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.

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.

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


SPACES creates the role of Artist Outreach Coordinator.
Karl Anderson joins SPACES as R&D Program Coordinator.

SPACES is pleased to announce that it is expanding its services for artists. Marilyn Ladd-Simmons will transition from her role as Gallery Manager to the newly created position of Artist Outreach Coordinator. In this role, she will oversee collaborative relationships with the artist community in Cleveland and beyond, in order to further the SPACES mission of being a public forum for artists who explore and experiment. Ladd-Simmons will develop new projects that connect a broad cross-section of cultural producers to the organization, outside of the three major exhibition programs (SWAP, R&D, and The Vault). This new position provides a liaison for those who are interested in utilizing SPACES as a creative resource.

Concurrently, SPACES names Karl Anderson as its new Program Coordinator. He will assume this position at SPACES in late June. As Program Coordinator, Anderson will oversee all aspects of the R&D exhibition program, which invites artists and curators from around the world to articulate their ideas through a supported public project. Upcoming R&D projects include Hidden Assembly, a group exhibition that foregrounds work and workers in our age of invisible labor., curated by Yaelle Amir (Portland, OR); The First 100+ Days, an exhibition of artists' responses to the new president's first 100 days in office; and Havens, a major research project of Cleveland sites once listed in the Jim Crow-era travel guides known as the "Green Book," by Imani Roach (Philadelphia, PA).

Co-founder of FORUM artspace and graduate of Cleveland Institute of Art, Anderson has contributed to the conversation around visual art in Cleveland over the last decade. "SPACES adheres to beliefs that mirror my own: The power of art is to enlighten, encourage, and cause change through critical thinking, questioning, and deeper understanding. It's an honor to be part of an organization that is actively examining and pushing these boundaries," says Anderson.

As one of the country's longest running alternative art spaces, and the largest in Ohio, SPACES emancipates artists from the institutional and commercial pressures of the art world. With its upcoming relocation to the former Van Rooy Coffee Building in Ohio City, SPACES will fill a unique niche as an artist resource within an art organization by providing the tools necessary for artists to make the work they want. These efforts position SPACES as a thought leader in how experimental art is created, appreciated, and supported.

Author: Karl Anderson, R&D Coordinator

Kid Art Review #8   03.22.16

For this edition of "Kid Art Reviews" our guest reviewer is 10 year old Lila, who loves snorkeling and science. Lila reviewed our current artist projects after school one day.

(SPACES) What is your favorite piece in the show and why is it your favorite?

(Lila) Underneath Is Before because I thought it was really interesting and it made me learn new things. It was really cool with all the big blocks of salt, the "salt vault" (because you can feel the walls), and the triangle with the shale in it; really made you think of things. And my favorite part was the salt infuser.

(SP) If you could eat this piece what would it taste like? Would it be spicy, tart, sweet, salty, bland, etc.?

(Li) Salty, kind of like sea food because it's salt! And, it smells salty.

(SP) If you had to describe to an alien how salt tastes, how would you describe it?

(Li) At first it's like really strong and makes you go whoa (throws head back) and it like melts kind of, and then you start to go okay, it tastes good.

(SP) If this piece was a person you didn't know would you want to say "hi" to them or get to know them? Would they be friendly or shy?

(Li) I would probably want to get to know him or her and he/she would be shy. Because the salt mines were underground, under the lake, and when you're shy you're kind of under things always looking around and thinking about things. I thought there was kind of a connection. I think you have to try to get to know shy people, and when you get to know them they're really nice. I'm shy sometimes, but I'm not like really shy.

(SP) Does this piece remind you of anything you have seen before?

(Li) This piece reminds of going snorkeling. Because, when you go snorkeling and you see new things you go "ooooooh" (mimics snorkeling), and you really look at it. And I kind of felt that way with the salt, like I was looking into a different place where you can see different things.

Questions about the Exhibition in General

(SP) If you could sum the show up in one word what would that word be?

(Li) Learning. Because, when I was in the show, I was really thinking about it a lot and learning new things about things I didn't know before.

(SP) Does this show make you want to do anything? Go ride a bike, take a nap, throw rocks, have a sandwich, draw, watch tv, play, etc.

(Li) Go swimming in the ocean and cuddle up with a good book and drink hot chocolate. It makes me want to go swimming in the ocean because it reminded me of snorkeling. Theo's piece made me want to read and drink cocoa because all the colors in it made me sleepy, all the dark brown and black just makes me sleepy. I don't know why. The blue lights were pretty cool, like I could just stare at them for a long time.

(SP) If there was one thing you would say to the artist what would that be?

(Li) This was really interesting and your work made me use my imagination and think a lot.

(SP) What did it make you think about?

(Li) I was thinking about the pieces and what they reminded me about. I asked my mom and sister what they thought about it and comparing it to what I thought, which I thought was really interesting. It made me think about how people have different ideas about it.

(SP) If there was one question you could ask the artist what would that be?

(Li) Why did you choose to do a show about salt mines?

(SP) Why do you think they chose to do a show about salt mines?

(Li) I think they chose that because actually most people don't know much about that kind of stuff and so it's doing something unique about things that people don't really think about.

(SP) Out of 5 Truman's how many Truman's would you give this show?

(Li) Four. I gave four Trumans, I thought the show was really good but I thought it would have been better if there were drawings and sketches of how they started the piece, where they got their ideas not just the finished product.

We are currently searching for new Kid Art Reviewers for 2016! If you know a kid who would like to participate please complete this form.

Kid Art Review #7

Author: Michelle Epps, Community Engagement Manager
Category: Kid Art Review

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