Canvas Fall 2017

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NORTHEAST OHIO | arts | music | performance

Making a statement Darius Steward’s deeply personal art confronts society’s most pressing issues – and seeks to open an important dialogue

Fall 2017



Art and Fashion of Samuel Butnik & Bonnie Cashin


AmericanOPENING Greetings Creative Studios RECEPTION One American Boulevard THURSDAY JANUARY 12 Westlake 44145 5 PM OH – 7 PM

Erin Guido enjoys creating art in her Ohio City studio. Photo by Michael C. Butz.


6 Editor’s note

Michael C. Butz introduces the fall issue by acknowledging some noteworthy awards

Painting the town

8 On deck

Murals throughout Cleveland’s West Side have helped Erin Guido achieve an international profile

10 Unearthed gems


Noteworthy upcoming events from around Northeast Ohio Exhibitions at The Sculpture Center and the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve will return Lilian Tyrrell’s masterful artwork to the forefront

14 Making a statement

Darius Steward’s deeply personal art confronts society’s most pressing issues – and seeks to open an important dialogue

28 Strange bedfellows

Bob Abelman shows that when Northeast Ohio’s theaters collaborate, audiences benefit

32 Stage listings NORTHEAST OHIO | arts | music | performance

Listings for local theaters, dance companies, orchestras and opera companies

Fall 2017

Making a statement

34 Center stage

Darius Steward’s deeply personal art confronts society’s most pressing issues – and seeks to open an important dialogue

On the cover

Darius Steward, “Baggage Claim (Portrait 1),” 2017, watercolor on yupo, 18 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist and MOCA Cleveland.

Home to a variety of theater, classical music and dance offerings, Northeast Ohio stages are in the spotlight

36 West Side story

Four institutions on Northeast Ohio’s western edge represent a wealth of artistic offerings

40 Listings

Local museums, galleries, events and more

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think outside the lines

Every day, Hathaway Brown students of

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A look at what’s new T

o say a lot has happened since the last issue of Canvas would be an understatement – and I’m more than happy to share the noteworthy news. For starters, both the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists and The Press Club of Cleveland recognized Canvas during the most recent local print media awards season. All told, Canvas received nine awards in these statewide competitions – six from SPJ and three from the Press Club – in categories related to writing, design and the overall magazine. To view a complete list of awards, head over to Here at Canvas, it’s of course an honor to have our arts coverage and overall effort recognized by our peers in the journalism community – especially while being considered alongside other great magazines from Cleveland, Akron, Columbus and Cincinnati. But the real take-away for us is the encouragement awards like these provide to keep putting together an arts magazine readers from across Northeast Ohio can learn from and enjoy. Secondly, Canvas is now on Instagram at @CanvasCLE. We’ve been on Twitter (also at @CanvasCLE) since late 2015, and if you follow us there, you know our feed is a great resource for information on upcoming festivals, openings and performances. Our Instagram channel complements that by frequently featuring photos from some of those very same events. With so much going on throughout Northeast Ohio’s arts scene, it can be tough (in a good way) to choose which events to go to on any given night or weekend – and practically impossible to get to everything – but Canvas’ Instagram can offer a look at what you might be missing and encourage you to go see shows before they end. But that’s enough looking back at the goings on of recent months. Looking ahead to this issue, we’re introducing a new section in this issue of Canvas that we’re calling “On deck.” Like we do in our biweekly Canvas e-newsletter, we’ll be using “On deck” to highlight openings and performances over the next several months we think you’ll want to check out. Of course, if you want regular updates about upcoming events, the e-newsletter really is an extremely valuable resource. To subscribe, visit Also worth noting is this issue’s special focus on Northeast Ohio’s stage presence, so to speak, including its theaters, dance companies, and offerings of classical music and opera. Bob Abelman examines how several partnerships involving Northeast Ohio theaters are benefiting local audiences, and Alyssa Schmitt provides an overview of the dynamic offerings of the region – which many note is exemplary when compared to other metro areas its size. All of that in addition to the artist features, previews and community profiles you’ve come to expect from Canvas. As always, I hope you enjoy this issue – and who knows? Perhaps a year from now, I’ll be writing to you about another award-winning year for Canvas.

Editor Michael C. Butz Senior Designer Stephen Valentine

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Canvas Editor

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Upcoming events from around Northeast Ohio. Information provided by galleries and museums. Compiled by Michael C. Butz.

Maria Neil Art Project • “Elmi L. Ventura Mata: Marching Ahead Off Beat” Sept. 1 to Oct. 15

Jerry Birchfield/CIA During a long stay for treatment in University Hospitals in 2016, Dan Tranberg turned his hospital room into a studio for his acrylic paintings. Cleveland Institute of Art • “CIA Faculty Exhibition” Aug. 31 to Oct. 8 • “Dan Tranberg: So vivid. So luminous. So fluorescent.” Aug. 31 to Oct. 13

Cleveland Museum of Art at Transformer Station • Scott Olson solo exhibition • “Jerry Birchfield: Stagger When Seeing Visions” Sept. 1 to Dec. 10

The Cleveland Institute of Art has two shows opening at the end of August. The CIA Faculty Exhibition, a tradition that spans more than eight decades, is a celebration of the art and design of ranked and adjunct faculty members. Work ranges from traditional painting and drawing to industrial design, video and digital imagery. In addition, “Dan Tranberg: So vivid. So luminous. So fluorescent.” will highlight passages of the late artist’s work. Tranberg’s May 29 death made a huge impact on the Northeast Ohio arts community. A longtime CIA faculty member, Tranberg was beloved by students and colleagues. His studio practice ranged widely; he had been trained in ceramics and photography, and more recently developed a vast series of acrylic paintings in which acrylic color was carefully selected and meticulously applied in blocks of triangles or rectangles. An opening reception for both shows will take place form 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 31 at 11610 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. For more, visit

The Cleveland Museum of Art will present exhibitions featuring two Northeast Ohio artists – Scott Olson and Jerry Birchfield – this fall at Transformer Station. Scott Olson’s abstract paintings seem to conceal the deliberate considerations and elaborate processes behind their own making. By employing a broad range of techniques and materials, Olson traces the history of painting all the way back to the early Renaissance. At the same time, through subtle shifts and the gradual introduction of new methods and concepts, the small-scale works do nothing less than re-evaluate some of the medium’s established boundaries. Jerry Birchfield’s practice circles around the question of how images emulate or subvert the sources from which they stem. Through complex photographic and sculptural processes, his works go through various stages of transformation, from surrogate to self-reference. The making of meaning is synonymous with the search for the beginning and the end. Transformer Station is at 1460 W. 29th St., Cleveland. For more, visit or

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Brown is the color of warm dirt beneath the feet of children running around the mountaintop village, where people rise earlier than the sun. And, when the sun recedes behind the highest peaks, the brown people blend back into their mud-built homes. This is the vision in the mind of Elmi L. Ventura Mata, whose work will be on view in “Marching Ahead Off Beat” at the Maria Neil Art Project. Ventura Mata is a Salvadoran born painter – and 2016 graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art – who expresses his experience as an immigrant in the U.S. through the narrative he portrays through form and color. Growing up in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Ventura Mata saw art as a means of escaping life in the inner city. This exhibition provides us with a snapshot of the life of an immigrant in the U.S. In today’s political climate, immigrants are often seen as either murderers and drug dealers or as hardworking, family-oriented people who hold a vital place in our society. Ventura Mata gives viewers a chance to see this issue on a very personal level through his intriguing and emotional work. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 1 at 15813 Waterloo Road, Cleveland. For more, visit

Maria Neil Art Project “Tio Jorge y Cipote | Uncle George and Child” by Elmi L. Ventura Mata

Mandel JCC

Mandel jCC • Cleveland Jewish FilmFest Sept. 7-17 • The J-Show Sept. 18 to Nov. 21 • Cleveland Jewish Book Festival Nov. 5-20 Autumn ushers in a trio of Mandel Jewish Community Center events for arts enthusiasts to enjoy. Returning for its 11th annual season, the Cleveland Jewish FilmFest will again screen films of Jewish interest at movie theaters throughout Northeast Ohio. Likewise, the Cleveland Jewish Book Festival, back for its 18th year, will host author discussions and other events at various locations. The J-Show is a juried art show and sale, exhibited in the Mandel JCC lobby in Beachwood, that features an eclectic mix of artwork from established, emerging and amateur Northeast Ohio artists. Original art work completed in the past three years (2014-2017) will be on view. In its inaugural year, the show featured 54 pieces by 47 local artists that were selected from over 300 entries. Last year, 48 pieces by 32 artists were on display. An opening reception for the third annual J-Show will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 25, with awards presented at 7:30, at 26001 S. Woodland Road, Beachwood. For more information about The J-Show, Cleveland Jewish FilmFest or Cleveland Jewish Book Festival, visit

Cleveland PrInt rooM • “Lissa Rivera: Beautiful Boy” • “Laura Ruth Bidwell: Gratiot” Sept. 8 to Nov. 4 Cleveland Print Room will host a joint exhibition featuring the Cleveland debut of internationally shown, New York Citybased artist Lissa Rivera, and new work by Cleveland artist Laura Ruth Bidwell. Rivera’s “Beautiful Boy” takes her interest in photography’s connection with identity to a personal level, focusing on her domestic partner as muse. She seeks to document their exploration of femininity and the nuances of photography as a transformative medium. Says Rivera, “I am using photography as a testing ground for my partner, who is genderqueer, to visualize multiple feminine identities. The photographs provide a canvas to investigate the visual language of womanhood that I was raised with and that


“In the Middle of Life” by Scott Sill, which won third place at the J-Show in 2016.

Cleveland Museum of Art

Cleveland Print Room my partner is only beginning to explore.” Bidwell will premiere new work from her Gratiot series. Says Bidwell, “GRATIOT is a name. A place. A state of mind. Gratiot is a photographic project based on the fictional lives of Charles and Victoire Chouteau Gratiot, immortals who have navigated and thrived by night, across three centuries.” An opening reception will take place from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 8 at 2550 Superior Ave., Cleveland. For more, visit

Cleveland MuseuM of art • “The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s” Sept. 30 to Jan. 14, 2018 “The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s” will be the first major museum exhibition to focus on American taste in art and design during the dynamic years of the 1920s and early 1930s. After the World War I, American money and culture helped transform the global marketplace. The United States became the leading marketplace for innovative architecture, interior decoration, decorative art, fashion, music and film.

