Canvas Winter 2017

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NORTHEAST OHIO | arts | music | performance

Winter 2017


the familiar Lane Cooper distorts everyday imagery,

transforming the ubiquitous into the experiential

NOW THROUGH APRIL 8, 2018 AN EDUCATION ON THE HISTORIC FIGHT FOR EQUALITY IN HEALTHCARE AND A LOOK TO THE FUTURE OF MEDICINE IN AMERICA. 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. BRING A GROUP OR HOST AN EVENT Contact 216.593.0595 or THE EXHIBITION IS GENEROUSLY SPONSORED BY


Stanley Blum

2929 Richmond Rd. Beachwood, OH 216.593.0575 |

STAY CURIOUS! • Hundreds of fun, hands-on exhibits • Daily science demonstrations • NASA Glenn Visitor Center • Cleveland Clinic DOME Theater

Save $1 when you buy your ticket online.

6 Editor’s Note

Michael C. Butz talks about shopping local and supporting the arts this holiday season Peter Christian Johnson discusses his art at his Kent State University studio. Photo by Michael C. Butz.


Still standing

The sculptures of Peter Christian Johnson trap chaos as it spills

8 On Deck

Noteworthy upcoming openings and events from around Northeast Ohio

10 History lessons

Exhibitions exploring Rembrandt’s etchings and Japanese printmaking will mark the new year at Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum

20 Fragmenting the familiar


Lane Cooper distorts everyday imagery, transforming the ubiquitous into the experiential

28 Artists as activists

Several Northeast Ohio theater artists are using their stages to tackle issues such as racial discrimination, mental health and the opioid crisis

32 Holiday calendar/listings

Find unique holiday gifts by visitng these arts-focused events and businesses NORTHEAST OHIO | arts | music | performance

36 Local support

Winter 2017

Arts and crafts make for great holiday gifts, and buying from local galleries and shops helps support Northeast Ohio’s creative community and economy

40 Falling for the Falls


the familiar Lane Cooper distorts everyday imagery,

transforming the ubiquitous into the experiential

On the cover

Lane Cooper, “Lillian After the Fall” (detail), 2015, acrylic on canvas, 52 x 52 inches. Image courtesy of the artist.

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With a wide variety of art galleries and studios, Chagrin Falls offers something for almost everyone

44 Listings

Local listings for museums, galleries, theaters, events and more

think outside the lines Every day, Hathaway Brown students of all ages are encouraged to expand their horizons and see the world in new and exciting ways. Our outstanding academic curriculum is made more vibrant by hands on educational opportunities in all divisions. Creativity and innovation are at the heart of the HB experience, and students make their own unique and beautiful marks within and well beyond our classroom walls. Call 216.320.8767 to schedule your personal tour!

Shopping small is a big deal

Editor Michael C. Butz Senior Designer Stephen Valentine


hen the topic of holiday shopping arises in Northeast Ohio, the conversation inevitably turns – with good reason – to nostalgic tales of trips to downtown Cleveland and the grand department stores that dominated the landscape decades ago. Halle’s, Higbee’s May Company and Sterling-Lindner-Davis were the main destinations. From the extravagant window displays and giant decorations to handing over one’s keys to Mr. Jingeling and eating at the Silver Grille, nearly every Northeast Ohioan of a certain age has a fond memory associated with that shopping experience – an experience that was immortalized in “A Christmas Story,” the 1983 comedy set in the 1940s that was partially filmed in Cleveland – including inside Higbee’s. I missed that phase of Cleveland’s past. When I grew up, times had changed and malls ruled the shopping world. My holiday experience involved visiting Archie the Snowman, a two-stories-tall snowman that dominated the center of Chapel Hill Mall in Akron as it interacted with children eager to share their holiday wish list, and my first shopping trip to downtown Cleveland involved going to The Avenue at Tower City Center. It’s no secret that many shoppers are now buying gifts online, leaving many of those malls and department stores empty, but I want to draw your attention to another, better option: shopping local. It may seem obvious, but it’s arguably the most impactful way of shopping, so it warrants continued discussion. More than a mere slogan, shopping local translates into supporting friends, neighbors, co-workers, fellow congregants – those in your own community. In the larger sense, in Northeast Ohio’s creative community, that means artists, performers, musicians, designers and gallery/studio owners, to name a few. I try to practice what I preach. Last holiday season, I bought the majority of my gifts from local businesses, and this holiday season, I’m off to a good start. In early November, I purchased my first holiday gift from a local gallery that had just opened its annual holiday market. Need inspiration? Turn to Page 32 to view a list of markets, bazaars and art walks taking place in Northeast Ohio this holiday season, and read the articles that follow that explore in greater detail the impact of shopping locally and highlight the artistic offerings (shopping and otherwise) of Chagrin Falls. Additional ideas: • When it comes to museums, or even some galleries, consider buying a one-year membership that will allow a friend or family member a chance to experience all that institution has to offer. • From a local gallery, buy a unique piece of art – and take note of holiday events that many galleries hold this time of year. • At studios that offer workshops, consider purchasing a package of classes that allows someone to fine tune his or her creativity. • For the orchestra or theater enthusiast on your list, consider buying tickets to a special performance or two – and consider joining them. If you do, don’t forget to sit down for a pre-show meal at a nearby, locally owned restaurant. Those are just a few options. Whatever your preference, I hope you’ll make shopping at small businesses a big part of your holiday season.

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Canvas Editor

President & CEO Kevin S. Adelstein Vice President of Sales Adam Mandell CJN Managing Editor Bob Jacob Controller Tracy DiDomenico Digital Marketing Manager Rebecca Fellenbaum Events Manager Gina Lloyd Editorial Ed Carroll Amanda Koehn Becky Raspe Alyssa Schmitt Contributing Writers Bob Abelman Carlo Wolff Custom Publishing Manager Paul Bram Sales & Marketing Manager Andy Isaacs Advertising Marcia Bakst Marilyn Evans Ron Greenbaum Adam Jacob Nell V. Kirman Sherry Tilson Design Lillian Messner Jessica Simon Digital Content Producer Abbie Murphy Business & Circulation Diane Adams Tammie Crawford Abby Royer Subscriber Services 216-342-5185 Display Advertising 216-342-5191 Canvas is published by the Cleveland Jewish Publication Company, 23880 Commerce Park, Suite 1, Beachwood, 44122. For general questions, call 216-454-8300.

Oct 7, 2017 - Jan 28, 2018

Including: Doug Ashford1, Abbas Akhavan2, Abraham Cruzvillegas3, Lara Favaretto4, Iman Issa5, Rashid Johnson6, Jumana Manna7, Oscar Murillo8, Tariku Shiferaw9, Mario GarcĂ?a Torres10, Emanuel Tovar11

*Joan Retallack, The Poethical Wager, 2004. p. 26




Upcoming events from around Northeast Ohio. Information provided by the entities featured. Compiled by Michael C. Butz. Eric Rippert

Harris Stanton Gallery

Contessa Gallery “…but I love her,” by David Drebin (2017); Neon light installation; 40½ x 53½ inches. CONTESSA GALLERY • Art Miami | 2017 Dec. 5-10 Contessa Gallery will participate in the 28th annual Art Miami Fair. Over the past 28 years, Art Miami has established a reputation for providing fine art collectors with the latest in high quality contemporary and modern art. Contessa Gallery, based in Lyndhurst, is thrilled to present the most recent works by Mr. Brainwash, Cayla Birk., Gilles Cenazandotti, David Drebin, Hijack & Daniele Sigalot (Blue and Joy) at Art Miami 2017. Drebin is one of the most highly collected photographers working today. Brand new, alluring photographs will be on view in Contessa Gallery’s booth. The gallery will also display new, never-before-seen lightboxes and neon light installations by the artist. The fair will be held at 1 Herald Plaza, N.E. 14th St., Miami. Contessa Gallery will be at booths #A137a and #A137b.

GALLERY W • “Observed & Imagined: Works by Eva Kwong + Eric Rippert” Dec. 7 to Jan. 26, 2018 Influenced by their surroundings, backgrounds and their personal interests, Eva Kwong and Eric Rippert have transformed what they observe into unique expressions in art. “Observed & Imagined” allows their work to interconnect and play off one another to create an environment within the gallery that is dreamlike and cinematic. An opening reception will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Dec. 7 at 1 American Blvd., Westlake.

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“Mute Superstar” by Eric Rippert (2017); Acrylic. gesso, ink, graphite on canvas; 30 x 40 inches.

Above: “Shrine of Realization” by Mark Soppeland; mixed-media sculpture. Below: “Failure to Breathe” by Kate Snow; gouache and graphite. Harris Stanton Gallery

HARRIS STANTON GALLERY • “The Shrine of Realization and other Extraordinary Objects and Visionary Images by Mark Soppeland” Jan. 11 to Feb. 10, 2018 • “New Directions: Avin HannahSmith, Shelby Solomon and Kate Snow” Feb. 8 to March 10, 2018 The Harris Stanton Galleries open 2018 with two different exhibitions celebrating artists at different stages in their careers. Longtime gallery artist Mark Soppeland will have a solo show, “The Shrine of Realization and other Extraordinary Objects and Visionary Images” at the gallery’s Akron location, while the Cleveland gallery will host its annual “New Directions” exhibition, which features emerging talent. Soppeland’s work attempts to synthesize a variety of arts and crafts influences with personal, formal and historical issues. The exhibition will feature his Guardian Series as well as new paintings and collage work. On display concurrently with the exhibition are new, never-before-seen original graphics from the estate of Marvin Jones. Soppeland and Jones had numerous two-person exhibitions at the gallery during Jones’ lifetime. The small display will pay homage to that. This year’s “New Directions” features Kent State University graduate Shelby Solomon, who uses her training in metalsmithing and printmaking for this exhibition. Also a KSU graduate, painter Avin HannahSmith is

influenced by the current racial and political climate. His work depicts characters – or “Afro-aliens,” as he calls them – which are abstract representations of preconceived notions and prejudices that African-Americans face today. Cleveland-based artist Kate Snow studied printmaking and design at Zygote Press for five years. Her strippeddown approach relies heavily on elements of design to explore the uneasy relationship between chaos and control. An opening reception for “The Shrine of Realization and other Extraordinary Objects and Visionary Images” will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Jan. 11, 2018, at 2301 W. Market St., Akron. An opening reception for “New Directions” will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 8, 2018, at 1370 W. Ninth St., Cleveland.

