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Thursday, September 10, 2015

'Choice' Brings Akron Art Museum's Unique Touch to Cleveland Venues

Posted By on Thu, Sep 10, 2015 at 10:04 AM

click to enlarge El Anatsui, Dzesi II, 2006, Aluminum liquor bottle caps and copper wire, 117 in. x 195 in. x 8 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Purchased, by exchange, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Reed II.
  • El Anatsui, Dzesi II, 2006, Aluminum liquor bottle caps and copper wire, 117 in. x 195 in. x 8 in. Collection of the Akron Art Museum. Purchased, by exchange, with funds from Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Reed II.
The latest exhibition at the Transformer Station brings selections of the Akron Art Museum’s permanent collection to Cleveland for the first time. Choice: Contemporary Art from the Akron Art Museum opens with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m. this Saturday, Sept. 12  (Transformer Station members can preview the exhibition beginning at 5 p.m.) 

Choice offers an exciting opportunity for the Akron Art Museum to partner with the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation and Transformer Station to present an exhibit in Cleveland of outstanding artworks from our collection,” says Akron Art Museum Chief Curator Janice Driesbach.

Throughout the exhibition, the history and mission of the Akron Art Museum become part of the conceptual narrative. The works in Choice document the Akron Art Museum’s focus on and dedication to modern and contemporary art, far ahead of trends among larger institutions, such as the Cleveland Museum of Art.

“The narrative that accompanies Choice is very compelling,” says Transformer Station Gallery Manager Danielle Meeker. “In the late 1970s, the Akron Art Museum realized it should stop emulating the Cleveland Museum of Art and trying to build an encyclopedic collection and instead focus on modern and contemporary art, which at the time CMA was not really doing. With this decision, the Akron Art Museum suddenly was serving a very unique purpose and had this coherent mission. They've gone on to adopt other prescient strategies to build the extraordinary collection they have: collecting photography while other museums were still debating whether or not it was fine art; collecting artwork by self-taught and outsider artists of incredible vision before that, too, became acceptable. Every one of these decisions has built on the one before.”

Choice is part of the Akron Art Museum’s ongoing outreach initiative to engage with surrounding communities, and invite the public back to the museum to further explore its collection, world-class architecture and new public garden space.

At 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday, Sept. 16, the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern hosts a very special evening with the leaders of the Akron Art Museum. Directors at the Dog: The Akron Art Museum is a panel discussion moderated by the Transformer Station’s co-founder Fred Bidwell. Joining Bidwell will be the Akron Art Museum’s Executive Director and CEO Mark Masuoka and Chief Curator Jan Driesbach.

The Bidwells, Fred and his wife Laura, recently announced they would be moving from their longtime home in Akron to the former Van Rooy Coffee Roasters building in Hingetown, just about a block from the Transformer Station. The move is being celebrated as a cultural investment in our community. Their personal history makes the Transformer Station the perfect venue for Choice.

“The Akron Art Museum has taken a leadership role in the region to advance and celebrate contemporary art. That leadership has been an important catalyst for artists’ careers from international art stars like Cindy Sherman to important artists with roots in Ohio like Diana Al-Hadid,” says Fred Bidwell.

Laura Bidwell adds, “We’re very excited to see some of the great works of the Akron Art Museum in a new context and seen by new audiences. We hope that this show will persuade many who are unfamiliar with the Akron Art Museum to make the short trip to see one of Northeast Ohio’s most wonderful cultural treasures.”

Choice remains on view at Transformer Station through Dec. 6. Additional viewing hours are Wednesdays through Fridays from noon to 5 p.m. (open until 8 p.m. on Thursdays) and Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Mondays and Tuesdays).

(Transformer Station) 1460 W. 29th St., 216-938-5429,
(Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern) 11625 Euclid Ave., 216-231-5400,
(Akron Art Museum) 1 S. High St., Akron, 330-376-9185,

Ed. note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the day of the opening reception.


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