“Blues,” 1929. Archibald J. Motley Jr. (American, 1891–1981). Oil on canvas; 91.4 x 106.7 cm. Collection of Mara Motley, MD, and Valerie Gerrard Browne. © Valerie Gerrard Browne / Chicago History Museum / Bridgeman Images. With the map of Europe redrawn and social mores redefined, creative influences merged. Talent and craftsmanship, urbanity and experimentation flowed back and forth across the Atlantic with an influx of European émigré designers coming to America and a rush of American creative talent traveling and studying abroad. Against a backdrop of traditional historicist styles, a new language of design emerged to define an era of innovation and modernity – the Jazz Age – capturing the pulse and rhythm of the American spirit. Cleveland Museum of Art is at 11150 East Blvd., Cleveland. For more, visit

For more openings, events and performances, subscribe to the Canvas e-newsletter at

Fall 2017 | Canvas | 9

Unearthed gems Exhibitions at The Sculpture Center and the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve will return Lilian Tyrrell’s masterful artwork to the forefront – and lead visitors to discover the institutions’ tucked-away campus in University Circle By Michael C. Butz


he scenes Lilian Tyrrell’s “Disaster Blankets” depict are historically significant and significantly challenging. Famine, terrorism and natural disasters are but a few of the themes Tyrrell brought to bear in her works, which when juxtaposed with the sense of comfort and security typically associated with blankets, confront viewers with some brutal realities of society. Her efforts – awe-inspiring detail, painstaking craftsmanship and arresting imagery (sometimes pulled from news reports) – earned her the 1992 Cleveland Arts Prize. What’s more is that in the decades since, her work has remained strikingly relevant because many of the difficult topics she examined remain in the headlines today. Tyrrell’s tapestries largely have been out of the public eye for years, however. That will change in September, when her work will figure centrally in exhibitions opening at The Sculpture Center and the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve, which share a campus in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood. Tyrrell’s work was last widely seen at a 2006 retrospective at SPACES Gallery in Cleveland, shortly before her death in 2007 following her battle with a long-term illness. That exhibition resonated with Ann Albano, executive director and chief curator at The Sculpture Center. “I thought the exhibition that SPACES did … was one of the most important exhibitions I’ve ever seen in Cleveland,” she says. “I was completely astonished by both the quality of her work and the topics she was addressing. … I’d never forgotten the work, and thought about it often, and then with everything that’s been going on politically in this country and internationally, it came back to me.” The Sculpture Center will host “The Nowness of Then: Lilian Tyrrell’s Disaster Blankets,” as well as a complementary group show titled “Objections and Connections, Fiber Artists Talk Back,” starting Sept. 15. That same night, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve will open a group show of “Falling Man” by Lilian Tyrrell, 2003; wool and linen; 74 x 38 inches. Image courtesy of The Sculpture Center. This “Disaster Blanket” was made following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

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its own, “In the Details,” which will include one of Tyrrell’s blankets. “I think all of the work is still relevant, which is incredibly upsetting. There’s still famine, there’s still war, there’s still environmental concerns,” says Mindy Tousley, Artist Archives executive director. “Lilian is someone who had an international reputation, so we think of her maybe in terms of that show at SPACES, but that work was actually shown in different venues around the country, and I think, internationally.” “In the Details,” curated by textile artist Mary Urbas, gallery coordinator at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, will emphasize the handwork of the artists featured. The show will include artists Susan Shie and Libby Chaney, who, like Tyrrell, infuse political statements into their work. “Susie Shie, who’s from Wooster, has for years made political statements in her work,” Tousley says. “It’s very different work than Lilian’s. I think it’s more personal, it comes out of a kind of streamof-consciousness diary writing about whatever is on her mind at the time. And what seems to be on her mind, especially since George W. Bush was elected, is the administrations of our government.” The Sculpture Center’s second exhibition, “Objections and Connections,” will showcase fiber artists who, like Tyrrell, glean artistic inspiration from mass media or other publically accessible landscapes. Pittsburgh artist Penny Mateer creates photographic collages using only photographs from The New York Times, Albano explains, and the ones she thinks are particularly strong she takes to Walmart to be made into fleece blankets. “She was the last artist I found, and when she said ‘fleece blankets,’ I nearly fell out of my chair because (there) became, instantly, (a parallel between) the Disaster Blankets and fleece blankets,” Albano says. “I think even the least-prepared visitor will make the connection.”


Top left and above: “The Last Hope” by Lilian Tyrrell, 1991; wool, metallic thread, cotton, linen, and other fibers; 84 x 112 inches (full blanket) and detail image. Images courtesy of The Sculpture Center. Below: “Cradleboard: 10 of Potholders (coins) in the Kitchen Tarot” (detail) by Susan Shie, 2016, 60 x 90 inches. Image courtesy of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

Also in the show will be Clevelandbased artist Lauren Davies, whose “Industry Unraveled” series consists of large tapestries on which photographs of Northeast Ohio’s deteriorating buildings are printed. The fabrics are then unraveled to symbolize the disappearing industry and decaying properties present throughout the region. “She brings in both the unraveling of norms, which I think is a lot of what Lilian Tyrrell was also talking about in her work,” Albano says, “and that brings in

the environmental problems of our area, which are so very clear when you look at these disintegrating buildings.” ‘THE PLACE TO BE DISCOVERED’ Despite their shared geography, schedules allow The Sculpture Center and Artists Archives of the Western Reserve to hold only two campus-wide openings each year, once at the beginning of the year and once in the fall. However, ties between the two nonprofits run deep.

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Both were founded by visionary artist David E. Davis. The Sculpture Center began in 1989 when Davis, whose practice had been doing well, became increasingly concerned over whether sculptors graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art would have opportunities to succeed as artists. “He was concerned that when the students graduated, they couldn’t make a living and that they would have to leave the area to make a living,” Albano says. “He was hoping that if he could give them exhibition exposure through The Sculpture Center, it would be of help to them.” Davis enlisted the help of fellow established artists to provide sculptors apprenticeships, and in 1990, the Window to Sculpture Emerging Artist Series was born.

“Then in the mid-’90s, probably some of the same artists who were helping the students, as well as other artists, began to think about their own futures and what to do about their work and started the Artists Archives,” Albano says. A catalyst for the Artists Archives, Tousley says, was an experience in which Davis discovered a sculpture he’d been commissioned to make for a well-known collector’s home had been discarded and was scheduled to be bulldozed after the collector moved and sold the property. That incident drove home the realization that artists have little control over their work after they’ve sold pieces, so Davis set out to change that. “The Archives was founded by David and eight other artists for artists who

give them control over their legacy, which is really what we do,” Tousley says. “We cannot sell the work once it’s part of the collection. That’s very important. Once the work is here, an artist can be assured that it’s going to be cared for, it’s going to be preserved and future generations will be able to enjoy it.” The organizations’ differing roles – in a sense, The Sculpture Center ensures there is culture to preserve by supporting young artists, and the Artists Archives ensures culture will be preserved for future generations to take in – mean their respective audiences also differ. Campuswide openings bring those audiences together. “I really appreciate that crossover because the young people, the college students, who come to her exhibits then come over and often see things that are very relevant to them, or they will see artists they didn’t know about who are important to the history of the area,” Tousley says. “And on the other side,

I will get our older artists who maybe need to be nudged a little bit into looking at things a little differently, and they get to keep up with what’s new and what’s emerging by going over to see what’s in Ann’s (galleries). I think the crossover is good for both.” The joint openings also serve to raise the profile of both organizations. Though it’s just off of Euclid Avenue in University Circle, their campus is nestled between the Greater Cleveland RTA Red Line Rapid tracks and Lake View Cemetery and isn’t in the most highly traversed part of the neighborhood. “The fact we are a little bit hidden, I think, can work to our advantage,” Tousley says. “We’re a little bit like a secret that’s being kept – and people love to find a secret. “We’re the hidden garden back here, a little bit. That’s going to change as University Circle expands and grows, which it’s doing. We won’t be hidden anymore, but right now, we’re the place to be discovered.”

On view

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve / The Sculpture Center A campus-wide opening reception will be held for the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s “In the Details” and The Sculpture Center’s “The Nowness of Then: Lilian Tyrrell’s Disaster Blankets” and “Objections and Connections, Fiber Artists Talk Back” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 15 at 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland. Both shows at The Sculpture Center will be on view from Sept. 15 to Oct. 27. “Objections and Connections” will feature the work of William Marcellus Armstrong, Lauren Davies, Trey Gehring, Penny Mateer, Kathryn Shinko and Sarah Wiideman. Artists present at the opening reception will speak at 6:15 p.m. in the Euclid Avenue Gallery. Also at the opening reception, Brinsley Tyrrell, Lilian Tyrrell’s husband, is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. in The Sculpture Center Main Gallery.

Michael C. Butz From left, Ann Albano, executive director and chief curator at The Sculpture Center, and Mindy Tousley, executive director of the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve, enjoy a moment in the sculpture garden that’s part of their organizations’ shared campus in University Circle.

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The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s “In the Details,” curated by Mary Urbas, will be on view from Sept. 15 to Nov. 4. and will feature the work of Libby Chaney, Juli Edberg, Sandy Miller, Jessica Pinsky, Gayle Vickery Pritchard, Susan Shie, Deborah Silver, Lilian Tyrrell, Archived Artist Evelyn Ward and Jennifer Whitten. Related, as part of Artists Archives’s “ART BITES” series of programs, “Quilting Today” with Tracy Rieger will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 7.

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Darius Steward’s deeply personal art confronts society’s most pressing issues – and seeks to open an important dialogue Story and photography by Michael C. Butz


here isn’t much to see on Page Avenue in East Cleveland these days – unless, perhaps, you’re Darius Steward. Where passersby might see only dilapidated, vandalized and vacant apartment buildings alongside overgrown fields on the short stretch between Euclid and Elderwood avenues, the 32-year-old can picture his childhood home – since torn down – and recall experiences, both good and bad, that to this day shape his art. Mixed with memories of playing dodgeball and kickball in courtyards tucked inside the apartment complexes that defined the neighborhood are memories of two of his best friends being shot when he was 8 years old and of authorities discovering a dead body in nearby weeds when he was 10. Between those extremes were the sorts of challenges some may only read about or see on TV but for Steward were a daily reality. “Growing up, I didn’t think I was going to make it out of this area, but I ended up outliving this area,” he says. “It’s kind of a depressing feeling. … It seems like you have your history wiped away. I guess that’s why they say your memory is best kept with you. You could take a photo or something, but what you remember is what matters.” Those memories remain with him now as he creates art at his home studio in Cleveland’s Union-Miles Park neighborhood. His art – primarily in watercolor, minimalist, evocative, approachable and personal – tackles issues of race, objectification, social placement and social mobility through the lens of Steward’s experiences and family. His paintings draw viewers into his world, and in the process, challenge them to confront their prejudices and burdens. His work is represented in the collections of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and Cleveland Clinic, and his latest piece is currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. They all trace back to Page Avenue. “Being here,” he says as he walks around his old neighborhood, “made me realize the value of being able to try, the value of having something else to hold onto, and for me, art was everything.”