Morgan Conservatory

A young onlooker takes in “Crown Hare” by Erin Cramer during “American Fiber,” the Morgan Conservatory’s fifth annual juried exhibition held in early 2017.

BAYarts “Aeolian Process” by Jenniffer Omaitz (2017); Acrylic and gouache on marbled wood panel; 15 x 15 inches. BAYARTS • “Jenniffer Omaitz: Constructions” March 9 to April 6, 2018 “Constructions” will feature a recent body of paintings, assemblage and site-specific installation that show a cross section of work by Jenniffer Omaitz. This is the first major show where Omaitz is building a body of work that is both two-dimensional and three-dimensional that work for a specific space, which will be BAYarts’ Sullivan Family Gallery. Omaitz brings together ideas of architecture, geometry, painterly abstraction and site specificity to this collection of work. An opening reception will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. March 9, 2018, at 28795 Lake Road, Bay Village. To read Canvas’ 2016 feature on Omaitz, visit

MORGAN CONSERVATORY • “Sixth Annual Juried Exhibition” March 30 to April 28 The Morgan Conservatory’s Sixth Annual Juried Exhibition will showcase the versatility of paper arts by featuring works that span sculpture, printmaking, bookbinding, photography and painting. The exhibition – which for the second year will be a national juried exhibition – will include works that are innovative, poetic and political, ranging from realism to abstraction and beyond. The Morgan Conservatory first opened its regional juried exhibition to artists beyond Greater Cleveland in 2017, when it received 205 artworks from 110 artists living in 18 states. In the end, 50 artworks from 46 artists were selected to be included in the 2017 exhibition.


The Morgan Conservatory is the largest center in the country dedicated to papermaking, book arts and letterpress, and in 2018, it will celebrate its 11th year in the MidTown Cleveland district. An opening reception will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. March 30, 2018, at 1754 E. 47th St., Cleveland.

CLEVELAND INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL • The 42nd Cleveland International Film Festival April 4-15, 2018 When CIFF42 rolls into Cleveland in early 2018, it will arrive at a new destination for its Opening Night event: Playhouse Square. The Opening Night film will be presented in the historic Connor Palace, with the post-film reception taking place in the KeyBank State lobby. This is the first time since 1989 that Opening Night will happen at Playhouse Square. CIFF has a long-standing history with Playhouse Square, which includes a bevy of special guests and screenings throughout

A Cleveland International Film Festival crowd packed Playhouse Square’s Connor Palace in 2016 for the world premiere screening of “BELIEVELAND.”

the years. In 2016, in celebration of its 40th anniversary, the CIFF visited Playhouse Square for the world premiere of “BELIEVELAND,” a documentary that examines the “sports curse” that cast a shadow over Cleveland from 1964 to 2016. The screening, which welcomed 2,049 people at the Connor Palace, proved to be the biggest single screening in the Festival’s history. CIFF42 program information, including Opening Night film details, will be released in early March 2018. Following Opening Night, all screenings will take place at Tower City Cinemas and select neighborhood locations. CIFF42 Opening Night will take place April 4, 2018, at 1615 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

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

Timothy Smith / CIFF

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“Self-Portrait Leaning on a Stone Sill” by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, 1639; etching, with touches of drypoint, retouched in black chalk. Collection of Yale University Art Gallery. Transmitted light photograph courtesy of Theresa Fairbanks-Harris. Image courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

HISTORY LESSONS Exhibitions exploring Rembrandt’s etchings and Japanese printmaking will mark the new year at Oberlin College’s Allen Memorial Art Museum By Amanda Koehn

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he new exhibit on the 17th century Dutch artist Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn’s etchings at Allen Memorial Art Museum was born out of curiosity about artwork that had once been safeguarded at the Oberlin College museum for larger Northeastern institutions during World War II due to fears bombing of a major city could destroy them. While Rembrandt’s prints were among works held at the Allen Memorial Art Museum during the war, interest in those works in particular developed into an exploration of Rembrandt’s history as a printmaker, and then into the role the etchings have come to play at Oberlin and other academic institutions. “I think (the etchings) reward close looking,” says Andaleeb Badiee Banta, the Allen Memorial Art Museum’s curator of European and American art. “That’s a big thing that academic mu-

seums have always promoted – to have students of any background come and really slow down and take their time and look closely.” Banta joined Cornell University’s Andrew C. Weislogel, the Seymour R. Askin, Jr. ’47 Curator of Earlier European and American Art at the Ithaca, N.Y.-based school’s Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, in curating “Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings,” which will be on view from Feb. 6 through May 13, 2018 in the Allen Memorial Art Museum’s Stern Gallery West. The 60 etchings in the exhibit, some of which reside permanently at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, and others borrowed from other academic institutions, the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City and private collections, depict a variety of subject matter, including religious and historical scenes, portraits, landscapes and everyday life in Amsterdam during Rembrandt’s lifetime. Etching is a printmaking method that uses chemicals to cut lines into a metal plate that holds ink to create an image. In one such piece included in the exhibit, “Christ Healing the Sick,” a crowd of people are shown standing and sitting around Jesus Christ, who has what appears to be a radiating light surrounding his head to draw attention to him. What’s striking about this image, however, is not Christ himself, but the detail in each surrounding person’s facial expressions and poses that illustrate where they may fit into society, their possible feelings and whether they are suffering. The printing process creates an image where some faces are more clearly etched out and finely detailed than others, giving the viewer many nuances to explore in a single work. That piece was also referred to as the “Hundred Guilder Print” because that’s how much money it brought in during Rembrandt’s lifetime, which Banta says was an impressive amount. Banta emphasizes the exhibit’s focus on high-quality impressions, as many prints can be made from the same plate. Rembrandt also would alter his plates so parts of an image would disappear and new facets would appear in various prints from the same original plate, which Banta says the exhibit will highlight. Moreover, the exhibit is meant to demonstrate the many ways people can appreciate or investigate Rembrandt’s work, whether their interests involve understanding his historical period,


Above: “Christ Healing the Sick (The Hundred Guilder Print)” by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, 1648; etching, engraving and drypoint on Japanese paper. Image courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Below: “St. Francis Beneath a Tree Praying” by Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, 1657; drypoint and etching on oatmeal paper. Image courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

analyzing his technique, wanting to see the concept of the branding in his pieces (papers were typically given a sort of proprietary watermark) or gleaning insight into his understanding of the human condition. Also, it reminds viewers that Rembrandt works aren’t only in major museums and have had a role in educating American students for more than a century. “I’m hoping they will take away from it that really excellent Rembrandt prints aren’t only in major municipal museums, they are also in these often-small academic museums in unexpected places,” she says.

JAPANESE PRINTMAKING ALSO HIGHLIGHTED Oberlin received its first collection of Japanese prints as a donation from Cleveland educator Charles Olney when he died in 1904 – before the art museum, which is celebrating its centennial this year, even opened. Then, in 1950 it received a comprehensive collection of prints from the Japanese Edo period (1603-1868) from Mary A. Ainsworth, a graduate of the school and traveler to Japan in the early 1900s. While Oberlin has used such works for educational purposes in the past,

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Left: “Fuji from Surugacho,” No. 8 from the series “One Hundred Views of Famous Places in Edo” by Utagawa Hiroshige,1856; color woodblock print. 14 3/8 x 9 9/16 inches. Image courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. Right: “Cryptomeria Avenue” by Hiroshi Yoshida, 1937; color woodblock print. 14 7/8 x 9 3/4 inches. Image courtesy of the Allen Memorial Art Museum. from Feb. 6 through May 27, the Allen Memorial Art Museum will host its first comprehensive exhibit to include prints from those collections – as well as many others in Oberlin’s possession that chronicle Japanese printmaking history from the late 1600s until the 1980s – that have never before been on display. “It’s simultaneously a history of Japanese prints and the history of our collecting of Japanese prints through these very generous gifts over the past decades,” says Kevin R. E. Greenwood, the Joan L. Danforth curator of Asian art at the Allen Memorial Art Museum. The 102-piece “A Century of Asian Art at Oberlin: Japanese Prints,” to be on view in the Allen Memorial Art Museum’s Ripin Gallery, will feature mostly color wood block prints but will also include etchings, mezzotints and a lithograph. It also includes works by some of the most well-known Japanese printmakers in history, Greenwood says, including Katsushika Hokusai, who created the famous “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” print, and Utagawa Hiroshige. An 1856 Hiroshige color wood block print, “Fuji from Surugacho,” depicts people around a shopping district in Edo, which today is Tokyo, with a strikingly large and seemingly omnipresent Mount Fuji overlooking it. The symmetry, scale and bold color scheme makes viewers feel as though they are being invited into that world. Greenwood says that particular print used chemical dyes that were newly imported from Europe that changed the game for Japanese printmakers in terms of their ability create works that were less sensitive to light and moisture. Also, it depicts

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ordinary people, or the merchant class, with whom the printmaking medium arose in Japan. During that period, merchants often had wealth, but there were restrictions on where they could spend it – only those of the samurai class were allowed to have luxuries like silk and gold. Thus, merchants found new ways to spend money. “They ended up spending it in entertainment, in restaurants, in theater – and that was the world that gave rise to prints,” Greenwood says. “So, it came out of the world of regular people.” Generally, however, the exhibit aims to immerse museum guests in that world and into the craftsmanship of Japanese artists through several centuries in a way the Allen Memorial Art Museum has not yet chronicled. “I hope (visitors) will take away from this exhibit a sense of the incredible creativity, the amazing craftsmanship and just this phenomenal, really uniquely Japanese industry that has survived for hundreds of years and continues down to the present day,” Greenwood says.

