Against Gravity: Remembering John Jackson

  • John Jackson, Bust, Wood, metal, 47 x 9.5", Collection of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve
    John Jackson, Bust, Wood, metal, 47 x 9.5", Collection of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve


Opening Reception:
Friday, January 27, 5:30 – 8:00pm
Remembering John Jackson: A Community Gathering:
Saturday, February 11, 1:00 – 2:00pm. REGISTER ON EVENTBRITE


In 2006, the art world was rocked by the double homicide of sculptor John Jackson and photographer Masumi Hayashi in the building where they lived and kept studios on the West Side of Cleveland. While nearly two decades later the tragedy of their deaths still looms large, what truly endures of an artist is the work they leave behind – work which in the case of John Jackson, is faithfully preserved and promoted by museums such as the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.


This January, the Artists Archives will present Against Gravity: Remembering John Jackson, an exhibition which honors the memory and lasting visual legacy of the cerebral and experimental artist. Known for his assemblage sculptures and modernist paintings and drawings which tap into the subconscious, the show will feature 30 works, some of which will be exhibited in public for the first time since Jackson’s death.


A child of the rust belt, Jackson attended the Cleveland Institute of Art in the mid-70s, concentrating on painting and drawing. From there, he moved to Philadelphia where he started a business as a historical carpenter and began to develop an interest in sculpting in the round. His profession also imbued his creative practice with a sense of craftsmanship and precision, and forever set his core material as wood, though this attraction would take many forms from painting on wood panels, to traditional carving and the use of found objects.


It wasn’t until Jackson’s return to Cleveland in 1992 that he caught the assemblage bug in earnest, using the region’s decaying infrastructure as both a subject of his art and as a rich source of raw materials. “I view cities, for better or worse, as the locus of the culture,” Jackson explained. “Cleveland’s industrial landscape is fertile ground for anyone that shares my enthusiasm.” On display in Against Gravity will be a selection of Jackson’s tower-like sculptures, obelisks of factory waste which push upwards against the forces of entropy to produce, as Jackson described it, “pieces with a verticality and symmetry characteristic of a figure.”  Shown collectively, they create the effect of a garden of makeshift Brâncușis, sprouting with willful determination from the city’s slag-filled soil.


Jackson’s return to Cleveland also was marked by his participation in NewCelle, an experimental drawing group with fellow members Bea Mitchell and the mercurial Ed Mieczkowski of Op Art fame.  Informed by the science of chaos, the study of consciousness and the Surrealist practice of psychic automatism, the group took turns intuitively drawing within a cell-like form. In strict adherence to these principals, NewCelle chose to intently focus on the property of line. Jackson explained, “we decided that LINE, the singular domain of drawing, was our subject; and that other properties – color, texture and value–would assume minor roles, if any.” The exhibition will feature two of these sizeable collaborations, as well as several solo drawings by Jackson whose budding knobs and looping protrusions suggest the group’s profound influence.


The multiple paintings on display in Against Gravity form an aesthetic bridge between Jackson’s drawings and his sculptural oeuvre. Works like Untitled (Building) provide a cipher for understanding the impact of Cleveland’s post-manufacturing environment on his abstract work, with ramshackle geometric planes emerging through soot-tinged washes of color. Other pieces, such as Dance of Line, physically lift the line from the painting’s face, using a suspended wire to create a 3D effect which blurs the boundaries between media. Perhaps of most historical note, are several early watercolors which afford sweeping views of factories against grey-toned skies and foreshadow his use of industrial structures in years to come.


It is Jackson’s fearless ability to pursue an idea across form and media which is the hallmark of his artistic talent. The combination of his paintings, drawings and sculptures featured in Against Gravity: Remembering John Jackson captures his seeker’s spirit and provides a rare glimpse into his world several decades in the making – a fitting tribute for his faithful followers and a perfect introduction for neophytes alike. Jackson’s work will be on view until March 11.


To accompany the exhibition, Remembering John Jackson: A Community Gathering will be held on Saturday, February 11, 1:00 – 2:00pm. Join Helen Zakin, the sister of Archived Artist John Jackson as she reflects about his work and shares her memories about his remarkable life. Those who knew John are also invited to contribute their memories and stories to the conversation in a community-oriented setting. To attend the free program, please register on Eventbrite


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve would like to officially thank and acknowledge Achala Wali who donated her collection of John Jackson’s work to the museum in 2019. Without her collection and tireless efforts to preserve John Jackson’s visual legacy, this show would not be possible.


Need special accommodations? We’re happy to help! Email to plan your visit or call 216-721-9020 for assistance. We’re looking forward to seeing you!


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve has been proudly certified as a Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities “ALL means ALL” organization. All people deserve to have equal access to and be equal participants in all aspects of community life. This includes where a person chooses to live, learn, work, and play. Cuyahoga DD’s ALL means ALL initiative provides guidance on actions businesses should take to ensure that they are welcoming of all people and able to support their inclusion in all activities, programs and events. To learn more about the ALL means ALL initiative, visit the Cuyahoga DD website.

Fallout: Rebecca Kaler, Paintings from 2003 – 2022

  • Rebecca Kaler, Portrait by Jef Janis, 2022, Photograph
    Rebecca Kaler, Portrait by Jef Janis, 2022, Photograph


Opening Reception: Thursday, November 17, 5:30 – 8:00pm

In-Person Meet the Artist Q & A: Saturday, December 10th, 1:00 – 2:30pm REGISTER HERE


Fallout will open with a free public reception on Thursday, November 17th, 2022, from 5:30 – 8:00pm and will be on view through Saturday, January 14th, 2023.


When the Artists Archives adds a new artist into their permanent collection, they offer the artist either a solo or dual exhibition. Beginning November 17th, the AAWR will feature the work of Rebecca Kaler in an inaugural show which highlights the last nineteen dynamic years of her painting career. Born in Mansfield, OH, Kaler’s vibrant, saturated colors and energetic brush strokes were influenced by her extensive time spent abroad, traveling to places as diverse as South America, Southern Africa, Siberia, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, and Bolivia, where she served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. For nearly two decades, Kaler also served as the Curator of the Pearl Conard Art Gallery at Ohio State University in Mansfield, OH. She has spent the subsequent years devoted to her personal work. In 2022, Kaler was awarded a prestigious Paul & Norma Tikkanen Painting Prize Honorable Mention from the Ashtabula Arts Center.


A major theme in Kaler’s work is the practice of mark making, using repetitive slashes and graffiti-style text to claim her place in space and time. From paleolithic cave drawings, to tally marks on jail cell walls, and the ubiquitous “Kilroy” of World War II, Kaler’s paintings address the primal impulse to impact our surroundings and proclaim our existence. Using these visual markers, her work has translated into abstraction many difficult themes including a series on war and the horrific impact of nuclear weapons.


As she describes, “I use symbols, textures, bold strokes and colors to express a spectrum of human expressions from joy to anger, fear and frustration, and of calm and serenity in a range of environments because at our very core, we all want recognition and to feel that we counted for something…to say, ‘I was here, and I did good work.’ It’s a phrase that applies globally to all cultures and always will, applying to countless objects, actions, and events, such as the atomic bomb, bullets, footprints, glacier grooves, or grave sites that bear evidence of having been.”


