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Arts District

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Comedian Nate Bargatze Coming to the Aut-O-Rama in October

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2020 at 1:47 PM

Originally from Old Hickory, TN, slow-talking comedian Nate Bargatze took inspiration from his dad, a former clown turned world class magician. It's worked out pretty well for him, and for the past decade or so, his career has been on an upward trajectory.

In March of last year, Bargatze’s first solo one-hour Netflix special, The Tennessee Kid, premiered globally with rave reviews. In July of this year, he teamed up with All Things Comedy to release his new podcast, Nateland. New episodes release Wednesdays, with video available on Nate’s YouTube channel.

Just today, Bargatze announced his One Night Only drive-in tour will include an Oct. 8 stop at the Aut-O-Rama.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

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A Cleveland Artist Made Trump's Face Using More Than 2,000 Dildos

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2020 at 12:15 PM

  • Stephen Manka

It'd been about three years since Cleveland artist Stephen Manka came across a cache of more than 2,000 metal dildos, and he hadn't quite yet hit on the right idea for how to use them.

Solid copper, the dongs were decades old and someone — he won't divulge the source, who prefers to remain separate from their eventual use — had offered them up.

"They are vintage molds, positives of the molding process for creating dongs," Manka said. "This is my guess, but I envision that these were on the assembly line, dipped into a mold, and then removed, and then other materials were cast to make solid dongs. So, straight from a dildo manufacturing process. And there are just so many different ones. They were dusty, some were gnarly looking, and they range from outrageous veiny bastards to more decorate ones. There are some butt plugs in there too. It's a real mix."

  • Stephen Manka

As the Trump presidency went on, Manka struck on the idea of using them to create Trump's face. The urgency grew as this election cycle started to heat up. So he bought them from the anonymous source and projected Trump's face down on the ground of his studio and set about, over the course of a week, the process of creating the portrait. It took some effort to create the right shadow effects through careful consideration of dong length, density and shape, and hours on a catwalk installed over the space so that Manka could place each dong by hand without knocking anything over, but the end result is unmistakably perfect.

Manka is hoping to take the temporary, horizontal installation on the road. He's launched a Kickstarter to help fund an effort to make the portrait something permanent that could go vertical and travel on the campaign trail. Short of that, he's considering ways to fasten the dildos and create panels so that the installation could be installed in public horizontally — on a street or parking lot — and viewed from a perch above.

"I don't know if Trump supporters will like it or whether it would change anyone's mind," he said. "Maybe someone would look at it and think, 'Yeah, this guy is a dick and I'm a dick for helping him win.'"

For now, it exists in the studio, and Manka continues thinking not only about the possibility of getting it in front of voters but also the short time frame in which he'd have to make that happen.

"I wonder what a successful public display would be," he said. "Some kind of presence along the trail — there's a debate here, and that's good chance. But with it being horizontal, all you can see up close is something like a futuristic city of towers, this field of dongs."

Find Manka's body of work here, and his Trump dong Kickstarter here.

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A Reimagined SPARX in the City Features Socially-Distanced and Virtual Events September 11th and 12th

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2020 at 10:46 AM


SPARX in the City, one of Cleveland's favorite arts and cultural events, will go on this year, but the 18th annual festivities will do so while accounting for the COVID-19 pandemic reality.

On Sept. 11th and 12th, the two-day festival will feature both live, socially-distanced events and virtual programming.

“SPARX presents a unique opportunity to rediscover Cleveland’s arts and cultural gems with fresh eyes,” says Joseph Marinucci, CEO and President of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. “This year’s virtual event will showcase a selection of the community’s most dynamic artists, studios and stages in Cleveland, as well as a special edition of Take a Hike tours for viewers to enjoy in a socially distanced format.”

