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Friday, September 17, 2021

Thomas Mulready Hosts a Look Back at the Cleveland Performance Art Festival's History At The Bop Stop Tonight

Posted By on Fri, Sep 17, 2021 at 2:09 PM

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Thomas Mulready, the founder of the Cleveland Performance Art Festival, tonight presents “Everything Is Subject to Radical Change: Cleveland Performance Art Festival Revisited” at the Bop Stop.

The festivities include rare photos and a live performance plus interviews with artists, authors and others who engaged with PAF over the years.

The video clips include footage and assets sourced from the Cleveland Performance Art Festival Archives housed at the Kelvin Smith Library Special Collections at Case Western Reserve University. This will include portions of an interview with Pope.L. who refers to himself as a ‘fisherman of social absurdity’ and who had a one man show at MOMA in New York recently. The presentation a Bop Stop will conclude with a performance by Mulready’s group, Vanity Crash.

“It was kind of a phenomenon in this town and people didn’t know what it was and we didn’t know what is was," said Mulready.

In 1987 James Levine invited Mulready to the West 65th and Detroit area where Cleveland Public Theater is located and where, at the time, you reportedly “couldn’t even get a cup of coffee.” In the first few years PAF was in action it was not surprisingly met with media controversy over the radical and racy content of some of the performances, which in-turn led to an attempt at art censorship and investigations by the vice squad. This prompted Mulready to form a separate 501(c)3 non-profit. The festival continued through 2003.

The annual Cleveland Performance Art Festival grew from a six-night non-curated program in 1988 to the largest festival of its kind in the world, at one point encompassing 12 weeks per year, and eventually presenting over 1,000 artists from 23 countries.

“When I look back now, I think this was my training for COOL Cleveland because I had to learn to write little blurbs about the craziest shit!” said Mulready.

For those unable to attend the event in person, livestream tickets are available.

All performances and livestreams will benefit Cleveland Verses Foundation, a non-profit recently created to support musicians, artists and venue workers suffering during the pandemic.

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