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Arts District

Thursday, April 8, 2021

Tickets on Sale Friday for Popular 'Immersive Van Gogh' Exhibit Coming to Cleveland

Posted By on Thu, Apr 8, 2021 at 10:19 AM

Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit features 500,000 cubic square feet of floor-to-ceiling digital projections. - BOULENGER XAVIER / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM
  • BOULENGER Xavier /
  • Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit features 500,000 cubic square feet of floor-to-ceiling digital projections.

Update: Pre-sale tickets are live now (Code- "CLE21VINCENT") and the public sale for the Immersive Van Gogh exhibit in Cleveland begins Friday.

The venue has not yet been announced but they have announced the exhibit will open Sept. 9th.


(Original post): Let Gogh of what you think an art museum experience should be and, instead, immerse yourself in the moving, breathing, and unexpectedly trippy works of one of the world's most celebrated artists.

After successful runs throughout the country, including in nearby cities like Chicago and Toronto, Immersive van Gogh will make its debut in Cleveland. The multi-sensory experience (meaning there's sound, too, thanks to composer Luca Longobardi) features 500,000 cubic feet — and 90,000,000 pixels — of larger-than-life projections ripped straight from the portfolio of iconic artist Vincent van Gogh.

The digital exhibit, designed by Massimilano Siccardi, has a habit of, well, selling out — unlike van Gogh, who struggled with poverty and, according to popular art lore, allegedly only properly sold one painting during his lifetime. For example, Chicago's Immersive van Gogh exhibit is currently sold out through June, but will be on display until September.

In addition to traditional tickets, Immersive van Gogh offers date night packages and yoga opportunities, though it is unclear if these offerings will be made available during the Cleveland run. Tickets in Chicago range from $39 for a basic timed ticket to $99 for VIP tickets, which include flexible admission, priority access, limited edition poster, VIP souvenir laminate, and van Gogh cushion.

No dates or locations have been announced. But, fear not. There's no need to keep your ears, er, ear to the ground, as you can sign up for ticket announcements and Cleveland-specific event updates by visiting

You can take a peek as to what the Immersive Experience looks — and feels like — below.

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Wednesday, April 7, 2021

The Artist Bridge Coalition Strives for Community Change in Cleveland and a Role for Artists in the Region's Leading Institutions

Posted By on Wed, Apr 7, 2021 at 11:00 AM


The Artist Bridge Coalition (ABC) is relatively new artist-driven coalition that advocates for community change in Cleveland, organizing monthly in order to discuss, debate, energize and create ways in which the individual artist weaves into the fabric of the larger cultural community.

ABC, which was formed in the late summer of 2019, aims to influence civic discussion in regional policymaking while developing public support strategies for the arts community. ABC currently has 165 members (or attendees) coming to meetings and participating in the dialogue, meeting via Zoom every third Tuesday of each month for 90 minutes. ABC features guest speakers and discusses relevant topics regarding organizing work (coalition structure, committee work, candidate forums) followed by break-out groups in effort to ‘de-silo’ artists and creatives.

Since late November, ABC has also been conducting listening sessions with key leaders from most of the major arts and culture funding and institutional organizations, asking straight questions about who is making the decisions, what budgets they have for individual artists and details on their process for including diverse, inclusive and equitable work.

Through these sessions, they are ascertaining that artists are, in many cases, not included where many decisions are being made about the arts at the city, county and community levels. Part of ABC’s mission is to give voice to the voiceless, and the voiceless in this case being the individual artists, the right-brained creative thinkers who, in their minds, are an underutilized assets to these businesses and institutions.

Among the broad and ambitious sets of goals and objectives: be involved in determining long-term cultural vision at the local level; occupy, create, and develop former industrial spaces/places/neighborhoods that were at one time empty; attract talent to adaptive new spaces where creative businesses can anchor buildings at lower costs; address social problems with artistic interventions; create solidarity within the artistic inter-community; and focus on play, enjoyment, creating inter-cultural dialogue and positive long-term cultural integration.

In order to affect change in the visibility of artists, their work, their ideas and their projects, ABC plans to keep the dialogue going and make their presence known in the rooms and halls of policy makers. Isn’t this what a coalition is about? Allying together, power in numbers, ringing bells and chiming in?