Accompanying her two-dimensional work, will be a series of sculptural Boxes which take the concepts developed in her large-scale canvases and fold them into discrete, portable cubes for exploration in the round. They also play with the various meanings of the common object. She explains, “We use boxes for storage and to keep things safe…Then we box people in, we box in cattle so they don’t get away, or when the pressure is on, we feel boxed up, and too many problems can box us in. I took the box and gave it another meaning… I want to give the box itself a moment of glory, away from its job.”


On Saturday, December 10th, 1:00 – 2:30pm, AAWR will host an informal Q & A with exhibiting Fallout artist Rebecca Kaler, in-person in the museum’s home gallery. Kaler will discuss her work on view, her history as an artist, and her career as an art administrator in an intimate, conversational setting. Audience questions welcome. This event is free of charge and open to the public. REGISTER HERE


Need special accommodations? We’re happy to help! Email to plan your visit or call 216-721-9020 for assistance. We’re looking forward to seeing you!


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve has been proudly certified as a Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities “ALL means ALL” organization. All people deserve to have equal access to and be equal participants in all aspects of community life. This includes where a person chooses to live, learn, work, and play. Cuyahoga DD’s ALL means ALL initiative provides guidance on actions businesses should take to ensure that they are welcoming of all people and able to support their inclusion in all activities, programs and events. To learn more about the ALL means ALL initiative, visit the Cuyahoga DD website.


CAN Triennial: You Are Here: Understanding the Space We Fill




  • Program: Who Curates Contemporary Art? Featuring the Currently Under Curation student curators: Wednesday, July 20, 7:00pm, Gartner Auditorium, Cleveland Museum of Art
  • Reception: University Circle Neighborhood Reception Friday, July 29th, 6:00 – 8:00pm, featuring the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and The Sculpture Center. Early viewing available at the Artists Archives beginning at 5:30pm
  • Program: Curator and Artist Walk & Talk: Wednesday, August 3, 5:30 – 6:30pm. REGISTER HERE


The CAN Triennial: You Are Here is a regionally focused exhibition featuring northeast Ohio artists, selected by an intergenerational and diverse curatorial team, and representing this moment in time, place, and history in Cleveland. Conceived in 2016, the inaugural CAN Triennial took place in 2018. The second CAN Triennial, initially scheduled in 2021, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


From July 8 – August 31, the Artists Archives will be one of more than a dozen venues around Cleveland, Ohio hosting this inclusive community event. Our gallery will feature the artists selected by the Currently Under Curation (CUC) student curators’ program facilitated by the Cleveland Museum of Art.


As the CUC curators explain, “Taking place in three spaces—the Artist Archives, The Sculpture Center, and the Cleveland Institute of Art – the University Circle portion of the CAN Triennial explores the themes of YOU ARE HERE as seen through the lens of identity, environment, and journey. In other words, if is about who we are, how place impacts our sense of self, and how where we are is a function of how we got here.”


Artists featured in the AAWR gallery include Lawrence Baker, Arron Bound, Davon Brantley, David Buttram, Kacey Gill, Suzanne Head, Crystal Miller, Bobbie Reagins, Derek Walker, and Gary R. Williams. 


To see all three CUC curated University Circle venues visit You Are Here: The Way We Transcend at the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Ann and Norman Roulet Student + Alumni Gallery, and You Are Here: Look How Far We’ve Come at The Sculpture Center’s Main Gallery. A University Circle Neighborhood Reception will be held from 6:00 – 8:00pm on Friday, July 23rd. No registration required.



CUC Curators Statement: Artists Archives of the Western Reserve: You Are Here: Understanding the Space We Fill

Written by Shree Ghosh, Abby Hope, Jamal Ledonté, Arica McKinney, Sarah Voss, and Jacklyn Walker. Compiled by program facilitator Sabine Kretzschmar

Currently Under Curation (CUC) is a competitive arts mastery program facilitated by The Cleveland Museum of Art and offered in partnership with the Cleveland Foundation. The CUC team consists of six high school students who meet weekly to talk with artists and arts professionals, visit galleries, and museums, and actively explore the local arts scene. They were selected for their experience with the visual arts, communication skills, and professional responsibility. Curating the CAN Triennial, CUC used two primary lenses. One was visceral, selecting artists that communicated a larger story, sparked conversations, explored new modes of expression, and were relatable. The other was based on what they observed and interpreted from the submissions, which shaped the CUC’s take on YOU ARE HERE. For the CUC curators, the exhibition revolves around identity, its intersection with environment, and associated journeys. Identity is about, “examining our origins,” and “understanding our placement in the world.” It can arise in, “the way you dress, wear your hair, and the place you grew up.” Identity can help, “discern how our culture and environment influence aspects of our individuality.” Environment can impact one’s, “sense of self, culture, and ideology,” and “makes you who you are.” Associated journeys – past, present, and future – help us celebrate the changes, hardships, and hopes along the way. Ultimately, YOU ARE HERE means self-awareness, self-expression, hope, and understanding our place in the world. We can display gratitude and acknowledge our place of origin. We are celebrating who we are and the journeys that got us here.




The Life of Objects: Roy Bigler & Terry Durst

  • Terry Durst, The Parakeet Always Called Oscar into Lunch, 2000, Mixed media assemblage, 25 x 20”, Collection of the AAWR
    Terry Durst, The Parakeet Always Called Oscar In To Lunch, 2000, Mixed media assemblage, 25 x 20”, Collection of the AAWR

In-Person Opening Reception: Thursday, May 19, 5:30 – 8:00pm. FREE. No registration required

Virtual Program: Tremont Vanguards: Wednesday, June 15, 7:00 – 8:00pm on Zoom. REGISTER ON ZOOM


There’s a certain sharpness to the Rust Belt – one forged out of our industrial past and the ensuing decades spent forming and reforming our identity from the pieces left behind. Far from a flaw, it fuels our creativity, and perhaps no medium captures this drive to repurpose and redefine more than assemblage. Whether it’s the abundance of raw materials, or an innate desire to summon beauty out of salvage, Northeast Ohio is host to a wealth of assemblage artists that call the region home.


In May, the Artists Archives will host The Life of Objects, the inaugural exhibition of Roy Bigler & Terry Durst, two artists who use found objects to peel back the layers of their own complex psyches and society at large. Though both craft narratives out of cultural detritus, their work represents almost polar treatments of memory and space.


Artist Roy Bigler (1955 – 2014) graduated with a BFA from Kent State University in 1984 alongside many of the artists who would become staples of Cleveland’s experimental art scene in the 90s. During his time at Kent, Bigler was deeply influenced by the work of the Dada and Fluxus movements and participated in “mail art exchanges” which furnished him with a steady supply of mysterious, mass-produced trinkets, shipped anonymously to his door.


Bigler would later employ the rigid borders of his sculptures to contain and document these artifacts of modern life. Using plaque-like mounts, or tightly wrapped parcels as bases, the artist combines psychologically charged bits of ephemera to suggest oblique and sardonic relationships between history, nostalgia, and consumer culture. Often objects appear in test tubes, or behind glass, reminiscent of Victorian museum displays which pinned and labeled the natural world to control its chaos.


