This past Saturday I finally had the pleasure of checking out Dana Depew's latest showcase at his gallery, Asterisk, in Tremont. I've been impressed with Dana's art and, perhaps even more so, his curatorial ability since I moved here. A few months ago, though, I started to realize that his eye and organizational skill seems to be getting better each new show. I raved about his "Counting Days" group show (about the pending departure of our current not-so-dear leader Dubya) in October and thought a show of its type couldn't be topped.
And then he goes and does it again with the CLE- show. I can't remember the exact name of the show, as the postcard is in my car and it is way too fucking cold and crappy rainy to go out and get it now, but we'll just refer to it as the show where a whole host of local art talent each took their shot at visually expressing the blighted suffering it is to be an artist in Clevo.
A number of uptight folks got their panties in a bunch over this show - most notably the douchey lames at the Greater Cleveland Partnership who actually threatened legal action against the gallery. That's right, folks. The development organization in charge of revitalizing the cesspool that is the NEO economy is spending its time hassling artists rather than, you know, helping deal with the problems of our community. If I was a supporter of that group you can better believe I'm rethinking my 2009 commitment. Kinda smacks of RNC donors and how they felt after hearing about Sarah Palin's $150k shopping spree. Then again, though, if you are only now getting irritated with the boneheaded moves of the GCP, you probably haven't been paying attention to the last couple years of disastrous PR activities they've been floating, with the ridiculous Cleveland+ campaign Exhibit #1. (Prediction: If Dana and company bring this show back in a few years, there will be plenty of critical energy spent on roasting that loser of an ad campaign just as there was on duck eggs like "Cleveland's a Plum" and "Cleveland: Love it or Leave it" and "Cleveland: You gotta be tough." Welcome to the club, fellas.)
But I digress. My point is not to burn the GCP folks, as much fun and as necessary as that might be, but rather is to praise the cultural vitality of the CLE- show. It really is quite wonderful and worthy of serious public praise. (Or will saying so get me a cease-and-desist letter, too?) Moreover, I think it was, despite superficial appearances, an empowering artistic exercise. After all, the folks showing their work here are Cleveland artists, folks that haven't left for greener cultural pastures but rather have been slamming their work out, day after day, dreary ass winter after dreary ass winter, determined to bring their aesthetic message to the orange and brown huddled masses, like it or not.
So, without further ado, please cast your gaze on the photos below. My apologies in advance - to you and the artist - as the photos don't do anything justice. Let me know if you have questions about any of the work - most of the artists there aren't identified. And if you fall in love with anything, let Dana know, as many of the pieces pictured here are likely still available for purchase.