“Accountability! A good accountability that is helpful to the larger organizations where onboarding a pipeline of ABC individual artists for board seats on every CAC-funded non-profit would be crazy cool,” says ABC co-founder, artist, and curator Liz Maugans. “Are the institutions really moving beyond performative measures to create change? How can artists who are core, center, key, and paramount, to museums, orchestras, and performing arts theaters be there to represent what artists need? Currently, between the three Boards in the Greater Cleveland Arts Alliance (Arts Cleveland, Arts and Culture Action Committee and Cuyahoga Arts and Culture), with one exception, there aren’t any artists in decision-making roles. One might say, that is a problem. How can ABC and individual artists make it not a problem but a reality?”

Constructive criticism about how organizations and institutions are interacting and stewarding the community is important to their vitality. Stasis of these institutions and organization does not foster growth and development to help them reach their full potential. Asking that artists have a proverbial ‘seat at the table’ seems like a necessary step in order to best serve the individual artists who make up the foundation of the arts and cultural community.

“The non-profits are great and they are doing all they can to stay active, afloat and well….figuring out how they will survive in these very uncertain times,” explains Maugans. “Individual artists are but a spoke in the non-profits complicated wheel and so often artists’ needs are not being valued and are very low on the ladder of appreciation. Assumptions are made about artists and whether or not we fit into the program neatly of grant, funding and other organizational mission work.”

ABC also plans to be a resource where creative members’ projects can get off the ground and to help get others involved and informed. One such project ABC is “The U and I of Euclid Avenue A Gateway to East Cleveland” from Karamu House alumni Mary K Thomas, which is gathering together East Cleveland residents, artists, archivists, storytellers and civic leaders to share in a year-long public art mural project optically elevating what was once called ‘The Grand Promenade of Cleveland.’

The next Artist Bridge Coalition meeting will be held via Zoom Tuesday, April 20th, where they will have guest featured speaker Shaunda Miles McDill, Program Manager with the Heinz Endowments, introduced by Dr. Rev. Leah Lewis from 4:30 - 5 p.m. From 5 - 5:30 they will conduct their committee meetings and from 5:30 - 6 p.m they will engage in feedback from breakout meetings.

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Monday, April 5, 2021

Here Are the Winners of the 86th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

Posted By on Mon, Apr 5, 2021 at 12:06 PM

James McBride won in the fiction category for "Deacon King Kong" - ANISFIELD-WOLF
  • Anisfield-Wolf
  • James McBride won in the fiction category for "Deacon King Kong"

The winners of the 2021 Anisfield-Wolf book awards, which are based in Cleveland and are the only literature prize specifically given for works that "confront racism and explore diversity," were announced this morning by the Cleveland Foundation.

Recognized in the 86th annual batch of honors:

  • Vincent Brown, “Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of An Atlantic Slave War,” co-winner, Nonfiction
  • Victoria Chang, “Obit,” Poetry
  • Samuel R. Delany, Lifetime Achievement
  • James McBride, “Deacon King Kong,” Fiction
  • Natasha Trethewey, “Memorial Drive,” co-winner, Nonfiction
“The new Anisfield-Wolf winners bring us fresh insights on race and the human condition,” jury chair Henry Louis Gates Jr. said in a statement. “This year, we honor a brilliant military history, a breakout poetry collection that wrestles with mortality, a novel bursting with love and trouble centered around a Brooklyn church, and a memoir by a daughter reclaiming her mother’s story. All of which is capped by the lifetime achievement of Samuel R. Delany, who has broadened our humanity and sharpened our minds through his groundbreaking science fiction.”

All five jurors, including poet Rita Dove, novelist Joyce Carol Oates, historian Simon Schama and psychologist Steven Pinker, are featured in a short video on the selections, which can be viewed below.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Local Artist Edward A. Raffel Executes Exhilarating Conceptual Works at the New Tinnerman Lofts

Posted By on Tue, Mar 30, 2021 at 1:40 PM

Edward A. Raffel at the Lofts - PHOTO BY SHAWN MISHAK
  • Photo by Shawn Mishak
  • Edward A. Raffel at the Lofts
Born in Chicago but raised in Akron, prolific artist Edward A. Raffel was commissioned to conceptualize a significant amount of artwork in the common area of the new 51-unit Tinnerman Lofts, complementing the already interesting visual experience that is this posh communal gathering place for tenants and visitors.