In his mixed media piece, Guided Missile, Bigler’s compulsion to catalog is evocatively applied to the terrors of the Cold War. Constructed on waxed and painted canvas, the sculpture’s surface resembles the algae-coated hull of an outmoded submarine. A Russian newspaper clipping, capturing a ballistic missile exploding in a watery inlet, dominates the piece. Below, a tiny firework in a vial is riveted and a dried seahorse stares with empty sockets from clear dome, accompanied by plastic beads reading “SS23”, the NATO reporting code for the weapon deployed. The result is a somber study of man’s destruction, impossibly isolated for our inspection.


In another series of sculptures, Bigler uses cigar boxes to preserve snippets of time. Known collectively as “Time Capsule Boxes,” the containers are filled with carefully selected objects ranging from children’s brightly foiled Easter candy, to test tubes of ash and human hair. Bigler would also present items wrapped as gifts- never intended to be opened. As Bigler describes, “It’s a way of making something everyday into something very special… To take an object(s) that would otherwise be destroyed and lost and prepare it as a gift! The intention is to not open the package – but if the package were to be opened, how interesting can one make the discarded object…. I collect, organize, separate, take account…take stock in available materials. Ultimately, I want to know what happens when one thing is placed in, near, around something else?”


Far from wanting to contain chaos, artist Terry Durst crafts his sculptures as conduits for the world’s frenetic energy. Referred to by critic Frank Green as “one of Cleveland’s most interesting sculptors,” Durst is known for his confrontational aesthetic and immersive, cinematic narratives. Though often large in scale, the sculptures are alarming in their intimacy; they create a profound sense of discomfort, as if approached too closely, one might become infected with the memories they emit.


Like Bigler, Durst was also a graduate of Kent State University’s School of Art. While initially torn between film and sculpture, he ultimately chose the latter because of the ability to work independently, reflecting that “making film was expensive and involved a lot of people.” Durst too felt the immutable pull of objects in his work. “I kept attaching things to the canvas and was never satisfied with just the two-dimensional surface. Moving into sculpture I realized that the raw materials I most enjoyed working with were objects that already had a history behind them. Objects that exude decrepitude and decay…My only motive is to follow the imagery I receive…I try to create a realm with each piece, something that is a world unto itself.”


This creation of worlds is perhaps nowhere more apparent than in “The Parakeet Always Called Oscar In To Lunch.” Composed in a palette of faded turquoise and royal blue, the sculpture is presented in a shine-like frame of metal tubing. A knife divides the center of the piece, and a plastic parakeet stands sentinel on a painted perch. One wonders, did Oscar ever have a real bird? Or did it die, and this is a substitute? Perhaps, was it always plastic, and only spoke in Oscar’s mind? The implications are endless, and moreover, open ended, as we are left to interpret the lonely scene.


As Durst explains, “Often the result [when I create a piece] is a metaphor for an experience, or for an emotion. Ultimately, I’d much rather express an aura, or a feeling, and maybe a memory, than a platitude or piece of social criticism. I feel that my job as an artist is to investigate myself, those parts of me that I would otherwise never access. Of course, I hope through this investigation something universal will emerge.”


The Life of Objects: Roy Bigler & Terry Durst opens Thursday, May 19 with an opening reception from 5:30 – 8:00pm and will be on view until June 25th. No reservations needed. For additional information on the artists and a preview of the exhibition, visit


To accompany the exhibition, the Archives will host Tremont Vanguards, a moderated conversation about the original creative vanguards of the now thriving Tremont arts community. Led by Archives Executive Director Mindy Tousley, the discussion will include foundational Tremont artists Jeff Chiplis, Terry Durst, and Angelica Pozo, as well as Dr. Theresa Boyd, owner of the neighborhood’s creative cornerstone, Doubting Thomas Gallery. The program will be held on Zoom on Wednesday, June 15th, 7:00 – 8:00pm. REGISTER ON ZOOM


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is handicap accessible and is willing to accommodate all people including those with special needs. Visitors with special needs are encouraged to contact us before coming to AAWR, so that we can ensure your visit is fulfilling and enjoyable.  View available services. To schedule your visit, please call 216-721-9020 or email


W/O Limits: Art, Chronic Illness, & Disability

  • Kristi Copez, The Fire Next Time, 2018, Relief print, 24 x 18"
    Kristi Copez, The Fire Next Time, 2018, Relief print, 24 x 18"

Event Calendar:

Opening Reception: Thursday, September 22, 5:30 – 8:00pm (free, no registration required)

Accessibility in the Art: Virtual Panel Discussion: Wednesday, October 12th, 7:00pm – 8:00pm

ReelAbilities Cleveland – Film Screening, Improv, & Panel Discussion: featuring W/O Limits Artist Meg Matko & Curator Megan Alves: Wednesday, October 26th, 6:00pm – 8:30pm

Disability Friendly Puppet Making Workshops: Sat, Nov 5th, 10:00am – 12:00pm & Sun, Nov 6th, 1:00pm – 3:00pm


Exhibition Catalog:

Purchase W/O Limits exhibition catalog here!


About the Exhibition:

 Many folks consider chronic illness and disability a “them” rather than an “us” problem – an unfortunate but distant reality which impacts only a handful of the population. This couldn’t be further from the truth. According to the CDC, an estimated 26% of Americans experience some form of disability, with Women and People of Color being affected at rates much higher than their peers. Inclusion and accessibility are everyone’s responsibility, and artists can be the vanguards of social change.


This September, the Artists Archives is proud to present W/O Limits, an exhibition which exclusively features the work of artists experiencing chronic illness and/or disability. Curated by Megan Alves and Mindy Tousley, the remarkable show emphasizes accessibility and raises awareness while inspiring visitors with the art that people with chronic illnesses and disabilities create.


W/O Limits: Art, Chronic Illness, & Disability showcases nine evocative Northeast Ohio artists, including Sarah Brown, Kristi Copez, Chappelle Letman Jr., MANDEM, Meg Matko, Arabella Proffer, Nate Puppets, Andrew Reach, and Kate Snow, and features a wide array of dynamic creations from paintings to video performances, touchable sculptures, and interactive digital installations.


The exhibition was conceived by curator Megan Alves as an extension of her own journey living with Scleroderma, a rare and progressive autoimmune disease which impacts the organs and connective tissue. She explains, “After I was diagnosed, I started looking around. I realized how many brilliant artists I knew who were also living with some form of disability. Far from diminishing the quality of their work, these challenges make their art more powerful because it addresses the complex realities of living in a human body. It is fearless, and ultimately, about us all.”


W/O Limits shares the moving stories of artists who are also survivors. Though their situations vary, they are united by their ability to explore, share, and rise above their physical limitations using the power of visual art. Setting the stage for the exhibition are the cogent self-portraits of Kristi Copez which reflect on the intersections of her identity as a Black Disabled Woman. As she explains, “A question I ask myself as someone with a disability is ‘what are you presenting to the world?’ Is my disability visible, and I will be discounted? Or conversely, is it not visible enough, and I will be doubted. These are portraits of a Black Body. A Woman’s Body. A Sick Body. What I want you to see is the beauty of the art AND the illness.”


