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Arts District

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Kill Joy, Zygote Press’s Artist in Residency, Brings Vibrancy When We Need it Most

Posted By on Wed, May 27, 2020 at 2:42 PM

COURTESY ZYGOTE PRESS
  • Courtesy Zygote Press

“This mural is a direct response to the world that the pandemic is showing us. We need to see what another way of living can look like," says Kill Joy, the 32-year-old Texan who is the latest Artist in Residency at Zygote Press, of the mural she created in the entryway of the gallery.

The image captures unity in a time of separation and division says Kill Joy, whose moniker is "a play off of my birth name. It also describes a philosophy I take towards life, that is, the interconnectedness of birth and death. For anything to be birthed, there also has to be death to make room for new life. We constantly die to the past to be in the present and to make way for the future.”

Her style perhaps flits along a Diego Rivera lineage in its storytelling. The mural’s figures are outlined in bold black, while embodied with rich ochre and enveloped in lush greens and blues of the sky and earth. The content is what appears to be a hearty tribe of people adorned in leaves and flowers, working together harmoniously to carry a thatched house up a hill to the awaiting members who are spreading what looks like seed. It seems to tell the story of a migrating people on a trajectory to plant roots in a new place. The mural is based on a Filipino concept of “Bayanihan,” which is a spirit of cooperation and communal unity.
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Joy’s family is from the Philippines, but she was born in the desert lands of Texas. Her bio states, “…desert and jungle, sun and moon, fire and water are themes she explores in her print and mural work.” Joy has found harbor in Texas, Oregon and Mexico and her art has been exhibited nationally and internationally, both in galleries as well as on the street.

“My process involves a lot of diving in, then emerging in a frenzy until the idea is manifested, or at least attempted, then exhaustion, hopefully satisfaction, then rest, then diving back in again.”

Zygote’s Shop Manager, Juliette Thimmig says, “Kill Joy has brought a vibrancy at a time when the studio needed it the most. While in Cleveland, she has completed a mural, made four editions of healthy sized blocks, made time to develop work on the street and even collaborated with me on some land art in a public space. No matter the medium, storytelling is easily the center of her practice which makes her images full of energy, action, and purpose.”

Joy planted her feet in Cleveland on February 27th in the midst of a global crisis, and has been unfortunately unable to interact with the city in a conventional way and has been fairly isolated since she has been here.

“Cleveland has mostly served as the physical backdrop for my body to rest and quarantine in, while my mind has wandered. With establishments being closed and minimal people on the street…I notice all the warehouse spaces and I reflect a lot on the idea of a space housing things within it. A lot of brick buildings, a lot of things being kept inside and safe.”

I wondered if the mural was in any way a reaction to the need for unity in Cleveland in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In another world, supporting each other, mutual aid, available healthcare, climate action, sustainable planning, and clean resources would not be debated in a political agenda, but available to everyone… I do view Cleveland as a port for my Kill Joy spaceship to dock and take flight and return and rest up…I have become deeper friends with myself and have also found family outside of blood...”

Kill Joy’s ‘space ship’ hopes to return her safely to the Lone Star State as she departs from Cleveland and her residency on May 27th.

Zygote offers a variety of residencies made possible by a host of arts organizations and foundations such as: The Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, The Martha Holden Jennings Foundation and the Cyrus Eaton Foundation.

Zygote, located at 1410 East 30th Street, offers two open-call for two-week residencies each year for printmakers; Two AIR / Local Artists in Residencies for Established and Emerging local non-printmaker artists; the Zygote Press Residency in memory of Anthony Bartholomew to a Kent State University Graduate; Two International Artist Residencies, one as an exchange conducted in partnership with the Bamboo Curtain Studio in Taipei, Taiwan and, the other an International Artist Resident.

The next residency is a part of their Open Call Residency where they provided printmakers with a stipend, housing and full access for the shop for which they have chosen Marco Sánchez, a Mexican born artist based out in El Paso who is most recently exploring the notion of immigrant identity plays in society as a result of the current political climate in the United States. Sánchez also teaches printmaking classes and workshops at the El Paso Museum of Art.

Zygote Press is an artist workshop promoting contemporary fine-art printing. Currently Zygote is exploring the possibility of moving classes online.

Find out more about Kill Joy and Zygote Press in the links below.
Zygote Press Website
Kill Joy’s Instagram

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

RUST Author Eliese Goldbach, Akron Author David Giffels to Appear in Virtual Event Thursday

Posted By on Tue, May 26, 2020 at 11:19 AM

FLATIRON BOOKS
  • Flatiron Books
Local author Eliese Goldbach, whose memoir, RUST, was published earlier this year, will read from and discuss her new book Thursday evening in a virtual event hosted by Loganberry Books.