One centerpiece in this room is a self-symmetrical piece called "1040 Extended.” The 8’ x 11’ room-dividing screen is one of over 100 pieces of art by more than 60 artists with multiple works included in Dalad Group’s expanding collection under the advisement of President and Principal Owner Neil Viny, who is responsible for Dalad’s 2.5 million-square-foot real estate portfolio in Northeast Ohio, and Liz Maugans, curator of the Dalad Collection displayed at both Tinnerman Lofts in Ohio City and at Worthington Yards in Cleveland’s Warehouse District.

Dalad’s model of buying and renovating industrial complexes in Cleveland and furnishing their halls and common areas with local artwork is turning heads in the development community as well as among potential renters. The concept offers artists a platform to exhibit and sell their work while injecting a sense of community and history into the complexes making them attractive to potential boarders.

"1040 Extended" is made from polycarbonate wine glasses which have part of their tops surgically reduced and then fused together atop one another. The glasses are filled with assorted colors of resin to resemble different types of wine or champagne. A multitude of varying colors of ping-pong balls in a calculative arrangement were carefully selected and placed inside the glasses. The visual orchestra of triangulation and variation seduces the viewer’s eyes to dance delicately between the visual stimuli like a honey bee bouncing nimbly from one flower to the next. When the light pours through the skylight just right, the piece has a prism-like luminescence complementing the playful, two story lounge.

It is called “1040 Extended” because there are 1,040 wine glasses and was such a labor-intensive and time-consuming project to take on to achieve its stunning effect. Raffel and his studio assistant, Fei Duan, calculated roughly 50,000 procedures and 1,600 man hours in this monumental undertaking.

“The glasses piece came about because when Neil was at my house he liked a built-in mirror box piece with around 540 tiny plastic party favor champagne glasses in a self-symmetric arrangement entitled 'Perpetual Addiction, tiny bubbles version,'” explains 62-year-old Raffel. “They needed an 8’ by 11’ room dividing screen so I offered to make a life-size version with real wine glasses (polycarbonate), not realizing how long it would take.“

The tops of the glasses were used to make another, smaller screen including black and white ping-pong balls arranged in a predetermined order and displayed adjacent to "1040 Extended" in aim to balance off the vivid color of the other screen with something more subdued. This is called "Googly Eyes," because it reminded the artist of those plastic eyes with floating pupils one might find in a craft store.

Raffel is a self-described autodidact who is proficient at a number of things including jewelry making (mostly lost wax casting), sewing and tailoring, painting, drawing, interior design, space planning, architecture and sculpting. He is fairly well-versed in materials like wood, metal, plastics, but says he can't weld “yet.” Construction-wise he can do framing, finish carpentry, cabinet making, electrical work, gas lines and pipe fitting, plumbing (rough and finish), HVAC work, tiling and hardwood floor installation and refinishing, basic masonry work, drywall work and painting.

This might seem like an impressive resume in itself for any one prolific individual, but on top this myriad of skill-sets somehow, not-surprisingly, Raffel practiced dentistry for 17 years. His exacting nature is ever-present in his works, which one can assess take an incredible amount of skill, time and foresight.

“I have always been very fussy and meticulous regarding anything I did, even from a very early age (5),” says Raffel. “My bad mental health even made this worse as my perfectionism really became almost an illness. I would spend over an hour on one filling, driving my patients crazy and insuring I would make no money. If anything I did wasn't perfect I used to berate myself in an abusive way.”

One of the most technically innovative and surprising pieces among the many of Raffel’s displayed at Tinnerman is a diorama called "Tiny Disco with Plus-Plus Painting," encapsulated in a wall of the common area behind a brass-plated peephole next to another sound hole where tiny dancing figurines, a real disco ball and a miniature guitar on a miniscule stage, all painstakingly constructed by the artist, dazzle the childish curiosity of the viewer.

There is a rotation of popular dance songs playing out of another unassuming hole in the wall abreast of the peephole. The sound and lights are triggered by a magnetic reed switch when sliding the peephole cover. It is a wild surprise for any viewer curious enough to take a peek into this inconspicuous portal.