An important theme in the show is the use of art as a tool to process the experience of illness. In 2010, artist Arabella Proffer’s work shifted dramatically from renaissance inspired portraits to biomorphic still-lives of floating blobs with ribbon-like tendrils. It was only after her diagnosis with terminal cancer that she realized the shapes mirrored the tumors that wrapped around her kidneys and spine. As Proffer describes, “My work has increasingly gone into a transcendental direction with these organisms and shapes acting as guides, or perhaps signals and prophecies. My visual vocabulary is now about the universal love of beauty, because making it beautiful is the hard part.”


Artist Sarah Brown has made a career out of helping others to process trauma with art. A Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Registered Art Therapist at the Cleveland Clinic, Brown has translated her life with epilepsy into a series of 12 life-sized foam heads. Displayed chronologically, the vividly embellished forms confront the viewers at eye level and trace her journey through corrective brain surgery and cognitive recovery. “The sculptures are meant to reflect rebuilding identity and self,” Brown explains. “I went from being a disempowered person with epilepsy… to being an empowered person and identifying what I can do… Now I can now look at myself as an author of my life.”


Advocacy and inclusion are powerful currents which flow throughout the exhibition. Each piece provides a unique window into the world of chronic illness and disability, facilitating change through empathy and fostering understanding.


Artist Kate Snow has not only used art to chronicle her experience with autoimmune disease, but her latest digital piece uses satire to expose the social policing of disabled bodies. When a debilitating flare up left her unable to make her signature Pointillist paintings, Snow began producing stripped down “Journal Entries,” before pivoting to vibrant, graphic compositions. It was during this time that she started receiving an avalanche of unsolicited advice to “correct” her health. Instead of collapsing under the weight, Snow compiled them. Upon entering the gallery, visitors will be encouraged to scan a QR code to receive such helpful suggestions as “Have you tried yoga?” and “I read pain is controlled by the mind. I’ll send you the article!” – all glimpses into a world where persistent illness is considered to be the fault of the ill.


Art’s ability to dismantle stigma is displayed prominently throughout the show.  Playing on a video monitor is a recording of Meg Matko’s endurance performance piece SECRET CONDITION | ADHESION in which she removes a plaster cast from her pelvis using only her fingers – physically chipping away at the silence surrounding chronic reproductive disorders. As Matko describes, “The shocking lack of knowledge, research, treatment options available, coupled with the medical industry’s blatant dismissal of those debilitated by the chronic, physical and psychological pain of these diseases, has resulted in millions of women hiding symptoms, foregoing care, questioning their sanity and suffering in silence.”


At its core, W/O Limits is also a celebration of the beauty of the body in all its forms. To this end, artist Nate Puppets has created Yachveotte, “The Most Beautiful Puppet in the World,” a massive 46-inch soft sculpture crafted from what, at first glance, seems to be a tangle of mismatched parts in psychedelic hues. The choice is intentional, and Yachveotte stands confidently in her beauty, defying society’s labels of “sick” or “broken.” “She’s perfect, just the way she is,” Nate reflects. “No irony intended. And the best part is, she knows it.” An emerging artist, Nate will also display 3 additional sculptures and an interactive touch piece, all “characters roughly based on my experience growing up Poor, Queer, Disabled, and Black in Cleveland, OH.”


So too does the artist conglomerate MANDEM reframe beauty through the lens of disability. MANDEM’s pieces explore the visceral and disabled body, religious iconography, and issues of gender and desire. Their art is simultaneously disruptive and beautiful, in critical dialogue with art history and mythology. Using reclaimed ephemera and historic darkroom techniques, MANDEM’s new body of work, the Anarchronist Archives, presents artifacts “recovered” from a fictious Cleveland attic which ingeniously “address historical trauma, queer/disabled identity, and the transformative power of myth-making… to create a “stitch in time” — a portal that reaches back to those who walked (or crawled or danced) down the stairs before us.”


Thanks in part to the support of a grant by the Cuyahoga Board of Developmental Disabilities, W/O Limits also features a variety of accessibility measures including braille text, a wheelchair friendly layout, and a selection of touchable sculptures for those with sensory sensitivities and visual impairments. Artist Andrew Reach, known for his buzzing, large-scale digital prints, was commissioned to make one such tactile piece. “At first, the thought intimidated me,” Reach admits, “but it had been a few years since I worked in 3D and it would be healthy to challenge myself and expand into new territory. Digital technology is a gift to the disabled, allowing expression that can be too physically demanding with traditional tools.” The result is a 3D printed hashtag symbol, composed of 80 individual hashtag relief blocks – a sensory feast which transmits the concept of metadata to both the eyes and hands.


One of the most inspiring components of the exhibition, is the posthumous display of the work of Chappelle Letman Jr., a successful painter and printmaker until the age of 41 when he “woke up blind”, losing his sight to glaucoma just days after his mother’s death. Rather than give up his life as an artist, Letman turned to carving stone. Letman came to discover “I was not a ‘blind artist,’ I was an artist who was blind. Making art puts me in a state of mind where my disability is not an issue. My life and art are a unity of purpose, spirit, and the moment transcending limitations… I’ve always been an artist since day one. I didn’t let a disability interfere with my life’s calling.” His work will be archived in the museum’s permanent collection after the exhibition closes.


W/O Limits: Art, Chronic Illness, & Disability will open with a free public reception on Thursday, September 22nd from 5:30 – 8:00pm, and will be on view until November 12th.



In addition to coordinating tours with local colleges/universities, special needs and art classes from the Cleveland Metropolitain School District, Menorah Park Senior Community and disability advocate organizations including the Cleveland Sight Center and the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities, W/O Limits will feature a robust schedule of accompanying programming for people of all abilities.  


On Wednesday, October 12th, 7:00 – 8:00pm, W/O Limits will host a free, virtual artist panel discussion which will provide deeper insight into the artists’ work as well as a platform to discuss issues of accessibility in the arts. This digital event will include a community Q&A period to connect the speakers to the audience, as well as allow for broadcast of the show’s mission outside the gallery walls for those who are unable to attend in person.


W/O Limits will also feature disability friendly puppet making workshops on Saturday, November 5, 10:00am – 12:00pm and Sunday, November 6, 1:00 – 3:00pm led by exhibiting artist Nate Puppets with facilitation by Clinical Social Worker Chris Richards-Pagel, BFA, MSW, APSW. These small group events are designed for people experiencing disabilities, including people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, to build self-esteem and practice social engagement in a friendly environment using the joyful power of creative expression.


During the free, two-hour sessions, participants will be encouraged to create an “identity puppet” which represents an aspect of themselves using an easy-to-follow template and an exciting array of props and materials. After their puppets are complete, Nate Puppets will provide expert instruction to animate their creations, giving them voice and agency.