Goldbach will be in conversation with Akron author David Giffels, whose latest book, Barnstorming Ohio: To Understand America will be published in August.

The event begins at 7 p.m. Attendees can hop on Loganberry's Facebook page and watch the live stream from there. Those curious about either of the author's works will have the opportunity to ask questions via Facebook. 

Goldbach spoke to Scene about her memoir in March. She said that one of her primary aims was understanding the animosities that drive the ideological rifts in today's political climate. The ArcellorMittal steel plant became a venue for dissecting a certain Rust Belt blue-collar ethos, even as Goldbach dissected the life events that shaped her own views. 

Goldbach worked for three years at the steel plant. Local readers will certainly enjoy her meticulous descriptions of the steel-making process and the physical descriptions of the massive complex in the industrial valley.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Death, Destruction, Vice & Sleaze: Jake Kelly Releases the First Installment of Cleveland True Crime Series “Doomsday Map”

Posted By on Wed, May 20, 2020 at 10:15 AM

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Cleveland artist and illustrator Jake Kelly has released the first in what aims to be a long series of comic books exploring Cleveland’s squalid past.

“Doomsday Map” is the 24-page, primarily black and white, true crime installment of what Kelly hopes to eventually become his first graphic novel, the whole of which is self-described as an episodic tale of “Death, Destruction, Vice, & Sleaze.”

This is Kelly’s first comic since his collaboration on the six-part "Lake Erie Monster" series, co-created with friend and fellow artist and illustrator John Greiner, aka, “John G.” (He also helped with the cover of Doomsday Map. )

"The genesis of it was a series of articles I was working on…one was about a pornography poll that Cleveland Mayor Ralph Perk issued in 1976, another article was about a man named George Cicero who was bombing adult movie theaters, sex shops, adult book stores and integrated schools. I published those two in my fanzine, Rapid Transient. I always wanted to explore it more and sort of finish it off.”

In 1976 Cleveland, garnered national attention as “Bomb City USA.” Danny Greene and others became the subject of many books, films and articles.

"We were the most bombed city on the planet by a large margin," Kelly says. "I think we beat out Beirut, which was experiencing a civil war. In the 70s there was probably around 3,000 bombing. I would imagine if you stood on your roof and fast forward through the decade it would sound like popcorn was popping all around you.”

There is more death, destruction, vice and sleaze than just bombings to be covered in Doomsday Map, according to Kelly.

“1966-1983 is the scope of the book, so it covers everything from the Hough Riots, the Glennville shootout, through the Marlene Steele Murder, up to the CSU Killer and many other things —  motor cycle gangs, drugs, Case professors involved in international LSD rings, so there’s a lot of things going on in this book.”

The first three pages of Doomsday Map coax the reader into adopting the legendary Cuyahoga River as a timeline for the sordid events and is an effective literary device to depict these various true crime tales. “Cleveland is a much a part of the story as any of the actual people and the (Cuyahoga) river is central to the city, so it made sense to use the river as a timeline. At the risk of sounding like I just smoked pot or something, imagine the river as multiple timelines all on top of each other. It’s flowing through history and it’s not just picking up garbage and the industrial waste but also totems and objects from these various stories. I’m working on one about a folk singer that gets shot so you might see the acoustic guitar float by you with a bunch of sticks of dynamite near it.”

The folk singer of note here is Tedd Browne, who once appeared on The Tonight Show, sang at President Lyndon B. Johnson’s inaugural ball in 1965 and is the subject of Kelly’s next issue. Part two is set to be finished and released by mid-July according to Kelly and has the working title of, “Shadows Will Fall.”

Process in important to an artist and for a project as large as this, one wonders how an artist keeps themselves inspired, engaged and productive.

“When I‘m making up the art for a poster or writing one of these comics I prefer to listen to music…but in drawing a lot of it is sitting stock-still at your desk and making a lot of little dots, dashes, hash marks and scratches so the mind tends to wonder. I like to listen to audio books so my mind doesn’t turn to mush as I draw…I’ve been listening to a lot of true crime to see what other people are doing with structure and how they are collating massive amounts of information into stories. One is The Man from the Train by Bill James, a book about a serial killer at the turn of the last century. Another great book is Days of Rage: America's Radical Underground, the FBI, and the Forgotten Age of Revolutionary Violence, by Bryan Burrough. That’s a book I’ve read and listened to several times and I put it on again because it deals with far-left terrorism in the nineteen seventies.”