The event gives a platform to artists and other cultural gems of Cleveland. There’ll be live musical performances at Lago East Bank and Sixth City Sailor’s Club on both dates of the event that will also be available to stream. There’ll also be a slam poetry workshop presented by Karamu House, a psychic poetry session, an artist exhibition competition, a virtual dance party, chef demonstrations and more. The Trolley will also be utilized by giving tours of Playhouse Square, Lake Affect Studios, Ohio City and Gordon Square and North Coast Harbor and the Flats East Bank

For more information visit

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Holly Bass, SPACES' Artist-in-Residency, Examines Freedom and Safety With “Liberation Labs”

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2020 at 10:36 AM

  • Shawn Mishak
Holly Bass — a multidisciplinary performance and visual artist, writer, director and SPACES’ artist-in-residency — explores the notions of personal safety and freedom in the midst of the global crisis with her latest work, called "Liberation Labs."

Originally, Bass set out to engage residents whose lives had been affected by the court system, but the arrival of the pandemic changed that path.

"[Her] residency shifted a great deal in response to the tragic events and global challenges of this year," said Tizziana Baldenebro, SPACES' executive director. "We are encouraged by the outcome, which is both poetic and mystical. Bass has a fantastic vision for the mutable nature of her work over time, so we will continue working closely, yet virtually. SPACES has always been a place for artists to explore and experiment, and this exhibition has been a great opportunity to learn how we can support shifting artistic endeavors amid the tumult."

I interviewed the D.C.-based ‘teaching artist’ to discuss her work, her residency and her current video series featured every Wednesday via Instagram as a forum to connect with community members and fellow artists.

“SPACES had the idea to do What If Wednesdays on Instagram… It’s nice to have a way to connect with people and answer questions. Even though it’s a regular series, I love that most people are finding it by chance, because they’re on Instagram and see the little live circle on their phones.”

At the opening of "Liberation Labs, a ‘living exhibition, I found Bass masked, in cream-colored coveralls and red, thick-rimmed glasses wielding what seemed to be a wood burning utensil. She hovered over an antique table with a video of hands rolling what resembled earth or clay into tiny balls projected above her.

The video installation was “Making Juju,” a video of her doing just that, her making the talismans or juju pouches, which the viewer could acquire in exchange for scribing a wish on a piece of paper and placing it into the drawer of the antique dresser on which the materials were placed as part of the piece entitled, “Juju on the beat.”

Bass explains:  "At the beginning of the pandemic, even just walking to the grocery store after being alone inside for a couple weeks felt really fraught. I didn’t know how to be physically distanced but emotionally connected. I felt the need for simple magic and ritual in my life and I thought that others might as well. So I wrote some poems, or spells, and I made small juju pouches, which are really just a physical object that we imbue with magic. I invited people coming to the gallery to leave me a written wish in exchange for a juju pouch. Even people who can’t come to Cleveland can mail a written wish to the gallery and I will send them a juju pouch. And inside the gallery, I basically set up different imagination stations, if you will. Like a desk that will transfer creative energy if you hover your hands above two silver Mylar hand cut-outs. Or a chair above an electrical outlet that I turned into an imaginary energy portal. As a child I always loved children’s science museums and how they have so many hands-on stations. So I kind of created something similar, bearing in mind the need to be contact-free and socially distanced.”

As we navigate a society where there is increasing concern over police brutality against our citizens, Bass, through her work, is raising questions about what freedom is and what is it to feel safe in America.

“I’m a teaching artist and spent four years running an arts program in the juvenile detention center in D.C. I developed a workshop called Liberation Labs where the students learned about different activists and freedom fighters through music and poetry. I wanted to do a variation here, working with a group of young people to learn about their experience with the court system in Cleveland and to create “liberation talismans”—basically imaginary devices that could protect you, say if the cops pulled you over. It might be a bullet-proof force field or a transporting device. The writer and activist adrienne marie browne says all organizing is science fiction because we’re trying to bring about a world we’ve never seen. So even though the devices would be imaginary, the real purpose is to remind us of the power we do have in real life and how so much of that power comes from being in community with each other.”

Bass’ exhibition raises awareness, questions our reality and communicates a sense of poetic whimsy to the viewer.

I asked Bass what ‘Freedom’ means to her: “Freedom for me means I can walk through the world in the fullness of my being and not be threatened, coerced or limited by the body I was born into or the circumstances in which I live. Freedom also means that my brothers can experience that, too. And I mean my literal brothers, my mom, my dad, my cousins. But also my community and the broader family of humanity.”

