Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Near West Theatre's Moving On

Posted By on Tue, Jun 17, 2014 at 11:35 AM


Since 1978, Near West Theatre has called the St. Pat's club building on Bridge Ave. home. As they prepare the move to a new venue in the Gordon Square Arts District, 66 performers are taking to the stage one last time to celebrate their longtime space, honor the memories and welcome in a new era — as the quirky theater in Ohio City has done for years — with song.

The final production, "Move On," a 90-minute one-act review jam-packed with songs, reflections and multimedia, opened on Friday, June 13. Performances will be Friday, Saturday, Sunday until June 29.

Scene photographer Emanuel Wallace visited the cast of "Move On" on the night of the production's final dress rehearsal. He's captured a lot of faces, and a little bit of the magic, below:

The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre
The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre

The Beautiful Faces of Near West Theatre

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Monday, June 9, 2014

13 Places Every Cleveland Art Lover Should Know About

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 3:52 PM

Whether you're totally saturated within Cleveland's art community or simply enjoy an occasional art gallery visit, here are the 13 local haunts you've got to know about.

13 Places Every Cleveland Art Lover Should Know About
MOCA Cleveland William Busta Gallery SPACES Tregoning and Company Doubting Thomas Gallery Rotten Meat Gallery Breakneck Gallery River Gallery Art

13 Places Every Cleveland Art Lover Should Know About

Edited by Cortni Dietz.

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Notes from the Second Bust at Loren Naji's Studio Gallery

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 9:40 AM


Just four short weeks after having a gallery event shut down and becoming the talk of the Cleveland arts community, Loren Naji was at the center of the battle between artists and the city of Cleveland again after a Friday evening event was shut down by the fire department over occupancy issues.

Around 6 p.m., Naji opened his gallery doors for the closing reception of an exhibit entitled “Undercurrents” and the kickoff of a launch party for the summer edition of CAN Journal, a quarterly news and criticism magazine. The party was a dry event, in case you were wondering, after the first installment of #thisiscleart where liquor control agents arrived to confiscate hundreds of dollars of beer and wine.

Since then, Naji had been working with the city to fix various compliance issues — recently buying fire extinguishers and installing exit signs on doors. His occupancy certificate was in the process of being approved and he understood that it was enough to cover him for the event.

It wasn’t.

Around 7:40 that evening, a rep from the fire department showed up to shut the affair down over the aforementioned occupancy permit.

Speaking with the fire department rep, Michael Gill, editor and publisher of CAN, floated the question whether the party—then attended by several dozen people—would be permissible if it were a private event attended only by people invited by the magazine. The suggestion was shot down and Naji and Gill agreed to comply. The two offered quick remarks to patrons.

“There’s not an occupancy permit. There’s no argument, there’s nothing we can do without the police coming here, and we don’t want that,” Gill said.

Afterwards, Naji said that he’d been visited twice by Cleveland police that day. The first time, he says, one officer came to his gallery and said Naji “may or may not” have a warrant out for a parking issue unrelated to his recent gallery troubles. Naji said he took care of that issue right away. Later, he said he was visited by a pair of cops asking if everything was in order for that night’s event. At the time, the police seemed satisfied.

Councilman Joe Cimperman was the target of many questions from concerned artists on Twitter and replied that he had been working with Naji to make sure he was in full compliance with city law. “I am working on why he was visited by the Cfd - he is clues to compliance, I agree this is a poor use of city resources,” Cimperman wrote, (sic) throughout.

The closure of his gallery left Naji rushing to salvage the “Drawn and Quartered” drawing competition event that had been scheduled to take place in his gallery May 24. At the last minute, organizers had to scramble to secure the Great Lake Brewing Company’s tasting room as an alternative venue. That event, in turn, was incredibly fun, as has been the intent of all of Naji’s contributions to the community. (A story about the “Drawn and Quartered” event specifically is available at

Naji said that his recent legal troubles have become a trend sourced directly to one person. “I’m definitely getting harassed by someone using the legal system and city hall against me,” said Naji, doing everything but mentioning Henry Senyak by name.

Gill said that the fire department representative did not mention any new complaints filed against the gallery the night of May 23, but that it appeared Senyak had been the one to draw the law’s attention to Naji in the first place. Without naming him explicitly, Gill had alluded to someone using the law as the cause of Naji’s recent disruptions during his pre-dispersal remarks to gallery attendees.

“You know there’s been some legal challenges here because of someone in another neighborhood who has in a systematic way made some problems for us, and those problems continue tonight,” Gill said.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Yelp Cleveland's Free Event Series Celebrates Local Art and Culture

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Yelp Cleveland is teaming up with a handful of local artists and venues to kickstart a new month-long summer event series, Yelp's Culture Club.