On view

Allen Memorial Art Museum

An opening reception for “Lines of Inquiry: Learning from Rembrandt’s Etchings” and “A Century of Asian Art at Oberlin: Japanese Prints” will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, 87 N. Main St., Oberlin. “Lines of Inquiry” will remain on view through May 13 and “Japanese Prints” through May 27. For updates about related programming, visit

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1901 Ford Drive Cleveland, Ohio 216.231.8900

STILL STANDING W The sculptures of Peter Christian Johnson trap chaos as it spills Story by Carlo Wolff Photography by Michael C. Butz

hen Peter Christian Johnson was in graduate school at Pennsylvania State University, he realized making pottery wasn’t something he could commit to as a profession. It was then that Johnson had a thought that’s lasted longer than an epiphany: The vessel isn’t what matters, it’s the idea of the vessel. Johnson has been vamping on that notion ever since, and he practices what he preaches. He is assistant professor/ceramics department head at the Kent State University School of Art. Johnson joined KSU in 2015 after 11 years at Eastern Oregon University in LaGrande, some 260 miles east of Portland. “I was making these sort of still lifes of pots and clay chunks and steel,” Johnson says of those days at Penn State during an interview in his Kent State studio. “They were ‘abstract-ish,’” he adds, noting he became less interested in the “vessel” and more “in the language.” “I just moved from the vessel – literally, a piece of pottery – to exploring ideas of containment, and over time, this work has become more architectural, and it’s been way more than a decade; it’s morphed. Now, I’m interested in a whole new set of things: The sort of idea of collapse, the phenomenology of material. So much of this to me is about man-made labor and structure and this sort of collapse.” KEEPING IT TOGETHER What’s paradoxical and compelling about Johnson’s work is that his images of breakdown, painstakingly made from finicky and malleable porcelain, are highly structured. His studio is a miniature construction site, with works that resemble buildings in various stages. One snakes its way across a table; another, which may be a bridge punched in the gut to yaw toward the ground, conjures a hammock you’d rather not sink into; one large piece evokes the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin, which was nearly destroyed in World War II. That city never rebuilt the cathedral, preferring to allow its proud ruins to contrast with its adjacent contemporary successor. That way, it’s a reminder of the brokenness that lashes Johnson’s world even as it spurs his pointed, sturdy art.

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Left: “Collapsing Trestles” (detail) by Peter Christian Johnson; 13 x 35 x 8 inches, porcelain, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist. Right: Johnson lays the groundwork for a piece in his Kent State University studio.


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“Wasteland,” in the foreground, at “POISE: Peter Christian Johnson,” an exhibition held in 2016 at Ferrin Contemporary in North Adams, Mass. Image courtesy of the artist and John Polak. The “icing,” or melt, atop many of these serves to ground them, and always is in a primary color that give them “strangeness” and makes them “more foreign” to observers. He wants someone to work to arrive at his or her own conclusions rather than hand it to the person. As a result, earth tones, apparently, went the way of his pottery. Johnson recalls driving by barns in Oregon and Ohio that are falling in on themselves and embody “this sense of time and sort of labor.” His contradictory work encompasses both in process and product. He also speaks of the old railroad trestles that serve as models for what he calls “clouds,” spiky porcelain aggregates that look like they’d cut you at the touch. “What I’m working on lately is that trestle,” he says, also citing 19th-century wooden bridges “that were made honestly with slaves to indentured servitude.” Such bridges “have all this intricate structure that relates to labor,” he adds, noting he’s inspired by the ingredients of cities more than the city as a whole. What remains behind moves Johnson. “The structure becomes something that’s so much about man-made building.

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Like it’s labor, it’s not only about the way (it’s made), maybe there’s a Tower of Babel metaphor where we’re building these things, but we’ve really screwed up.” Course correction Johnson is both cerebral and handson. He starts with incredibly precise computer drawings, trudges through assembly and climaxes with firing his ceramics to within the perfect, torrid inch of their lives. One of three sons of a man who worked construction, including in the oil industry near Houston, where much of his childhood was spent, Johnson grew up making things. After high school, he matriculated at Wheaton College in Illinois, near Chicago, and enrolled in pre-med courses. Johnson eventually would earn a bachelor of science degree in environmental studies from Wheaton College, but along the way, he took a general education art course that changed his life and put him on his true path. Credit the professor, who was just eccentric enough and inspired so much love for art in Johnson that, after he graduated (with an art minor), he offered to build a studio in the professor’s two-car garage in exchange for permission to use it part-time.

At the same time, he was torn over whether to take the Medical College Acceptance Test, admitting he was “trying to decide if I had the guts to not go to medical school and be an artist.” Art won out when a friend told him of an artist-in-residence opening at the Odyssey Center For Ceramic Arts. “I got it and moved to North Carolina and lived there for three years as a resident artist,” he says. That immersion in ceramics in the River Arts district of Asheville made him a professional – and an explorer. “I wanted to figure out how to make the clay do the thing I wanted to do,” he says. “Learning the potter’s wheel was like learning a table saw.” His construction genes drove his talent for figuring things out and making things, he suggests: “Ceramics was interesting to me because it was so focused on learning skills.” Not that learning by way of his father’s employ was easy or pleasant; Johnson speaks of himself and his brothers being “indentured servants” to their dad. Perhaps his artistic forays are a way for him to break free. In 2003, Johnson earned his master of fine arts degree from Penn State, and since about that same time, he’s shown

in solo and two-person exhibitions. Among his more recent shows have been “Remnants” at Santa Fe Clay in Santa Fe, N.M., in 2013; “Collapse” at the Sheehan Gallery in Walla Walla, Wash., in 2015; and “Poise,” at Ferrin Contemporary & Independent Art Projects, North Adams, Mass., in 2016. In Ohio, his work was recently on view at the Dairy Barn Arts Center in Athens and at Hammond Harkins Galleries in Columbus. He just won first place/sculptural for “Little Gidding,” his homage to one of T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets,” in the Zanesville Prize for Contemporary Ceramics contest. That garish, imposing work recently was on view at Sellers’ Studio and Gallery in Zanesville. HEAT OF THE MOMENT Johnson’s goal is to trap humanity as it is about to lapse, to capture the power of a structure before it falls apart. They’re essentially the same to him, and he relates to the writing of such dark poets of the human spirit as the Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky and the Gothic American storyteller Flannery O’Connor. Johnson points to his sculpture of a failed bridge as prelude to a riff on reading. “Reading Catholic literature or Dostoevsky or Flannery O’Connor, it seems the most screwed-up person is always the most spiritual,” he says. “It’s this sort of failure when it comes to the human part, to the brokenness, whatever word you want to put in there.” The sag, the crack, the drip – pinning all that at a high-heat moment is the prize. “I’ll look through the opening in the kiln and watch it when it’s at 2,000-plus degrees, and I can see the melt, I can see enough information to stop the kiln when I think it might be beautiful. “There’s a sort of sweet spot,” he says. “There’s a poetic place that I want to be sort of beautiful and tragic.” Gianna Commito, associate professor of painting and drawing at Kent State, describes Johnson’s three-dimensional constructions succinctly: “Peter Johnson’s sculptures are exercises in chance, vulnerability and persistence. He is meticulous in the initial engineering and construction of his forms, only to allow them to partially (and sometimes completely) collapse during the firing process. His willingness to allow his sculptures to potentially ‘fail’ is ultimately the result


Johnson discusses his work inside his studio at Kent State, where he’s an assistant professor and head of the ceramics department. of his mastery of the materials and processes he employs: the ideal clay body, glaze recipe, firing temperature. These physical manifestations of entropy and collapse evoke larger conceptual issues within religion, government and social structures, without becoming illustrative or heavy-handed.” Paradoxes intrigue Johnson. Contradictions are not a hurdle. “In failure, there is virtue,” he says. “In a lack of perfection, there becomes

something, something more human, something more generous, something more honest.” WORKING IT OUT Johnson, 41, his wife and their two children live in Kent, near the city’s border with Streetsboro. Johnson is building a barn. He doesn’t enjoy the toil, but at the end, he’ll have a barn. Word is it may be an annex to his Kent State studio.

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Above: “Little Gidding” by Peter Christian Johnson; 31 x 15 x 14 inches, porcelain, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist. Right: Drawings, notes and in-progress works fill Johnson’s studio. “I make stuff to see it made, so I don’t love the process,” he says. “The process just seems like labor, a means to an end. I have gratification in some engineering, like in imagining how to make something. Is it possible? I like the problem-solving stage before I actually make it.” The work itself, however, is like mowing the lawn. “I’m making it because I want to see it. I want it to go from my head to the physical world and then I want to know if it’s going to be beautiful or amazing, and that’s the mystery, that’s the reason for the labor.” Over time, he has come to realize “the work had to feel laborious,” so that at the end, there’s a tension. “In architecture, you’re making the real thing, and I’m making the thing that’s really about the idea of the thing,” Johnson says. “I’m trying to engineer something that’s not possible; sometimes I’ll just play.” That play part seems secondary, however. “I will spend days prepping, making the parts, modeling it, making the blueprints I need to lay everything out, cutting all the parts, setting them aside for when I build it,” he says. He has to work fast, and he does, at times in 15-hour sessions. He has to assemble before his porcelain dries out. Why work with “really fussy” white material? “It has this purity to it, at least the illusion of it,” he says. “Because it’s the only clay that has no iron content, which is why it’s so expensive. That whiteness is so desired.” Not only in art, either; think places where the desired effect is purity – think bathrooms, think hospitals. Think task, too, because Johnson’s art is about a dual task: preservation and transformation. His latticework “buildings” may be miniatures, but the thought and the work that go into them are, one might say, huge. “Let’s make the structure out of little sticks of porcelain that don’t want to work that way,” Johnson says, laughing in the face of his satisfying Sisyphean struggle.

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the familiar Lane Cooper distorts everyday imagery,

transforming the ubiquitous into the experiential Story and photography by Michael C. Butz

“Pop Life – MTM” by Lane Cooper, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist.

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Lane Cooper says she’s always working on multiple works of art at any given time, as evidenced by the contents of her studio in Cleveland’s Waterloo Arts District.


core facet of Lane Cooper’s artistic viewpoint came into focus 10 years ago during one of her darkest hours, sitting bedside watching her mother succumb to a severe stroke brought about by complications from cancer. “It took a little while for her to die,” Cooper says. “She was in hospice, and there were all these other folks around, and they all seemed to be having these very modified experiences of reality. I knew what my mother was experiencing was very different from what I was experiencing even though we were in the same room at the same time.” Playing with perception is a significant element of Cooper’s art. Her artistic repertoire is wide-ranging, but her most prominent pieces are layered paintings defined by the horizontal banding she employs; the result is experiences that shift depending on one’s perspective, and images that evade full grasp. What may seem clear when viewed from afar breaks up as one approaches for a closer look. Further, the banding serves as a sort of signal interference that interrupts a viewer’s relationship with the recognizable. Cooper regularly culls subjects from pop culture and the entertainment industry. A piece she was working on in mid-October in her Waterloo Arts District studio depicts the house from “The Waltons” TV series, which came on the heels of a painting based on Mary Tyler Moore’s house. Both are part of the “Dream House” series she’s building, and both portray only fractions of their familiar forms. Dreamlike qualities are intrinsic to Cooper’s art. She says those moments between wakefulness and sleep, when reality bleeds into fantasy, inform her work.


