Blog

Our new Development Assistant needs no introduction!   04.12.18

Lauren Davies has been a part of the SPACES family since 2015 -- as a participating artist in our Natural Itstory exhibition, an 8x8x8 panelist, an auction contributor, an enthusiastic supporter, and most recently a member of our SWAP residency review panel. As the Development Assistant, Lauren will help to fulfill the SPACES mission and support our programming by carrying out resource development initiatives.

Lauren relocated to Cleveland five years ago after a long career in San Francisco as an arts administrator and curator, in addition to being a practicing visual artist. She was the Exhibitions Director and Director of Public Programs at Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, an international artist's residency center focused on print media, photography, video and digital media. After moving to Cleveland, Lauren and her brother carried on the William Busta Gallery as 2731 Prospect Contemporary Art for two years. With an MFA in Sculpture from the San Francisco Art Institute, Lauren has continued her studio practice in Cleveland and has received two Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Awards, and a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Lauren is known to have epic love for SPACES, Team SPACES, and Truman the Wonder Dog!


Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Category: General

Thank You for Being a Friend   01.23.18

If you've been to SPACES in the last 26 years there is no doubt that you have met Marilyn Simmons. Her time with SPACES spanned 3 Executive Directors (Susan Channing, Christopher Lynn, and Christina Vassallo) and countless openings, benefit parties, and everything in between. In the office she is referred to as the Gallery Oracle, which we think is a fitting title for someone who knows just what needs to get done, through intuition alone. She is friend to artist, aspiring student, and art enthusiast alike. She's overseen and mentored countless interns, many of whom have moved on to successful careers in the arts.

When I first started at SPACES back in 2013 I was told by several co-workers that if I needed anything I should talk to Marilyn, because "she knows everyone." And it's true. Every time I meet someone new and tell them "I work at SPACES", they ask, "how is Marilyn"? Her name is synonymous with SPACES. While she will be concluding her tenure at SPACES at the end of this month, we know that the incredible work she has done at SPACES, and for the Cleveland art scene, will continue to have an impact on our programming.



Marilyn's last day is January 31st, but we ask that you celebrate her and her work at our January 26th opening reception.




Marilyn at SPACES in Wonderland, photo by Jerry Mann
Marilyn at SPACES in Wonderland, photo by Jerry Mann

Author: Michelle Epps, Community Engagement Manager
Category: General

Introducing our NEW Fellows   11.13.17

Please welcome SPACES 2017-2018 Fellows Madison Link and Thomas Reihart!

Earlier this year we launched a new Fellowship program for art students. These students are working side by side our Artist Coordinators Bruce Edwards (SWAP) and Karl Anderson (R&D). Through this experience we hope the students will learn more about working in an arts organization and be exposed to new ideas from practicing artists.

Here they are in their own words:

Madison Link, SWAP Fellow
My name is Madison Link and I am a sophomore, majoring in painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art. I plan to graduate in 2020. I received the SWAP fellowship and get the pleasure to work under Bruce Edwards. I've gotten to work with Heidi Neilson and help build parts of her dome. I hope I get to work with Michaels Rakowitz on his upcoming project "A Color Removed".

A favorite quote of mine is "As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed" by Vincent Van Gogh.

Thomas Reihart, R&D Fellow
Hi, I'm Tom Reihart. I'm a Cleveland native studying Sculpture and Expanded Media at the Cleveland Instituted of Art. I'm currently a junior and looking to graduate in the spring of 2019. After school I plan on having a studio practice and engaging myself in the art scene working towards a goal of mine, to someday open a gallery of my own. I'm very excited to have received the R&D fellowship and I'm really looking forward to working with Sara Black and Amber Ginsburg on the 7000 Marks project as well as all upcoming artists and projects. I'm just very thankful for this opportunity and to be a part of SPACES and to learn a lot from this experience.

Favorite quote: "The most creative people are motivated by the grandest of problems that are presented before them." - Neil deGrasse Tyson

For more information on our Fellowship Program or other intern and volunteer opportunities please click here.

2017-2018 SPACES Fellows
2017-2018 SPACES Fellows

Author: Michelle Epps, Community Engagement Manager
Category: General

Meet our new Deputy Director!   07.25.17

SPACES is pleased to welcome our newest staff member, Sarah Murphy, who will begin her work as Deputy Director in mid-August.

As the SPACES Deputy Director, Sarah will be responsible for critical administrative, financial, and fundraising operations. She will secure resources for the organization and develop financial tools; guide budgeting; assist with program development as it overlaps with fundraising; and contribute to strategic planning. Originally from Cleveland, Sarah is a licensed attorney in the state of Ohio and moved to Chicago in 2015 to begin her work in the nonprofit development field-holding positions as a grant writer for Habitat for Humanity Chicago, and a development coordinator for Rape Victim Advocates. Sarah graduated from Case Western Reserve University School of Law in 2013 and studied philanthropy and nonprofit organizations at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies while in Chicago.