Accessibility and Adaptive Measures:

In addition to proudly displaying art created by artists experiencing chronic illness or disability, W/O Limits is committed to creating a rewarding and inclusive viewing experience for as wide a spectrum of visitors as possible. Some of the accommodations which will be provided are:


  • Touchable artwork for those with visual impairment or sensory sensitivities
  • Exhibition labels and didactics in braille
  • Large font exhibition hand-outs for those with visual impairments and in wheelchairs
  • Lower pedestals for easy viewing from wheelchairs
  • Special viewings by appointment for the immunocompromised and those with sensory sensitivities, including optional lower exhibition lighting
  • Gallery chairs available for those with mobility issues
  • Visually descriptive tours available by appointment for those with visual impairments
  • Tours available by appointment with deaf interpreters
  • Digital catalogs available for free for those with chronic illnesses or disabilities that are unable to attend the show in person


Need an accommodation list above? Or need other special accommodations? We’re happy to help! Email to plan your visit or call 216-721-9020 for assistance. We’re looking forward to seeing you!


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve has been proudly certified as a Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities “ALL means ALL” organization. All people deserve to have equal access to and be equal participants in all aspects of community life. This includes where a person chooses to live, learn, work, and play. Cuyahoga DD’s ALL means ALL initiative provides guidance on actions businesses should take to ensure that they are welcoming of all people and able to support their inclusion in all activities, programs and events. To learn more about the ALL means ALL initiative, visit the Cuyahoga DD website. We look forward to serving the community with inclusion and equity for years to come!


Community Partners:


Cleveland Sight Center LogoAbout Cleveland Sight Center:  We are a team of professionals dedicated to providing services and support with a high level of compassion and expertise to people of all ages who have vision challenges. Our team of optometrists, vision rehabilitation therapists, teachers, employment specialists & other staff work with individuals & their families to understand their unique vision-related challenges and provide solutions that empower them to reach their goals and live independently.


CCBDD LogoW/O Limits: Art, Chronic Illness, and Disability is generously supported by an Arts and Culture Partnership Grant provide by Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities. This funding has helped us provide accessibility measures including braille text, adaptive programming, and provide catalogs for those unable to attend the exhibition in person. Cuyahoga DD, established in 1967, strives to serve people of all ages who have a developmental disability and reside in Cuyahoga County. Cuyahoga DD is part of the state’s developmental disabilities’ system, which is overseen by the Ohio Department of Developmental Disabilities (DODD). DODD certifies both people (independent providers) and agencies that provide an array of services directly to people with developmental disabilities.


ReelAbilities LogoReelAbilities Film Festival is the largest festival in the US dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities. Initiated in NY in 2007, the festival presents award winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple locations throughout each hosting city. Post-screening discussions and other engaging programs bring together the community to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience. ReelAbilities Film Festival debuted September 2018 in Cleveland with a goal to enhance communication surrounding different disabilities in our community.


Press & Videos:



2022 Annual Members Exhibition

  • 2022 Members Exhibition with exhibiting artist Myrya Johnson. Photo by Stuart Pearl
    2022 Members Exhibition with exhibiting artist Myrya Johnson. Photo by Stuart Pearl

Press Release:

Opening Reception: Thursday March 24, 5:30 – 8:00pm
Annual Members Meeting: Friday, May 6, 5:30 – 6:30pm. All current members are welcome to attend!
Closing Reception & Awards Ceremony: Friday, May 6, 7:00 – 8:00pm (following the Annual Meeting)


If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the value of community. Though many artists continued to work in isolation, the ability to connect and share our creative souls has never felt more important. This March, join the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) for the return of its Annual Members Exhibition, a show which celebrates the breadth and depth of the region’s artistic talent.


In addition to the 93 artists archived in the museum’s permanent collection, the Artists Archives is comprised of hundreds of member artists who form the backbone of the organization. This yearly exhibition accepts 1 piece from each active member and weaves them in a rich tapestry which spans the gallery walls. Now in its 8th year, the show’s popularity requires that entries are limited to 24 inches in any direction.


Ranging from painting and photography to ceramics and mixed media installations, each piece serves as a unique snapshot of life in Northeast Ohio. Visitors may nominate their favorite work for a People’s Choice Award until the end of the exhibition, when the four artists with the most votes will receive awards and cash prizes.


The 2022 Annual Members Exhibition is exclusively open to artists with active AAWR memberships. To become a member and to take advantage of this unique exhibition opportunity, please call our offices at 216-721-9020 or become a member online.


The show will be celebrated with an in-person opening reception on Thursday March 24th 5:30 – 8:00pm. A Closing Reception and Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 6th, 7:00 – 8:00pm following the Annual Meeting, at which time, the winners of the People’s Choice Awards will be announced. No registration necessary. Both events are free and open to the public.


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is handicap accessible and is willing to accommodate all people including those with special needs. Visitors with special needs are encouraged to contact us before coming to AAWR, so that we can ensure your visit is fulfilling and enjoyable.  View available services. To schedule your visit, please call 216-721-9020 or email


Exhibition Programming:

Virtual Program: Travels to Taiwan with Karen D. Beckwith: Wednesday, April 6, 7:00 – 8:00pm on Zoom. REGISTER FOR VIRTUAL PROGRAM

Workshops: Digital Dilemmas: Basic Photo Editing. Registration link coming soon!

  • Smartphone Session: Wednesday, April 27, 5:00 – 6:30pm at the Artists Archives
  • Desktop/Laptop Session: Saturday, April 30, 1:00 – 2:30pm at the Artists Archives


To accompany the exhibition, the Archives will host a virtual program with Archived Artist Karen D. Beckwith which chronicles her journey through Taiwan to participate in Print Out Times, the prestigious 2021 Taoyuan International Print Exhibition. During the 45-minute presentation, follow the master printmaker from the mountains of Keelung to the ancient streets of Tainan as she gathers source material for a compelling new body of work which captures the everyday stories of life in Southeast Asia. A live audience Q & A will complete the program. To attend the free talk on Wednesday, April 6th, please register on Zoom.


This April, the Archives will also host Digital Dilemmas: Photo Editing, two free, small-group workshops which teach artists the basics of photo editing, including cropping, skewing, resizing, and simple image enhancement. These skills will help artists to create more effective digital portfolios of their work and to remove barriers preventing them from entering exhibitions which require online submission. Sessions will be offered for both smartphones and desktop software! The workshops will be held at the Artists Archives on April 27th and April 30th.  Additional details and registration links coming soon!


Members Exhibition Call for Entry: 

The call for entry for 2022 Annual Members Exhibition is now over. Interested in participating next year? Take a look at this year’s prospectus below.


Exhibiting artists must be current members of the Artists Archives through June 1st, 2022.  To check your membership status or to renew, call our office 216.721.9020. You can also renew your membership here.

Not a member yet? Become a member online or call 216.721.9020 to speak to our staff!