“I kind of think we’re all always on that spectrum,” she says. “Sometimes we’re more tuned in to the physical world than others, but it’s always being filtered through our perception in a way that changes it significantly.” Achieving that visual experience – evoking a hypnagogic state of consciousness through material and palette – is Cooper’s endeavor. ACCIDENTAL ART EDUCATION Cooper grew up in Hamilton, Ala., in the northwest corner of the state. “Elvis’ baby-sitter was from my hometown,” she says, referring to Elvis Presley, whose hometown of Tupelo is about 50 miles west of Hamilton. That isn’t even her best Elvis story. Cooper’s father and his best friend had a few drinks one night decades ago and successfully placed a long-distance call to Presley’s U.S. Army base in Germany. “Because they had a Southern accent and they had the right area code, (the Army) put Elvis on the phone,” Cooper explains, “and my dad, of course, hung up when Elvis said hello because they didn’t expect him to answer.” Her father, J.E. Cooper, was a pharmacist, and her mother, Katie, worked at the store in which the pharmacy was located. Both came from large, poor, rural families consisting of generations of subsistence farmers, loggers, railroad workers and elementary school teachers. Katie Cooper provided her daughter artistic inspiration, allowing her to play with paints at home when she was as young as 3.

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Cooper applies with precision strips of masking tape to a piece she’s working on that depicts the house in “The Waltons.”

“I decided when I was a little kid that I wanted to be an artist,” Cooper says. “Most folks go through phases of wanting to be something else. I have never wanted to be anything else. And when I have gone through other ambitions, which I still have, it’s always, like, artist/writer – there’s always a ‘slash,’ and artist is always first.” However, J.E. Cooper wasn’t supportive of his daughter’s desire to pursue painting. “There weren’t people going to college on my mother’s side of the family, and on my dad’s side of the family, if people went to college, it was for ‘practical’ professions,” she says. “He told me he wasn’t going to pay for my college if I went into art. So, I got a job, and my mother gave me money under the table. … The tuition got paid mostly by mother, and I paid for everything else.” Cooper graduated with a painting degree in 1984 from the University of North Alabama, in Florence, but along the way, her father wasn’t the only one who questioned or was confused by her career choice. “Some of the people who taught me – my painting professor, in particular, who was a brilliant painter and a sweet, beautiful man – he told me that he assumed I was going to get married and have a bunch of kids, and that was why I was getting an art degree,” she says. “So, nobody was mentoring me at that point, in my early 20s, and nobody was giving me a leg up.” Cooper says where she grew up, many felt painting was something one did on Sundays, outside of holding down a “real job.” “That was everybody else’s perception. I had no perception,” she admits. “In fact, my only model for what an artist’s

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life looked life were my professors, and I’m certain that’s one of the reasons I ended up teaching – because I didn’t know how else you went about it.” Dual devotion Cooper earned a master’s degree in art history in 1989 from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting in 1998 from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. “I started teaching when I was working on my master’s in art history,” she says. “It was a lot of fun. Folks who are in school, and they’re in an art class, or an art history class, usually, they’re interested in something. I love people who are interested in things.” In 2001, she came to Northeast Ohio and began teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she’s currently chair of the painting department. Christopher Whittey, senior vice president of faculty affairs and chief academic officer at CIA, speaks highly of her teaching. “She has a rare combination of being a very nurturing and caring individual, yet she can be pretty tough and demanding with the students,” he says. “When I’ve seen her in critiques with students, she really holds them accountable.” “They think you’re the devil right up until they graduate, especially during their last semester,” Cooper says, smiling – and acknowledging the dynamic. “They don’t all think that, but a lot of them think, ‘Oh, you’re just torturing me,’” she says. “And then they graduate, and it’s like a light flicks on for at least some of them. Then they have this great feeling of accomplishment and they have

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Winter 2017 | Canvas | 23

Left: “It’s A Wonderful Life – Granville” by Lane Cooper, acrylic on birch panel, 20 x 20 inches, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist. Right: “It’s a Wonderful Life – Valentino” by Lane Cooper, acrylic on canvas, 12 x 12 inches, 2016. Image courtesy of the artist. this work to be proud of. And to see them stand up there and answer questions very seriously about their work, it’s amazing.” What’s also distinctive about Cooper, Whittey adds, is the devotion she brings to her dual roles as artist and educator. “This is the ninth school I’ve been at” as a student or as faculty, he says. “It’s relatively rare, in my experience, outside of CIA, that you see someone who’s so committed to both of those roles.” STRONG FEMALE LEADS Cooper is also committed to featuring prominent females in her work. Chief among them is the late Mary Tyler Moore. Not only has Cooper depicted the iconic actress’ home for her “Dream Houses” series, she’s painted portraits of the star herself – and a People Magazine cover of Moore hangs in her studio. “When I was growing up, Mary Tyler Moore as Mary Richards, I was a little kid, but I thought she was the shit,” Cooper says. “She was so cool and so smart and independent. I wanted to be like her.” Someone Cooper is considering for her next “Dream Houses” entry is the fictional Peggy Fair, loyal secretary to TV sleuth Joe Mannix on “Mannix.” Played by Gail Fisher, Peggy was a trailblazing character: an African-American single mother – two rarities for late 1960’s TV – who often kept things together at the title character’s detective agency. “I do have male figures in my paintings sometimes, but I think I’m really interested in making women present,” she says. “I really like the idea that women get a starring role.” The strongest female lead of them all, however, is likely the artist herself. Cooper isn’t one to dwell on her “tale of woe,” as she calls it, but the 54-year-old has endured many distressing losses. Cancer, or its aftereffects, has killed three immediate family members: her mother, father, and only sibling, Kathy. When she was 33, Cooper was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.

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“I was very sick during my 30s,” she says. “I was in and out of the hospital a lot of that time. I went to grad school, I got my MFA, and I kept working and teaching, but I had a lot of surgeries during that time.” Battling the disease set her back in some ways, she acknowledges. It not only slowed her career as she was transitioning from being a student to a young professional, it took a toll on her emotions and psyche. “I feel like I lost that sense of immortality that younger people tend to have,” she says. “I think you usually don’t get to the mindset I was in during my early 30s until you’re in your 60s or 70s.” Today, Cooper feels fit – younger than her age because, she jokes, “I felt so shitty when I was in my 30s!” – but her fight against cancer is ongoing. Every time she forgets she’s mortal, she says, something comes along to remind her otherwise – but those experiences also remind her to keep her eye on what she feels is important. “I write and I paint and I teach, and I think I go about those things in the way that I do because I know life is short, and I know there’s very little to be gained by having it not satisfy me,” she says. “I want my work to carry something that I feel is true, that I feel is important. Otherwise, I don’t want to do it. If I’m just making paintings to decorate somebody’s wall, I’m not interested in that. It’s a waste of my time.” PROFOUND EXPERIENCES Earlier this year, Cooper – and much of Cleveland’s creative community – lost close friend and CIA colleague Dan Tranberg to heart disease. Cooper admits she’s having a difficult time accepting Tranberg’s death, but as she applies bands of masking tape to “The Waltons” house in her studio, she fondly recounts the ways in which he helped improve her art, from suggesting she mine her source images for a painting’s palette to helping make the creative connection between her banding method and the breaking-up effect of digital images.

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Winter 2017 | Canvas | 25

“Dan always gave himself,” she says. “He didn’t hold back, and he didn’t hesitate to give. … He wanted your work to be better, and he would give you stuff to help make your work better.” Today, Cooper’s work is unmistakable and singular. Pieces from her “It’s a Wonderful Life” series, like “Valentino,” “Martini” and “Granville,” are visually stunning – and both challenge and invite viewers to see between her intricately placed lines. CIA’s Whittey describes it as of its moment – significant at a time when people consume more images in a week than they saw in a lifetime during the Renaissance and earlier. “Critically, the strategy she deploys fragments and disturbs the image through the horizontal banding across the surfaces of her paintings. This speaks to the shattering, fragmentation and ‘white noise’ of image production and consumption in the contemporary world,” Whittey says. “It seems to me, then, Cooper’s work ironically suggests that image recognition and comprehension become more challenging precisely

as the images become more numerous, more ubiquitous, more everyday-ish. The overly familiar, one could say, becomes ‘defamiliarized.’” Cooper wants her art to achieve an effect similar to that of revered Cleveland artist Julian Stanczak. She’s quick to clarify she’s not comparing her paintings to his, but her goal is to provide viewers of her art the same “profound experience” they get when viewing the late Stanczak’s work. “When you stand in front of one of his paintings, and it’s one of his particularly amazing paintings, there’s a buzz that goes off in your head with the colors,” she says. “You want the color to click, you want the physical material sensibility of the work to be right there. Visually, I want my work to work on a lot of different levels, so, when you get up close to it, I want it to fall apart. I want you to have that Julian Stanczak experience.” Cooper not only creates that buzz, she’s on her own frequency, producing thought-provoking art that engages and captivates.

Palette is important to Cooper. She sometimes mines source images but she’s also often inspired by the Lake Erie sunset.

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Several Northeast Ohio theater artists are using their stages to tackle issues such as racial discrimination, mental health and the opioid crisis By Bob Abelman

Steve Wagner Tania Benites and Jason Estremere in Tlaloc Rivas’ “Johanna Facing Forward,” which was part of Cleveland Public Theatre’s Teatro Publico de Cleveland. The play was based on the story of Johanna Orozco, a Cleveland teenager who survived a gunshot wound to the face from her abusive boyfriend.

