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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

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