This free (yep- free!) series strives to showcase Cleveland's thriving arts and entertainment scenes through a variety of events— think everything from a sausage-making workshop at Market Garden Brewery, to a behind-the-scenes tour at Playhouse Square, to a Chucklef*ck show at Reddstone— all while arming folks with complimentary cocktails and appetizers. (Sounds like our jam.)

To help introduce Clevelanders to the whole shebang, Yelpers are hosting a mixer this evening from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Cambridge Room at the House of Blues. Can't make it tonight? Here's a list of upcoming Yelp Culture Club events for all of June:

- Tuesday, May 27:Yelp's Culture Club Kick-Off Yelper Party @House of Blues
- Monday, June 2: Sausage-Making Workshop with Fresh Fork Market @Market Garden Brewery (private for Yelp Elite Squad)
- Friday, June 6: Yelpers MIX + Provence Pop-up @Cleveland Museum of Art
- Saturday and Sunday, June 7 and 8: Kid's Playwriting Festival @Dobama Theater (No RSVP needed)
- Monday, June 9: Yelp's Behind The Curtains Tour @PlayhouseSquare + after-party @Cibreo
- Saturday, June 14: Yelp’s Culture Club Gets Chucklefck’d @Reddstone
- Thursday, June 19: Yelp See & Do Tour @MOCA Cleveland
- Saturday, June 21: Come ‘PLEY’ With Yelp @Great Lakes Science Center - Family Day!
- Wednesday, June 25: Picture Perfect Photo School @Dodd Camera
- Saturday, June 28: Potluck Yelpnic + Free Concert @Cain Park

To get in on the fun, head over to Yelp Cleveland to RSVP.

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Hung Out to Draw

At the crossroads of Cleveland’s often usurious relationship with local artists

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 9:35 AM

I’m sitting in my editor’s office and I’m talking about THIS LOREN NAJI THING and how there’s some real shit going down in the Cleveland arts scene right now and how we need to jump on this. Cleveland is on the verge of some very heavy backlash from its most favorite little marketing subjects, the artists. The pitch, which I was supposed to spend more time massaging and fleshing out and generally explaining, is entirely half-baked, but I’m saying that the full ramifications of this thing have yet to remotely come into focus. This is the wave, I’m exuberantly saying, the wave that’s gonna keep pitching skyward until either something brutish and monolithic or something natural like gravity crashes into it and sends the whole thing cascading into the earth.

We’re discussing the matter in our own brand of weekly multifaceted discussion, as magazine writers and editors are wont to do, and my idea of covering in first-person the sixth annual Drawn and Quartered event in Ohio City is sidelined into either the void or, worse, the blog. A broader piece on the arts and their role in neighborhood evolution is tentatively agreed upon for later this year (we decide to hone the angle in the coming days/weeks), and I look down at my calendar and attempt to ward off a newfound sense of ambivalence about the May 24 event at Loren Naji’s gallery: “Drawn and Quartered VI,” taglined on Facebook as “Think World Wrestling Federation meets Art School meets Cabaret.” Still, I can’t help but remain intrigued. I decide that I must go.

The big news rests on everyone’s tongues. Michael Salinger, the emcee at Drawn and Quartered VI, recognizes this. He mentions through an oddly too-small bullhorn how we’re all “pissed off at Cleveland” and how this event is really gonna be where it’s at. It’s a great introductory note. The crowd eats that line up, of course, because the most recent raid on Loren Naji’s gallery happened not even 24 hours prior — it had been maybe two weeks since my initial “arts scene” pitch — and we are all on some level just totally seething with commentary about what in the world is going on here.

But before all of that I’m sitting in my editor’s office, and we’re debating how to cover this thing. Here’s one way: You show up at the biggest competitive arts event of the season and you show Cleveland’s “civic leaders” what in the world they’re missing. None of the city’s leaderati are going to be there, duh, so it likely falls to some local writer to finesse the thing and show these dimwits what sort of fun actually happens in this town.

#thisiscle, as it were.

Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery
Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery

Drawn and Quartered VI at Great Lakes Brewery

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  • At the crossroads of Cleveland’s often usurious relationship with local artists

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Cleveland Theater Historian Weldon Carpenter Keeps the Past Alive

Posted By on Thu, May 15, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Weldon Carpenter has thousands of photos of Cleveland theaters from over the years - going back to the early 20th century. His Lakewood home is decorated with memorabilia from long ago. He's seen the initial rise (through his historical research), the fall (through his preservation work alongside Ray Shepardson) and the subsequent and brilliant rise of Playhouse Square as it stands today (through his steady and tight-knit relationship with the district). All of it.

