I remember when I was younger, telling people I wanted to travel a lot and see exciting places all over America and the world. Anymore, I don't feel like doing that, because nowadays every time I go somewhere "interesting" I find myself missing super cool things here in town. Case in point: Friday's opening reception for Dana Oldfather's new exhibit at William Rupnik Gallery, "We Are Mountains."
I'm doubly bummed about missing this event. First, the work that I've seen is wonderful, and that's after being sent through the digital ringer. I can only imagine what it looks like up close and personal. Second, as you'll soon learn, Dana is quite a cool person. I think we'd even be friends, at least based on her answers to my usual list of questions. Unless, of course, she hired a wordsmith to craft these great answers. In that case, I'd probably be a good platonic match for the writer.
In any case, I urge you to attend this opening, but be gentle when you bump into me next week and tell me how wonderful it was. I have horrid bouts of jealousy, and why I likely won't want to throw down and fight you, then and there, I will talk about you behind your back like you won't believe. Mean. Oh so mean. So, be gentle. Go see the Oldfather exhibit. Just don't rub it in.
1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?
I graduated from Mentor High and spent my early 20s boozing it around Willoughby. I didn’t really grow up until I was about 25 and moved downtown to the Towerpress Building where I resided for a little over 2 years. Then I moved to my apartment/studio in Tremont where I’ve been since then. I’ve lived in the city proper for about 6-7 years.
2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?
It was the 4th of July and some friends of mine were playing at The Harp with Tim Easton. It was an all day little festival in the parking lot and Tim was working a booth trying to register people to vote while the other bands played. My girlfriends and I helped out at the booth. The view from The Harp was classic Cleveland. You could see the skyline, the lake, and all the industrial wasteland in between. The day felt very Cleveland. Anyhow, the music rolled on through the afternoon. At sunset my friends’ band “The Roosevelts” took the stage. After a couple songs they started playing a cover of The Beatles “When the Rain Comes” and just like that, the sky opened up and started pouring on the crowd. It was eerie and a little bit magical. Later that evening we sat on the median of the freeway and watched fireworks over the lake. It was perfect Cleveland. I named a painting after that day.
3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work and/or art?
I think mostly it effects my pallet. I started out as a realist painter. When I first moved downtown I was painting bums and kids in bus shelters. The natural blues, grays, and browns of the streets and cars and the dramatically colored skylines have stuck with me through my evolution as a painter. Also, I think a person is what they surround themselves by and I feel very much a part of the Cleveland landscape. Like a combination of tree limbs and asphalt.
4) If it was your birthday and you decided to have a Cleveland-centric blow-out bash, how would you celebrate? That is, what would you do, where would you do it, etc.?
I’d have lunch outside on a patio somewhere with my man (cause in my imaginary world my birthday happens in the summer and not November). We’d spend the afternoon at CMA and MOCA. Eat some dinner at home. Have a couple dirty martinis at Stone Mad on W 65th with a few close friends and go home early.
5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?
First and foremost the Cleveland Museum of Art. We have one of the top 5 art museums in the country and its FREE! No other city can boast that. I remember going to Chicago last year with my Mom and we hit the Institute of Art and she said “What, we have to pay to get in here?” Thanks Mr. Rockefeller for the serious hook up. I think that was the fella.
6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?
A properly functioning train system that actually connects all the good spots – Warehouse District, Tremont, Ohio City, University Circle, Little Italy, Coventry, Cedar Fairmount, Cedar by the Whole Foods, Valley View (for the movies). I love Chicago’s transit.
7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commissioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?
Fuck you. Can I say that? I bet that’s what everyone says right? I mean how do you ask someone to stop being corrupt? You either are or you aren’t. Well, after that I guess I’d ask for a grocery store that doesn’t suck cause the Wal-Mart at Steelyard Commons is the gateway to hell and I can’t stand it anymore.
To meet Dana and check out herwork yourself, stop by the William Rupnik Gallery this Friday for the opening of her solo show, "We Are Mountains." The gallery is located at 1667 E 40th Street in Cleveland. Check out the gallery's website here.
And if you found this post interesting, check out previous Proper Noun of the Week conversations about Cleveland and culture with the following interesting folks: Frank Revy, Bill Rupnik, Mina Hoyle, Brendan Walton, Leia Alligator, Arabella Proffer, Becca Riker, Greg Ruffing, Mallorie Freeman, Dave Desimone, J.R. Bennett, Jeff & Mike from CLE Clothing Co, Paulius Nasvytis, Lawrence Daniel Caswell, Curtis Thompson, John Ewing, Shannon Okey, John G, Sean Bilovecky, Dana Depew, Fred Wright, Amanda Montague, Ryan Weitzel, Garrett Komyati, Vince Slusarz, Jonah Jacobs, Jacob Wesley Lang, Kevin Neudecker & Melanie Hershberger, and R.A. Washington.
4 weeks ago