Monday, December 1, 2008

CLE-: Asterisk Gallery's Visual Roast of Clevo

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.






























7 comments:

Christine said...

That's what Jim always says! Cleveland: Not for the Ambitious.

Looks like this show's right up my alley. Do the Cle+ people not understand that this stuff is important?

Kelly and José said...

NICE :) An excellent concept -- even the most most passionate Clevelanders just loove to hate on their town*

-Kelly

ps - I think the pictures you took are great. It's such a challenge to capture the essence of art in a photo and, importantly, the energy within the gallery.

CB said...

Christine - The CLE+ people are the ones that think CLE+ was a good idea. I don't think we can trust their judgment on what the right way of embracing/marketing NEO is. And, yeah, apparently the CLE+ folks haven't read any of the oodles of stories talking about how enriching your cultural community will eventually enrich your commercial community. Nah, much more important to hassle artists for copyright "violations" that are clearly protected by parody exceptions.

K/J - Thanks for the compliment, though I really didn't do anything - just held up my non-zooming/non-flashing iphone camera and pressed the button. As for the passionate Clevelanders loving to hate on their town, I've certainly seen it a bunch in my short time here, but I don't think all of these artists were hating. We have terrible leadership, a crumbling infrastructure, and a murky (at best) fiscal future - saying so through art isn't necessarily hating. I know you aren't saying it is, but there are some folks out there that have this "we must only present a united positive front about Cleveland and any naysayers are dangerous to the city" - those folks remind me in many ways of the "don't question President Bush after 9/11 crowd." Obviously on a different scale, but we can all see how silent obedience worked out there.

Christine said...

Ahh. I see.

I get what you mean about loving to hate Cleveland. I don't think I hate on Cleveland, personally. My attitude is more like this: I think Cleveland - and Ohio - are hilarious places full of absurdity. And, you know, I'm from here, so what does that make me?

CB said...

Not only are you from here, you were in cultural mecca (NYC) and worked really hard to come back here!

thatgirl said...

thanks for posting these. I wish I had made it to that show. Like Christine said, there is a sense of absurdity that I revel in, but I also find a sense of the sublime and the surreal here too that I love.

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