Exhibition Schedule:

  • Drop-off Dates:
    • Tuesday, March 8 – Friday, March 11, 10:00am – 4:00pm
    • Saturday, March 12, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
    • By appointment with Director Mindy Tousley, 216-721-9020,
  • Show Dates: March 24 – May 6, 2022
  • Opening Reception: Thursday, March 24th 5:30 – 8:00pm
  • Annual Members Meeting: Friday, May 6th 5:30 – 6:30pm. All current members are welcome to attend!
  • Closing Reception & Awards Ceremony: Friday, May 6th, 7:00 – 8:00pm. Open to the public, directly following the Annual Meeting. Exhibiting artists may pick up their work following the reception.
  • Pickup Dates:
    • Friday, May 6, following the Closing Reception & Awards Ceremony at 8:00pm
    • Saturday, May 7, 12:00pm – 4:00pm
    • Tuesday, May 10 – Thursday, May 12, 10:00am – 4:00pm
    • By appointment with Director Mindy Tousley, 216-721-9020,


Work Requirements:

  • One piece will be accepted from each AAWR member in good standing.
  • All work will be hung salon-style
  • Size will be restricted to 24” maximum in any direction (including frame).
  • All media accepted. 3-D work welcome. 2-D work must be delivered ready to hang
  • All work must be original & previously unshown at the AAWR
  • No giclée or other reproductions of works made originally in other mediums


Exhibition Details:

  • There is no entry fee for this exhibition
  • People’s Choice Awards: Exhibition attendees may vote for their favorite piece during regular gallery hours (W-F: 10am – 4pm; Sat: 12:00pm – 4:00pm) until Friday, May 6 at 4:00pm. The four artists with the most votes will receive awards and cash prizes. Winners will be announced during Closing Reception & Awards Ceremony: Friday, May 6th, 7:00 – 8:00pm, following the Annual Meeting
  • Loan Agreement: Each artist is required to fill out a loan agreement upon drop-off of work. Artists may fill out the paperwork ahead of time (link below) and bring it with their piece or fill the form out upon arrival. We will have copies on hand.
  • Sale of Artwork: If the artist so chooses, work can be available for sale. The Artists Archives takes a 40% commission on all sold works, to be paid within 30 days after the close of the exhibition.
  • Insurance: Works will be insured while part of the exhibition
  • Image Rights: AAWR has the right to use images of the work for any and all promotional purposes during the exhibition and in the future.


Questions? Contact Megan Alves, Marketing & Programing Manager, at 216.721.9020,, or Mindy Tousley,


Download a PDF of the 2022 Annual Members Exhibition Prospectus here

Stories in Light: Stuart Pearl, a Retrospective

  • Stuart Pearl, Innerbelt Bridge Demolition, 2012, Digital photograph, 12 x 18”, Collection of the AAWR
    Stuart Pearl, Innerbelt Bridge Demolition, 2012, Digital photograph, 12 x 18”, Collection of the AAWR


Campus-wide Opening Reception: Friday, January 21, 5:30 – 8:00pm, including simultaneous openings at The Sculpture Center: Joshua Penrose: Forward EscapeCharmaine Spencer: From: Seed  To: Root

Virtual Artist Talk: Wednesday, February 16, 7:00 – 8:00pm. REGISTER ON ZOOM


Some photographers are from a place, while others are distinctly of it. Just as Ansel Adams became synonymous with the sprawling American West, or Nan Golding with the nocturnal ecosystem of 1970s New York, the locus of a photographer’s production can become inseparable from their creative product.


Photographer Stuart Pearl is a distinct product of Cleveland. A life-long resident and second-generation Ohio artist, his work reflects the region’s shifting industrial realities, hidden revelations, and the people who travel its landscape.


This January, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve will host Stories in Light: Stuart Pearl, a 50-year retrospective which traces the artist’s trajectory from his documentary roots through his lavish urban landscapes, and illusory abstract studies. Though diverse in subject matter, the breathtaking images are united by a painterly attention to light and narrative, as well as a compelling desire to capture the texture of life in Northeast Ohio.


Pearl inherited his appreciation for the tumult of the city from his father, the prolific painter and educator Moses Pearl. Known for his bright, bustling watercolors, Moses’ work memorializes the looming factories and ramshackle houses of Cleveland’s mid-century neighborhoods; they also set the stage for his son’s artistic development. As Pearl describes, “I grew up surrounded by paintings and sketches. They covered every wall of our house. Dad used brush and pencil to capture his version of the world but sometimes he would grab his old Argus camera. That equipment fascinated me once I saw how it could be used to freeze a moment in time. It was pure magic to a little kid.”


Pearl’s own urban landscapes transform Cleveland’s gritty industrial center with the drama and grandeur of Renaissance painting. Using sweeping compositions and bold chiaroscuro, the images are reminiscent of opulent oil tableaus, populated by classical forms and rimmed with porcelain light. In Morning Transit, amber light oozes like honey over the cream arches of the Terminal Viaduct, chasing a silver passenger train as it races out of frame. A striking night scene unfolds in Innerbelt Bridge Demolition as construction crews spotlight the vestigial steel giant against a silvering dusk. Sparks fly into the air and cranes contort, silhouetted by a pink-tinged skyline. These are not manufactured images, but rather carefully awaited moments which say as much about the city as the artist’s relationship to it.


Stories in Light also features five decades of Pearl’s historic documentary photographs. Pearl, who attended Kent State University for post-graduate study in photojournalism and later worked as the Art Director for AT & T, began honing his craft early in his undergraduate career. “I shot for campus newspapers where I developed my photojournalistic style,” Pearl explains. “It was exciting to document people like Leonard Bernstein, Elton John, Cheech and Chong, and Ted Kennedy. Because newspapers run on deadlines, these assignments taught me how to work fast… Images must be compelling and composed in a way that immediately tell the story. These became guiding principles.”


A particularly moving piece features Pearl’s father painting a sports mural for South High in a makeshift basement studio. The image conveys the artist’s meditative gaze and the great scale of his endeavor. His eyes levelly regard a distant corner of the composition while his brush rests against a well-worn pallet, attending to the task with the unbroken focus of the athletes he depicts.


A fascinating series on display is Pearl’s abstract studies which transform everyday life into visual illusions. In Acacia Winter Shadow Stream, the viewer is presented by what appears to be a deep gash in the snow, cut by a dark trickle of water. Upon closer inspection, a miniature bridge emerges, revealing the trickle to be a deep stream which destabilizes the visual field. The juxtaposition of perceived and realized scale turns the mind, creating the sensation of looking at a tabletop model or 3-D collage.


In another image, the featureless peaks of suburban houses peer out over a tangle of foliage, reaching nearly to the rooftops through forced perspective. The shapes stand out as invasive, geometric impossibilities hiding between the natural world and an exquisitely feathered cloudscape. The observer gets the distinct impression the houses are peeking back, and that it is perhaps best to stay hidden in the weeds. As in many of Stuart’s works, the image calls on the viewer to reimage their position, their place and the world, and the locus of beauty, which Pearl reminds us, is often just beyond our doors.


Stories in Light: Stuart Pearl, a Photography Retrospective, will be celebrated with a campus-wide reception on Friday, January 21st, 5:30 – 8:00pm which includes two simultaneous openings at The Sculpture Center: Joshua Penrose: Forward EscapeCharmaine Spencer: From: Seed  To: Root. No reservations needed but masks will be required while on campus.

Kindred Objects: Ceramics & Glass from the Western Reserve

  • Katie Burkett, Silence of the Situation at Hand, 2021, Rocking chair, medical gauze tubing, blown glass, aprox. 4 ft × 6ft x 7.5ft
    Katie Burkett, Silence of the Situation at Hand, 2021, Rocking chair, medical gauze tubing, blown glass, aprox. 4 ft × 6ft x 7.5ft

In-Person Opening Reception: Thursday, November 4th, 5:30 – 8:00pm. No registration necessary. Masks required.

