The Power of the Tower Exhibit Showcases the Work of the Tower Press Building's Artists

JenMarie Zeleznak, “I Was Swimming Through The Waves, For What Must Have Been Days”, watercolor pencil on paper, 30 in. by 30 in., 2016
JenMarie Zeleznak, “I Was Swimming Through The Waves, For What Must Have Been Days”, watercolor pencil on paper, 30 in. by 30 in., 2016

The Tower Press Artists Group

1900 Superior Ave., 216-241-4069

Thanks to a resolute commitment to creating a communal space for creatives for roughly 15 years, the Tower Press Building is home to an abundance of artists and arts organizations. This weekend, many of the building's resident artists are showcasing their current work with a curated exhibition, the Power of the Tower, in the first floor's Wooltex Gallery. The Power of the Tower features new and recent work by 16 artists with studios in the building – roughly half of whom also live in the building. The Power of the Tower opens with a reception from 5 to 9 p.m. this Friday, June 3. At 7:30 p.m., curator Douglas Max Utter (a.k.a. DM Utter) will discuss the work and artists in the exhibition during a curator conversation in the gallery.

"The Tower Press Artists Group is comprised of 16 different artists in varying stages of various artistic disciplines," explains Dan Morgan, local photographer, organizer of the Tower Press Artist Group and resident at Tower Press for six years. "I like to say that the only thing all these artists have in common is Tower Press. Since 2001, Tower Press Ltd. has offered area artists affordable live-work space."

The exhibiting artists are part of the Tower Press Artists Group, a tenant association of sorts, which discusses, plans and executes several events each year.

Power of the Tower artists include: Robert Banks, John Davis, William Gould, Michael Greenwald, Katrice Headd, William Martin Jean, Anne Kibbe, Michael Levy, Erica Miller, Dan Morgan, Scott Murphy, Billy Nainiger, Eric Rippert, Christopher Stofan, Damian Venditti and JenMarie Zeleznak.

"This exhibition is named and curated by Douglas Max Utter," Morgan continues. "Utter was considered by the 16 artists, among several other area arts leaders. In past years, Dana Depew and Robert Thurmer, director of the Galleries at CSU, have coordinated successful shows. The Wooltex Gallery was named after the Wooltex textile business, originally housed in the historic space."

Douglas Max Utter is one of Cleveland's most respected artists and art critics. DM Utter studied at Case Western Reserve University, and has taught courses in drawing and painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art, Kent State University and the University of Akron. He has written hundreds of articles, essays and reviews for numerous national and local publications, including locally for the Plain Dealer, the Free Times, Angle (which he co-founded with Amy Sparks and Dan Tranberg) and of course, Scene. In 2013, DM Utter was recognized with the Cleveland Arts Prize Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as a Creative Workforce Fellowship in 2011 from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture and the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture.

For the Power of the Tower exhibition, DM Utter met with the artists and carefully considered their unique personal history and perspective, as well as contributions to their community.

"I had a wonderful time interviewing these artists and discussing their current work in preparation for the show," says Utter. "I think that as a group they bring together some of the strengths and history of the arts here in northern Ohio. Levy's prizewinning career at the Plain Dealer, Bill Jean's teaching at the Cleveland Institute of Art, stage design, acting, and meditative collages, Bill Gould's contributions to the local landscape are just part of the resonant background to this very exciting exhibit."

In addition to viewing the artwork and meeting the artists, the opening includes music from DJ SupermanLover and a performance from Kristy Kline with her electronic group Jazz Rock Harp. The exhibition will also be open Thursdays and Saturdays throughout June from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Built in 1907, the 109-year-old Tower Press building was designed for noted women's clothing manufacturer H. Black & Company. It occupies an entire city block between E. 19th and E. 21st St. on the south side of Superior, facing the Plain Dealer across the street.

Believe it or not, 15 years ago the city fire department deemed the vacant building unsafe and suggested it be torn down. Following an extensive $10 million renovation, the building was converted into live/work space dedicated to local creatives and has existed as such since 2002. Check it all out for yourself this weekend.

The Tower Press Artists Group

1900 Superior Ave., 216-241-4069

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