CAN Journal hands the mic to Northeast Ohio's artists for a karaoke competition

So You Think You Can Sing 1300 West 78th St., 330-819-7280, tickets: $35,

The Collective Arts Network (CAN) and its CAN Journal were founded in 2011 as a collaborative promotional effort between local arts organizations. These institutions and arts professionals created a high-quality, quarterly publication designed to preview upcoming local arts events, as well as report and comment on relevant issues in the region. In the past four years, CAN has grown from 28 member organizations to more than 80. Every quarter, CAN Journal distributes 10,000 free, full-color issues to more than 200 locations in Cuyahoga County.

This week, smART Space at 78th Street Studios hosts CAN Journal's third annual benefit. So You Think You CAN Sing takes place from 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, May 21. The benefit features a competitive karaoke contest featuring members of the Collective Arts Network and friends from the local art community. Instead of another art auction, guests and patrons support CAN by pledging dollars to their favorite singer(s) in the competition.

"In the tradition of last year's cornhole tournament, we're once again taking artists out of their comfort zones with a participatory event," explains CAN Journal's editor/publisher Michael Gill. "This year it's a karaoke competition. It's a wild collection of singers who have stepped up to support CAN with their voices. There's regular karaoke diva Angelica Pozo, a SPACES trustee who has public installations in University Circle, Fairfax and elsewhere. There's also one of Cleveland's most respected gallerists, Cleveland Arts Prize winner William Busta. Bill won't say yet what songs he is singing, but when I saw him at the Zygote event last week, he said he has in fact been practicing. Meanwhile, (Cleveland Clinic art program curator and co-founder of Zygote Press) Bellamy Printz, (Cleveland Arts Prize executive director) Alenka Banco, Girls of BAYarts ... Loren Naji is building a posse to sing the Beastie Boys '(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (to Party),' and Adam Tully is leading a team on behalf of the Maria Neil Art Project."

Judging the karaoke contest will be the Beachland Ballroom's owner Cindy Barber, local artist and co-founder of the former Elephant Stone Records Arabella Proffer and yours truly. Winners of the competition will receive custom trophies created by renowned Cleveland-based artist Dana Depew.

The benefit also features the launch of CAN's Summer 2015 issue. Guests can pick up a free copy on Thursday.

"The Summer issue of CAN will be unveiled the night of our benefit," elaborates Gill. "This issue marks the beginning of CAN's fourth year as a quarterly. In addition to 30 galleries previewing upcoming shows, it includes essays by Fred Bidwell (on the vote for Cuyahoga Arts and Culture in November), Joseph Clark (on an upcoming show at Harris Stanton Gallery), Henry Adams (on a new photo book by Barney Taxel on Lake View Cemetery) and myself (on the national Wood Engravers Network conference at the Morgan, and accompanying woodcut exhibit by Claudio Orso)."

Over the past four years, CAN Journal has served as a true resource for the local arts community. The Collective Arts Network is comprised of museums, commercial galleries, nonprofit arts organizations and individual artists.

"I'm honored to be working with this growing group of Northeast Ohio galleries and art institutions to produce CAN," says Gill. "The fact that we are able to collaboratively produce this magazine shows a level of serious commitment to sustaining and building the strength of the Cleveland art scene. It's an inclusive mix, the full spectrum of organizations, from the Cleveland Institute of Art, Akron Art Museum, MOCA Cleveland and Cleveland Museum of Art, to galleries like the Maria Neil Art Project and Tregoning & Company, to neighborhood-based art centers like Waterloo Arts.

"The timing of CAN — this moment in Cleveland art history — is perfect, and of course not coincidental," adds Gill. "The amount of work artists are doing in the city is the reason for CAN, and builds CAN. I'm talking about work they'll show in galleries, of course, but also work behind the walls, so to speak, building organizations like Praxis and Brick, in the manner of Zygote and the Morgan, organizations that enable artists to produce."

He continues: "And of course I also mean work that re-energizes neighborhoods, like Waterloo and (with the recent annual Rooms to Let event), Slavic Village. Of course, those up-and-coming neighborhoods are in addition to established ones, like Tremont and Detroit Shoreway. Hustling in the Cleveland art scene is contagious. When Cleveland artists see someone else's success, they push themselves harder. Cleveland has momentum. I'm happy CAN can play a role in helping to keep it going."

Tickets to So You Think You CAN Sing are $35 and include pulled pork and other food and a drink ticket for beer or wine (additional drink tickets are available for purchase). All proceeds benefit the Collective Arts Network, an incorporated nonprofit organization.

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