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Darius Steward stands in front off an abandoned apartment building on Page Avenue in East Cleveland, where he grew up. His childhood home, a building that once stood across the street, has since been torn down. Making it to art Spray-painted underneath broken out windows on one of the derelict buildings along “Lower Page,” the name Steward and his friends used to refer to their neighborhood, is the phrase “Self made.” It’s a maxim those who once resided on the street lived by, and the sentiment lives on even though the neighborhood hasn’t. “This place is a total ghost town now,” he says. “This is like a street that doesn’t exist. It’s crazy. There were generations of people who used to live here, and now it’s gone.” During Steward’s generation, the area was active. When he and his friends weren’t playing games, they’d walk along nearby railroad tracks and sometimes get into the sort of harmless trouble elementary-school-aged kids get into. However, his brother – eight years his senior and at a different stage in life – would get into more serious trouble. “He was in here selling drugs and doing all types of things,” he says. “I think him doing his thing and me being such a visual person, I got to take it in and realize it wasn’t for me.” Steward turned to art at an early age. “When I was 5, 6, 7 years old, I was drawing my own version of ‘(Teenage Mutant) Ninja Turtle’ comic books,” he says. “I actually had a friend named Leron who lived

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over here, too, and I used to go over to his house and we’d draw ‘Mortal Kombat’ stuff together. “I knew right away that art had to be what I was doing,” he says, “but it took me a little longer to realize what I could say in art, and how I could talk and deal with some of the things I feel like I went through – or go through.” Steadfastly fostering Steward’s creativity was his mother, Rhonda, who shouldered the responsibility of raising three kids (including Steward’s older sister) on her own. Over the years, when she wasn’t working one of her many jobs – cafeteria worker, bus driver, bartender, nurse’s aide – to make ends meet, she was driving her youngest back and forth to the Cleveland School of the Arts in University Circle to ensure he arrived safely. The contrast between attending classes in the region’s well-manicured artistic hub and living in homes where the utilities were at times shut off wasn’t lost on Steward, but the juxtaposition prepared him for what was to come. “Seeing how this side lives, seeing there are places like this, it was like we were by ourselves down here,” he says of Page Avenue. “There was a lot that went on that no one cared about, and then being able to go to another environment where people lived totally differently ... I was kind of realizing I can do more, I can adapt and I can be in both (environments).”

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Fall 2017 | Canvas | 17

Navigating new worlds Straddling parallel existences would be a recurring theme for Steward. It came up when he attended a summer program at Interlochen College of Creative Arts in Interlochen, Mich., where he was surrounded by thirdand fourth-generation students he felt were more talented than he was before realizing his life experiences gave him a perspective and edge they lacked. It came up as he earned his undergraduate degree at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where people would tell him Little Italy was a “safe zone” and suggest he not pass the bridge – except that he was from past the bridge, and in his experience, Little Italy was “a scary place for all types of reasons.” And it would come up again in 2010 as Steward graduated with his Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of Delaware in Newark. At a time when he was exploring opportunities to be an artist or teacher on the East Coast, his close friend’s mom was discovered to be one of serial murderer Anthony Sowell’s victims, and not long after, that same friend’s sister died. He felt pulled back home. “At that moment, I thought it probably wasn’t a great idea to go back to Cleveland, but there was so much going on,” he says. “I have such a closer tie to this place than I thought, so I came

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Above: Darius Steward, “Pressure pt 4,” 2016, ink on yupo, 40 x 36 inches. Courtesy of the artist. Below: Darius Steward, “Baggage Claim (Rise),” 2017, watercolor and ink on yupo, 60 x 46 inches. Courtesy of the artist. back home a week after I graduated. ... When I came back here, it was the same stuff, but I had different eyes.” Lasting inspiration Within a year of his return, Steward’s wife Angela was pregnant with their first child, Darius Jr., he became an art teacher at Saint Ignatius High School in Cleveland, and his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Rhonda Steward won the battle against cancer but lost the war. She died this past December, four days before Steward’s birthday, but remained selfless and nurturing to the end. “The drugs they give you in chemo actually ruined her heart,” Steward says. “So she got through breast cancer – she beat that – but then she had heart failure. “One of the last things she did was take care of my son while I was having my daughter, Emily. She was dealing with a 5-year-old when she was sick and wasn’t really able to take care of herself properly.”

It’s difficult for Steward to talk about his mom without his voice wavering from emotion. He explains she had a mother who drank, tells of how she was living on her own by age 14 and describes how she never had anyone to look out for her best interests. Mostly, Steward recalls the sacrifices Rhonda made for her children. “She wasn’t dealt a good hand from the start,” he says. “She was one of those people who were doomed to fail, so it was like, ‘Let me get my kids to not be in that situation.’ “She tried her best, and that’s a story you don’t hear about a lot. You hear about that rise to success. Right? They get this huge success. They go from living on the streets to being a multimillionaire. But what about those people who just try to pave a way for a future, or for someone else? “Her whole life was looking out for our future,” he says. “Her life was never about her, and there’s something to be said about that.”

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Translated by CHRisTOPHeR HamPTOn

September 22 through October 28

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Opening up baggage Steward is in fact saying something about that – through his art. He shelved work he’d completed shortly before his mother’s death and started a new series called “Baggage Claim.” The eponymous first public piece from that series – a larger-than-life two-part mural – is part of MOCA Cleveland’s regional group exhibition, “Constant as the Sun.” Depicted are Steward’s wife and children – on one wall, Angela is carrying Emily along with three bags, and on another, Darius Jr. has a school backpack over his shoulder while extending a flashlight in front of him – but they’re meant to symbolize him and his mother. “It’s this idea of him helping her get through this, him being me, watching his mom go through this and helping her,” he says. “We may have to see through and find our ways to that next spot. She’s carrying three bags on one arm,

a bag behind her and she’s holding my daughter. It’s like this idea of this weight, but you still have to keep going. And the reason it’s purses is I feel like my mom did it with so much grace. It’s weight, but they’re different bags. These aren’t just trash bags.” A. Will Brown, MOCA Cleveland assistant curator, was impressed with Steward’s work from the moment they met about a year ago. “I was really taken by the use of repetition to talk about pressing social issues that are distinctly related to his life and his community’s life,” he says. “I thought it was really interesting that Darius was able to do that over and over and over again but with slightly different bodies of work, and that the issues never hit you over the head but are just below the surface in a way that’s effective. “You don’t have to say much, you don’t have to read much, you don’t have

to look much to know there’s something at play here that’s about searching and looking to the past and thinking about the future of Darius’ family, his community and some of the generational challenges they’ve faced,” Brown says. “It’s simple, in an elegant way, and a clear metaphor of baggage.” Status symbols Steward infuses other metaphors into his work. Notably, playground swings figure in a number of his pieces. Those in swings are in constant motion but stationary, a dynamic that surrounded Steward’s brother – who’s currently in prison – and friends who fell victim to the snares of Page Avenue. “It was like being in here, using all of this force and this energy to end up in the same damn location,” he says. “All this stuff I used to see go on, and no one ever got away.”

Steward’s “Baggage Claim (part 1)” and “Baggage Claim (part 2),” both part of MOCA Cleveland’s “Constant as the Sun” group show, stand apart from the exhibition’s other works in part because it’s painted alongside The Donna + Stewart Kohl Monumental Staircase.

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Children, meant to represent a maturing process and explore intertwining themes of childhood and adulthood, also frequently appear in Steward’s work. “I used to use kids to talk about a childhood that I never had, or to talk about how my adulthood feels similar in certain ways,” he says. “Now, I use primarily my son and daughter. Now, it’s literally me seeing moments and progressions in my (son) that mirror what I feel like or what I do.” One of the most powerful artistic tools Steward employs is white space. The overwhelming whiteness that surrounds the African-American figures he depicts represents a form of dominance as well as the white space he lives in as a black artist. Regarding the latter, he often cites something novelist Zora Neale Hurston wrote: “I do not always feel colored. … I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp white background.” “It’s about placement,” he says. “That’s a firm place. You can talk about whiteness as this very understood place. We know it exists, but at the same time, we don’t know. We don’t know how it really is. We don’t know how it affects who’s there. It’s this idea that I’m displaced but placed. That’s part of another series I’m working on where I’m building that up more. It’s like our segregated selves.” CONVERSATION STARTER Inherent in all of Steward’s art is a desire to start a dialogue about the societal ills and personal struggles that people share. “Because I have this platform as an artist, I’m able to express things that I’d never be able to express if it was just me, which sucks,” he says, lamenting suppressive societal hierarchies. “But in that case, I feel like I have an obligation to help get people to at least think about this on their way home (from a gallery or museum) – to look at that black kid in that whiteness and think about what things they came up with while looking at that. “And it’s the same thing with ‘Baggage Claim,’” he says. “Yeah, I have these people carrying bags, (but) I want them to see that, ‘Hey, I have baggage too. Maybe we’re not as different as we think. Maybe there are some common threads there.’” In addition to starting a conversation about these matters, Steward is making a statement – about himself, his past, his struggles and Page Avenue. “For me, it’s kind of a way to showcase my position as a black man who


Darius Steward, “Back N 4th (The Motion),” 2015, ink and watercolor on yupo, 42 x 30 inches. Courtesy of the artist. lives in America. I think it’s important to show my spots because we’re different. There are a lot of us, and quite honestly, I deal with things and I have different opinions and different outlooks. “There are a ton of African-Americans doing artwork coming from all different types of backgrounds. Me, coming from my background, I feel like I need to represent that. I need to talk about that. I need to talk about what I dealt with. I need to talk about what I deal with,” he says. “I need to show my experiences, because at the end of the day, this is all going to be part of this greater narrative. I want to be associated with that narrative. I want people to look back at this and see that this is what a lot of people were dealing with. I don’t want this spot to not be represented.”


Darius Steward’s “Baggage Claim” is part of “Constant as the Sun,” on view through Sept. 17 at MOCA Cleveland, 11400 Euclid Ave., Cleveland. A body of Steward’s new work will be on view in an as-yet-unnamed show from Dec. 8 to Jan. 6, 2018, at Tregoning & Company in 78th Street Studios, 1300 W. 78th St., Cleveland. Steward also will have an as-yet-unnamed solo show from Sept. 4, 2018, to Oct. 28, 2018 at the Canton Museum of Art, 1001 Market Ave. N., Canton.

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Murals throughout Cleveland’s West Side have helped Erin Guido achieve an international profile Story by Amanda Koehn Photography by Michael C. Butz


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rin Guido says she tries not to be “lawless” when she’s putting up her colorful, sometimes word-centric wheatpaste murals, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t been. The Cleveland-based artist remembers she and a friend were covertly putting up a “bunch of shapes” on a wall at a Cleveland Metropark, when a ranger caught them. “It retrospect, it was a stupid place to put (a mural),” Guido says, laughing. Although the ranger nicely asked them to take it down – which fortunately is doable with wheatpaste – he snapped a few pictures first and told Guido he wanted to show them to his art class. “So I think he liked it,” she says. Guido, 30, recalls another law-bending incident in which she unknowingly decorated a historic landmark barn in Michigan and had a run-in with a police officer. However, her experiences with such rule breaking seem to have a theme: They’re regularly well received. Guido’s youthful, sunny demeanor and noted self-awareness likely help her avoid serious consequences for such indiscretions, but it doesn’t seem to be just that. After four years of making art, mostly wheatpaste or painted murals and smaller prints, in Northeast Ohio, Guido’s steady ascendance seems to have brought her to a moment to stop and take notice. Her momentum is best captured in two major undertakings she’s been a part of in recent months: “Please Touch,” an Akron Art Museum exhibition that featured two works she helped create, and the high-profile, Instagram-backed “Love Doves” mural in Ohio City, which she also co-created. With art that is unabashedly cute and slightly unrefined, it’s taken Guido years to believe that just because her work doesn’t play by the rules of what art stereotypically might be – serious and impermeable to the average eye rather than approachable and friendly – doesn’t mean it’s not worthy of attention. And now, she has an audience that is growing far beyond her tight-knit Ohio City community. IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD Guido grew up in Rocky River and matriculated to Indiana University in Bloomington. Though she started as a cognitive science major, she found herself spending so much time working on projects for her art classes, she switched to printmaking. “I think when I went into school, I didn’t think art would be a viable career, but then I was just like, ‘Well, but I’m happiest doing art-related things, so why would I not do that?’” she says.

