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New 'CAN' Launched, New Student Art on Display at BAYarts this Weekend 

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BAYarts' busy weekend begins with two special events this Friday, and continues with more fun on Saturday. Friday includes an opening reception for a new exhibition showcasing many of the region's most active and accomplished illustrators, as well as a launch party for the latest issue of CAN Journal, the region's premier visual arts quarterly publication. Saturday afternoon, BAYarts debuts their Winter Student Show, featuring work done in various classes offered through the nonprofit organization.

Beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday, BAYarts hosts a launch party for CAN Journal's Spring 2015 issue. At 80 pages, the issue is CAN's biggest ever, and includes information on upcoming exhibitions as well as reporting and commentary on the current state of the region's art community.

"Thanks to the CAN network, the eastside/westside mentality no longer applies," explains Nancy Walters Heaton, executive director of BAYarts. "People come to BAYarts from across the whole of Northeast Ohio. We're engaged as an arts community as a whole."

CAN Journal's Spring 2015 issue includes articles on T.R. Ericsson's upcoming exhibition, Crackle and Drag, presented by the Cleveland Museum of Art at Transformer Station (chosen as one of Huffington Post's 21 Art Exhibitions You'll Be Talking About This Year), a thoughtful profile of Julian Stanczak (legendary pioneer of geometric abstraction in the op art movement), a thoughtful review of the late Cleveland artist Moses Pearl and a look at what CAN Journal describes as a "changing of the guards."

CAN Journal's editor/publisher Michael Gill describes this last article as, "the fact that in late 2014, three organizations whose mission involves guarding Northeast Ohio's artistic heritage (Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, ARTneo, and Cleveland Arts Prize) all at the same time appointed new executive directors — which is a great confluence of new beginnings and bodes well for our sense of history and awareness of Cleveland art.

"I'm certainly honored to share the evening with the Northern Ohio Illustrators Society," adds Gill. "These are people who in addition to fine art have been holding up a piece of the economy in newspapers, magazines, books, comics, and wherever it helps to tell the story in pictures. This issue of CAN marks a full three years as a quarterly. It's our fattest issue ever. I continue to be thrilled and amazed with the vitality of the Cleveland art scene."

As Gill mentioned, BAYarts' Sullivan Family Gallery simultaneously hosts an opening reception for Best of N.O.I.S. (Northern Ohio Illustrator Society) on Friday evening. Founded nearly 20 years ago, the Northern Ohio Illustrator Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting and promoting the region's professional artists, as well as mentoring and developing students and potential professionals through education, communication and networking. The group shares an equal interest in artistic excellence and small business practices.

"With all the digital resources available to artists today, it still all begins with a great illustration. This exhibit represents the cream of the crop," says Heaton.

The show features work by Christina Bruce-Kaiser, Gary Dumm, Laura Dumm, Jackie Freedmen, Lou Grasso, Ron Hill, Milan Kecman, George Kocar, Nancy Lick, James Mravec, Roland Napoli, Roberta Salo, Karen Sandstrom, Tara Seibel, Gerry Shamray and Jeff Suntala.

"The N.O.I.S. members, as illustrators, use the same media and skill sets as their fine arts brethren to create a piece that is their own, with the added constraint of communicating the client's message, and many of the pieces in this eclectic show are just that, commissioned pieces that stand on their own artistic merit," explains N.O.I.S. president Ron Hill. "But also, as in my entry, this is an opportunity to use my storytelling and editorial cartoon skills and create a personal picture that says something political, environmental or emotional as a piece of fine art. Viewers will see both in this varied mix of professionals working in commercial arenas."

Stop back Saturday from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. for an opening reception for the Winter Student Show in the Dianne Boldman Education Gallery. "There's nothing more rewarding than seeing the look of pride on the faces of these young students when they see their work hung in a real gallery," says Erin Stack, BAYarts' director of programming.

The show highlights the efforts of students in several of BAYarts' winter classes including Mini Masters, Art Academy and Saturday cartooning classes.

"What's going up on the walls will be beautiful, but what's really impressive are the things that we can't hang on the walls," says Randy Crider, instructor of BAYarts' Art Club Cartooning. "I've seen this group transform from fans into creators with developed personal voices and distinct cartooning styles, hungry to tell their story. Come to the show, but take note of the names on the wall: You're seeing the beginning of something epic."

"For me personally, I think it's that I had kids in my class who thought, going in, they couldn't do any of it, but now have created splash pages, sequential story pages and have a much greater grasp on how to tell stories through the use of images and panels," adds James Giar, instructor of BAYarts' Comic Books course. "But more importantly, they're more aware of what goes into them and why."

Both Crider and Giar are members of the Rust Belt Monster Collective, a group of local artists who collaborate on murals, social events and more.

BEST of N.O.I.S. runs through March 31. The Winter Student Show closes March 27, and is supported by the Ruth Purdy-Leslie Youth Scholarship Fund.

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