She has a passion for mindful development work and we can't wait for you to meet her!


Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Category: General

Create it Forward: Realizing the Potential in Our Incarcerated Youth   06.29.17

You don't realize how many art supplies and tools contain some kind of metal until you have to make artwork without it. This is just one of the many challenges arts organizations and art instructors faced when engaging in a fledgling program created to enrich the lives of young men spending time at the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center. Create it Forward: Realizing the Potential in Our Incarcerated Youth is a collaborative program spearheaded by SPACES and CMSD teacher Melissa Marini Svigelj-Smith to provide desperately needed creative outlets for the youth caught up in the juvenile detention system. Through a generous grant from the NoVo Foundation SPACES worked with 10 artists and 4 arts organizations during the 2016-2017 school year to provide 15 on-site art workshops that would engage 13 students each class by showing them that creativity can be part of their livelihood.

Teacher Melissa Marini Svigelj-Smith instructs her class through SEL, or Social and Emotional Learning, as a way to provide her students with the tools to graduate and start their life anew. Her lesson plans are filled with daily reflections, exercises to reduce stress, uplifting and inspirational stories, and now, art making. It can sometimes be difficult to measure what impact SEL instruction can have with such a transient student body. In 2014 it was reported that there were 2,450 juveniles who spent time at CCJDC that year, though there is only a daily average of 136 juveniles. Which means some students are only in the system for a day, some a week, some longer. Regardless of their sentence length, Ms. Svigelj-Smith believes each student's time in the classroom and exposure to SEL is invaluable for their growth and hopefully will result in reduced recidivism rates.

Beginning in August of 2016 SPACES brought together Zygote Press, Inc., Art House, Inc., Twelve Literary and Performative Arts Incubator, cartoonist and journalist Josh Usmani, musician Luke Rinderknecht, Creative Fusion artist Michela Picchi, and culinary artist Bea Svigelj with the mission to assist Ms. Svigelj-Smith in her efforts to introduce art making into her SEL classroom. A major part of the SEL education model is imparting generosity and empathy. In this effort the students' work was donated, when possible, to local charities that focus on human services, such as Ronald McDonald House. Students decorated cupcakes; made cookies, paper, masks, beads, pencil holders, and silkscreen prints; learned about mural making; created character designs and cartoons; learned body percussion; made Christmas Cards for ill children at the Cleveland Clinic; and participated in creative writing. There was also a special screening of the documentary "Cooler Bandits" with a visit from Donovan Harris, one of the subjects of the film.

When the students of Ms. Svigelj-Smith's class reviewed their art making experiences, it was clear that a lasting impression had been made. Some students had favorites, while others just enjoyed the exposure to new things, as can be seen below from the students' mid-year classroom reflections:

"I never knew how paper was made, and I always wanted to."

"I liked the silk screen painting the best, because it showed me something new."

"I liked making Christmas Cards the best, because kids don't always get gifts for Christmas and they're sick so I know they were happy to get the cards we did."

"My favorite was cartooning and sculpting, because it gave me the idea to start writing my first book."

"I liked the cartooning because I like drawing and making cartoons."

"They were cool and fun. For most I took my time and others I went fast because it was easy to do. And I got help if I was stuck."

"What I like about the activities that I participated in was learning new things and learning how to create new things."

In April 2017, after nine art making workshops, Ms. Svigelj-Smith's students participated in CommunitySPACES. Their artwork was on display with the artwork of constituents from 7 other organizations and was shared with over 200 hundred visitors during the exhibition. It was a moment of pride and validation for the students' creative work.

Create it Forward: Realizing the Potential in Our Incarcerated Youth is just one facet of SPACES' Community Engagement Campaign, which aims to increase the community's exposure to experimental artists and artwork through collaboration. There are a lot of talented young men and women in the Cuyahoga County Juvenile Detention Center, and SPACES is happy to share their creative potential with you.

Create it Forward: Realizing the Potential of our Incarcerated Youth

If you were inspired by Create it Forward: Realizing the Potential in Our Incarcerated Youth and would like to donate art supplies, share your artistic talent, or make a monetary donation to keep programs like this and others going, please email Executive Director Christina Vassallo at cvassallo@SPACESgallery.org

Teacher Melissa Marini Svigelj-Smith taking placemats created from student prints to Ronald McDonald House.
Teacher Melissa Marini Svigelj-Smith taking placemats created from student prints to Ronald McDonald House.

Keywords: art making, at risk youth, incarcerated youth, prison art, youth art programs
Author: Michelle Epps, Community Engagement Manager
Category: General

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