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Deena Nyer Mendlowitz

Elaine Siegel Left: Tom Fulton and Laura Perrotta in Anat Gov’s “Oh God” by Interplay Jewish Theatre. Right: Improvisational comedian Deena Nyer Mendlowitz, whose experiences led her to create and perform a monthly live show called “Mental Illness and Friends.”


hroughout history, artists have created work that does more than entertain. Art can call attention to causes, give voice to sociopolitical injustices, provide a catalyst for protest and serve as an agent for change. Playwright Aristophanes may well have been the first theater activist. Weary of the Peloponnesian War that had been raging for years, his “Lysistrata,” first performed in 411 BCE, encouraged a sex-strike by all of the women of Greece as a demonstration of their dissent and solidarity. This past summer, New York’s Public Theatre, Shakespeare Dallas, the Washington, D.C.-based Shakespeare Theatre Company, and other troupes across the country staged provocative productions of “Julius Caesar” intended to stimulate discussion about modern-day populist leaders with a fondness for executive power. Feminist street theater performers in New York publically called out art galleries and museums for their lack of female artists. In Spain, performance artist flash mobs staged unannounced Flamenco dances in bank lobbies and the Andalusian parliament to passionately denounce the banking crisis and the austerity measures resulting from European bailouts. Here in Northeast Ohio, activism by theater artists ranges from overt to incidental and from political to very personal. RAISING CONSCIOUSNESS: CLEVELAND PUBLIC THEATRE’S RAYMOND BOBGAN Nonprofit theaters perform a balancing act when reacting to politics. They can’t hold rallies and they can’t make endorsements without endangering their tax-exempt status. But they most certainly can tell stories. Raymond Bobgan – who is celebrating his 11th season as executive artistic director of the Cleveland Public Theatre – is all about the storytelling. Bobgan received the 2017 Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio for his “sustained, impactful and visionary leadership” while championing the diverse voices of local playwrights and the minority communities they represent. In CPT’s multi-theater complex in Cleveland’s DetroitShoreway neighborhood, Bobgan launched Teatro Publico de Cleveland, a 35-member ensemble of Cleveland’s Latinx theater artists, and is laying the groundwork for a similar initiative with Cleveland’s Middle-Eastern and Arabic communities. He brought “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays” to the CPT stage to open hearts and minds to marriage equality when the issue was before the Supreme Court. And CPT’s Station Hope – an annual one-night performing arts event


in April or May that celebrates the Underground Railroad and explores contemporary issues of social justice – is perhaps the best example of this theater company’s brand of activism. “Social justice is about empowering marginalized and minority groups to tell their own stories,” Bobgan says. SPARKING CONNECTIONS: INTERPLAY JEWISH THEATRE’S FAYE SHOLITON Founded in 2011 by Beachwood playwright Faye Sholiton, Interplay Jewish Theatre offers free staged readings of plays that view the contemporary world through a Jewish lens. Interplay’s first performance was a reading of Deborah Margolin’s drama “Imagining Madoff,” which examined the human capacity for greed. Since then, Sholiton has produced a series of works by a range of living Jewish artists who explore the Middle East conflict, racism and Holocaust denial, among other hot-button topics. “We don’t choose scripts specifically meant to spark action,” Sholiton says. “It’s more to spark a connection. We want to touch people, provide new insights into the human condition. As playwright/director Aaron Posner told a group of theatermakers a few years ago, ‘The days of sit back, relax and enjoy a show are over. It’s now sit up, lean in and engage.’” Early on, the company was itinerant. But since 2013, Interplay’s primary partners are Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights and Beachwood’s Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. “Whether audiences are moved to social, political or religious action, I don’t know,” Sholiton says. “But they certainly become more aware of their own fragility, and we make these discoveries together in a safe and welcoming space.” Reflecting the good intentions of many other local theater artists, Sholiton adds, “I like to think the work makes us more thoughtful citizens and more compassionate neighbors. Turning those values into action is icing on the cake.” DENTING STIGMAS: IMPROVISATIONAL COMEDIAN DEENA NYER MENDLOWITZ If academic credit could be earned through real-life experience with suicidal depression and electro-convulsive therapy, then comedian/improv artist Deena Nyer Mendlowitz has a master’s in mental illness – and her thesis is the one-woman show “Funnel Cakes Not Included.” The comedy is a deeply personal excavation of how depression colors a person’s day-to-day existence and serves to distinguish between sadness and depression in the hope of putting a dent in mental health stigma and discrimination.

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It was first performed to sold-out houses in 2014 at the Cleveland Public Theatre and has since been staged at the Dobama Theatre’s Playwrights’ Gym, Miami University in Oxford, Arcade Comedy Theater in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. The positive response to this production launched a live show called “Mental Illness and Friends,” which takes place every month at Bar Louie on West Sixth Street in downtown Cleveland. Mendlowitz, who was trained at The Second City and Annoyance Theater in Chicago, begins each performance with a new opening monologue, seamlessly weaving together mental illness, real life and laughter. Guest comedians, improv artists, actors and the occasional musical guest perform and share a bit of their own mental health history. The evening ends with an improv session based on topics from that evening’s discussion, resulting in hilarious, healing and – hopefully – attitude-changing entertainment. “When life is rough,” says Mendlowitz, “create new stuff.” Raising awareness: none too fragile’s Sean Derry and Alanna Romansky Co-artistic directors Sean Derry and Alanna Romansky are performing a very personal form of activism by initiating “relaxed” performances at their Akronbased none too fragile theater. “Seá’s Night,” named after their 18-year-old daughter with Rett Syndrome, caters one performance per production to those who have sensitivity to loud sounds or strobe lights or who can’t sit or sit still for long periods of time. “Our other children enjoy attending shows as well as helping backstage or on stage,” says Derry, “but Seá has not been able to do so. Until now.” By opening the door to special needs attendees and making their theater more inclusive, Derry and Romansky are spreading awareness of Rett Syndrome – a rare noninherited neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls and leads to their inability to speak, walk, eat and breathe easily – and other debilitating diseases to their patrons. And all profits from “Seá’s Night” performances are donated to the Rett Syndrome Research Trust. Confronting the devil: playwrights on the front line of opioid addiction Following in the footsteps of activistminded theatermakers who penned heartbreaking plays about the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s, including Tony

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Sean Derry Sean Derry and his daughter, Seá, who has Rett Syndrome and inspired her parents to stage one performance per production that caters to those who have sensitivity to loud sounds or strobe lights or who can’t sit or sit still for long periods of time.

Steve Wagner Christopher Bohan in Greg Vovos’ “How to be a Respectable Junkie” at Dobama Theatre. Kushner’s “Angels in America” and Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart,” several local playwrights have been tackling the state’s surging opioid crisis. Emily Sherin and Zach Manthey are students at Kent State University who co-wrote “(In)dependent: The Heroin Project” in response to the much-publicized news photo of an East Liverpool woman and her boyfriend slumped in the front seat of an SUV after overdosing on heroin. The woman’s 4-year-old grandson was in the backseat. The drama – based on some 50 interviews with heroin users and family members, counselors and paramedics, and written in the powerful first-person style of Moisés Kaufman’s “The Laramie Project” – recently premiered at the Akron Civic Theater. On stage, “when you have someone in front of you showing you the effect this epidemic has, it opens your eyes,” said Sherin in a recent article in The New York Times ( “Confrontation is key to communication.” Premiering at Cuyahoga Community College’s Western Campus in Parma, Greg Vovos’ one-man, 90-minute play “How to be a Respectable Junkie” follows a similar path. It is based on extensive interviews with a recovering white-collar heroin user.

“I was blown away by his sense of humor, intelligence and how engaging he was,” says Vovos. “It made me realize that our communities were losing so many great people, and I needed to write about that.” The play unfolds as stream of consciousness commentary by 30-something Brian. According to a Plain Dealer review ( of its recent Dobama Theatre production, “How to be a Respectable Junkie” prescribes empathy as an antidote and “speaks to addicts, their parents and loved ones numbed by disappointment … and those lucky enough to have watched the numbers of (overdoses) rise and rise without ever having to attend a funeral.” “A person approached me after one show,” recalls Vovos, “and said I’ll never write a more important play in my life.” As a grassroots initiative, theater can bring communities together, give voice to the marginalized, articulate issues and push to the forefront problems we otherwise choose to ignore. Every time theater artists like these challenge the powers that be and established ways of thinking, they prove that art and activism are more powerful together than apart. Anne McEvoy contributed to this story.

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Holiday Calendar

2017 holiday season

Markets, art walks & bazaars Nov. 24 Black Friday at 78th Street Studios Nov. 24-26 Holiday Stroll & Carriage Rides on Larchmere Nov. 25 The 9th Annual Holiday Show by Crafty Mart Cleveland Bazaar at Winterfest Small Business Saturday at Gordon Square Winterfest Dec. 1-3 Little Italy Holiday Art Walk The 37th Annual Christmas Arts and Crafts Show Dec. 2 Cleveland Bazaar at Lake Affect Studios Downtown Canton Flea – 3rd Annual Winter Wonder Flea North Union Farmers Market Holiday Market Tower Press Holiday Sale Dec. 2-3 30th Annual ArtCraft Studio Show

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Dec. 2-3 (continued) Christmas in Zoar Holiday CircleFest Dec. 8 Hudson 2nd Friday Art Hop’s Holiday Hop Dec. 8-10 Cleveland Flea – December Flea Dec. 9 WINTERTIDE at Gordon Square Dec. 9-10 Cleveland Bazaar Holiday at 78th Street Studios Dec. 15-16 Holiday Market at the Screw Factory Dec. 15-17 Cleveland Flea – December Maker Market Dec. 16-17 Chagrin Falls Winter Avant-Garde Art & Craft Show Dec. 17 Crafty Mart presents Last Call at Goodyear Hall

Holiday Gift Guide MUSEUMS ARTISTS ARCHIVES OF THE WESTERN RESERVE 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland P: 216-721-9020 W: FB: ArtistsArchivesoftheWesternReserve The Artists Archives invites you to view an exquisite offering of small works by our member artists through the holiday season as part of “Holiday Treats,” open from Dec. 8 to Jan. 13, 2018. Also on view until January 2018 is “Visual Emotions – The Way I Remember You,” featuring Archived Artist Augusto Bordelois. The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is a regional museum that preserves representative bodies of work created by Ohio visual artists. Through ongoing research, exhibition and educational programs, it documents and promotes this cultural heritage for the benefit of the public. Open: Tuesday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday, noon to 4 p.m.

GALLERIES MASSILLON MUSEUM 121 Lincoln Way East, Massillon P: 330-833-4061 W: FB: Art and history come together at the Massillon Museum to energize cultural excitement in Northeast Ohio. “Stark County Artists Exhibition,” Dec. 3, 2017 (free, fun opening reception 7 to 9 p.m.) through Jan. 31, 2018. “Paul Brown: Innovator,” through Jan. 21, 2018. “Image to Image: Photography by Walsh University Photojournalism Students,” Dec. 3-31. The Immel Circus is always on view. Unique shop (great for holiday gifts), café and vintage photo booth. Watch for a new three-story addition, the Paul Brown Museum, and renovated galleries and classroom spaces – under construction now. Call to be sure the exhibit you wish to see is available. Visiting the Massillon Museum is always free.