“Everything has beauty in it, so it doesn't take much for me,” says Raffel. “A little piece of junk could do it. I switched to sculpture after renting a studio in the Left Bank building in the flats and found some boxes of old stamping that became my first sculpture, a minimalistic pattern piece called 'Gear Shroud Monolith.' I became interested in minimalism after many discussions with Rob Gibbons and also Joe Fruce, a sculptor friend. Regarding artist statements, I always thought there were primarily after-the-fact bullshit that tried to make the work sound 'deep' or important. Conceptual work does need to be explained sometimes but if the viewer reads it first it completely eliminates any chance of them using their own intelligence to figure it out. Granted that is a smaller percentage of folks, but it kind of takes the fun/challenge out of it. Process-wise, sometimes I get ideas then make the product based on the concept, otherwise I just look at my junk and see what I can make out of it. It has to be beautiful though, at least to me.”

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Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Small Business Administration to Open Grant Applications to Dole Out Economic Relief for 'Shuttered' Music Venues, Theaters, Museums

Posted By on Wed, Mar 24, 2021 at 9:20 AM

A Grog Shop concert from the before times - PHOTO BY EMANUEL WALLACE
  • Photo by Emanuel Wallace
  • A Grog Shop concert from the before times

The Small Business Administration is opening up a new way for owners of "shuttered" music venues to apply for much-needed grant relief in early April. And that might just be music to the ears of local venues still largely shut down after more than a year.

On April 8, the SBA will open an online portal for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant application program, with the goal to "provide a much-needed lifeline for live venues, museums, movie theaters" and related spaces.

SVOG is part of the massive economic stimulus package, the American Rescue Plan Act, signed on March 11 by President Biden. That relief bill added $1.25 billion to the cash reserves for grants to be made available for venues.

"We realize this is an enormous undertaking for the SBA and we appreciate everything the agency is doing to ensure this program is administered as Congress intended as expeditiously as possible," said live music industry lobbying group NIVA in a statement. "To say we have been anxiously awaiting the day when we can apply for this emergency relief is an understatement."

For those needing some help navigating the bureaucracy (and you most likely will), the SBA will host a webinar to walk owners and managers through the application process at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 30. Registration for this free webinar can be done online.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Wood & Green Black Art Haus Partners With NyceCo Prints for Debut Exhibition ‘Inspired By: Jean Michel Basquiat’

Posted By on Tue, Mar 23, 2021 at 8:00 AM

David Ramsey top and Keenan Williams bottom - PHOTO BY SHAWN MISHAK
  • Photo by Shawn Mishak
  • David Ramsey top and Keenan Williams bottom

Fourteen Black and brown artists inspired by 1980s graffiti and the neo-expressionist movement have their work featured in the first exhibition from Wood & Green Black Art Haus, a new gallery project in Cleveland Heights.

"Inspired By: Jean Michel Basquiat" is open now and runs through April 10th.

The Cleveland Heights gallery sings with vibrant Basquiat-inspired works, some baring likenesses of the deceased artist and some pieces derivative of Basquiat’s style, ever ripe with cultural context. His work continually challenged conventions in popular art while being reflective of the hip hop movement erupting from South Bronx, Harlem and Brooklyn in the late 1970s and throughout the 1980s.

Although there are references to race in Basquiat’s works and writings — most notably in his work, “Defacement (The Death of Michael Stewart)” — the artist seemed to be more focused on artistic notoriety than racial or political controversy. The Haitian-American and Puerto Rican artist was quoted as saying, “I am not a Black artist, I am an artist.”

This exhibition is part of the ongoing ‘Inspired By’ series where owner, founder and curator David Ramsey will be choosing historically influential Black and brown artists for local artists to reflect on.

“Our goal is not just to showcase Black and brown artists, but to educate as well and the ‘Inspired By’ series gives us a chance to do both,” says Ramsey. “We want to educate artists and the general public alike about the contributions of Black and brown artists to the institution of art. Part of that is intentionality in highlighting them when we can.”

“We do not work as if we’re the only people doing this work,” says Ramsey. “There is Framed Gallery, Museum of Creative Humans, Current, Cleveland Gallery, Blank Canvas, Artfully Phi and so many more who are doing similar work as us from different vantage points. We are all necessary to ensure that the black art and the culture itself is recorded and reported from within. I am thankful to be a part of a network of black owned and operated art spaces showing any artist of color in some way.”

Wood & Green will also host an exhibition from March 16th to 18th called ‘Street Dreams,’ a solo show featuring the photography of Cleveland Heights native Ryan Harris before continuing with their ‘Inspired By’ series reflecting on the work of Emory Douglas on April 30th.

