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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

Kid Art Review #4   03.13.15

For this edition of "Kid Art Reviews" our guest reviewer is Ethan. At 11 years old Ethan is already a veteran of attending art shows. He visited us before Valentine's Day this year and this is what he had to say about our spring projects here at SPACES.

Questions about a Specific Piece in the Exhibition
(SPACES) What is your favorite piece in the show and why is it your favorite?

(ET) What if the City was a Mountain? because it reminded me of what my mom does and it's really detailed. It looked pretty cool and a lot of hard work was put into it.

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

(ET) I think it would be kind of salty but have a texture like laughy taffy. I don't know why I thought it would be salty, but I thought it would have a texture like laughy taffy because of how the plastic-y part looked. It sort of looked shiny like laughy taffy (laughing)... I don't know.

(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?

(ET) I think they would be shy. I would want to know them but I might be a little nervous myself. I'm pretty shy. I wouldn't just go up to some random person and say, "hey I want to know you," except I would want to know them.

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

(ET) The mountains and the shape molds remind me of my mom's artwork. It reminded me of it because it was the same plastic and mold that my mom makes with paper. Same kind of shapes and folds to make the mountain.

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

(ET) Detailed. The mountain piece was very detailed. The rest of the show was about feelings and stuff. There was a lot of work that went into it.

(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.

(ET) I want to study what Cleveland looks like and see how it is similar to the exhibit. Because they spent a bunch of time making Cleveland look like a mountain and I barely know anything about where anything is in the City and I live here. I kind of want to figure out more about that. Maybe build a tiny map of the city out of Legos.

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

(ET) This is really cool and you should do more stuff like this.

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

(ET) What gave you the idea to do this? I wouldn't just look at a map of Cleveland and ask what if this was a mountain.

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

(ET) Five, it was a pretty cool show. It made me want to learn more about art and all that stuff because usually I just sit around and play on my ipad at art shows. After looking around and studying it a lot more it actually seems pretty awesome.

Keywords: andy curlowe, art, institute for new feeling, kid review, review art
Author: Michelle Epps, Community Engagement Manager
Category: Kid Art Review

St. Malachi Center Summer Program at SPACES   08.11.14

My name is Michelle Epps and many of you know me as the Office Administrator here at SPACES, but recently I've been feeling more like a camp counselor. If you've been following us on Facebook you may have noticed we have had a lot of kid visitors this summer. In honor of our most recent project, TAG with Jason Eppink and Thu Tran, we've been doing crafts, having snacks, and discussing collaboration! Each week in the month of July the kids of St. Malachi Center would join us here at SPACES for a fun afternoon with a different craft and snack each week. The kids ranged in age from 7-11 and are a part of St. Malachi Center's 6-week summer camp which focuses on literacy and swimming skills. St. Malachi Center serves the most vulnerable residents of Cleveland's near West Side - the homeless, low-income families and their children, with a variety of programs.

In the tradition of teaching kids how to share, we wanted to stress the importance of collaboration and how it can be used in the creative process. On a personal level, one of the greatest joys of doing this program was sharing in the experiences of the kids and seeing the wonder and excitement in their eyes as we did each day's activities. One week I told the kids we were going to be feeding them dirt pudding and I was met with a mixture of skepticism and disgust with exclamations of "you can't make me eat that!" and "I just WON'T eat it!" And, even after most of the kids had gotten over their fears and started snacking, a few were still not sure and watched in anticipation as the rest of the kids had their first bites. Then, during the last week of our program I observed one of the kids admiring Michael Loderstedt Quarter Art piece, Aviary Station, which if you haven't seen it is a beautiful display of paper engineering. When I asked him what he thought of it he inquired as to who the artist was and when I told him he said, with a big smile on his face, "I want to be just like him when I get older!"

Like all good things though, this program came to an end, but not after a lot of good memories for myself and hopefully the kids to keep with them forever. As Pablo Picasso has been attributed with once saying, "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

To see the kids creations during their time with us check out the slide show. For context, see below for our lesson plan from each week. For the safety of the children participating in this program we will not be publicizing pictures of the actual children.


July 2: Introduction to TAG- Talk about the meaning of the word "Collaboration" (this will be the basis of the four week program). Watch Thu and Jason's video and discuss what they saw in the video. Play a game of "Art Tag" (played like tag, but once you get tagged you add to a drawing) followed by snack time with "Campfire Free" S'mores (made with graham crackers, Marshmallow Fluff, and Nutella).

July 9: Finding a SPACE(S)- Create bugs/pendants out of wooden pieces. The kids will then search for a blank spot on the wall big enough for them to put their bug. The bugs will then be adhered to the wall. Snack time: "Collaborate" to make dirt pudding with gummy worms (made with oreo cookies, chocolate pudding, and cool whip).

