Northern Ohio Illustrators Society Seeks 'Common Ground' at Canopy

click to enlarge Laura & Gary Dumm’s “#Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here,” acrylic on canvas, 36 in. by 36 in, 2017. Courtesy of the artists.
Laura & Gary Dumm’s “#Abandon All Hope Ye Who Enter Here,” acrylic on canvas, 36 in. by 36 in, 2017. Courtesy of the artists.
Each year, members of the Northern Ohio Illustrators Society (NOIS) organize a juried exhibition at a different gallery throughout Northeast Ohio. In addition to changing venues each year, the group selects a new theme for each showcase. Responding to the current socio-political climate, members chose the theme of "common ground" for this year’s show.

Opening at Canopy at 6 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1, Common Ground includes new work created by the group’s talented artists and illustrators, including: Cristina Bruce-Kaiser, Linda Carruth, Gary Dumm, Laura Dumm, Jacqueline Freedman, Ron Hill, Milan Kecman, George Kocar, Nancy Lick and more.

Due to the nature of their profession, working for demanding clients under often-intense deadlines, illustrators and commercial artists don’t usually receive the creative freedom of fine artists. Don’t let the title of “commercial artists” fool you, though. Many of the group’s members are active in the local art community, regularly exhibiting in gallery exhibitions throughout Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. This annual exhibition allows these talented artists to express themselves freely and showcase their range of skills and abilities, while the show’s shared theme maintains a sense of unity. Although the show’s title implies cohesion, each member approaches the theme from different perspectives.

“The show is always very eclectic,” says NOIS president Ron Hill. “The theme 'common ground' was a reaction to the recent political mood. I have seen art that explores a positive and negative trend in what it means to find common ground with our fellow humans. Not all pieces are political: some are social, some are naturalistic. Some literally deal with imagery about the ground. We never really know what we will end up with, but it's always diverse and colorful.”

For example, husband-and-wife duo Laura and Gary Dumm’s collaborative paintings comment on current social and environmental issues. The paintings juxtapose classic Hollywood monsters with corporate logos, symbols and contemporary imagery, associating these current evils with society’s most iconic personifications of the concept of evil. Without a single word, these paintings convey layers of complex information in an approachable, accessible way.

Describing the series, the Dumms write, “Iconic movie monsters, who were often the by-products of corporate greed and human egotism manipulating nature to spawn our own annihilation, are used to present the consequences of pollution, climate change, genetic engineering, for profit destruction of animal habitats and extinctions. We are mutating into the monsters devouring our world.”

Although all members are invited and encouraged to exhibit work, a juror selects awards for the most outstanding work. This year’s juror is Cuban-born, Cleveland-based painter Augusto Bordelois. Bordelois graduated from the University of Havana, majoring in English Language and Literature. He also studied classical drawing and painting, sculpture, ceramics, and costume design for theatre and cinema. His work has been featured in over 100 national and international exhibitions and over 25 solo shows. Bordelois’ paintings reside in private collections in Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Cuba, Ecuador, England, Germany, Greece, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland and Venezuela.

NOIS, a 501C-6 non-profit business league, was founded more than 20 years ago. Its members include local and regional illustrators, and the organization offers free membership to students of the Cleveland Institute of Art.
Common Ground remains on view at Canopy through September 17.

(Canopy) 3910 Lorain Ave., 216-309-1090,

Scroll to read more Cleveland News articles


Join Cleveland Scene Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.