MOCA Cleveland Celebrates Five Years in its New Home With Free Community Day, Launch of Fall Exhibitions

click to enlarge Iman Issa, Heritage Studies #5, aluminium and  vinyl text, 2015, 93 x 18 inches. Installation view, Sharjah Biennial 12, Sharjah, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Rodeo, London. Photo: Alfredo Rubio.
Iman Issa, Heritage Studies #5, aluminium and vinyl text, 2015, 93 x 18 inches. Installation view, Sharjah Biennial 12, Sharjah, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Rodeo, London. Photo: Alfredo Rubio.

In honor of the five-year anniversary of its Farshid Moussavi-designed building, as well as its Fall 2017 Exhibitions, MOCA Cleveland is hosting two events this weekend: the Annual Gala and Art Auction from 6:30 p.m. to midnight on Friday, October 6, and a Free Community Day from noon to midnight on Saturday, October 7.

Friday’s gala honors Michelle Grabner, conceptual artist and co-director of Front International, Cleveland’s upcoming Triennial for Contemporary Art. The live auction portion of the event is presented by Sotheby’s, with an online auction organized by Paddle8. The auction includes artworks by many esteemed contemporary artists, including several who have recently exhibited at MOCA Cleveland, such as Adam Pendleton, Lisa Oppenheim and Amanda Ross-Ho. Guests will also have the first opportunity to explore MOCA Cleveland’s Fall 2017 Exhibitions. Individual tickets are $300; VIP and table packages are available as well.

“Michelle Grabner is one of the most relevant and exciting artists working today,” says Jill Snyder, MOCA Cleveland’s executive director. “She embodies so many of MOCA’s values, from her commitment to the Midwest to her global advancement of contemporary art and culture, in her work as an artist, curator, teacher and writer.”

Saturday’s event includes family-friendly activities and panel discussions with MOCA Cleveland’s senior curator Andria Hickey and featured artists from MOCA Cleveland’s new Fall 2017 Exhibitions, which guests can explore throughout the day. Additionally, WRUW Studio-A-Rama presents live music every hour from 2 p.m. to midnight in Toby’s Plaza, headlined at 10:30 p.m. by Sweet Spirit with special guests New Bomb Turks and This Moment in Black History. Following the event, the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern hosts a midnight afterparty.

MOCA Cleveland’s Fall 2017 Exhibitions include new works by British artist Phil Collins (not the musician) and A Poet*hical Wager, a group exhibition of contemporary abstract artists from around the world who use abstraction to convey complex feelings and ethical concepts that can’t be depicted through representational imagery.

“MOCA’s fall 2017 season is our first to reflect Senior Curator Andria Hickey’s artistic vision for the institution,” says executive director Jill Snyder. “Andria, who joined us after serving at the Public Art Fund in New York, is positioning MOCA globally while also asserting the public value of the institution to the immediate community. Visitors to MOCA this fall will discover art and artists grappling with the issues of the day in new and uncharted ways.”

A Poet*hical Wager includes the work of Doug Ashford (b. 1958, Rabat); Abbas Akhavan (b. 1977, Tehran); Abraham Cruzvillegas (b. 1968, Mexico City); Lara Favaretto (b. 1973, Treviso); Iman Issa (b. 1979, Cairo); Rashid Johnson (b. 1977, Chicago); Jumana Manna (b. 1987, Princeton); Oscar Murillo (b. 1986, La Paila) and Mario García Torres (b. 1975, Monclova).

“A Poet*hical Wager was developed through conversations with artists, and is especially timely given the increasingly complex relationship we have with world events that affect us and yet are divorced from our own personal experiences,” says MOCA Cleveland senior curator Andria Hickey. “Looking at abstraction as a form of response suggests a different way of working, and a different way of thinking about the affective power of art today.”

The exhibition’s title was inspired by The Poethical Wager, a book by American poet and scholar Joan Retallack. The book discusses forms that break patterns. In Retallack's words, “A poetics can take you only so far without an h. If you’re to embrace complex life on earth, if you can no longer pretend that all things are fundamentally simple or elegant, a poetics thickened by an h launches an exploration of art’s significance as, not just about, a form of living in the real world."

For Collin’s first U.S. museum exhibition of this latest material, the artist has created six listening booths, each with a 7-inch vinyl recording of original songs created in collaboration with guests of a homeless shelter in Cologne, Germany. Collins installed a phone booth with a free line at the shelter, available for unlimited local and international calls, with the understanding that the conversations would be recorded anonymously. Collins offered selected recording to his musician-friends, who used the recordings to create new songs for the recording booths.

Discussing his role as an artist, Collins says, “Art has an imperative to address important issues, and in places and times of increasing division, it's crucial that it becomes a prism for reflection in order to create, or ballast, the bridges between us.”

Following Saturday’s free event, admission to MOCA Cleveland’s Fall 2017 Exhibitions is $9.50; seniors ages 65 and older, $6; students will valid ID, $5; MOCA Cleveland members and children under 6, free. On the first Saturday of each month, admission is free to all during MOCA Free First Saturdays, made possible by PNC. For more information, including museum hours and special events, visit the organization’s website.

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