July 16: Leave Behind- The kids will create pinwheels out of marbled paper to mount onto the wall. Each group will create a batch of marbled paper which they will leave to dry for the next group to turn into pinwheels (the first group will use pre-made marbled paper for their pinwheels). Snack time: "Collaborate" to make fruit salad on a stick (made with watermelon, grapes, strawberries, blueberries).

July 23: Fuzzball Aliens- Kids will create mini-aliens to take home to award them for how well they collaborated with each other. Snack time: After all that sharing and collaborating it's time to end the program with a purely selfish recipe; make your own taco salad...but you'll still have to share the Tortilla Chips!

FuzzBall June 23, 2014
FuzzBall June 23, 2014

Keywords: art, camp, collaboration, fun, kids, lesson, spaces, tag
Author: Michelle Epps, Community Engagement Manager
Category: General

Kid Art Review   07.09.14

SPACES is launching a new critical initiative, Kid Art Reviews, where we ask a child between the ages of 5-12 to comment on a current exhibition in the gallery. The review and conversation with SPACES staff is then posted for all to enjoy. If your child is interested in being an Art Reviewer, get in touch with us at contact@spacesgallery.org, or give us a call at 216-621-2314.

For this first edition of Kid Art Reviews our guest reviewer is Celia, a 12 year old who really enjoys visual arts. We asked her what she thought of the exhibition and this is what she said.

Questions about a Specific Piece in the Exhibition
(SPACES) What is your favorite piece in the show and why is it your favorite?

(Celia) TAG's "Gig Economy" website because it is interactive. I like how it uses humor and how it focuses on specific politics. I like seeing how humor interacts with serious issues.

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

(CE) Sweet & Sour: The humor makes it funnier so it lightens up the issues a little bit but the way it references the issues also makes it a little sour.

(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?

(CE) Get to know them; they'd be sarcastic. I think they would be sarcastic because they used things you wouldn't be used to seeing on a website such as Antarctica and McDonalds-which a lot of people make fun of-so I can see some sarcasm there.

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

(CE) No, this is very new to me. SPACES is a really nice art gallery for me to go to, I just prefer it to other galleries because I prefer things that are interactive and actually puts an influence on you.

Questions about the Exhibition, in General
(SP) If you could sum the show up in one word what would that word be?

(CE) Extravagant, because they did all these projects and were able to put them into one exhibition.

(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.

(CE) Draw and go on the Internet. The website reminded me of a lot of Internet references which made me want to look at some political things.

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

(CE) "May God bless you." I'm just messing around, because they are amazing. It's just a joke really, so it's not anything serious.

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

(CE) Nothing. I'd be too speechless to talk. I'm a little bit starstruck and their work is pretty amazing.

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

(CE) Six, I thought the show deserved a good rating and I really liked the dog Truman and wanted to draw him.

(follow this link to see the Reviewer in action, and to see the drawing of Truman, http://bit.ly/1mIMkqK)


Created with flickr slideshow.


































Celia Reviewing the exhibition
Celia Reviewing the exhibition

Keywords: art, kids, mystery art shopping, review, spaces, tag
Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Category: Kid Art Review

THE CONGRESS   03.04.14

SPACES is a proud community sponsor of THE CONGRESS (http://www.clevelandfilm.org/films/2014/the-congress) at the 38th Cleveland International Film Festival. From the CIFF site:

Ever wonder what Robin Wright (The Princess Bride, Forest Gump) has been up to the past couple years? Well, you're about to find out. Set in an alternate reality that could only come from the mind of Ari Folman, Robin Wright is about to sell her body to the Hollywood mega-studio "Miramount." (Sound familiar?) Miramount is going to scan every inch of her body and digitally control her image. They can cast her in any role they'd like: Oscar®-bait, sci-fi movies, even pornography. While the digitized Robin is out earning the studio massive profits, a new technology emerges: the ability to become other people through an advanced chemical form of virtual reality. Suddenly, Robin finds herself in a surreal animated world full of magical wonder and not-so-earthly delights. But as Robin falls further down the virtual rabbit hole, she also fades from the ones who love her most. Part live action and part spectacular animation, THE CONGRESS is an ambitious sci-fi allegory that reinvents itself at every turn. -C.P.

Screenings

Friday, March 21, 4:45 PM
Saturday, March 22, 9:20 PM
Year: 2013
Director: Ari Folman
Country: ISRAEL, GERMANY, POLAND, LUXEMBOURG, FRANCE, BELGIUM
Run Time: 122 minutes

Email SPACES at contact@SPACESgallery.org for a special $2 off ticket discount code for the movie.


Keywords: animation, art, belgium, ciff, copyright, creative commons, france, germany, israel, live action, luxembourg, poland, robin wright
Author: Marilyn Ladd-Simmons, Gallery Manager
Category: General

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