In anticipation of this project Kelly has taken to creating a giant 9’ x 15’ mural of Cleveland in his studio to use as a visual reference. For the gargantuan map, Kelly enlisted the help of another local artist and friend, Madeleine Keller.
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This is one of many murals Kelly has created over the years. Among these, most notable are the murals one sees inside Cleveland’s Melt franchises as well as the apocalyptic mural in the entrance way of the Grog Shop, which he has been recently selling prints of in effort to raise money for Grog employees affected by layoffs associated with Covid-19.

Cleveland is infamous in its mythology to the point at which one might have trouble distinguishing fact from legend and what falls in between. I asked Kelly what he hoped his readers might take away from this series of around 20 issues and what could culminate to “phone book-sized” graphic novel over the next several years.

“In the end what I would like the reader to come away with, if I’ve done my job, they simply are now more familiar with a secret history…and if they are able to find the contemporary echoes of these things in the modern world, that’s good, and if not, they’ve heard some crazy stories.”

To order Doomsday Map and other works by Kelly click here.

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Thursday, May 14, 2020

CAN Arts Journal Apologizes for Lack of Diversity on Cover of Summer 2020 Issue

Posted By on Thu, May 14, 2020 at 3:48 PM

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There's a whole lot of color in the assorted facemasks and backgrounds of CAN arts journal's 2020 Summer issue, but not a whole of different colors in the faces behind those masks.

CAN editor Michael Gill wrote a brief, heartfelt apology this week, admitting that, "The cover image does not accurately reflect the Cleveland art scene. It doesn’t reflect the rich diversity of people making, showing, and looking at art in this part of the world."

"As editor, I take sole responsibility for that. As a publication that means to serve galleries and artists in Northeast Ohio, we have a unique and very public responsibility in the discussion of racial equity," he continued. "I apologize. I simply have to do better. I’d like to thank the people who spoke with me candidly about this."

Newspapers and magazines stumble more than they should with visual representations of diversity, especially in service of lists and rankings, which are at the very basic level of the equity and inclusion conversation. Being seen, being present — these are important if you ever hope to get to the gaps in funding and other persistent, larger problems.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Akron Civic Theatre to Host an Online Benefit Auction

Posted By on Wed, May 13, 2020 at 11:46 AM

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The Akron Civic Theatre has just announced that its annual Spirits of the Civic auction will be moved to an online experience. The auction site will be opened for bidding at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 17, and bidding will end at 9 p.m. on Saturday, May 23. It will feature 80 different items.

In honor of the Wild Oscar’s Night Out theme, there will be an exclusive Movie Night at the Civic for you and 49 friends. You pick the movie for the big screen and work out a date that doesn't pose a conflict for the theater.

One of the more unique items is the opportunity to smash a couple of guitars on the Civic stage. That package includes a winners’ champagne toast and a video recording of the experience.

Themed swag bags will feature beauty and pampering items, dog treats, food and beverages, Moscow mules, gardening items and more.

Adventures include a Goodyear Blimp ride for two and flying lessons at Akron Fulton Airport as well as a trip to the Grand Canyon, a brewing experience at Hoppin' Frog Brewery and a Summit Metro Parks kayaking tour.

Other items include guitars and posters signed by acts such as Michael Stanley, Three Dog Night, Lee Brice and Hozier, all of whom have played the Civic in the last year.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

Local Multimedia Artist Kasumi Launches 'ShuffleHead' App

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2020 at 1:00 PM

SHUFFLEHEAD
  • Shufflehead


Kasumi — the prolific Cleveland-based, internationally acclaimed multimedia artist, writer, film maker, and musician — is now adding app creator to her already overwhelming resume.

Shufflehead is Kasumi’s latest brainchild. It's described as “a mix and match coloring book, story creator, and beat-maker all in one.” Now available in the App store for Apple users and soon to be released for Android the application, “…lets you make your own endless combinations of funny faces with color, music and text.”

These aren’t just any faces — we are talking thousands of caricatures of people and animals including famous personalities from Albert Einstein to Franz Kafka to Bruno Mars. Sounds wild, right? How exactly does it all work?

Kasumi explains: “ShuffleHead consists of pictures of characters, each of which is divided into three picture segments: a top, middle, and bottom. Each picture segment from any third can be spun to combine with any combination of picture segments from the other two thirds. In addition, each of the three picture segments is accompanied by a related text segment along with a related music segment. Any three picture segments can be combined with any three text segments and any three music segments to create a new, coherent ShuffleHead scene.”

The app also offers extensions packages called, ShufflePacks, in the end leaving the user with over 35,000 different “story-telling combinations,” all of which were created and drawn by Kasumi.

