Beautiful Possibility Tour

Alison Pebworth
June 01 - July 13, 2012

This June, San Francisco artist Alison Pebworth will cap off SPACES's Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau show with a Cleveland stop in her cross-country tour, Beautiful Possibility. Pebworth comes to Cleveland as a SPACES World Artist Program artist in residence from May 27 ? June 24, 2012, and will set up her interactive show at the Loren Naji Studio Gallery, 2138 W 25th St., Cleveland, with a special weekend appearance at the West Side Market.

Pebworth is on the second leg of a cross-country journey, that launched from Southern Exposure (a San Francisco visual arts organization) and went to South Dakota in 2010, and is now travelling across the northern U.S. until October, 2012.

Beautiful Possibility is a traveling exhibition that takes the prototype of the 19th century American Traveling Show as inspiration for engaging people across the country about what it means to be American. The show combines art, history and anthropology for an investigative look at obscured people, places, stories and myths and how they contribute to our collective understanding of who we are as Americans. At every tour stop, Pebworth sets up a display of hand-painted posters that use the elaborate fonts, graphic images, and bold colors of Wild West show posters to re-tell American history. Upon examination, Pebworth's works defy an easy read, mixing eras, and myths and figures from American history into an enigmatic narrative.

As part of her journey, Pebworth is interviewing people across America on their thoughts about "Americanitis," a curious 19th century nervous condition resulting from rapid modernization, first identified in 1861. The condition was later exploited by medicine shows that peddled "Americanitis Elixirs" to "relieve stress and calm the nerves."

In Cleveland, and cities before and after, Pebworth will be asking people she meets whether Americanitis is a recognizable ailment in today's world, and comparing and contrasting opinions about symptoms, causes and cures with other regions in the U.S. Pebworth is partnering with urban farmers in Cleveland, including City Rising Farm, Erie's Edge Farm, Gather 'Round Farm, Let It Bee Gardens and the Possibilitarian Garden Project, to make special "Cleveland Elixirs" highlighting the farms, stories and ingredients that go into making them.

Pebworth will be serving up elixirs and surveying people about Americanitis at the Loren Naji Studio, 2138 W 25th St., Cleveland, from 12:00-6:00 pm on Fridays and Saturdays in the month of June, where Beautiful Possibility will be on view. She will make a special appearance at the West Side Market on Friday, June 22 and Saturday, June 23, from 10:00 am-6:00 pm.

Beautiful Possibility's cross-country progress can be followed online at, and at SPACES, where postcards from Pebworth's journey are on display throughout the duration of The Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau exhibit, running from May 11-July 13, 2012.

Those who attend the SPACES's Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau opening on Friday, May 11, from 6:00-9:00 pm are invited to dialogue with attendees at Pebworth's exhibition stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, which opens simultaneously.

San Francisco-based artist Alison Pebworth has been making "street-side" projects locally and nationally since 2004, under the rubric of The Roadside Show & Tell, a series of interactive nomadic projects created in the spirit of the 19th century American traveling show. In 2006, she traveled cross-country for eight months developing Looking for Lost America, a research project of The Roadside Show & Tell. This trip laid the foundation for Beautiful Possibility, her current traveling exhibition and research project that self-tours across the northern United States and southern Canada in 2010 and 2012. The Center for Cultural Innovation has supported the Beautiful Possibility project through Planning, Implementation, and Artistic Innovation Grants (2007-2010). Southern Exposure in San Francisco launched the Beautiful Possibility Project with an exhibition, catalog and essay by Rebecca Solnit. Alison's work is included in Creative Time's, Living as Form Archive, a survey of the last twenty years of socially engaged art (2011).


SPACES thanks the Loren Naji Studio Gallery, the West Side Market, City Rising Farm, Erie's Edge Farm, Gather 'Round Farm, Let It Bee Gardens and the Possibilitarian Garden Project for their partnership on the Alison Pebworth project.


National Endowment for the Arts

More about this project:



Loren Naji Studio Gallery:
2138 West 25th St
Cleveland, OH 44113

Related Projects:


This project is a part of the SWAP Program.

The SPACES World Artists Program (SWAP) offers residencies to international, national and local artists who explore and experiment. SWAP supports artists in the creation, presentation and discussion of new work, while facilitating opportunities for them to collaborate with artists and audiences in Northeast Ohio.

Regional Artists, Apply for this Program.

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