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Above: Erin Guido’s text-based work can be found on walls outside of Mason’s Creamery, at left, and Phoenix Coffee, above, both in Ohio City. Previous page: Guido presents “Love Doves,” a mural she co-created with Joe Lanzilotta on the West Shoreway retaining wall in Cleveland.

During summers off from school and after graduating, Guido worked with Cleveland Public Art, a now-defunct nonprofit public art organization. That experience led her to get a master’s degree in urban planning at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. Guido says working on a computer all day during graduate school made her interested in making wheatpaste collages, and eventually murals, as a way to get outside and experiment with street art. Along with acrylic paint, Guido’s medium of choice, wheatpaste, is made by boiling flour and water together and is often used for papiermâché or posters. Guido then cuts out intricate, colorful shapes and letters to place, often on a colorful canvas or wall. Wheatpaste’s impermanence allows her to create word-centric murals for spots like Phoenix Coffee’s Ohio City location, where she’s free to switch out the words. For example, she says last summer she pasted on Phoenix’s wall, “I get so excited to wake up!!” but after having to trek there in this past winter’s snow, she thought, “This isn’t true.” She hasn’t switched it yet, but could. “It’s more of a surprise, and it will go away,” she says of her potentially temporary works.

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“People won’t get sick of it, and also if it is an important wall, I won’t, like, ruin it totally.” After graduating with her master’s, Guido’s connection to CPA helped her find “the perfect job” at the newly created LAND studio, the result of a merger between CPA and another nonprofit, ParkWorks. LAND studio works with public art, sustainable building and arts programming to foster vibrant, artful city spaces. Starting out at LAND, where Guido still works full time as a project manager, she says she didn’t anticipate doing her own professional artwork on the side. More than anything, living in Ohio City and meeting people who were interested in her work forced her hand. Guido’s focus on bright colors, pattern-oriented collages and murals with quippy phrases lended themselves perfectly to trendy small businesses opening in the neighborhood. Soon after moving there, she was approached to do a show at BUCKBUCK studio (now Canopy Collective) and create murals for Mason’s Creamery and the Beet Jar Juice Bar. The Mason’s Creamery mural, which is the first painted mural Guido completed, shows bright letters on a dark green cement wall that reads, “Come over all the time!!!” Most phrases of hers out and about, on prints, T-shirts and elsewhere, are equally friendly, such as “We have the best time!” Some are a little edgier, like “I am a grown ass woman.” When choosing her words, Guido says she typically writes about someone or something specific, but makes it short and general enough that other people can get the meaning they want out of it. The vivid hues – there are at least 16 paint colors in the Mason’s Creamery mural – and sweet phrases, easily draw the eye as little pops of brightness in a still brick-heavy part of town. Specifically at Ohio City’s Phoenix Coffee, where one might walk into slightly lethargic and desperate for caffeine, Guido’s friendly and excited message can provide a hint of energy and positivity before even going inside. That’s likely part of why her murals keep getting requested – she has an ability to impart a type of aspirational happi-


ness that doesn’t seem overbearing or exaggerated, and also fits well with the space for which it’s intended. “I kind of like it to be a little friendly surprise, so notes are kind of nice outside,” she says. “Especially if they are temporary, kind of because it’s a note to anyone that walks around.” INDOOR ART, TOO Dropping by PopEye Gallery at 78th Street Studios in Cleveland’s Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood, where during the summer Guido’s work was featured in a group show called “Word Up,” one is immediately drawn toward the back of the exhibit. There, letters cut out of wood – and in colors and shapes instantly recognizable as Guido’s – are left out for visitors to express themselves by arranging, using magnets, 22-character messages. Omid Tavakoli, owner and director of PopEye Gallery, said among the three text-based artists who were part of the show (Amber Esner and Katy Kosman were the others), Guido had by far the most positive, feel-good work, which helped bring the show together. He says Guido’s word-based work evokes a sense of universality. “I get a feeling of things that are going on in all of our lives,” he says of Guido’s work. That day, the cutout words read, “It’s all happening so fast!” The same could be said for Guido’s exposure. Just months before her PopEye exhibit opened, Guido co-created two pieces for the interactive “Please Touch” exhibition at Akron Art Museum: “Today I Feel” and “It’s Going To Be.” Her collaborator on those works was artist and woodworker John Paul Costello, who is also her boyfriend. Alison Caplan, director of education at the Akron Art Museum, said she followed Guido’s work online and knew she could create something fun, positive and engaging. “It had a DIY, handmade quality to it that I found really cool and friendly, and I wanted to see how that translated from, like, the streets of Cleveland to a museum environment,” Caplan says. Guido and Costello’s pieces include several colorful wooden structures that allow visitors to arrange Guido’s signature shapes

and letters to build out words and designs of their own. The Akron exhibit is her biggest show to date. She’s enjoyed visiting it and seeing kids and adults alike moving pieces around and “being playful.” It also came at the perfect moment for collaborating with Costello in the sense that they had just recently started combining Guido’s words and designs with Costello’s structures and ability to construct mechanical, movementoriented components. “We just took down the show and it’s a little bit dirty and scuffed up, and I think that’s a testament to how much people played and interacted with it,” says Caplan of “Please Touch,” which was on view from March 2 to July 16. “The thing that I really liked about it was that it was quippy and fun – that art doesn’t necessarily have to be pretentious or high-brow, that it can be friendly and fun and will engage you in a new way.” ‘LOVE DOVES’ Sitting in Guido’s bright, neat studio, on the third floor of an Ohio City duplex she shares with a roommate, she discusses how working at LAND and getting to know successful artists who focus on public art has helped her learn and develop her own work. She admits that when she was younger, she thought her work wasn’t technically good enough to put on display. “I wouldn’t show as many people my art and was maybe scared to put it out in the public,” she says. These days, she’s more confident. If any lingering apprehension existed, though, it had to be put aside quickly one evening in May when Guido received an unexpected email while hanging out at Jukebox, a bar in Ohio City. In the email, Guido was asked to paint a large mural, along with her coworker and frequent collaborator, Joe Lanzilotta, as part of an international Instagram campaign.

Guido’s participatory piece in “Word Up,” a group show that was on view in June and July at PopEye Gallery in Cleveland.


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Guido creates colorful shapes and letters in her home studio in Ohio City. In the spring, Instagram began “Kind Comments” – meant to play off of a popular “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” segment in which celebrities read “mean tweets” about themselves – to celebrate the LGTBQ community with positive messages. As part of the campaign, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Nashville, London and Madrid were selected as host cities to roll out the project via public artwork. Guido says Cleveland was selected partially because last year’s Creative Fusion mural project grabbed the social media giant’s attention. Instagram then worked with Ohio City Inc. to find the right artists for the job. Guido and Lanzilotta had just a week and half to complete the project. What came out of it is a mural on the West Shoreway retaining wall north of the intersection of West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue that features two rainbow-decorated doves – or “Love Doves” – whose conversation reads, “I love you very much,” and “I love you very much also.” Guido says despite painting the entire project in one day, it’s special to her. It also received local media attention and is difficult to pass by without paying attention to the bright colors and caring sentiment. “It was really cool to be part of it,” she says. LOOKING AHEAD Although Guido laughs talking about how she and Costello had to pull an all-nighter to finish the “Please Touch” installation and jokes that it tested their young relationship, the informal collaboration has turned into something more concrete. They recently started So Fun Studio as a platform for their collaborative work. “It’s kind of fun to have a different perspective,” she says of Costello’s ability to create three-dimensional, interactive pieces.

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Also, Guido says working at LAND and being close to interactive public art on a regular basis has piqued her interest in doing larger-scale, interactive work herself. She says a goal is to work on such a project at a major Cleveland location, such as Public Square or Edgewater Park, and to get paid for it. However, in the short term, Guido looks to events like the Ohio City Street Festival, where the “Please Touch” works will show next. In addition, she and Costello are planning new projects for that festival and others, and Guido is working on a new mural that will appear on the rooftop of The Cleveland Hostel. She’s focused on continuing to produce work that shows her personality and style – especially since she’s found it also resonates with an audience. “I’m finding that when I really enjoy making something, and just like it a lot, then other people end up liking it too,” she says.

ON VIEW ERIN GUIDO Erin Guido will speak on “Surprises and Nice Things in Public Places” at the Weapons of Mass Creation festival on Aug. 20 at Mahall’s, 13200 Madison Ave., Lakewood. Guido’s collaborative work with John Paul Costello as part of So Fun Studio will be on display Sept. 24 during the Ohio City Street Festival along West 25th Street in Cleveland. So Fun Studio’s work to date will be on view at “So Fun So Far” during Walk All Over Waterloo! on Nov. 3 at Pop Life Studio, 15619 Waterloo Road, in Cleveland’s Waterloo Arts District.

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E G A ON ST efit udiences ben a , te a r o b a ll rs co Ohio’s theateb Abelman t s a e th r o N By Bo When


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ta Nathan Mot


heater is often described as a collaborative art – a joining of talents on stage and behind it. But collaboration most often takes place within producing theater companies and not between them. Standing in the way of cooperative companies and creative partnerships is the significant competition that exists for rears to fill the tiers. And because ticket sales to season subscribers and walk-in audiences account for less than 50 percent of the cost of doing business, local theater

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Charles Fee

Tony Sias

companies are also in competition for community and government resources, foundation support, corporate underwriting and the contributions of individual philanthropists to subsidize their work. In short, collaboration is the equivalent of sleeping with the enemy. And yet we have seen an influx of theater partnerships in recent years. Some are fairly innocuous, such as when a consortium of local theaters comes together to host a joint audition for an upcoming season. Others reflect a

Laura Kepley

Scott Spence

temporary coming together that serves to support the arts in a community, such as when theater companies crosspromote or offer discounted tickets to each other’s work in playbills and on social media. But, increasingly, there are companies willing to pool resources in order to share the financial costs associated with artistic risk-taking and innovation. Many theaters are seeing collaboration as a way to fill the creative gaps between what they must do to survive, what they can do, and what they would like to do.

And there are partnerships motivated by the desire to give emerging artists at one venue a larger or more diverse platform at others. We see all this happening in major cities with vibrant theater communities. Just recently, in a show of support for new plays, the Second Stage Theater in New York and the Center Theater Group in Los Angeles agreed to commission a series of world premiere works by American writers that will be staged first in California and then on Broadway. Here in Cleveland, we also see collaboration. And we asked the artistic and managing directors of partnering professional theaters about the costs and benefits – for the respective companies and for their audiences – of having such strange bedfellows.

