. org/israelarts. To sign up for periodic Israel Arts emails, please visit and indicate your interest in Israeli and Jewish Arts & Culture. ROBERT & GABRIEL JEWELERS FOR GENERATIONS

5244 Mayfield Road, Lyndhurst P: 440-473-6554 W: FB: RobertandGabrielJewelers

Our family-owned store is the ideal destination to find beautiful jewelry and giftware. Our selections include traditional and contemporary items from national designers, or we’ll help you create your own unique design. We also provide excellent watch and jewelry repair. We’re proud to serve our customers for over 90 years!

Listings are provided by advertisers and as a courtesy to readers.

54 | Canvas | Fall 2019


IRVING BERLIN AND THE AMERICAN DREAM This son of a cantor saw his house burned to the ground in Czarist Russia. But over the next 96 years the immigrant helped to create and nurture the American Dream. You’ll be treated to a generous sample of his songs in this multi-media concert with live performances and dazzling still images and video clips. Hosted by Bill Rudman and Paul Ferguson Featuring members of Cleveland Jazz Orchestra, the Joe Hunter trio, Vince Mastro, Treva Offutt and Michael Shirtz

SAT, OCT 12 | 8 PM

SUN, OCT 13 | 3 PM

Ohio Theatre, Playhouse Square

Fairmount Temple




Get ready to do school differently.


Wednesday, 9/11/19 @ 9:00 am Tuesday, 10/15/19 @ 9:00 am

Toddler – Grade 8, Lyndhurst Campus

MASTERY SCHOOL INFORMATIONAL SESSIONS Sunday, 9/15/19 @ 1:00 pm Sunday, 10/13/19 @ 1:00 pm

Grades 9 – 12, University Circle Campus

UPPER SCHOOL PARENT VISITS Thursday, 9/19/19 @ 12:30 pm Thursday, 10/17/19 @ 8:30 am Grades 9 – 12, Gates Mills Campus

P lan your visit; RSVP today! Lower & Middle School: 440-423-2950 Upper & Mastery School: 440-423-2955 or visit

Coed Toddler – Grade 12 Lyndhurst


Gates Mills

University Circle