You can find out more about Bass’ work here and "Liberation Labs" here.

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

Summer's Last Socially Distanced Peninsula Flea To Take Place Sept. 5

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2020 at 11:52 AM

With most mass gatherings on hold for the time being, it’s good to know that you can still shop for fall and the holidays at one last socially distanced Peninsula Flea.

“We are so thankful to all of our shoppers, vendors and staff for the safe shopping environment we have created with so many art festivals and summer markets cancelled this year,” reads a press release about the event, which takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 5 at Heritage Farms in Peninsula. “We are an upscale market, now with booths spaced apart, featuring handmade, repurposed and vintage, high quality items from dedicated artists, crafts people and collectors.”

Note that you’ll be required to wear a face covering. Vendors will be placed 8 to 10 feet apart in the barnyard, tree barn and fields. The Peninsula Police will monitor traffic.

Organizers ask that you stay home if you have a fever or are not feeling well and that you do not touch items that you’re not purchasing. You’ll also need to wait outside a booth for the space to empty to maintain the six-foot social distancing rule.

Self-serve sanitizing stations will be set up in each area, and staff will be sanitizing consistently. If you are immune compromised, organizers ask that you arrive after 3 p.m. when the market is winding down.

You can also contact the merchants to pre-order. A list of items will be posted on the flea's Facebook page.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Hannibal Buress to Kick Off Drive-In Theater Tour at Aut-O-Rama

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2020 at 12:39 PM

  • Darius Griffin
While comedy clubs have reopened in many parts of the country, sitting in a crowded club during a pandemic still doesn’t have great appeal to anyone worried about catching COVID. As if to cater to that demographic, Chicago comedian, writer and actor Hannibal Buress has just announced he’ll embark upon a socially distanced music and comedy tour in September.

Specifically created for drive-in theaters, the tour kicks off on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at the Aut-O-rama Twin Drive-In in North Ridgeville.

The five-date run supports Buress’ new comedy special Miami Nights.

Buress has also released the first episode of Splitting 10s, his new podcast series that finds him talking about sports gambling, blackjack, and gambling psychology and techniques.

The September drive-in tour is produced by Hotbox & Outback Presents, the same team behind recent Marc Rebillet and Bert Kreischer's drive-in tours.

Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. tomorrow and can be purchased at Hotbox and

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Thursday, August 20, 2020

Western Reserve Historical Society To Open Virtual Exhibit About Women and Politics

Posted By on Thu, Aug 20, 2020 at 11:17 AM

Tomorrow, Women and Politics: Empowered to Vote, Empowered to Lead, a new virtual exhibit, opens at the Western Reserve Historical Society. It traces the story of women’s role in the political sphere, and explores Ohio’s contributions to the suffrage movement, the fight for the 19th Amendment and “the birth and growth of the League of Women Voters as a force for good government and the election of northern Ohio women to positions of power on the local, state and national levels,” as it's put in a press release.

“The experiences and contributions of women, African-Americans, and immigrants are a focus of the Western Reserve Historical Society, and are the core message of the guest experience. Women and Politics will shed light on the pivotal, albeit sometimes forgotten role Northeast Ohio played in the fight for the 19th Amendment,” says Kelly Falcone-Hall, WRHS President & CEO, in a statement. “This exhibit will uphold our mission to inspire people to discover the unique American experience by exploring the rich history of our region.”

The exhibit marks the 100th anniversary of the League of Women Voters of Greater Cleveland (LWVGC) and the adoption of the 19th Amendment in 1920 but begins before the Civil War when the phrase “all men are created equal” applied only to white men. At the time, white women and free women of color launched reform movements such as abolition and temperance that would set the stage for a broader battle that continued into the 1800s.

Once the 19th Amendment passed, Cleveland women won elections, transformed the system through the League of Women Voters and paved the way for others to become empowered.

The exhibit and an accompanying film profiles past and present heroes of Women’s Rights and is designed to be an “informative aspirational message to the next generation of Women’s Rights warriors.”

Tickets cost $12.

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