A May-December romance: Beck Center for the Arts and Baldwin Wallace University

Since 1999, under artistic director Scott Spence’s guidance, Lakewood’s Beck Center for the Arts has systematically worked toward professionalizing its theater offerings, including the provision of Equity contracts for actors. It is now recognized as one of the stronger, year-round professional theaters that produce musicals. For the past six years, Beck Center’s annual production schedule has included one musical infused with young talent found due south on the small Berea campus of Baldwin Wallace University. There, in its conservatory of music, is a musical theater program under Victoria Bussert’s direction that ranks high among the elite programs in the country. Within the program resides a pool of talented undergraduates who, upon graduation or sooner, have been landing agents and lead roles on Broadway and London’s West End. As the musical theater program grew over the years, the on-campus stage facilities shared with BW’s opera and theater programs proved limiting in size and availability. Having worked at the Beck Center as a freelance director, Bussert worked out a formal partnership with Spence’s theater, where the students and the faculty design team are hired on as professionals. Mainstage collaborations have included “Carrie,” “In the Heights,” and most recently, “Bring It On.” Canvas recently spoke to Bussert and Spence, who describe the partnership: Bussert: Scott and I have been able to choose projects that are attractive to


Roger Mastrioianni Charles Fee, Great Lakes Theater producing artistic director, and Victoria Bussert, Baldwin Wallace University musical theater program director, at Hanna Theatre, home of Great Lakes Theater, in downtown Cleveland. the Beck Center audiences and accommodate the nature of our young casting population and our educational mission. Everything we do at BW has to have an educational element, so I am always looking for performance opportunities that teach the kids new skill sets. Spence: 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. Every theater has an obligation to its older subscriber base, but it must also vary its product in order to invest in tomorrow’s audiences. Bussert: Remember, these are college students who all have choir commitments up to their junior year, a full academic and performance skills course load, workshops and workouts at ballet boot camp, auditions and rehearsals for other projects. Spence: Once we were able to work out a scheduling formula, this partner-

ship has been nothing but fantastic. Bussert: The 20-minute drive from Berea gives the students’ brains time to shift into “I’m leaving as a student and arriving as a professional.” And their experience at Beck – the shorter rehearsal time on stage and the longer production schedule, the working with professionals 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. Spence: Just recently, I went to Columbus to do a Congressional tour and meet with the Ohio Arts Council. The council had taken notice of this partnership between the Beck Center and BW, to the point where it said it wanted to work with us to not only form a statewide model for academic and professional collaborations but a national model as well. We are pretty jazzed about this.

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land, where the show had been built and premiered. More than 60 productions have been shared since Cleveland joined the alliance. “Because our strategic alliance’s business model affords extended work opportunities for artists and production personnel,” notes Fee, “we are able to attract and retain a truly extraordinarily creative team that has found a remarkable chemistry over time. We’re not starting from scratch with a new collection of people with each production. We’re working with a core group of artists that have collaborated together for many years. This level of collaboration enables us to deepen our work as a company. And I think audiences benefit immensely as a result.”

From flirtation to fling:

Dobama Theater and Karamu House

AJ Abelman From left, Nathan Motta, Dobama Theatre’s artistic director; Tony Sias, Karamu House president and CEO; and Scott Spence, Beck Center for the Arts artistic director on stage at the Beck Center in Lakewood.

A long-distance affair:

Great Lakes Theater/ Idaho Shakespeare Festival/ Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival Charles Fee holds a unique position in the American theater scene. He is the producing artistic director of three independently operated, professional theater companies – Idaho Shakespeare Festival in Boise, Idaho (which he joined in 1991), Great Lakes Theater in Cleveland (starting in 2002), and Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival in Lake Tahoe, Nevada (since 2010) – that have created an innovative production-sharing alliance. Prior to the partnership, each theater was in a state of creative and financial duress. “We were all spreading our resources so thin that no one’s actually creating real work at real wages for anyone,” says Fee in a 2011 interview during the early stages of this alliance.

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“Unlike co-producing models, our collaboration creates year-round opportunities for our artists and our production staffs by extending contracts across all three cities,” Fee says. “In other words, we create all of the work seen in our three cities.” And because ideas and information about marketing and other logistic considerations are shared between companies, each respective staff operates with greater speed and efficiency. The first show Fee staged upon his arrival at Great Lakes Theater was the “Much Ado About Nothing” production he had just orchestrated at Boise. After Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival joined the alliance, its production of “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” had previously played in Boise, where several weeks before, the sets, costumes, props and performers were trucked 2,000 miles from Cleve-

In 1915, a pair of Oberlin graduates opened a settlement house where people of different races and religions could come together. They soon discovered that the arts provided the perfect common ground. The Playhouse Settlement, renamed Karamu – a Swahili word meaning “place of enjoyment” – in 1941, quickly became a magnet and forum for some of the best African-American artists of the day. During a “getting to know you” meeting in 2016 at which Tony Sias was introduced as Karamu’s new president and CEO, Dobama Theatre’s artistic director Nathan Motta shared a few ideas about a potential partnership intended to enrich their respective theater making. Motta had been appointed as Dobama’s fifth artistic director in 2013, which spurred the theater’s move to become the region’s newest full-time Equity House (along with the Cleveland Play House and Great Lakes Theater). These two theaters have occasionally flirted with each other in the years since Dobama was founded in 1959. Most recently, after leaving its long-time residence on Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights in 2005 but before finding its current home on Lee Road, the company launched a highly successful co-production with Karamu of the musical “Caroline or Change.” But now they are in the early stages of what could very well be a long term, comprehensive partnership. Canvas recently spoke to Motta and Sias, who discussed their collaboration: Motta: This season, we did an artist exchange where our Ben Needham did the scenic design for “Rasheeda Speaking” at Karamu, and their production manager,

Richard H. Morris Jr., designed “An Octoroon” at Dobama. Company members learning and communicating about how each of us have dealt with creative challenges and where we’ve succeeded and failed can help us all grow stronger. Sias: That exchange went exceptionally well and set the tone for future creative collaborations. Dobama will also be leasing a rehearsal room, storage space and a break room at Karamu. Just recently, our artists (in “Sister Act”) rehearsed next door to theirs (in “Peter and the Starcatcher”), so people are getting to know each other and understand the culture of our respective institutions. Motta: By encouraging artists we work with to work – and see work – at other places, they learn new ways of doing things and experience other artists’ approaches to theater making. We are also working toward making the creation of theater more cost effective, while increasing the quality of the artistic product. This is nothing but a good thing for our audiences. Sias: The Karamu/Dobama partnership will also be a catalyst for community outreach, engagement and education. We’re launching a new joint program called Theatre Artists for Social Change (TASC) that will mount organized artistic responses to current news events that concern social justice. This way, our theaters can be responsive and proactive, and our art can play a bigger role in creating awareness and change.

and opened at La Jolla Playhouse and moved to the Alley Theatre in Houston after spending a few weeks at the CPH. According to Kevin Moore, who became managing director of Cleveland Play House in 2007, “we are extremely selective about how many of these partnerships originate elsewhere. ‘Freaky Friday’ is our first received co-production in two years because a received co-pro means less work is available for our CPH production teams.” But co-productions allow for large and elaborate shows to be staged here that could not otherwise be afforded because of the production rights, the prominent directors and designers brought in, and the large number of cast members they require. (“Freaky Friday” has a cast of 17 and a nine-member band.) The CPH has also done collaborative cross-disciplinary projects with the worldclass Cleveland Orchestra, including the most recent commissioned world premiere of Quiara Alegria Hudes’s play for actorand-orchestra, “The Good Peaches.” “These are landmark opportunities,” says Moore, “where audiences get to see work that would not otherwise be done by two venerable institutions. Financially, sharing costs allow both arts organizations to keep operating and innovating.” Suggests

Laura Kepley, CPH artistic director, “The logistical challenges of this partnership are really artistic possibilities. For each group to get to expose its core audience to an adjacent art form is really exciting.” Another collaboration is the jointly administered Case Western Reserve University/ Cleveland Play House Master of Fine Arts in Acting Program, which began in 1996. Students are not only taught by industry professionals from CWRU, they also receive training from CPH artists and internationally renowned guest artists. A third-year residency at CPH provides students with on-stage performance experience in CPH productions, such as last season’s “The Crucible.” A 2009 partnership with Cleveland State University and the Playhouse Square Foundation helped finance the flexible 300-seat Outcalt Theatre and the 150-seat Helen Rosenfeld Lewis Bialosky Lab Theatre, which are shared by CPH, Playhouse Square, CSU and the CWRU/CPH MFA Acting Program. These are just a few of the partnerships taking place in the local arts community. “The spirit of collaboration in Cleveland,” notes Kepley, “is the most generous and robust of any city I have ever worked in.”

Michael C. Butz

Cleveland Play House’s promiscuity Cleveland Play House, founded in 1915 and the recipient of the 2015 Regional Theatre Tony Award, has produced more than 100 world or American premieres, and during its long history, more than 12 million people have attended more than 1,600 productions. The CPH balances several collaborations at once to help maintain this level of productivity. One is an artistic and financial co-production partnership with a variety of sister theater companies across the country. The CPH and partnering theaters collaborate on show selection and artistic staffing, and share the costs of building, casting, rehearsing and staging the shows. In the 2016-17 season, “Baskerville” was built and opened in Cleveland and then went to Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. “How I Learned to Drive” went to Syracuse Stage after its opening run at the CPH. “Disney’s Freaky Friday” was built


Laura Kepley, Cleveland Play House artistic director, and Donald Carrier, interim director of the Case Western Reserve University/Cleveland Play House MFA acting program, inside the Allen Theatre lobby in downtown Cleveland.

Fall 2017 | Canvas | 31

Stage Listings

Presented by

Cleveland Eats | Sept. 15-16, 2017 | Downtown Cleveland | 2017-18 SEASON • Sept. 15 to Oct. 8, 2017: “The Woman in Black” • Nov. 10 to Dec. 10: “Christmas at the Wiley Diner” • Jan. 12 to Feb. 4, 2018: “Godspell 2012 Revised Version” • March 9-31: “Silent Sky” • May 4-27: “The Explorer’s Club”

THEATERS BECK CENTER FOR THE ARTS 17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood P: 216-521-2540 W: Beck Center for the Arts is more than a nonprofit organization that combines professional theater with arts education. We create art experiences. We are committed to creating art experiences as individual as the people we serve with eclectic performances to suit many tastes, education opportunities for all ages and abilities, community outreach programs and free art exhibitions.

2017-18 SEASON • Sept. 15 to Oct. 8, 2017: “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” • Oct. 6 to Nov. 5: “Waiting for Godot” • Dec. 1 to 31: “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” • Feb. 9 to 25, 2018: “HAIR” • March 30 to April 29: “My First Time” • June 1 to July 1: “Bent” • July 6 to Aug. 12: “Gypsy”

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.

CESEAR’S FORUM 2796 Tinkers Lane, Twinsburg P: 330-405-3045 W:

2017-18 SEASON • Sept. 1-24, 2017: “brownsville song (b-side for tray)” • Oct. 13 to Nov. 12: “Marjorie Prime” • Dec. 1-30: “Sherlock Holmes: The Baker Street Irregulars” • Jan. 19 to Feb. 11, 2018: “Grounded” • March 2-25: “The Effect” • April 20 to May 20: “Appropriate” • June 21 to July 8: “On the Grill” (in partnership with the Cleveland Israel Arts Connection)

Cesear’s Forum will present “Yasmina Reza’s LIFE x 3” (translated by Christopher Hampton) weekends from Sept. 22 to Oct. 28 at Kennedy’s Theatre in Playhouse Square, 1501 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland. Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m.; Sunday matinees at 3 p.m. For tickets or additional information, visit


2017-18 SEASON • Sept. 22 to Oct. 28, 2017: “Yasmina Reza’s LIFE x 3” CLAGUE PLAYHOUSE 1371 Clague Road, Westlake P: 440-331-0403 W: FB: We are delighted to celebrate 90 seasons of the arts, including 50 years in Walter Clague’s Barn. Throughout the season, we’ll have plenty planned! We thank every patron, volunteer, actor, designer, director and other staff and crew for keeping the Westlake community vibrant with the arts. Tickets available online at

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Voted “Best Theatre and Gallery in Lorain County” by readers of Pulse Magazine, Stocker Arts Center presents touring national and international musical theater and theater productions, dance companies and musicians, a student matinee series, a studio sessions series and a film series, as well as seven annual visual arts exhibitions.