"There was just so much. It was wonderful," he says, sifting through memories.

Carpenter grew up in rural Ashland, where he discovered at a young age that there was a derelict opera house inside the city's library. A theater! It was wonderful, he says, recalling the wonder of his find. From there, his life turned inexorably toward the thrill of theaters - their history, their architecture, the people who populate them.

(Click hear to see photos from Carpenter's collection)

After an appearance on the Mike Douglas Show, he was contacted by a gentleman named Ray Shepardson, an ebullient fellow working tirelessly to get Playhouse Square back to vivid life. Carpenter took a stroll with him through some of Cleveland's theaters - "No chandeliers, no furniture, no box seats. Terrible dressing rooms. But the lobby was just gorgeous," he says - and decided right then to move to Cleveland and get involved.

Despite Shepardson staring down a Herculean task - revitalizing Playhouse Square! - Carpenter flung his support behind the young man and joined the crusade. He lived with Shepardson for a month before moving into the Allen Theatre (for two years), the State Theatre (two more years) and the Palace Theatre (another two years). He got paid $40 per week when memberships were selling, which wasn't all that often. But everything started happening with greater and greater urgency over time. This was all happening in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

He says that in 1973 they opened Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living Paris, which ran for two and a half years (it was only planned to run for two weeks). Almost a decade later, Stompin' at the State opened in the lobby of the State Theatre. It was an all-original production that feature Scott Martin songs still heard around town today. Carpenter says there was never an empty seat at those shows.

He credits those performances as the beginnings of all modern Playhouse Square success. And he looks back at all the work Shepardson put into saving the city's theaters. That was his life in those days. The work - all the blood and sweat that went into it all - was the only thing that really mattered. Without Shepardson's zeal, there would be no Playhouse Square, and the memories of the past would not ring so sweetly.

From Playhouse Square leaders, on the passing of Shepardson in April:

His powers of persuasion convinced others that the theaters were an irreplaceable resource. Following a grueling seven-year run of presenting 200-300 performances each year before the theaters were fully restored, Shepardson went on to play starring roles in theater restoration projects in Columbus, Detroit and St. Louis, and has consulted on more than 35 major restoration projects all over the country.

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Akron Based Harris Stanton Art Gallery to Open Second Location in Cleveland's Warehouse District

Posted By on Tue, May 6, 2014 at 3:16 PM

The new Harris Stanton Gallery will reside at 1370 West Ninth Street, formerlly Dylans Barber Shop.
  • The new Harris Stanton Gallery will reside at 1370 West Ninth Street, formerlly Dylan's Barber Shop.

Akron's Harris Stanton Gallery has unveiled plans to open a second location in Cleveland's Warehouse District this summer.

Located at 1370 West Ninth Street (literally a stone's throw from the Scene headquarters), the new gallery will showcase a variety of 20th and 21st Century collections, ranging in style from traditional to abstract contemporary and will include oils, pastels, watercolors, ceramics, sculpture, glass, photography, jewelry, and original graphics.

Newly appointed gallery director Ellie Kaiser said gallery owner Meg Harris Stanton had been toying with the idea of opening a second location in Cleveland for some time now, but was waiting for the right time to expand. "We've been looking around for a space for the last year and half or so," Kaiser said. "The [West Ninth Street location] really speaks to our needs to build on both our residential and corporate clients."

Kaiser said the new gallery will feature unique art exhibits, different than those shown at the Akron location, and that her team will also sell artwork, provide custom framing, and offer residential and corporate appraisals, consultations, and installations.

Additionally, Kaiser said she hopes the gallery can contribute to downtown Cleveland's vibrant nightlife scene and offer another dimension that compliments the Warehouse District's dining and bar hopping experience. "Our hope is that the gallery adds a little culture to the nightlife in the area," she said. We hope residents will swing by an opening or exhibit before going out for the night, she said.

During a typical year, the gallery will have five proper art gallery openings. For certain exhibitions, Kaiser said the gallery is already looking for ways to partner with other area retailers and restaurants, such as Braza, for an upcoming show on Latin American art.

To launch, the gallery will kick off with an exhibit featuring five Northeast Ohio artists who were featured in the 2012 book, 100 Midwest Artists. An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, June 6 from 5:30 - 8 p.m. and is open to the public. The gallery will officially open the following week.

"We are really excited to be part of the renaissance that Cleveland is experiencing," Kaiser said.

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