Wednesday, November 26, 2008

All Things Cleveland @ Asterisk Gallery from Cool Cleveland

All Things Cleveland @ Asterisk Gallery 11/14 This past Friday evening marked the opening of yet another insightful show at Dana L. Depew's Asterisk Gallery on Professor Avenue in Tremont. All Things Cleveland, curated by Depew, features the work of 37 regional artists who examine a topic near and dear to the hearts of many Clevelanders, insecurity. The dark clouds of the current financial crisis were looming, but had not yet burst open when Depew put out a call to area artists this past summer to submit work that examines our relationship with this city, this economy, and this place that some of us reluctantly call home. Now that the rest of the world is trying to find shelter from the economic storm, Cleveland seems to be used to the rain, even if we have to occasionally share an umbrella.

A commonality shared by the multiplicity of styles, mediums, and subjects in the exhibition is a self-conscious view of our city that, while occasionally being celebratory, is, more often than not, simply ironic. A drawing by Cleveland Institute of Art alumna Amy Casey features a new R.T.A. Euclid Corridor Project bus perilously traversing a bent and battered bridge in the sky, presumably the Innerbelt, over a sea of discarded orange construction barrels. Construction barrels can also be observed in a downstairs gallery in an installation by Joe Ayala. This features a triptych of orange impediments to speedy travel as well as an appropriately awkward arrangement of cones on the floor with yellow caution tape strung between them that direct patrons through the gallery. As the opening night progressed and more people populated the small room a traffic jam developed.

Paul Sydorenko’s short film New York is an Attitude was shot at a previous Asterisk opening and features dozens of art scene denizens buzzing about an impressive new painting by an artist of unusual talent. A talent that was perceived to be unusual for Cleveland at any rate since the unnamed artist was, in fact, from New York.

“That is some of the best work I have seen in a long time.”

“You know the artist is actually from New York?”

“Oh! That explains it.”

The majority of the people in the film enjoyed their pseudo-intellectual superiority while sipping from miniscule glasses of Champagne. A platter of those same small flutes of domestic bubbly was made available for consumption to those viewing the film.

I want to make it clear that I did not find the message of All Things Cleveland to be negative. The art in this exceptional exhibition was created by Clevelanders who have earned the right to poke fun at our history, our local “celebrities”, and our economic malaise. The future of this city depends on people willing to buck the attitude that says, “The good get out.” There exists an attitude pervasive among many of us that fosters an inferiority complex about the home team. Cleveland is not New York or Los Angeles and it never will be, nor should it be a goal to become like them. We have outstanding artistic talent in this city that does not have to apologize for anything.

All Things Cleveland curated by Dana L. Depew

Show runs through Saturday, December 6th, 2008, hours by appointment. Call 330-304-8528 for details.

Featuring the work of: Joe Ayala, Zachary Hart Baker, Josh Banaszak, Matt Bartel, Amy Casey, Bruno Casiano, Jeffry Chiplis, Cleveland SGS, Munroe Copper, Pedro Dell, Eileen Dorsey, Stephe DK, Bridget Ginley, John Howitt, James Hurley, Beth Kappa, Mark Keffer, Ryan Jaenke, Noel Maitand, Jerry Mann, Sam Mazzola, Doug Meyer, James Miles, Lou Muenz, Frank Oblak, Scott Pickering, Arabella Proffer, Donald Rogers, Thom Rossino, John Ryan, Anna Tararova, Jess Samuelson, Dott Schneider, Debra Sheperd, Paul Sdorenko, RA Washington, and Chris Zahner.

From Cool Cleveland contributor Daniel G. Neforos