2017-18 PERFORMING ARTISTS SERIES • Oct. 9, 2017: “Tuesdays With Morrie” • Oct. 27: SHUFFLE Concert • Feb. 11, 2018: “Neil Berg’s Pianomen – An Intimate Tribute to Billy Joel and Elton John” • March 6: “Million Dollar Quartet” • March 23: “The Magic of Bill Blagg Live!” • April 22: “Candid Camera – 8 Decades of Smiles with Peter Funt”

Listings provided by advertisers.

Stage Listings A wealth of theaters, dance companies, orchestras and opera companies call Northeast Ohio home. Canvas is happy to encourage readers to explore what the region has to offer by providing the following list of organizations.

THEATERS BLANK CANVAS THEATRE 1305 W. 80th St., Suite 211, Cleveland P: 440-941-0458 W:

CHAGRIN VALLEY LITTLE THEATRE 40 River St., Chagrin Falls P: 440-247-8955 W:

CLEVELAND PLAY HOUSE 1901 E. 13th St., Cleveland P: 216-241-6000 W:

CLEVELAND PUBLIC THEATRE 6415 Detroit Ave., Cleveland P: 216-631-2727 W:

COACH HOUSE THEATRE 732 W. Exchange St., Akron P: 330-434-7741 W:

CONVERGENCE-CONTINUUM 2438 Scranton Road, Cleveland P: 216-687-0074 W:

GREAT LAKES THEATER 2067 East 14th St., Cleveland P: 216-241-6000 W:




6702 Detroit Ave., Cleveland P: 216-961-6391 W:

13125 Shaker Square, Suite 102, Cleveland P: 216-751-0088 W:



1835 Merriman Road, Akron P: 330-962-5547 W:

3615 Euclid Ave., 3rd Floor, Cleveland 11125 Magnolia Drive, Cleveland P: 216-721-8580 W:

OHIO SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL 103 S. High St., Akron P: 330-374-7574 W:

PLAYHOUSE SQUARE 1501 Euclid Ave., Suite 200, Cleveland P: 216-241-6000 P: 216-771-4444 W:

PLAYWRIGHTS LOCAL 397 E. 156th St., Cleveland P: 216-302-8856 W:

PORTHOUSE THEATRE 3143 O’Neil Road, Cuyahoga Falls P: 330-672-3884 W:

TALESPINNER CHILDREN’S THEATRE 5209 Detroit Ave., Cleveland P: 216-264-9680 W:


P: (216) 393-PLAY W:

5403 Detroit Ave., Cleveland P: 440-941-1482 W:



2355 E. 89th St., Cleveland P: 216-795-7070 W:

1301 Weathervane Lane, Akron P: 330-836-2626 W:

MAMAÍ THEATRE COMPANY 1407 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 216-570-3403 W:

MERCURY THEATRE COMPANY 1857 S. Green Road, South Euclid P: 216-771-5862 W:

THE MUSICAL THEATER PROJECT 5755 Granger Road, #830, Independence P: 216-860-1518 W:


DANCE CLEVELAND BALLET 23030 Miles Road, Bedford Heights P: 216-320-9000 W:

DANCECLEVELAND 13110 Shaker Square, Suite 106, Cleveland P: 216-991-9000 W:

VERB BALLETS 3445 Warrensville Center Road, Shaker Hts. P: 216-397-3757 W:

MUSIC AKRON SYMPHONY 92 N. Main St., Akron P: 330-535-8131 W:

APOLLO’S FIRE 3091 Mayfield Road, #217, Cleveland Hts. P: 216-320-0012 W:

CANTON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA 2331 17th St. NW, Canton P: 330-452-2094 W:


THE CLEVELAND OPERA 6501 Lansing Ave., Cleveland P: 216-816-1411 W:

THE CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA 11001 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 216-231-1111 W:

CLEVELAND POPS ORCHESTRA 24000 Mercantile Road, Unit 8, Beachwood P: 216-765-7677 W:



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Center stage Jose Luiz Pederneiras / DANCECleveland

Home to a variety of theater, classical music and dance offerings, Northeast Ohio stages are in the spotlight By Alyssa Schmitt


ith scores of stages from Cleveland to Akron and Canton – and in many of the suburbs in between – Northeast Ohio is bursting at the seams with dance, theater and classical music offerings. So much so, in fact, Karen Gahl-Mills, CEO and executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, one of the largest public funders of arts and culture in the U.S., says the thriving region performs at a level higher than might be expected of it.

“When you look at the list of all the organizations we fund – much less everything that’s out there – we do seem like we have more stuff, more stages, more organizations doing more work here than really belies a city of our size,” Gahl-Mills says. That the area is experiencing this boom is in part a result of previous generations making arts part of the region’s foundation. To that point, several institutions are celebrating milestone anniversa-


The Cleveland Orchestra’s Gala Concert will take place Oct. 7 and serve as the celebratory kick-off to launch Second Century initiatives at the start of the ensemble’s 100th season. For more, visit


Performances of “Rhinoceros” (Aug. 25 – Sept. 16) and “In the Closet” (Oct. 13 – Nov. 4) will take place at Liminis Theatre. For more, visit


A performance by the Koresh Dance Company will take place Oct. 1 at The University of Akron’s E.J. Thomas Hall, and a performance by the Paul Taylor Dance Company will take place Nov. 11 at Playhouse Square’s Ohio Theatre. For more, visit

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DANCECleveland brings in nationally recognized dance companies like the contemporary Brazilian dance company Grupo Corpo, which exemplifies a minimalistic approach to dance.

ries, including The Cleveland Orchestra, whose upcoming 2017-18 season marks its centennial anniversary. “Cleveland used to be a city of a million people, so many of our cultural institutions are celebrating 100th anniversaries over the course of the last five and next five years,” Gahl-Mills says. “That speaks to those institutions being built at a time when Cleveland was a much bigger city with a much larger population. And it was a population of folks who really did believe that having arts and culture in your community needed to be part of your community’s DNA. It was a way to speak of yourself as a world city.” The idea that Cleveland is a worldclass arts city may sound foreign to outsiders, but compared to stage scenes in New York City or Chicago, Cleveland’s large and vibrant performance arts culture – and its focus on community – stack up quite well, says Clyde Simon, co-founder and art director of convergence-continuum, a Cleveland theater company that calls Tremont’s Liminis Theatre home. “Since (convergence-continuum) started (in 2000), the theater scene in

Cleveland has really grown,” Simon says. “In terms of quality, we’re definitely there. The productions that I’ve seen in those other places and the ones I’ve seen in Cleveland are equal in quality, and we’re being recognized outside of the area for such things. Cleveland has been getting some national attention beyond our own city limits.” Quality guides the livelihood of Cleveland’s stages, but the secret to its growing audience is accessibility. Nationally known productions run through Cleveland often. Those who can’t afford to make the trip to New York City to see a renowned play or musical – chances are – can see it in Cleveland. “We have a lot of offerings that, (in) many cities, you don’t necessarily have the opportunity to experience,” says Sarah Hricko, marketing manager at DANCECleveland, a stand-alone, dance-only presenter based in Cleveland’s Shaker Square neighborhood. “We’re able to provide, at DANCECleveland, the ability for people to see world-class dance performances that in many places people would have to drive really far to get to, or in New York for example, you’re going to be spending at least double what you pay for tickets here.” The Cleveland Orchestra has also increased accessibility in recent years. In addition to regularly performing at Severance Hall in Cleveland and Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, the orchestra has participated in neighborhood residences in Lakewood and Cleveland’s DetroitShoreway, Slavic Village and Hough neighborhoods. By performing in more familiar environs, the orchestra is able to present its world-renowned performances to audiences that may not otherwise get to experience them, says Justin Holden, Cleveland Orchestra’s director of public relations. “Providing access, in general, in different settings –


Roger Mastroianni / The Cleveland Orchestra The world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra performs at Severance Hall in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood.


“Five Flights” transformed the entire theater space at convergence-continuum’s Liminis Theatre in Cleveland into the interior of an abandoned aviary. whether it’s smaller ensembles or outside of a concert hall – just helps,” Holden says. “I think that when people are asked to connect with it simply as great music and great artists performing, then it’s easier for them to have an experience that’s meaningful to them.” Many organizations are also engaging audiences over and above an evening’s main performance. Pre-show talks explaining the history of the production, classes in which

audiences can interact with performers and Q&A sessions allowing audience members to speak directly to creative talent are all common ways connections are being built. “We want to try to make sure that not only are you seeing the show, but you’re getting to interact before and after the show as well,” Hricko says. “It’s all about creating different experiences for different people.” Each stage is unique, which may make it challeng-

ing (in a good way) when deciding what to see, but from dance to classical music to theater, there’s no shortage of options. “There’s a real variety in Cleveland of really different types of theaters, both physically and the kind of things they produce,” Simon says. “There’s a real wealth of theater and you can’t see everything in one week ... you’re going to miss stuff because there’s so much going on now.”

Fall 2017 | Canvas | 35


STORY Four institutions on Northeast Ohio’s western edge represent a wealth of artistic offerings By Ed Carroll

Michael C. Butz

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American Greetings Above: Gallery W set up for The 37th Annual American Greetings Fine Art Show in 2016. Previous page: “Moving Up” by Sarah Kabot, part of “Constructions” at Gallery W.


rom a world-class museum at a liberal arts college to a cutting-edge gallery at an outdoor shopping center, or from a thriving community arts hub on the shores of Lake Erie to an all-in-one community college arts center home to both visual and performance art, Northeast Ohio’s outer-ring West Side suburbs have something to satisfy artistic interests of all types. Varied only slightly by geography, the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, Gallery W at Crocker Park in Westlake, BAYarts in Bay Village and Stocker Arts Center at Lorain County Community College in Elyria combine to make western Cuyahoga and eastern Lorain counties a well-respected hot spot for those in the immediate area and a must-experience destination for those who aren’t already familiar. OBERLIN’S ART ‘GEM’ The Allen Memorial Art Museum in Oberlin celebrated its centennial anniversary June 12, and like most institutions that have stood for a century, it’s steeped in history. The Allen Memorial Art Museum was founded by Elisabeth Severance Allen Prentiss and her husband, Dr. Dudley Allen, who wanted to build an art museum for Oberlin College. Allen passed away before construction began, hence it’s a memorial museum. Renowned architect Cass Gilbert designed the building. Megan Harding, manager of publications, membership and media for the Allen Memorial Art Museum, says people in the area have grown up with the collection. “It’s a resource people can come in and view for 10 to 15 minutes and look at one painting, or spend a couple hours and look at the entire collection,” she says. The entire college is encouraged to use the museum as a resource, no matter the course material – be it an astronomy class measuring the quilt of the night sky or a mathematics


class measuring the volume of an ancient Greek cup – because it likely has something to relate to it. “We find that by combining (classes and the museum), students get a richer experience and an appreciation for the visual arts they might not otherwise have,” Harding says. In addition, the Allen Memorial Art Museum showcases world-class works of art, which the public is free to enjoy. “This is a very high-quality collection here,” Harding says. “These works are on par with what they have at the Cleveland Museum of Art. We have been ranked consistently for decades as one of the top five academic art museums in the country. People don’t know what they have here. It’s really a gem. It’s a wonderful place to visit.” UNIQUELY POSITIONED Gallery W is relatively new to Northeast Ohio’s art scene. It opened in 2016 on the first floor of American Greetings’ Creative Studios in Westlake’s Crocker Park shopping center. Gallery W is spacious, featuring ceilings that are 13 feet high and about 23,000 linear square feet of wall space. Linda Marshall, creative director at American Greetings and gallery manager at Gallery W, describes the gallery as a “gift to everyone” from the company. “American Greetings wanted to recognize our creative roots as an organization,” she says. “They wanted to make this a statement and an important statement. They decided to make this first floor kind of an olive branch to the community for anyone who wants to come in publicly to visit American Greetings or any guest to come into our gallery or our lobby and just enjoy creativity and be inspired.” Due to the large space, Gallery W often features established artists – frequently affiliated with Northeast Ohio – who are capable and confident enough to hold the space. Recent shows have featured Barry Underwood, Sarah Kabot, Joseph Minek, Jerry Birchfield, George Kozmon and Loren Naji.