ARTISANS’ CORNER GALLERY 11110 Kinsman Road, Newbury P: 440-739-4128 W: FB: “’Twas the month before Christmas, and all through the store, the season is starting and soon we’ll have more. With Santa on board and Angels about, may the holiday season bring you on out.” Located in Newbury Center, this spacious gallery exclusively features Ohio artists with an extensive and diverse collection of handmade art and gifts. Hosting monthly highlighted art events the first Friday of the month in the evening beginning at 6 p.m. Free and open to the public. Visit our website for event and workshop information. Stop in this holiday season for unique gifts and complimentary gift wrapping.

CONTESSA GALLERY Legacy Village 24667 Cedar Road, Lyndhurst P: 216-382-7800 W: Founded in 1999, Contessa Gallery is a Fine Art Dealers Association Member (FADA) that offers artworks of exceedingly high quality as well as art acquisition counsel to collectors, museums and institutions. Contessa Gallery is driven by three main principles: passion, integrity and education. Coupled with a strong commitment to service and connoisseurship, Contessa Gallery has developed a notable local, national and international following and a reputation for integrity and excellence. Let the experts at Contessa Gallery assist you in selecting a gift of art that will serve as a legacy and be passed on from generation to generation for years to come.

THE HARRIS STANTON GALLERY 1370 W. 9th St., Cleveland P: 216-471-8882 2301 W. Market St., Akron P: 330-867-7600 W: FB: 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. Join us for our holiday open houses and jewelry trunk shows! Sip and shop on Saturday, Nov. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at our Akron location, and Tuesday, Dec. 12, from 5 to 8 p.m. at our Cleveland location! Cleveland hours: Tuesday to Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Image: “Wishing a New Tomorrow,” 16 x 20 inches, oil on canvas. Artwork by Augusto Bordelois.

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Holiday Gift Guide GALLERIES HEIGHTS ARTS 2175 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights P: 216-371-3457 W: FB: Heights Arts is filled with fine arts and crafts by more than100 regional artists for the holidays! Support your local artists and give yourself or someone else a gift handmade right here in Northeast Ohio. Open seven days a week, the Holiday Store fills the entire gallery with jewelry, clothing, music, handmade artist cards, fine art prints, paintings and photographs; functional art in ceramics, glass, wood and fiber; books by local writers; and other distinctive holiday items. Heights Arts is also your source for handmade Judaica, including pewter mezuzot and porcelain menorah; discounts for members of the Mandel JCC and NCJW.

LOCAL ARTISTREE 1150 Linda St., Rocky River P: 440-665-3122 W: FB: Celebrate this holiday’s season of giving with gifts from Local Artistree. Our shop, located in the heart of Rocky River for the past eight years, represents work from more than 80 local artisans. Our shop is filled with fine handcrafted art and gifts and the best selection of Lake Erie beach glass jewelry in the city. Come celebrate with us Saturday, Dec. 2, at our open house to kick off the season with goodies and cheer! Our Holiday Shop will be open seven days a week beginning Dec. 1, with extended evening hours. Shop local this season! Our shop is comfortable, friendly and a peaceful place to visit. See you soon!

PENNELLO GALLERY 12407 Mayfield Road, Cleveland P: 216-707-9390 W: IG: @pennellogallery 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 objects, ceramics, jewelry, wood, metal, sculpture, unique Judaica and paintings in all media. Find us and like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram! Join us for Art Walks Dec. 1-3, 2017, and June 1-3, 2018. Located in the heart of Little Italy, Pennello Gallery is a fiveminute walk from Case Western Reserve University, the Cleveland Museum of Art and the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra. Gift ideas for every occasion. Extended holiday hours for your convenience. Give us a call!

ARTISTS SANCTUARY ON GREEN KOEHN SCULPTORS’ 1936 S. Green Road, South Euclid P: 216-691-1936 W: FB: Northeast Ohio’s destination gift shop, featuring gifts from their studio and around the world, Koehn Sculptors’ Open House and Christkindlmarkt has offered an unparalleled shopping experience for 38 years. They celebrate the season with exquisite ornaments, nutcrackers, nativities, pyramids, stocking stuffers and everything for the holidays. But there’s more! Yearround, you’ll find jewelry, clothing, purses, yard décor and the distinctive hand-carved sculptures from Norbert and Victoria Koehn. Open every Thursday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. through Dec. 27. Their Home Restaurant will reopen in the spring. Please check for updates.

TRICIA KAMAN STUDIO/GALLERY School House Galleries in Little Italy 2026 Murray Hill Road, Unit 202, Cleveland P: 216-559-6478 W: FB: Tricia’s Studio/Gallery features her original oil paintings and limited-edition giclée prints. Also available are gift certificates, cards and 2018 calendars. She offers freehand custom-cut silhouettes, which make for a special and unique gift. Visits are welcome by appointment. Open for Little Italy’s Holiday Art Walk: Friday, Dec. 1, 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 2, noon to 9 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 3, noon to 5 p.m. Featuring unique holiday gifts: Preservation Silk by Leslie Edwards Humez; 100 percent silk scarves, created from antique saris; and silhouettes by Tricia Kaman. Please call for a scheduled time during the art walk – only takes a few minutes! Image: “Harper’s Silhouette,” 7 x 5 inches, cut paper. Artwork by Tricia Kaman.

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JOHN W. CARLSON 15121 Clifton Blvd., #2, Lakewood P: 440-812-4681 W: IG: @johnwcarlson John W. Carlson often combines traditional oils with alkyd, charcoal and graphite. Working mostly on large canvases, he applies his medium without sacrificing subtle emotional details. This method allows him to control the negative space, which is vital to the ambiguity that runs through all of the work. John has been accepted into the prestigious Butler Midyear Show at The Butler Museum of American Art. In 2004, his charcoal drawing “Viewpoint” was purchased by the Erie Art Museum and entered into their permanent collection. See John’s work at the ArtCraft Building holiday show Dec. 1-2 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 2570 Superior Ave., Cleveland, Suite 100. Image: “Cinderella Sleeping It Off,” 2017, 50 x 50 inches, oil and charcoal on canvas. Art by John W. Carlson; Steve Standley collection.

Holiday Gift Guide EVENTS HOLIDAY MARKET AT THE SCREW FACTORY Screw Factory, 13000 Athens Ave., Lakewood Friday, Dec. 15: 6 to 10 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 16: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. W: FB: Join us for our Holiday Market at the Screw Factory. More than 25 resident studio artists will open their doors, along with more than 65 visiting artists who will fill two floors for all of your holiday shopping needs. This event is free and open to the public. We are collecting non-perishable food items for Lakewood Community Service Center.

FOOD & DRINK CANAL TAVERN OF ZOAR 8806 Towpath Road NE, Bolivar P: 330-874-4444 W: FB: Come to Zoar for Christmas in Zoar on Dec. 2-3 and to Canal Tavern before or after your Zoar visit. Canal Tavern of Zoar offers 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. Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 4:30 to 8 p.m.; Friday, 4:30 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.


HISTORIC ZOAR VILLAGE 198 Main St., Zoar Christmas in Zoar Saturday, Dec. 2: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3:

Noon to 5 p.m. W: FB: Experience all the joy and cheer of the season during Christmas in Zoar. On Saturday, Dec. 2, and Sunday, Dec. 3, enjoy musical entertainment, a juried craft show, tour the village and more. While in Zoar, makes sure to visit Belsnickle and Kristkind, and take a horse-drawn wagon ride around the village. On Saturday evening, attend a candlelight church service at the Historic Zoar Meeting House (Zoar United Church of Christ), followed by a tree lighting ceremony in the Historic Zoar Garden. Cost for Christmas in Zoar is $8/person, and children 12 and under are FREE.

NORTH UNION FARMERS MARKET HOLIDAY MARKET 13209 Shaker Square Saturday, Dec. 2: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

P: 216-751-7656 W: FB: NorthUnionFarmersMarket Join North Union Farmers Market for our annual Holiday Market! The holidays are coming, and receiving a gift made from a local farm, baker, vineyard or artist just makes the season sing! Local artists, makers, woodworkers, jewelers, holiday décor, live wreaths, farmers, local food gifts and Ohio wines! Find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts for your family and friends at this unique, local-only boutique. Saturday, Dec. 2, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 13209 Historic Shaker Square between Dewey’s and CVS. Like us on Facebook. Sign up for our weekly email at Celebrating 22 years!

FRIENDS OF CANVAS GLIDDEN HOUSE 1901 Ford Drive, Cleveland P: 216-231-8900 W: Glidden House, AAA-rated Three Diamond boutique hotel invites guests to indulge in both its compelling history and contemporary luxury. Whether it’s a milestone occasion or a unique holiday gift idea, Glidden House offers several different package deals that highlight our unique historic hotel experience while offering discounts that include cultural events, admissions and dining. The packages include: “Jazz Age: American Style,” in partnership with Cleveland Museum of Art; “Tour de Circle,” in partnership with various University Circle institutions; “Ready to Rock,” in partnership with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; and “Dinner for Two,” in partnership with L’Albatros.

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Don Drumm Studios & Gallery

LOCAL SUPPORT Arts and crafts make for great holiday gifts, and buying from local galleries and shops helps support Northeast Ohio’s creative community and economy By Ed Carroll


s the holidays approach, TV airwaves will be filled with advertisements peddling the latest and trendiest gifts. While there are those who are happy to give or receive such items, others may prefer more unique options. Luckily for Northeast Ohioans looking for something one-of-a-kind, the region is home to a number of galleries and shops that offer just that, including many items created by area artists and artisans. Local purveyors of arts and crafts from Don Drumm Studios & Gallery in Akron, Heights Arts in Cleveland Heights, Koehn Sculptors’ Sanctuary on Green in South Euclid, Local Artistree in Rocky River and Screw Factory Artists in Lakewood share why artistic offerings purchased from local businesses not only make for a special gift but also help support the region’s creative community. LOCAL EXPOSURE IN CLEVELAND HEIGHTS Heights Arts emphasizes diversity – particularly in its programming, which combines visual arts with concerts and poetry, says Rachel Bernstein, Heights Arts executive director. When someone from the area buys works of art from a local gallery such as Heights Arts, that person is contributing to the local economy. Above: Don Drumm Studios & Gallery offers a variety of gift options. Right: For its 16th Annual Holiday Store, Heights Arts commissioned a design-forward porcelain menorah by Seth Nagelberg, head of the Cleveland Institute of Art ceramics department.

