MOCA Summer Opens with Friday Night Party

click to enlarge MOCA Summer Opens with Friday Night Party
Derf Backderf, The City comic strip promo (detail), 1990, promotional poster published in "The Cleveland Edition", pen & ink, spot color, 11 x 17 inches. Courtesy of the artist.
MOCA Cleveland’s Summer 2015 exhibitions officially open with an Opening Night Party this Friday, June 12 from 7 to 10 p.m.

The new exhibitions include Tony Lewis: free movement power nomenclature pressure weight and How to Remain Human, a group exhibition featuring Mary Ann Aitken, Derf Backderf, Cara Benedetto, Christi Birchfield, Dadpranks, Kevin Jerome Everson, Ben Hall, Jae Jarrell, Harris Johnson, Jimmy Kuehnle, d.a. levy, Michelangelo Lovelace, Dylan Spaysky and Carmen Winant.

free movement power nomenclature pressure weight is the first solo museum exhibition by Chicago-based, 28 year old Tony Lewis. Although Lewis currently lives and works in Chicago, he was raised in Cleveland. 

In How to Remain Human, emerging, mid-career and established artists from Cleveland, Michigan and Pennsylvania reflect on what it means to be a human being in contemporary society. The exhibition is curated by Deputy Director of Program, Planning and Engagement Megan Lykins Reich and Associate Curator Rose Bouthillier.

“Engaging the region is an essential part of MOCA’s mission,” says Executive Director Jill Snyder. “One of the advantages of our perspective outside the world’s major art centers is being able to curate art and experience of our particular time and place. In so doing, we encourage dialogue that connects these artists to the larger, international art world.”

This eclectic exhibition includes painting, sculpture, collage, comics, fashion design, video, sound, poetry and a large-scale installation. In addition to MOCA’s 4th floor Mueller Family Gallery, this expansive and immersive exhibition extends throughout the museum. Before you even enter MOCA, you’re sure to see Jimmy Kuehnle’s 40 ft. tall (25 ft. wide) neon pink inflatable sculpture in the Museum’s Kohl Atrium. The soft form intentionally contrasts MOCA Cleveland’s iconic architecture, and it expands and contracts, as if alive and breathing.

Also on the ground floor, in Gund Commons, videos by the collective Dadpranks will continuously loop clips featuring jokes, gags and bizarre actions done with unusual objects. Additionally, a new sound installation by interdisciplinary Detroit-based collaborators Ben Hall and Andrew Mehall.

“The exhibition will be bold, weighty, thick, spirited, and above all else, honest. The works address a full spectrum of human experience: there is laughter, pain, confusion, and beauty,” says Megan Lykins Reich. “Cleveland itself has a large presence in the show, as many of the artists from here are dealing with their impressions of the city. In a sense, the narrative of Cleveland and the broader region acts as a framework, a story of struggle, decay, and transformation that also plays out on a personal level.”

Rose Bouthillier adds, “This is an exhibition that questions openly and feels deeply. In the face of everything that dehumanizes – economic and racial inequality, consumerism, mass media, and digitization – art has the radical potential to resist and reclaim. These artists in How to Remain Human ask us to look differently, to reconnect with ourselves, our environment, and each other.”

The exhibition’s title is a line by late Ohio writer d.a. levy’s Suburban Monastery Death Poem. MOCA selected the title because levy’s poetry articulates the raw struggle for freedom and expression during a particularly tumultuous time in Cleveland’s history. Although the works (and artists) vary greatly, they all share a desire to chronicle everyday life with an urgent need to act, experience, question and communicate.

How to Remain Human is a follow-up to 2013’s Realization is Better than Anticipation, MOCA Cleveland’s first regionally-focused group exhibition in its current home on Euclid Avenue in University Circle’s Uptown district. How to Remain Human is part of MOCA Cleveland’s continued effort to engage with and advance local and regional art and the artists currently making it.

How to Remain Human continues MOCA’s focused engagement with, and advancement of, art being made here and close by. By continuing to pair local and regional artists with national and international artists, MOCA is creating a dialogue between the best artwork currently being produced in the region with current trends in the narrative of Contemporary Art around the world.

The Opening Night Celebration is free and open to the public. The exhibitions remain on view through September 6. General admission is $8; seniors (65+), $6; students (with valid ID), $5. Admission for MOCA Cleveland members and children under 6 is free. MOCA Cleveland’s regular business hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; open until 9 p.m. on Thursdays; closed Mondays.

(MOCA Cleveland) 11400 Euclid Ave., 216-421-8671,
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