Fall 2017 | Canvas | 37

Stocker Arts Center Visitors take in a recent exhibition at the Beth K. Stocker Art Gallery at Lorain County Community College’s Stocker Arts Center. Megan Baucco, associate manager of marketing communications at American Greetings, says Gallery W is fortunate to be part of a larger corporation. As a result, it doesn’t need to sell art to survive, meaning it can take creative risks on the art it features. “We try to humbly say we’re unique over here, and if we’re being technical about it, there’s nothing else like us,” she says. “We’re really fortunate that there’s no bottom line in Gallery W because that gives us a unique opportunity to show pieces others might not want to because they’re not for sale. If you think we’re just another art gallery to stop by and check out, then you need to come back a few more times and see how very different we are.” Community appeal BAYarts was founded by area artists seeking community in 1948. Originally named Baycrafters, the nonprofit became BAYarts in 2006, and today, it primarily operates as an arts education facility. However, BAYarts artistic director Karen Petkovic says the organization has evolved to be more of a professional gallery

Scott Shaw / Allen Memorial Art Museum At right, Andrea Gyorody, curator of modern and contemporary art, discusses “Wisteria,” one of two paintings in the Allen’s collection by French impressionist painter Claude Monet. and hosts regular exhibitions. BAYarts has two galleries: the Diane Boldman Education Gallery, which largely showcases work by BAYarts faculty, staff and students, and the Sullivan Family Gallery, which hosts shows featuring professional artists. BAYarts’ base consists primarily of Bay Village, Westlake, North Olmsted and Avon Lake residents, but people from across Northeast Ohio visit the organization’s campus. When it comes to selecting artists to feature or finding curators for shows, Petkovic says she tries to reach past BAYarts’ base to infuse the galleries with artistic diversity, citing the “My Cuban Experience” and “Cuban Art Invitational” shows on view in July as recent examples. “We always are trying to kind of shake it up a little bit,” she says. BAYarts has thrived throughout the years, Petkovic says, in part due to its inviting atmosphere. “It’s just a very welcoming place,” she says. “It has a huge history, and the fact that it’s in the (Cleveland) Metroparks – and the buildings are historic and interesting to the community – is part of it.

FireFish fun The third annual FireFish Festival will again bring art, music, dance and fire performances to downtown Lorain – but this year, those events will span two instead of just one. From 5 to 10 p.m. Oct. 6, the festival will feature regionally acclaimed music groups and art installations across Lorain’s abandoned storefronts. From 2 to 11 p.m. Oct. 7, the party will continue with music, dance and theater performances, leading up to the grand finale, the FireFish Processional. There, the crowd will join dancers, fire jugglers, baton twirlers, stilt walkers and drummers as they make their way to the Black River landing for the lighting of ceremonial papier-mâché fish in a fire display. The FireFish Festival was created by James Levin, who also co-founded IngenuityFest and founded Cleveland World Festival. For more, visit

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Steve Wagner / FireFish Festival

BAYarts Artists from across the country visited BAYarts in September 2016 when it hosted the Ohio Plein Air Society’s Annual Competition. “We’ve worked really hard to have programming, shows, summer concerts and (other) things that really reach out to the community so that they can come out for an evening right in their own backyard and see a band or a professional gallery show and send their kids to classes. It kind of just does everything, bringing it together.” MULTIDIMENSIONAL OFFERINGS The C. Paul Stocker Humanities and Fine Arts Center, commonly known as the Stocker Arts Center, was established in 1980 as part of Lorain County Community College in Elyria and serves as a multifunctional arts center not only for the college, but for the entire community, featuring two theaters, art education and a gallery, the Beth K. Stocker Art Gallery. The Stocker Arts Center is open to the public and always free, for LCCC students and nonstudents alike, but those aren’t the sole reasons for its popularity. Stocker Arts Center director Janet Herman Barlow suggests the center is so highly regarded because the college prioritizes supporting and cultivating it. “I think the college has nurtured it throughout its history, for all 37 years it’s been here,” she says. “I think the college takes a lot of pride in what it can bring to the community and what it stands for.” Stocker Arts Center presents theater, music and other fine arts, and its gallery showcases for both students and faculty. “At least two of our shows every year are student exhibitions, strictly the work of students at Lorain County Community College,” she says. “Every other year, we do a faculty exhibition as well. This fall, we’ll open with the arts faculty fine arts exhibit. … It’s a sign that the college


is deeply committed to fine arts – as well as to other kinds of academic programs.” Herman Barlow says Stocker Arts Center is the “community’s arts center.” “We’re the only place that really has it all in one,” she says. “We’re closer than you think and it’s worth making the trip.”

ON VIEW ALLEN MEMORIAL ART MUSEUM “Maidenform to Modernishm: The Bissett Collection” and “This is Your Art: The Legacy of Ellen Johnson” opened Aug. 15 at 87 North Main St., Oberlin.

BAYARTS “Equal: Jessica Pinsky” and “Teacher Tell Me a Story: The Mad Side of Wonderland” will be on view through Sept. 23 at 28795 Lake Road, Bay Village.

GALLERY W “The 38th Annual American Greetings Fine Art Show” will be on view from Sept. 15 to Oct. 27. An opening reception will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 15 at 1 American Blvd., Westlake.

STOCKER ARTS CENTER The “Art Faculty Fine Art Exhibit” will be on view from Aug. 28 to Sept. 22. An artists’ reception will be held from 3 to 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at 1005 N. Abbe Road, Elyria. “James Massena March: Retrospective” will be on view from Sept. 28 to Oct. 27, with an artist’s reception from 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 28.

Fall 2017 | Canvas | 39

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. 23rd St., Cleveland P: 216-721-9020 W:

The Butler Institute of American Art 524 Wick Ave., Youngstown P: 330-743-1107 W:

The Butler is known worldwide as “America’s Museum.” Founded in 1919 by Joseph G. Butler Jr., it is America’s first museum devoted entirely to American art. The original structure is considered an architectural masterpiece, and is listed as a landmark on the National Registry of Historic Places. Admission is free. Canton Museum of Art 1001 Market Ave. N, Canton P: 330-453-7666 W:

Great Lakes Science Center 601 Erieside Ave., Cleveland P: 216-694-2000 W:

Lake View Cemetery 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:

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

Cleveland Cultural Gardens

Art and history come together at the Massillon Museum to stimulate cultural excitement in Northeast Ohio. “Paul Brown: Innovator” Aug. 19 through spring 2018. “Stark County in the Great War” through Nov. 12. “Stark County Artists Exhibition” Dec. 3 through Jan. 31, 2018. The Immel Circus is always on view. Unique shop, café and vintage photo booth.

East Boulevard & Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Cleveland W:

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland

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

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

Cleveland Museum of Natural History 1 Wade Oval Drive, Cleveland P: 216-231-4600 W:

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

Crawford Auto Aviation Collection The History Center in University Circle 10825 East Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-721-5722 W:

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

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-781-ROCK W:

Rockefeller Park Greenhouse 750 E. 88th St., Cleveland P: 216-664-3103 W:

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. While learning about Shaker Heights history, take a look at the Lissauer Art Gallery, where local artists are featured. A short walk from RTA Green Line’s Lee Road station.

SUNDAY,, OCTOBER SU TOB 222ND NOON - 5:000 pm Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, y Arts & Crafts Sale, y, Children’ss Halloween Costume Contest Children Trick or orTreating, Treating, reating, Scavenger Hunt, Pet Adoptions, Euclid Beach Rocket Car,r,r Castle Bounce House, Balloon & Face Painting Clowns, HistoricalTou Historical Tou TTour,r,r Super Hero Hero’ss & Princesses, Fire FireTruck, Truck, Canine Unit, Live Music, Entertainment, Food & More. Located in the Cedar Fairmount Business District 2460 Fairmount Bld. Cleveland Heights, OH 44106

216 791-3172



THE HARRIS STANTON GALLERY 1370 W. 9th St., Cleveland P: 216-471-8882 2301 West Market St., Akron P: 330-867-7600 W: FB:

78TH STREET STUDIOS 1300 W. 78th St., Cleveland 1305 W. 80th St., Cleveland W:

78th Street Studios is the largest fine arts complex in Northeast Ohio, with more than 60 retail galleries, studios and other creative spaces all under one roof. ARTISANS’ CORNER GALLERY 11110 Kinsman Road, Newbury P: 440-739-4128 W: FB:

Located in Newbury Center, this spacious gallery is filled with a collection of high-quality, affordable art and handmade gifts from area artisans. Custom picture framing available. Offering a variety of classes, workshops and events. For more information please visit 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. BE.GALLERY 14 Bell St., Chagrin Falls P: 1-844-234-4387 W:

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 and gifts with meaning are our specialty. Find that perfect unique gift at! CONTESSA GALLERY Legacy Village 24667 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst P: 216-382-7800 W: Cleveland’s finest gallery, specializing in contemporary and modern masters as well as the most prominent American and international artists living today. We are redefining fine art in the Midwest and invite you to be a part of it. 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.

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“Mmagata,” 26 x 21, mixed media. Artwork by Khela Chepape Makgato.

The Harris Stanton Gallery is celebrating its 30th year of offering the finest original artwork to its residential and corporate clients. The gallery represents select artists from Northeast Ohio and Europe. The collection of the gallery ranges in style from traditional to abstract and contemporary and includes work in a multitude of mediums. Check our website for gallery hours.

HEDGE GALLERY 1300 W. 78th St., Suite 200, Cleveland P: 216-650-4201 W: HEDGE Gallery, located in 78th Street Studios: Cleveland’s premier venue to view contemporary work created by established and emerging artists of Northeast Ohio. We specialize in showing some of the most vibrant painters, printmakers, sculptors and fiber artists in the region. Open Tuesday to Friday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Evening and weekends by appointment.