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Heights Arts

“We represent more than 100 local artists,” she says. “We have made it our mission since 2000 to support local artists, and through sales and exhibition, (we) have given out almost ($1 million) in commission to the local economy.” A primary benefit of an artist showing and selling work through Heights Arts is increased exposure, Bernstein says. The gallery also is home to a store that features locally made ceramics, jewelry, stationery and more – and every holiday season, it hosts a holiday store. Heights Arts’ 16th Annual Holiday Store will be in the gallery through Dec. 30. “First, because we’re open longer (hours), (artists) get more exposure,” Bernstein says. “Second, in our location, we’re next to the Cedar Lee Theatre, so we get a lot of traffic of people who might not be exposed to their work otherwise. Here, the art is consistently on view, (our staff is) here and (artists) don’t have to be in order to have their work sold.” DESTINATION ART IN AKRON Toni Billick, gallery manager at Don Drumm Studios & Gallery, says art makes a great gift because it’s often something you can’t get anywhere else. She says purchasing art from a local gallery has benefits over purchasing from an online retailer. “Purchasing here in the store, you can touch (the art), see it, see the materials (used),” she says. “Online, you don’t have those options.” Don Drumm Studios & Gallery showcases more than 500 artists and artisans, including many with Northeast Ohio ties – something Billick says benefits both the artist and the customer. Among the items available are cookware, jewelry, sculpture and religious pieces, like crosses or menorahs. “We have a huge clientele, and being exposed and being seen by our customers broadens (the artists’) clientele as well,” she says. “We often have people who purchase items here looking for a specific artist.” In addition, many art buyers seek out the studio simply based on the name. “Don (Drumm) is a local celebrity,” Billick says of the studio’s owner. “We have a lot of followers in the area, people who come here from out of state and out of the country. We constantly have people from out of town, specifically looking to buy Don Drumm items to bring a piece of Akron back to their homes.”


Screw Factory Artists Above: Gina DeSantis Ceramics’ studio is one of many shoppers will be able to visit during Screw Factory Artists’ Holiday Market. Below: “Orange Dahlia” by Susan Lydon is an example of the work that can be found at Local Artistree.

Local Artistree

MASS APPEAL IN ROCKY RIVER Christal Keener, co-owner of Local Artistree, says giving the gift of art makes for a more personal present. “I think (the gift of art) is a nice form of expression,” she says. “It’s certainly a time to support our local work force – now, in times like this, more than ever. You can go to (a chain retailer that) knocks off everything that maybe a local designer does, but I think we need to support our local friends and neighbors. I would much rather receive something made locally than something made overseas.”

All of Local Artistree’s artists – whether they’re full-time artists or make things on the side – are from Northeast Ohio, Keener says. Even for part-timers, showcasing work at Local Artistree – which offers artistic necklaces, scarves, bowls and pillows, among many other things – has its benefits. “There’s so much static out there, so many shows and festivals,” she says. “We offer a consistent place to shop. Our inventory does change, but if you follow a particular artist, we can get in contact with them if you want a custom piece.

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“When we write the checks and the artists get the checks because their products sold, there’s a lot of joy. You’re making someone feel good by purchasing their work. We’re not a white-walled gallery, which are great and I do go to those. We’re more of a gallery that appeals to the masses. We have something for everyone and many different price points, from $5 to $500.” Seeing it made in Lakewood The Lake Erie Building and Templar Industrial Park has been an institution for more than 100 years, even though the building’s purpose and function have changed a few times throughout its history. It was originally a factory for Templar Motor Cars, and today, it’s home of the Screw Factory Artists. Matt Richards, co-chair of the committee for the upcoming Holiday Market, which this year takes place Dec. 15-16, explains that the Screw Factory Artists are a collection of about 30 makers – including ceramic artists, woodworkers, jewelers and visual artists – whose studios are in the building. A few times a year, including notably during the holidays, the public has an opportunity to tour the building and visit the various studios. “We’re not a local gallery,” Richards says. “Here, you get to see where it’s made. Customers can come in and talk to the artist, see where (the art) is made and sometimes how it’s made, and that adds a lot to the experience. A lot of people really appreciate that. It’s not like coming to an outlet mall – you’re coming directly to a factory.” People appreciate that someone in their neighborhood is making art as opposed to bringing in art from somewhere such as New York City, Richards says. “People say, ‘Oh my god, there’s an artist right around the corner and he makes this really cool stuff,’” he says. “I think that has more of an appeal, it’s more familiar to them.” Sculpting in South EucliD Maybe one of the most import reasons to buy gifts from local galleries and shops is because they’re small businesses. Victoria Koehn, co-owner of the Koehn Sculptors’ Sanctuary on Green, says the personalized thought and attention is “ever present” when someone buys locally made art. “There is a certain pleasure that one experiences knowing the person from whom they’ve just made a purchase and knowing that they are helping support

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Michael C. Butz

Jumping jacks, puppet-like toys with moving joints, created by Norbert and Victoria Koehn can be found at Koehn Sculptors’ Sanctuary on Green. their career,” she says. “Also, every region is different, and online help usually has a difficult time relating to the region or city that a customer is from.” Koehn and her husband Norbert Koehn own the Sanctuary on Green, where they sell their sculptures and gifts with an eye for detail and have a loyal following of customers. Though both sculpt, the Sanctuary also offers artistic gifts from around the world, including special rooms, some featuring gifts for children or the kitchen and others around certain themes, such as their Swedish and German rooms. Each year, the Koehns host a special holiday shop. Their 38th Annual Open House & Christkindlmarkt runs through Dec. 27, and there, visitors can shop from a wide assortment of ornaments, decorations and more. Koehn says local galleries are extensions of the artist and their voice. “They usually understand what we express and how our work is created,” she says. “Galleries only represent artists whom they admire and see as exciting creators. Their excitement and energy

then passes through our works in presentation to prospective clients.”

On Display

Don Drumm Studios & Gallery

Don Drumm’s annual show of creative gifts and decorating ideas runs through Dec. 24 at 437 Crouse St., Akron.

Heights Arts

The 16th Annual Holiday Store is ongoing through Dec. 30 at Heights Arts, 2175 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights.

Koehn Sculptors’ Sanctuary on Green

The 38th Annual Open House & Christkindlmarkt is open Thursdays through Sundays through Dec. 27 at Koehn Sculptors’ Sanctuary on Green, 1936 S. Green Road, South Euclid.

Screw Factory Artists

The Screw Factory Artists’ Holiday Market will be open Dec. 15-16 at the Lake Erie Building and Templar Industrial Park, 13000 Athens Ave., Lakewood.



Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America now showing at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage through April 8


he Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage has launched its newest special exhibition, “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews & Medicine in America,” which originated at the Jewish Museum of Maryland but has been expanded to include content of interest to local Cleveland audiences. This important exhibit features more than 200 artifacts, photographs and documents, including highlights from Cleveland’s own Mt. Sinai Hospital, and illustrates how Jews used medicine to assimilate into American society, making significant contributions to the medical world and advancing civil rights. The museum’s managing director, David Schafer, said, “Doctors who haven’t seen each other in decades met at the museum to recall the important work of Mt. Sinai Hospital. The exhibition brings up a lot of personal memories for people.” When Jewish doctors were shunned from medical schools and couldn’t train in teaching hospitals, based on religious affiliation, Jewish communities established Jewish-sponsored hospitals, which also met the religious and cultural needs of Jewish patients. Mt. Sinai Hospital was created for this reason in Cleveland. A Jewish teaching hospital, established in the early 1900s with the mission to serve all people even if they couldn’t afford care, Mt. Sinai closed its doors a century later, leaving behind a legacy of compassion and innovation in medicine. The exhibition’s advisory chair, Dr. Jeffery Ponsky, who served as chief of surgery at Mt. Sinai for 18 years before assuming leadership positions at University Hospitals and the Cleveland Clinic, recalled, “At the beginning of the last century, Jews who wanted to be doctors had a hard time getting into schools because there were quotas. But, when we got through the barriers, look what a difference we made. Jewish doctors were pioneers and innovators.” He went on to say, “Disease was the enemy we were fighting.” Mitchell Balk, president of Mt. Sinai Health Care Foundation said, “The Jewish Mishna, the first book of the Talmud, says, ‘He who saves one life, it is as if he has saved the entire world.’ Mt. Sinai was a Jewish hospital created because of anti-Semitism in the medical profession but known for serving anyone, particularly the urban poor.” The exhibition brings up issues that are being discussed around health care today. “Is it a privilege or a right? Who should have access to care?” Schafer said. “We look at our past to better understand our present and create a more inclusive future for everyone. That’s what this museum is all about.” Visit the museum now through April 8, 2018, to learn more about the historic fight for equality in health care and a look to the future of medicine in America. Thought-provoking programming related to the special exhibition is ongoing. Visit the Museum’s website for more information or to register:

Patients and doctors reunite at the exhibition

Museum guests explore Mt. Sinai Section of exhibition

Peggy Wasserstrom poses next to her photo from when she was a volunteer with Mt. Sinai

Falling Falls for the

Valley Art Center / Michael Steinberg

Instructor Bud Deihl helps an oil painting student during one of the many classes offered at Valley Art Center.

