Forces of nature are at work in the Cleveland Art Scene this January. On the North Coast we’re accustomed to a gallery scene that hibernates after the holiday blitz, to reawaken only with the approach of Valentine’s Day. But January 2012 has been different. Already a multitude of exhibits have had us racing all over town—from John Martin’s terrific human figure monoprints at Loganberry Books, to Michael Loderstedt’s structured screen prints and photographs at William Busta Gallery, to Christopher Smith’s charcoal drawings of fauna at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes . . . Say nothing of the Tremont Art Walk, or the release of the Collective Arts Network Journal at Tom Balbo Galleries, or the fact that CAN Journal Mama and spiritual leader Liz Maugans has a solo show this Sunday: Her UpLIFT is a collection of new work that also happens to be the the inaugural exhibition of a partnership between Dragonfly Lounge and the Maria Neil Art Project.
That already seems like a lot for a North Coastal January, and I can tell you after years of editing Cleveland arts calendars, that in fact it is. But in January 2012– I’m surprised and happy to say—that’s just the beginning.
This Friday night, the dedicated followers of Cleveland art will have to go on tour as worthwhile events open on both sides of town.
Zygote Press opens a show reaching into the flat files and household treasuries of its members for Collected Gems II. This is worth a look because artists associated with Zygote are showing prints that they have collected over the years, including a few works commissioned by the Print Club of Cleveland, among other great finds. The show itself is complemented by a panel discussion and lecture-demonstration February 4. The panel discussion features the print collecting expertise of Bill Busta, Susan Trilling, Paula Mindes, Tom Calhoun, and Jack Lissauer, in a discussion about why they collect prints and what makes a given print noteworthy. Noel Reifel moderates. That’s from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Next, master printer Karen Beckwith will talk and show what sets very fine prints above the rest, and talk about the ins and outs of print editions.
But getting back to Friday night, the second leg of the evening tour will take you over to the West side, where the forces of nature continue to rage. West 78th Street Studios has its monthly, massive Third Friday opening, which means a dozen or so galleries and studios will open their doors and show new work.
Among them is my friend Debra Sue Solecki, who for years has been painting detailed, observant scenes and still lifes from the natural world –but in the relative isolation of her home studio. That’s because, in addition to being a parent, Solecki spent long hours in the halls of high school academe as an art teacher. Lately, though, she’s making up for lost time, with a recent show in the Beck Center for the Arts Galleries, and this one coming up in the Cleveland West Art League’s galleries at 78th Street Studios. She’s paired with the versatile sculptor / designer / installation artist Mark Moskovitz–whose four-drawer cabinet that looks like a stack of firewood was featured last spring in the New York Times.
Meanwhile, William G. Scheele’s Kokoon Arts Gallery greets the new year with Nature Revealed, which features varied takes on the natural landscape by a whole bunch of historically significant Northeast Ohio artists. Among them are: Cleveland School painter Paul Travis; Scheele’s father, the painter of imagined scenes from prehistoric times W.E. Scheele; sculptor William McVey; art deco painter of butterflies and their flora E.A. Seguy, and several others.
Meanwhile, also in the 78th Street Studios complex, Legation, A Gallery presents works by sculptor and installation artist Derek Gelvin along with works of emerging artist Jim Leach.
And of course Judith Brandon’s storms continue to rage at Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery. Rarely will you see a better marriage of media, technique, and content than in her portraits of weather in dye and charcoal. If you like to see how materials behave, and how that physical behavior can complement subject matter, then go see this show.
So whatever the weather is doing outside, get thee to the Cleveland galleries. I’ll be there. Be sure to say hello.