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

We are fine art painters working in oil or acrylic on canvas and recently on mirrored “Guys and Gulls,” steel. Our subjects range from figurative to 24 x 36 inches, abstract. This is a working studio in Little oil on mirrored steel. Italy, so it’s best to call before visiting to Artwork by Lee Heinen. be sure we’re there. Lee Heinen was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award FY 2017. LOCAL ARTIST TREE 1150 Linda St., Rocky River P: 440-665-3122 W: FB:

The fine art of giving begins at the Local Artist Tree. We are a shop that features local art, craft and fine handmade jewelry. We offer something for everyone. We have the best selection of Lake Erie Beach Glass jewelry in the city. We are full of art that celebrates Cleveland from photography, paintings and mixed media.


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.

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. This past year, the HPS cast and crew brought home two Playhouse Square Dazzle Awards for their production of Les Miserables: 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.

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 Rockapella and Mariachi Band 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

Last year’s opening of Stirn Hall, with its new dance studio, a Media and Communications Lab and a Fabrication Lab, has opened up a whole new world of creative, interdisciplinary possibilities. This past year, the Creative Movement class 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. Plans are currently in progress for an Innovation Lab on the Lyndhurst campus, where even our youngest students will be able to immerse themselves in the art of creative design. Visit to learn more about the full menu of arts options available at Hawken for 2017-2018, and join us for a Lyndhurst Morning Visit, preschool through grade 8, on Tuesday, September 26 at 8:45 am or for our All School Open House on Sunday, October 29 at 1:00 pm at our Lyndhurst (preschool – grade 8) and Gates Mills (grades 9-12) campuses. Visit for more information and to RSVP.

LISTINGS Loganberry


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. McKAY BRICKER FRAMING BLACK SQUIRREL GALLERY & GIFTS 141 East Main St., Kent P: 330-673-5058 W: FB:

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A picture framing shop and home of Black Squirrel Gallery & Gifts. Featuring artisan jewelry, local art, home décor, greeting cards, Black Squirrel items, and of course our award-winning custom framing. Archival framing to preserve treasured memories. Gift certificates are available. Beautifying area homes and businesses since 1984. PENNELLO GALLERY 12407 Mayfield Road, Cleveland P: 216-707-9390 W:

Pennello Gallery in Little Italy specializes in contemporary American, Canadian and ISRAELI fine art and craft. You will always find a sophisticated selection, including many one-of-a-kind studio glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood, metal, sculpture, unique Judaica and paintings in all media. You may call for an appointment to meet with our bridal registry specialists. Find and like us on Facebook!

School House Galleries in 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. Giclee and “Wedding canvas prints. She also offers custom-cut Orchids,” 20 x 16 silhouettes, which make for a special and inches, oil. Artwork unique gift. by Tricia Kaman. UNCOMMON ART 178½ N. Main St., Hudson P: 216-789-2751 W: FB:

Uncommon Art – a unique blend of art studios, micro gallery and classroom – shows art and jewelry by Dana Giel-Ray, Shannon Casey and Karen Koch. The artists offer classes and private lessons in drawing, painting, mixed media, collage and jewelry making. Visitors are welcome 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays. WOLFS Gallery 13010 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-721-6945 W:

WOLFS has proudly been an important part of Cleveland’s art community for more than 35 years. We specialize in fine paintings, sculpture and decorative arts from the 17th century to present day, with a large selection of Cleveland School art. We provide certified accredited appraisals of fine art and antiques, and regularly present art salons. Wood Trader 13429 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights P: 216-397-7671 W:

Preserve your unique treasures. Put the final touches on a room with great art and framing. Art will look best and bring joy to you and your space when it’s something personal, something you made, collected, inherited or simply love. The right frame can make a picture perfect for your home.

SUSAN PORGES/THE ART STUDIO 23945 Mercantile Road, Unit O, Beachwood P: 216-406-7494 W: FB:

Susan Porges with her assistant, Farfel.

Weekly classes with Susan and upcoming workshops with visiting artists: “Painting the Flower in Oil with Joseph Daily,” Oct. 7-9; “Pastel Landscape with Jacob Aguiar,” Nov. 11-13; “Pastel Portrait Workshop with Christine Swann,” April 14-16, 2018; “Pastel Workshop with Jen Evenhus,” May 18-20, 2018. “Painting in the Cinque Terre, Italy with Susan Porges,” Sept. 27 – Oct. 4, 2018.

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The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage



ooted in Jewish heritage, the Maltz Museum promotes cross-cultural dialogue and an appreciation for the diversity of the human experience. While the Museum’s core exhibition An American Story chronicles the Jewish immigrant experience, the challenges these newcomers faced are similar to those of other groups who have sought opportunity in America. The strikingly beautiful artifacts showcased in The Temple-Tifereth Israel Gallery embody Jewish tradition and ritual, but they also highlight the links between Judaism and other faiths. The Museum brings history to life and connects it to the present day through a packed calendar of thought-provoking public programs and an expansive array of rotating exhibitions. The nonprofit shares moving stories of individuals who’ve had the courage to break down societal barriers. It also offers a platform for creative expression and a safe forum to engage in vital cultural conversations. “We get inspired here – connecting the past to the present to better create our future,” explains Managing Director, David Schafer. “This museum creates awareness on how to be our better selves and inclusive of others.” Nearly 10,000 students visit the museum annually, gaining insights into historical events that help them envision a brighter future. Another 4,000 passionate teens take a stand against discrimination in the museum’s Stop the Hate®: Youth Speak Out and Youth Sing Out anti-bias essay and songwriting competitions. Awarding $100,000 in college scholarships and education grants annually, the competitions not only provide a platform for students to speak out, but they actively encourage students to develop solutions to effect positive change in their schools and communities. Concerts, panel discussions, plays, film screenings and thought-provoking exhibitions attract visitors of all ages and backgrounds. This summer, the hands-on, kid-friendly exhibit Centuries of Childhood: An American Story offered young children the chance interact with the stories of five children and their families. Ranging from Jacob, the Jewish immigrant living in Cleveland to Michael, the African American child who moves from the Deep South to Chicago, the characters helps kids connect American history to their own experiences. In addition to Centuries of Childhood, which was organized by the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, visitors to the Maltz Museum had the opportunity to interact with the 1935 poem “Let America be America Again” by acclaimed poet and once Cleveland resident Langston Hughes. Strikingly current, the poem poses questions about the American Dream, equality, immigration, poverty and racism, describing America as “The land that has never been yet….” Carrying discussion on social justice issues and the citywide celebration Stokes: Honoring the Past, Inspiring the Future into the present, the Maltz Museum continues its commitment to hosting challenging conversations while welcoming diverse viewpoints. The next exhibit, Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America, tells the story of how Jews were forced to create access to their own healthcare in the face of discrimination and illustrates how Jews used medicine to assimilate into American society, making significant contributions to the medical world and advancing civil rights. The exhibit opens October 10, 2017 and runs through April 8, 2018. For more information, please visit

Beth Segal

Beth Segal

Anthony Gray



CEDAR FAIRMOUNT BUSINESS DISTRICT Intersection of Cedar Road and Fairmount Boulevard Cleveland Heights W:

Upcoming events: Height’s Music Hop in Cedar Fairmount: 6 to 10 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8; Top of the Hill Community Meeting: 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19, at Cleveland Heights Community Center; Cedar Fairmount Fall Family Festival: noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22; and Cedar Fairmount Small Business Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 25.

4201 W. 42nd St., 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 Studio on third Fridays; and every Saturday from Memorial Day to Labor Day at The Old Firehouse Winery in Geneva-on-the-Lake. Visit our website for more events and details.




Saturday, Aug. 26: Noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27: Noon to 6 p.m. Shaker Square P: 216.751.7656 W: FB:

8806 Towpath Road NE, Bolivar P: 330-874-4444 W: FB:

Cleveland Garlic Festival will take place at Shaker Square on Saturday, Aug. 26, from noon to 9 p.m., and Sunday, Aug. 27, 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! FLATS FESTIVAL OF THE ARTS AND OUTDOOR ART SHOW FLATS EAST BANK AND HOWARD ALAN EVENTS, LTD. Saturday, Aug. 19: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 20: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Flats East Bank W: FB:

Worthington, Ohio clay artist Nancy Nearing.

Featuring various types of notable local and national artists who will exhibit and sell their work by Cleveland’s waterfront. Flats Festival of the Arts will also include many of the region’s most talented musicians and dancers. A wide selection of food and beverages will be available, including Flats East Bank’s onsite dining and entertainment establishments.

Fine casual dining in Zoar’s original tavern and inn. Located on the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath and the Ohio and Erie Scenic Byway, the Canal Tavern of Zoar offers “travelers” on the Canalway and visitors to Zoar excellent food and beverages and our traditional Zoar hospitality.

FRIENDS OF CANVAS CHAGRIN YOGA 524 E. Washington St., Chagrin Falls P: 440-247-4884 W: FB:

Our introductory offer – $40 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. Listings are provided by advertisers and as a courtesy to readers.

INGENUITYFEST 2017 Friday, Sept. 22: 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 23: Noon to 1 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 24: Noon to 5 p.m. 5401 Hamilton Ave., Cleveland (Entrance on Marquette Avenue) P: 216-589-9444 W: FB:

Discover and explore the new Hamilton Collaborative in St ClairSuperior through art installations, maker activities, live music, food and more! Experience the wacky and wonderful for just $5 for a day pass or $10 for a weekend pass. (Plus, kids 12 and under get in free!) Tickets available at

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“The Best Arts Event in Cleveland.” —Scene Magazine “The Mother of all Art Walks.” —Boston Globe

Come see the largest fine art complex in the region with over 60 galleries, studios, and other creative spaces all under one roof! On THIRD FRIDAYS, the whole building comes alive from 5 - 9PM for the most fascinating art walk you’ve ever experienced. Industrial spaces are available inside our property for your own benefit, corporate meeting, wedding or birthday bash! See the web site for details.


08.18.17 09.15.17 10.20.17

1300 W. 78th St. at the west end of the Gordon Square Arts District

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08.17.18 09.21.18 10.19.18

y d a e R t e G

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ounded in 1915, Hawken School is a coeducational private day school of over 1,200 students with an Upper School campus in Gates Mills (grades 9-12), a Lower and Middle School campus in Lyndhurst (preschool – grade 8), a preschool – grade 8 campus on Cleveland’s west side, and an urban extension center in University Circle. Supported by over $7 million in tuition assistance, the school is profoundly committed to the development of character and intellect. With its nationally recognized programming and stunning facilities, Hawken offers non-traditional schedules to support immersive learning and innovative teaching, real-world partnerships that connect students to their local and global communities, and inspirational learning spaces that support and stimulate learning by doing. Hawken’s tradition of academic excellence instills in members of its diverse and unified student body the skills needed to thrive in a complex world. Hawken Gates Mills Campus 12465 County Line Road, Gates Mills, Ohio 44040

Coed Preschool - Grade 12

Opportunities to visit in September and October! For more information call 440.423.4446 or visit

Birchwood School of Hawken 4400 West 140th Street, Cleveland, Ohio 44135

Hawken Lyndhurst Campus 5000 Clubside Road, Lyndhurst, Ohio 44124