Virtual Program: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Contemporary Glass with Susie Silbert (Curator of Postwar & Contemporary Glass, Corning Museum of Glass) has been rescheduled to Wednesday December 8th, 7:00 – 8:15pm. Our apologies for any inconvenience! REGISTER ON ZOOM


There’s something fundamentally moving about glass and ceramics. Familiar, yet surprising, the mediums form a visceral connection between the viewer and the artist, providing a powerful pathway to transmit ideas through shared tactile experience.


This November, the Artists Archives welcomes Kindred Objects:  Ceramics & Glass from the Western Reserve, a regional group exhibition curated by Kent State University faculty Davin K. Ebanks and Peter Christian Johnson. The show features over 20 Ohio creators including representative works from established artists like Brinsley Tyrrell, Todd Leech, Eva Kwong, Marc Petrovic, and Kari Russell-Pool, as well as that of emerging and aspiring artists whose work is lesser known.


For Ebanks and Johnson, the pairing of the media was a natural choice. “Glass is historically linked to ceramics,” they explain. “The technology for the latter is necessary to produce the former. This kinship formed the basis for the genesis of this show… Moreover, both materials seem to command a unique loyalty from their practitioners.” Both glass and ceramics also have strong historical ties to Northeast Ohio. “It must be mentioned that the American Studio Glass Movement was born in the Western Reserve, in Toledo, Ohio, nearly 60 years ago…The Western Reserve is now home to 3 significant glass programs: Bowling Green State University, Cleveland Institute of Art and Kent State University, all of which are represented in this show.”


While the work was not chosen for any thematic or formal similarity, certain commonalities emerged including the timely theme of adaptation. “The Coronavirus Pandemic has created challenges for all artists,” Ebanks muses, “but even more so for those who depend on specialized equipment and studios to make their work. Many of the artists here rose to that challenge, adapting their practice when going to their studio was an impossibility.” Glass artist Katie Burkett, for example, began incorporating textiles into her work during quarantine when other materials became scarce at local craft stores. Both Alicia Telzerow’s process and subject matter seemed altered by the pandemic. Switching to cast resin when she no longer had access to kilns or hot glass, Telzerow’s created Connectivity Issues, a wearable mask which features human ears in the place of respirator cartridges – a play “on the filtration of information rather than air,” and an ominous nod to the fragile safety of the pandemic.


Another commonality in the show is artists’ use of personal experience to address universal themes.  Brian Sarama, for instance, sculpts vibrant, ceramic towers of gooey snacks to confront his own struggles with body image while drawing parallels “to the larger paradigm of food culture and consumerism.” Glass artist Sommer Bonfiglio explores the sexualization of women and girls by recreating the familiar iconography of the ballet. Bonfiglio describes, “As an ex-dancer, my work is influenced by the backstage of the Paris Opera house. In the 1800’s, the backstage was known as le foyer de la danse. It served as a meeting point between dancers and wealthy male subscribers known as the abonnés, who sexually exploited the dancers. I transform objects related to dance that have not yet been influenced by the male gaze into sexual objects which serve as relics.”


Perhaps most of all, “the works in Kindred Objects highlight how material exploration can not only reinforce concept but be the locus of the work itself.” This can be seen in Timothy Stover’s exquisite cast and laminated glass sculptures which dive deep into the refractive qualities of the medium, or in Marc Petrovic’s Murrini tablets, which form the foundation for his hot-sculpted bird of prey. In both cases, the process becomes part of the concept. Todd Leech’s lusciously textured ceramic surfaces and Gabriel John Poucher’s swirling, deconstructed forms function much the same way. “Materiality is a major driving force for artists of both mediums, and no wonder,” Johnson marvels, “walking through this exhibition is a showcase of seductive surfaces, colors and forms, all created from two humble materials that started as sand.”


An in-person opening reception will be held on Thursday, November 4th, 5:30 – 8:00pm. No reservations are required but masks are mandatory while inside the gallery.


On Wednesday, December 8th join Susie J. Silbert, Curator of Postwar & Contemporary Glass from The Corning Museum of Glass for a virtual program which highlights current innovation in the medium. REGISTER ON ZOOM!


Kindred Object Exhibiting Artists: Sommer Bonfiglio, Katie Burkett, Kristin Cliffel, Stephanie Craig, Alli Hoag, Benjamin Johnson, Brent Kee Young, Eva Kwong, Benjamin Lambert, Jennifer Leach, Andrea Leblond, Todd Leech, Alberto Veronica Lopez, Jennifer Masley, Zachary Miller, Marc Petrovic, Gabriel John Poucher, Kari Russell-Pool, Brian Sarama, Timothy Stover, Michelle Summers, Alicia Telzerow, Brinsley Tyrrell.


  • Ray Caspio, I Am Just so Scared to Touch You (But If I Do), Mixed media, 45 x 33”
    Ray Caspio, I Am Just so Scared to Touch You (But If I Do), Mixed media, 45 x 33”

CONVERGE Venue Name: Artists Archives of the Western Reserve

Venue Location: 1834 East 123rd Street, Cleveland OH 44106

Venue Exhibition Dates: August 26 – October 16th

Gallery Hours: W-F 10am – 4pm, Sat 12pm – 4pm

Venue Website: CONVERGE – Artists Archives of the Western Reserve

Venue Contact: 216-721-9020


Venue Exhibiting Artists: Ray Caspio, Trey Gehring, Jim George, Nancy Halbrooks, Michael W. High, Rodney Hines, Rowan Leek, Max Markwald, Charles Mayer, Kelly Pontoni, Laurie Reydman, Dan Rothenfeld, Ron Shelton, Kevenn Smith, Aaron Swank, Shawny Walthaw, Tony Williams


Special Venue Events:

  • Artist Archives Opening Reception | Thursday, August 26
    • Featured appearance by Veranda L’Ni Cleveland’s Tallest Drag Entertainer
    • Private VIP Reception | 5:30 – 6:30pm
    • Public Reception | 6:30 – 8:30pm
  • Virtual Program: Un(masc)ing Drag History with Dr. Lady J | Tuesday, September 14 | 7:00 – 8:15pm | Register here
  • Virtual Program: ART + AIDS Panel Discussion | Wednesday, October 6 | 7:00 – 8:15pm
  • Workshop: Cleveland MetroHealth AIDS Quilt Making
    • Saturday, September 25 | 11:00am – 1:00pm or 1:00 – 3:00pm
    • Wednesday, September 29 | 12:00 – 2:00pm or 2:00 – 4:00pm
    • Thursday, October 7 | 4:00 – 6:00pm or 6:00 – 8:00pm
  • Workshop: moCa + AAWR AIDS Story Sharing
    • Part I| Saturday, September 25 | 10:00 – 12:00pm | Artists Archives
    • Part II | Wednesday, December 1 | 5:00 – 7:00pm | moCa
  • Workshop: Joyce Morrow Jones Doll Making | Artists Archives
    • Saturday, October 16 | 10:00am – 3:00pm
    • Sunday, October 17 | 10:00am – 3:00pm


CONVERGE Venue Statement:

CONVERGE is a broad-based exhibition encompassing the many facets of the Western Reserves’ LGBTQAI + visual arts community. The purpose of the exhibition is to celebrate and document the Legacy and the contributions of these artists to the cultural fabric of the Western Reserve. It purposefully encompasses a wide breadth of styles and disciplines produced by seventy-one diverse artists ranging in age from young adults to octogenarians. The stories these artists chose to communicate through their work span a wide range from protest, pride, and transformation to simple joy in the aesthetics of beauty and act of creation


The mission of the Artists Archives is to uphold and preserve the histories and legacies of our Ohio artists, with a focus on the Western Reserve. The documentation of the work of the LGBTQAI + community of artists to the overall history of the Western Reserve has not previously been compiled to any great extent. It is our hope that holding this exhibition, producing a catalog, recording the artists oral histories, and supporting their stories in a series of virtual programs, will begin the process of historical documentation for future generations.