“Black and brown culture in many ways has been dictated and shared by people outside the culture,” says Ramsey. “This creates issues with context, accurate representation, and understanding. The elevation is through a clearer understanding of what our contribution to the art world is.”

Wood & Green is situated on the northern end of Cleveland Heights on Mayfield Road where Ramsey has partnered with another Black-owned business, NyceCo Print Shop, founded by former 107.9 DJ, DJ Knyce/Keenan Williams and his girlfriend and co-owner Brittany DeMudd. Ramsey was brought on as co-owner, partner and curator of Wood & Green.

Ramsey is owner, founder and curator of called ‘Deep Roots Experience’ in Cleveland's historic Fairfax neighborhood near Karamu Theater, the nation's oldest African-American theater. Fairfax is also where Langston Hughes went to high school and where many other prominent black figures thrived including: Jesse Owens, Dorothy Dandridge, and Bobby Womack to name a few.

Currently on view at Deep Roots is ‘Who Are Your Heroes,’ which runs through the end of March and which Ramsey co-curated with Mr. Soul. The exhibition honors inspirational Black and brown people who have elevated society in some way. The Kevin A. Williams piece in the exhibition, “Civil Unrest,” is a poignant commentary on race, inequality and police brutality and is a representation of how artists, galleries and curators need to continue to use art as a platform to engage society in the continuing conversation towards real change. Ramsey wants to be clear that his endeavoring to help foster, expose and elevate Black and brown artists and to continue to educate people is a group effort and that he is not alone in this journey.

“I want people to take away the fact that we have a very rich and varied history as Black people and a very rich culture,” says Williams. “I want them to take away pride with our apparel, wear it proudly and just be happy to be Black. None of our designs are trauma-based or throwing back to times of oppression or anything like that. We literally celebrate our blackness and that’s what I want people to take away from it.”

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Thursday, March 18, 2021

Kent State Grad Launches New Instagram Live Series, 'Different Folks, Different Strokes'

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2021 at 2:07 PM

Different Strokes, Different Folks host Katherine Wilkes. - KATHERINE WILKES
  • Katherine Wilkes
  • Different Strokes, Different Folks host Katherine Wilkes.
A graduate of Kent State University who has a BA in Communication Studies with a focus on Public Communication, Katherine Wilkes has worked as an event planner, social media specialist and consultant, radio host, standup comedian, panelist, actor, dancer (swing) and writer.

She can now add Instagram Live host to her resume.

Wilkes recently launched a new Instagram Live series, Different Folks, Different Strokes, with an interview with Nila Morton, a black disabled woman/college student.

Wilkes can be found at

DFDS is a live series about me interviewing people from taboo backgrounds,” she says in a press release. “I have been a Clevelander for most of my life. I take pride in where I come from. The topics will include people talking about being professional in backgrounds from exotic dancing to women's health expertise. I am going to talk about my background, so you get a gist of me professionally.”

Courtesy of Wilkes, here's the upcoming schedule of sessions:

3/19 Friday, Nika at 5pm EST Black with Muscular Dystrophy in 2021
3/20 Saturday, Eryanna 8:15a, 8:15p EST Black, MUA, and Sexuality
3/21 Sunday, Taylor 1pm Army Wife, Army Life
3/24 Wednesday noon EST, Brandon- Urban Fish Farm
3/27 Saturday 10a-2pm EST, Jason- Frat Guy, Young Dad, Prim and Pitted, Tyler- Modern Catholicism, Cleveland Sports, News Reporter
4/10 Saturday noon + 3pm EST, Shelby- Viking Rock, Tanis Parenteau- House of Cards & The Entertainment Industry
4/11 Sunday 1pm EST- Sam- Crossfit
4/17 Saturday noon-2pm EST, Bob Burg, Athena Tha Goddess
5/1 Saturday 1pm EST, Beau- Trans and Pelvis
5/15 Saturday 1pm EST- Cinnri Starling- Art & Pelvis
5/16 Sunday 1pm EST Anna- Daycare Teacher to Idaho Education
5/22 Saturday 1pm EST, Jess Pinn- Women's Health, Women's Pleasure, Female Mutilation
5/29 Saturday 1pm EST Ray- Standup Comedy and Wrestling

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