With a wide variety of art galleries and studios, Chagrin Falls offers something for almost everyone By Alyssa Schmitt


hagrin Falls’ scenic cascades and picturesque downtown are known to draw visitors to the village, but increasingly, so too are its art galleries and studios. From the hands-on experiences offered at Valley Art Center and The Glass Asylum to the unique items available to view and buy at and All Matters Gallery or the lifestyleenhancing goods featured at SHED Boutique and Wellness, visitors can enjoy a multitude of experiences – something these businesses, which all offer something a little different, encourage

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so as to foster greater intrest in their community. On top of that, all of these places are in a walkable downtown district that includes a diverse mix of retail and restaurants, making Chagrin Falls an inviting place to visit year round – including during the upcoming holiday shopping season. AFFIRMING ACTIONS Rebecca Gruss, owner of, says her gallery is a place where inspiration and art come together through sculpture, photography, candle art, jewelry, paintings

and ceramics. In fact, she includes a slip of handwritten encouragement, in the form of a positive quote, with each purchase. “The vibe of the gallery and the goal is really about inspiration through art,” she says. “It’s all about positive energy and bringing joy, happiness — and in some cases hope — to art.” Gruss has seen Chagrin Falls become more vibrant in recent years, something she says is a result of dedicated gallery owners and nonprofit leaders working together. “The gallery (owners) meet on a regular basis,” she says. “We go to each

other’s shops, we know what each other carries. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve referred customers to one of the other galleries because they have what (customers are) looking for.” To combat what she suggests is a market over saturated with gifts massproduced overseas, Gruss encourages customers to buy local for the holiday season. “I think why people would want to choose to buy artisan-made gifts is because they’re choosing something that has meaning,” she says. “Something that’s been handmade has a certain energy to it that you can’t get from a manufactured item.” POSTIVE VIBES All Matters Gallery was the missing puzzle piece Chagrin Falls didn’t know it needed. Husband-and-wife co-owners Rainer Hildenbrand and Cynthia Gale moved the gallery to its current location six years ago, and in the process, they created an energetic space that features crystals and gemstones rarely found in other stores. The store is sometimes mistaken as “new age,” but Hildenbrand says it’s more than that – it’s about celebrating nature. “We fill a niche that no one else has filled,” he says. “We’re more about education than we are about selling products. We are kind of a holistic center without carrying that label. We freely provide information people ask for and need.” Gale provides spiritual consulting based on her exposure as a child to the Native American community of the Lumbee Tribe in North Carolina – but with a “common-sense approach,” says Hildenbrand, adding he hosts philosophy classes and a variety of community gatherings, like a monthly drum circle. The products on the shelves, from prayer bowls to crystals and pendulums, represent the positive vibe Hildenbrand says the store emits. Other works the gallery carries are prints, paintings, ceramics and masks from selected artists. Any item purchased also comes with the knowledge and meaning behind the gift, Hildenbrand says. “There is a world of difference between purchasing items online and purchasing from gallery owners,” he says. “When visiting All Matters, you get to purchase exactly the item you choose from our extensive inventory. You also get information, advice and instructions by experienced, seasoned gallery owners


All Matters Gallery

Above: All Matters Gallery offers a variety of items – like crystals, pocket hearts, butterfly jewelry and ceremonial masks – to encourage beauty, comfort and inspiration. Below: offers a variety of handcrafted items by American artisans meant to inspire.

All Matters Gallery

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who have been in the business for 26 years now.” An arts hub It’s unusual to have six nonprofits in one village, yet Chagrin Falls wouldn’t be the same without them – and Valley Art Center serves as the hub. With more and more patrons visiting the village for its many art selections, VAC executive director Mary Ann Breisch says they’re bound to get interested about the process. They may even want to dirty their hands, too. “We’re a community center, so people come here to hang and find a sense of community and talk about the process,” she says. “We have classes for beginners all the way to masters in every medium, from painting to drawing and printmaking to jewelry, sculpture and ceramics.” Breisch explains that VAC keeps an eye on what people are interested in, like the ancient painting techniques of encaustic, which uses a mixture of pigments and hot beeswax, preserving colors for ages. For those wanting to start a relative or friend on their artistic journey, VAC offers classes. “Giving the gift to make something and understand what it is to be part of the process is very inspiring,” Breisch says. “After you’ve learned how things are made, it’s really a game changer.” Vallery Art Center is also home to a gallery, which through five exhibitions per year, showcases the work of regional artists. Hidden (glass) gem Rita Antolick, manager at the Glass Asylum, says what makes her shop stand out is that visitors are welcome to wander to the back of the space to observe the process of molten glass turning into works of art – satisfying a curiosity that might arise the minute guests step through the garage door that serves as the glass-blowing studio’s front door. The Glass Asylum, which is tucked away behind the patio of M Italian, a neighboring restaurant, also has a gallery where visitors can see the work of people who use the studio. “(With) every piece here, you can really tell the hard work and effort that went into it,” she says. “It’s not just a manufactured piece, and I think that kind of adds a lot of special character.” But glass isn’t the only thing visitors can purchase. They can go a step further by experiencing for themselves

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Valley Art Center / Michael Steinberg Above: From left, George Roby talks with Sally Zarney and Ellie Wren during the “It’s Elemental: Fire & Water” exhibit, which was on view in early 2017 at the Valley Art Center. Below: Many of their vendors at SHED Boutique and Wellness specialize in fair trade products, use recycled materials or donate a percent of their proceeds to various causes.

SHED Boutique and Wellness the delicate glass-blowing process through a range of classes the studio offers. “I think it’s great; it’s opening somebody’s eyes creatively and teaching them a whole new art,” Antolick says. “The artists here love working with the public and teaching them a little bit about what they know.” New to the neighborhood Halle Bargar and Michelle Kalin-

yak-Adams, the minds behind SHED Boutique and Wellness, welcome their customers like guests entering their home. They’re the new kids on the block, having just opened in July. Their goal is to bring something unique and different while being a positive influence upon the world. The boutique offers jewelry, accessories, home décor and wellness items, and many of their vendors specialize in fair trade products, use recycled materials or

The Glass Asylum

Kedan James demonstrates how to blow glass during one of The Glass Asylum’s introduction-to-glass-blowing classes. donate a percentage of their proceeds to various causes. “A lot of our vendors (do) social good, so in some way when you make a purchase here at SHED, it gives back,” Kalinyak-Adams says.

During the relatively short time the boutique has been open, the duo has experienced the welcoming nature of Chagrin Falls store owners and residents alike. “The stores that are near us have been so amazing,” Bargar says. “People

will pop in and ask us how it’s going and if we need anything. The town, too, has been wonderful. We’re starting to have guests that come back over and over again. They’ve become friends, in a way.”



Many galleries and studios in Chagrin Falls keep their doors open a little later the first Friday of every month so visitors have a chance to see each storefront in a day. The next First Friday: Dec. 1. Participating galleries include All Matters Gallery, 79 N Main St.; Alpaca Fiber Studio, 151 Bell St.;, 14 Bell St.; The Glass Asylum, 22 W. Orange St.; The h’Art of Chagrin, 100 N. Main St.; and Imagery Fine Arts, 91 N. Main St.


Organized by co-owner Rainer Hildenbrand, the drum circle “Drumming for Wholeness” will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Dec. 27.


On Nov. 25, will host “Show Your Love for Local,” which will include specials – like discounts for the first 15 “local lovers” – as well as an opportunity to add to the gallery’s gratitude painting, which will take shape throughout the holiday season. On Dec. 1, will host Cleveland skyline and icon photographer Jack Koch from 5 to 8 p.m. during First Friday by the Falls.


On Dec. 6, Sip & Shop will feature local artist, designer and seamstress Virginia Gonzalez.


The 46th Annual Juried Art Exhibit remains on view through Dec. 13 at 155 Bell St., Chagrin Falls. In 2018, Valley Art Center begins a three-year series of exhibits exploring concepts of identity through three different themes: people, places and things. “Identity: PEOPLE” will be on view from Jan. 27 to March 7; an opening reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 26.


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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:

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

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.



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

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

CHILDREN’S MUSEUM OF CLEVELAND 3813 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 216-791-7114 W:

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

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

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

601 Erieside Ave., Cleveland P: 216-694-2000 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. MUSEUM OF CONTEMPORARY ART CLEVELAND 11400 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 216-421-8671 W:


We shine a light on local artists SHOP THE 16TH ANNUAL HOLIDAY STORE!

2175 Lee Rd, Cleveland Heights

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1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-781-ROCK 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.



THE BONFOEY GALLERY 1710 Euclid Ave., Cleveland P: 216-621-0178 W:

Northeast Ohio’s leading contemporary art gallery featuring works by the finest regional contemporary artists in a two-floor gallery space. Additional services include framing, gilding, hand carving and finishing, installation, art appraisal, art consultation, art and frame restoration, and fine art shipping. THE DANCING SHEEP 12712 Larchmere Blvd., Cleveland P: 216-229-5770

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

Hand painted and quilted acrylic on vinyl handbag by Roxanna Ahlborn. 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. 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 steel. Our subjects range from figurative to abstract. This is a working studio in Little Italy, so it’s best to call “First Daughter,” before visiting to be sure we’re there. Lee Heinen 36 x 24 inches, was awarded an Ohio Arts Council Individual oil on canvas. Excellence Award FY 2017. Artwork by Lee Heinen.


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. THE SCULPTURE CENTER 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland P: 216-229-6527 W: IG:

Located just beyond the Euclid Avenue Bridge in University Circle, The Sculpture Center provides the opportunity to discover, embrace and celebrate the 3-D art of sculpture. Visit often to see new work by early and mid-career regional artists in solo exhibitions. Sometimes challenging, possibly provoking, always inspiring. FREE.

MUSIC & PERFORMING ARTS 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. DOBAMA THEATRE 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights P: 216-932-3396 W:

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.

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LISTINGS EVENTS Cleveland International Film Festival Tower City Cinemas 230 W. Huron Road, Cleveland Wednesday, April 4, to Sunday, April 15, 2018 P: 216-623-3456 W:

The Cleveland International Film Festival promotes artistically and culturally significant film arts through education and exhibition to enrich the life of the community.

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

Northcoast Promotions, Inc. specializes in art shows, craft fairs and festivals. Please visit us at 78th Street Studio for Third Friday Art Walks. The Polar Fest is an interactive art show held at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds during the last weekend In January. Visit our website for more events and details. Listings are provided by advertisers and as a courtesy to readers.

Connect with Don’t miss a chance to be included in an upcoming issue of Canvas! In 2018, we’ll again highlight the region’s dynamic visual arts and performing arts scenes and provide readers across Northeast Ohio with all they need to know to get the most out of what the region’s arts institutions have to offer.

Stay connected with frequent updates about museum exhibitions, gallery receptions, stage performances, events and show reviews, by subscribing to the free biweekly Canvas e-newsletter!

Canvas is distributed to hundreds of dining, retail and artistic locations throughout Northeast Ohio. For advertising opportunities, contact Adam Mandell, vice president of sales, at 216-342-5191 or

To receive the Canvas e-newsletter – which will be sent to your inbox every other Thursday afternoon, just in time to make weekend plans – visit


NORTHEAST OHIO | arts | music | performance | enter


showman Through performance and installations, Jimmy Kuehnle’s art elicits interaction and participation

Spring/Summer 2016 | Canvas | 7

46 | Canvas | Winter 2017

NORTHEAST OHIO | arts | music | performance

Winter 2017


the familiar Lane Cooper distorts everyday imagery,

transforming the ubiquitous into the experiential


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.

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.

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, behindthe-scenes, or in the pit orchestra. 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, 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

This 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. 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. To learn more about visiting our campus, go to or call 440-423-2955.

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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 $8 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

The best way to get to know Hawken is to spend time on our campuses. For more information or to plan your visit go to or call 440.423.2955.

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

Hawken Lyndhurst Campus 5000 Clubside Road, Lyndhurst, Ohio 44124

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