Although in the ShuffleHead world she is the wizard, she could not have ‘birthed’ this application without her dedicated team of creatives: app programmer Tony Calabro, website designer Matt Beckwith, and promoter, Ian Zeigler of Photonic Studio. These cohorts met through their various affiliations with the renowned Cleveland Institute of Art where Kasumi was part of the esteemed faculty from 2002-2015. The five year project has had its trials and tribulations as with any new technology.

"Not everything worked at first, and we had to experiment and re-do lots of things many times...and then re-do them again and again," she says. "Behind the scenes, we were also dealing with intellectual property, trademark, and copyright issues; creating social media accounts, websites; figuring out purchasing; reaching out to beta testers.”

ShuffleHead sprung from a spiral-bound notebook she had used to make a mix-and-match project for her sister when she was in the hospital, soomething that only required a turn of a page to continue the artistic adventure and that reminded Kasumi of the "things to do" books her sister made for her when they were younger.

“After she died, I wanted to honor her by developing this project into something bigger. ShuffleHead is a metaphor for the wildly divergent forms nature takes – and yet we’re all part of one single organism, a puzzle with an infinite number of solutions. The pandemic is making it manifestly clear that we’re all linked together and affect each other in ways we hadn’t imagined. I wanted to express this unification in a fun and creative way.”

ShuffleHead is where design, music, art and technology intermingle, offering a user experience which is both dynamic and personal. Kasumi’s impressive career is one which spans a wide gambit of accomplishments and accolades.

“The downside of using so many kinds of tools, technologies, and methods is the immense amount of time required to learn them, but the plus side is that I can move fairly seamlessly from one to another, or even combine them as a project requires.”

Growing up all over the world has influenced her work, and her ability to combine different techniques.

“I grew up in a household with a wildly creative assemblage artist mother and a horribly insecure rocket scientist father, both of whom encouraged me to pursue art and science with equal emphasis. This provided a potent background for a lifetime of experimentation. In addition, living in different countries gave me a spectacular vantage point from which to observe the world as well as immerse myself in the rhythms and metaphors of different cultures and languages that greatly influenced my work.”

Kasumi’s accolades include being a Knight Foundation Grantee in 2016, the Cleveland Arts Prize Mid-Career Award in 2014, and a MacDowell Fellowship in 2014. She's had her films presented in the Cleveland International Film Festival in 2000, 2001, 2002, with an Honorable Mention in 2005. Most recently her work can be found in the Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. 

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Lit Cleveland Needs Your Help to Document a Day in Cleveland During the Pandemic

Posted By on Mon, May 11, 2020 at 10:12 AM

LIT CLEVELAND
  • Lit Cleveland
Literary Cleveland is once again endeavoring into a creative, collective writing project.

This time, the organization is soliciting writing and observations from May 12 that it'll compile and edit into a composite tale of one day in the life of Cleveland during the pandemic.

Instructions below:

Literary Cleveland is inviting you to participate in a collective writing experiment documenting everything that happens in Cleveland on Tuesday, May 12, 2020. On that day, take time to document what happens to you and those around you. Take photos, make notes, talk to friends and family and strangers, report on events, ask questions, put it all in writing.

Once the day is over, compose and edit your observations. What details and moments, large or small, are meaningful to you? Try not to get hung up on conventional ideas of what you "should" write about; instead, we invite you to consider the people, places, objects, interactions, or ideas that are often overlooked in greater Cleveland, no matter how ordinary or unimportant they may seem. This is your opportunity to reimagine who or what is worthy of our attention. (Hint: you are!)

When you are finished, send your photos and writing (up to 1,000 words) to us at info@litcleveland.org by Monday, May 18 at noon. We will select excerpts from all the submissions and edit them together to document a day in the life of Cleveland.

Requirements:
1) Please limit your writing and observations to the 24 hours from midnight to midnight on May 12, 2020.
2) Anyone of any age may participate, we only ask that you limit your observations to what happens in greater Cleveland and the surrounding area (we're flexible on geography).
3) At the beginning of your piece of writing, or at the beginning of each section as necessary, include a dateline listing the time and neighborhood location (e.g., 9:13AM, Clark-Fulton).
4) If you send us a photo, please include time, location, and photographer name so we can credit the images appropriately.
5) If you write about yourself, use the third person using your name; this will help with coherence when we edit everyone's selections together.
6) This is intended to be a piece of nonfiction, so although we encourage poetic writing and narrative storytelling we ask that you only write what is true (although we interpret truth in writing broadly—if your dreams, hopes, or fears are part of your true experience, document them).
7) Note: due to length constraints we will not be able to use everyone's submission in the final piece, although we will do our best to include as many as possible.
8) Participate! Encourage others to participate! Let's see what we can create together.

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