Cleveland is a small town. The arts community is even smaller. I've lived and made artwork here all my life and one gets to a point where one thinks they know most (if not all) the artists who make quality work within their community. Thanks to Full Fathom Five, the brainchild of Amber Kempthorn and the curatorial team at Progressive Insurance Art Collection, Scott Westover and Kristin Rogers, I was thankfully shown how ludicrous that notion is.
The program was designed to supplement the international art fair Front that came to Cleveland this summer. Front has been cited by many in the local and national press as failing to showcase the rich and diverse arts community in Cleveland. Full Fathom Five strove to provide outsiders traveling to Cleveland for the "cultural exercises" of Front a comprehensive exhibition of the high caliber artists working in the Northeast Ohio area. But, not only is this an exhibition of extraordinary work, the process by which the artists were selected was a remarkable, and community building cultural exercise in itself.
Five artists, professors at The Cleveland Institute of Art, were selected and asked to choose one other artist, whose work they admire, to be included in the exhibition. There was just one catch, the chooser could not personally know, or be very well acquainted with, the choosee. Each artist in exhibition had a studio visit with the curators of the Progressive Art Collection. Additionally, the chooser would accompany the curators on the studio visit of their choosee. There were 5 rounds of artists, with studio visits for all, culminating in an exhibition of work from all 30 artists. See information on the concept here. See the participating artists here.
Organizing this many visits, artwork selection and pickup was a massive undertaking and the generosity of the curators, Scott and Kristin, was humbling. As was the nurturing nature of the program as a whole. Relationships between artists developed and flourished. It could be felt at the openings around the city this summer as we caroused and celebrated each other. We were bolstered, rejuvenated. Visitors to the exhibition at Progressive’s Campus II in Mayfield off SOM Center Road will see this demonstrated in the text written by the artists and curators on view with the work. There is a public reception, Thursday, September 6, from 6-9pm. RSVP is required to attend and can be done online here.
I hope to see you at the reception in September!