Blog

SPACES Housewarming   01.18.17

A few days ago we opened our doors to the public, during Spaces to SPACES: A Roving Housewarming. With over 600 guests in attendance during Saturday night's party, some of the speeches got lost. Artist and SPACES grand opening planning committee member, Julia Christensen, gave a moving speech that illustrates the impact SPACES has had on artists since the beginning. Here it is:

SPACES began in 1978 when a group of artists came together to establish a space for experimental, interdisciplinary, collaborative, cutting edge art and performance, creating the space for that work to be exhibited in a gallery setting. It is said that there were 35 people at that first gathering.

And here we are, a gathering of people coming together to establish a NEW space for the exhibition of contemporary artwork, in the name of SPACES. At that first gathering there were 35 people in attendance, and tonight, we sold over 600 tickets. Which goes to show how absolutely integral SPACES is to this community. A not-for-profit gallery, an artist-centered gallery, an accessible space that supports a thriving arts community. A space that is by and for artists. SPACES is as crucial as it ever, 4 buildings later, 5 directors later. I've been lucky enough to work with a couple of these directors--Chris Lynn, who is here with us tonight, and how can we not also raise another glass to the gifted leadership of Christina Vassallo, the woman who brought us through these doors tonight.

When SPACES began in the late 70's, those pioneering artists were interested in making room for new interdisciplinary forms and mediums that were not yet supported by traditional institutions. This continues to evolve in the art world, and it is crucial to have spaces that weigh the practices and processes of artists above the market, and above fashion. I look out at the audience here tonight, and I see so many friends, artists that are working to push the envelope of what the art world can handle. We make work that transcends discipline, we make work about contemporary questions and current events. And given our current current events, artists––and the public––need spaces like SPACES more than ever. SPACES makes the tools, the platform, and the megaphone accessible, so that this work is seen and heard here in Cleveland; meanwhile SPACES does real work that connects Cleveland with national and international arts dialogs. With the opening of this new building, that presence will be amplified, which is great for Cleveland, and great for SPACES---and what is good for SPACES, is good for artists.

I read recently that SPACES has had the same phone number since it prepared that first exhibition in 1978. In a digital age when nobody even knows anybody's phone numbers anymore, when galleries come and go and are constantly bought and sold, there is some kind of real truth in that. Truth about loyalty, truth about dedication, and truth about community. And I think you will all agree with me when I say-these days we need all the truth we can get!

Thank you SPACES for your dedication to us, to the artists! We are working to blaze new directions with you. And we, the artists, in turn are here to support you. A building is made of bricks, but A SPACE is made of THIS! Thanks!!

Image courtesy Kristian Campana
Image courtesy Kristian Campana

Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Category: History

SPACES' Newest Board Member   10.18.16

The SPACES Board of Directors appointed Hilary Spittle at its October 10th meeting, with a unanimous vote. "Hilary's background in marketing and communications is essential to the impact of SPACES, especially now, as we relocate to our new home at the Van Rooy Coffee Building and open to the public in January 2017," said Christina Vassallo, SPACES Executive Director.

Hillary Spittle is a communications executive with extensive global and domestic experience in key communication disciplines, including brand and marketing communications, targeted events, and internal communications. She is currently a Divisional Marketing Communications Leader at Eaton Corporation, where she has also led brand transitions, developed global positioning, and served as a spokesperson on sustainability issues. Previously, Spittle worked for GM in its Detroit and Ruesselsheim offices.

"SPACES Gallery is a unique part of Cleveland's vibrant arts community, and I'm excited to join the team at this pivotal time," she said. Spittle joins a 25 member board of directors, half of whom are artists or creative professionals, as required by the organization's by-laws.

Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Category: General

The Cleveland artists waiting for Donald Trump   07.16.16

As Part of SPACES Art Writer in Residence Program, Jillian Steinhauer spent time exploring the Cleveland Arts, focusing on the activism and politically charged work that has been in the limelight. The Gaurdian was interested in her experience, and today published the results.

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2016/jul/16/cleveland-artists-republican-national-convention-donald-trump

Keywords: activism, cleveland, donald trump, politics, protests, rnc, spaces, the fixers, trump
Author: Karl Anderson, R&D Coordinator
Category: Art Writer in Residence

A Life in Activism and Comics: An Interview with Joyce Brabner   07.16.16

Jillian Steinhauer (SPACES most recent Art Writer in Residence) got the chance to sit down and speak with Joyce Brabner, a Cleveland writer, artist, activist and comic whose career spans multiple decades and a plethora of projects. click below to follow their conversation.


http://hyperallergic.com/311469/a-life-in-activism-and-comics-an-interview-with-joyce-brabner/

Keywords: activism, brought to light, cleveland, comics, harvey pekar, jillian steinhauer, joyce brabner, our cancer year, story-telling, voice
Author: Karl Anderson, R&D Coordinator
Category: Art Writer in Residence

The View From Cleveland   06.06.16

Leave it to a journalist from New York to show up in Cleveland with an idea of how things must be. (In fact, last year's Art Writer-in-Residence, also from New York, did the same thing.) In New York City these days, it can feel like art and politics overlap to an almost delirious degree: artists and others protest at museums regularly, exhibitions grappling with all sorts of social and political issues abound around town. This isn't to say there's no other work to see-there is-but if you're interested in how artists are confronting the problems of the world-as I am-New York is a good place to start.

And so I came to Cleveland, roughly a week ago, assuming there must be some kind of overlap between art and politics here. Cleveland is, after all, the most segregated city in the United States. It's part of the steel-manufacturing stretch of land that was left to rust in the second half of the 20th century. Its police force is famous for killing a 12-year-old child, its river for catching fire. One of its neighborhoods experienced "more housing speculation than any place in the country" in the lead-up to the Great Recession.

The world, in other words, has impinged itself upon Cleveland. It's not a place where you can pretend that deep-seated structural problems don't exist. Yet the sense I've gotten so far, from the people I've spoken with and the art I've seen, is that most (visual) artists here are not confronting those problems in their work.

That is, I want to stress, not a judgment. It is simply, to me, a surprise-especially given the city's legacy of literary activism and the impending Republican National Convention. (Two of the most high-profile RNC-related art projects are being brought to Cleveland by…New Yorkers.) And as one of my greatest professors once taught me, surprises are always worth investigating: they represent a rich gap between expectation and reality, a wealth of knowledge yet to be learned. If the truth is that Cleveland artists aren't making work about politics, then I want to understand why.

The other point I keep stubbornly returning to is that "most" does not mean "all": Some artists here are activists in their own ways, some painters and performers are making work that either they or I would call political. They're just a little harder to find, and their art may not adopt a shape that's familiar to me. So, in the process of sussing these people out, I've found myself returning to some fundamental questions: What's the difference between social and political art, or between political art and activism? What defines "political" anyway? What criteria am I setting up subconsciously in this search, and are they fair? How can I understand what it means to be political in Cleveland while only spending a month in Cleveland?

I don't expect to answer any of those, but it helps me to consider them continually, to let them linger in my brain as I go about the process of seeing art, meeting people, and having conversations. You might live here as an artist or arts worker and have thoughts on them, too. If that's the case, please get in touch. I'd love to hear what you have to say. I know I won't be able to fully understand Cleveland in 30 days, but I hope to learn a damn lot about it.


Keywords: activism, art, cleveland, jillian steinhauer, politics, rnc
Author: Jillian Steinhauer, Art Writer in Residence
Category: Art Writer in Residence

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