Their stories, their lives and their art CONVERGE here into one grand exhibition revealing who they are, what they do, why they do it, and how important their viewpoints are to all of us. Mindy Tousley, Executive Director AAWR 2021



  • Mark Howard, Shower Scene, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 70”
    Mark Howard, Shower Scene, Acrylic on canvas, 40 x 70”




  • Artist Archives Opening Reception | Thursday, August 26
    • Featured appearance by Veranda L’Ni Cleveland’s Tallest Drag Entertainer
    • Private VIP Reception | 5:30 – 6:30pm
    • Public Reception | 6:30 – 8:30pm
  • LGBT Center Reception | Friday, September 17 | SOLD OUT
    • Plexus LGBTQ+ Young Professional  Mixer | 5:30 – 6:30pm
    • Public Reception Part I | 6:30 – 8:00pm
    • Public Reception Part II | 8:00 – 9:00pm
  • MetroHealth Reception | Thursday, October 7 | 6:30 – 8:00pm
  • Lake Erie College Closing Reception | Thursday, October 14 | 4:30 – 7:30pm





Kelly Pontoni | Curator |
Mindy Tousley | Executive Director |
Megan Alves | Marketing & Program Manager |



LGBTQ history is our history, and the story of the community is the story of our region. Behind the jubilant parades and rainbow flags which blossom along porches in June, is a proud and diverse population who live, work, and contribute mightily to the creative culture of Northeast Ohio.


This August, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve presents CONVERGE, a massive visual art exhibition held in partnership with the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland, Lake Erie College, Judson Manor Retirement Community, and Cleveland MetroHealth. Shown across 5 venues, CONVERGE brings together the stories of the LGBTQ community, including the historically underrepresented voices of women, transgender people, and people of color.


CONVERGE features 70 regional artists of all ages, backgrounds, and identifications, creating a vibrant cross-section of the LGBTQ experience. Conceived by Kelly Pontoni, and co-curated by artists Sam Butler, Tony Williams, and Mark Yasenchack, with assistance by Mary Proctor, over 140 pieces were selected in a staggering array of media including painting, photography, textiles, glass, fashion, assemblage, and immersive installations which transport the viewers while transforming their perspective.


In a sense, Chief Curator Kelly Pontoni’s whole life has informed the exhibition. Pontoni, a print maker and painter who identifies as lesbian, is a recent graduate from Cleveland Institute of Art. “As a non-traditional student in my late 40’s, I found myself surrounded by a new generation of LGBTQ+ students. I wondered where I as a lesbian fit into an increasingly non-binary world…but instead of holing up in my comfort zone I asked questions. I listened… and over many, MANY cups of coffee, I gained perspective.” Inspired by these café conversations, CONVERGE was created “to open people’s minds, facilitate real dialog, and to honor the unique identities that come together to form our community.”


United by themes of pride, protest, transformation and celebration, the art in each venue honors the past while looking to the future of the community.  In the work of M. Carmen Lane, for example, the region’s rich LGBTQ history is not only powerfully presented, but preserved. On view in CONVERGE is Lane’s poignant photographic triptych Children Wade In!, which documents the former Allen-Sullivan House on Euclid Avenue. Once known as The Colosseum, the site held “house balls,” and served as a Black gay afterhours space until the late 1990s. As Lane describes, “this work is a gesture to acknowledge and honor Cleveland’s underground Black ball culture and the Black queer histories that are hidden or erased by time and place.” Demolished in July of 2021 to make way for a housing complex, all that remains are Lane’s images and their frames, created from materials repurposed from the historic structure.


Another important theme in CONVERGE is the exploration of identity, particularly trans and non-gender conforming identities in all their rich variations. This is the case with Violet Maimbourg’s mixed media installation Wholeheartedness which features fleshy, silicon sculptures lounging about a suburban interior. At once alarming and endearing, the eerily organic figures reflect the artist’s own experience as a transgender woman. As Maimbourg explains, “Being in a body that is not congruent with your mind is a distressing, life altering experience…[These] creatures are more self-portraits than figments of my imagination… By removing body parts from the context of my own body, transforming them into art, they seem less intimidating.”


CONVERGE is also honored to feature work from Cincinnati photographer Arykah Carter’s Black Trans Project. In a series of elegant portraits, Carter creates dignified and relatable representations of the “everyday existence of black trans bodies.” As she explains, “Trans people of color often navigate away from mainstream Cis-Society and Trans community organizations because of a lack of trust, lack of individuals that resemble them…  The [project] started off as a tribute to Black Trans Women seeks to make Black Trans Women, Trans Men, and our Non-Binary siblings more visible, and the normality of our lives more relatable.”


As colorful as a rainbow flag and just as joyful, a spirit of pride and celebration courses through the exhibition. Nowhere is this better seen than in Susan Farone’s Efflorescene: A Lesbian Garden, lush abstract triptych which jubilantly celebrates her lesbian identity as well her relationship to self, nature, and the universe beyond. “A garden is a wonderful metaphor for Lesbian lives – soil rich with great writers, change makers, artists, poets, singers, teachers, thinkers, and bad ass movers and shakers,” Farone shares. “I have been OUT since 1984 and have loved my LESBIAN Garden of DYKE-o-dils, LEZBO-gonias, AMAZinnias… and FEMINations. I thank God every day that I am a Lesbian… SHE just smiles.”


A highlight of CONVERGE is painter Melissa Bloom’s series of 71 miniature portraits which lovingly document the show’s exhibiting artists. Created from the artists’ headshots, each 5 x 5” panel features the creators on jewel-toned rainbow backgrounds, ringed by golden byzantine inspired halos. Displayed at the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland, it is hoped that the portraits will be purchased by a generous donor and added to the Center’s growing collection of regional art.


CONVERGE is proud to display sections of the National AIDS Quilt which memorialize midwestern lives lost to the disease. Founded in San Francisco, CA in 1987 by Cleve Jones, today the AIDS Quilt is composed of more than 49,000 panels on over 6,000 twelve-foot square blocks which are continuously exhibited around the country. MetroHealth, which has displayed the Quilt bi-annually since 2009, has planned their display to coincide with the show. MetroHealth will also hold a one-day workshop in partnership with Stitch Cleveland and local sewing volunteers to make new panels with local families, partners, lovers & friends of people who died of AIDS-related illness.


Work reflecting the impact of the AIDS epidemic will be reverently displayed throughout the partner venues. On view in the LGBT Center are the assemblage sculptures of Akron artist Bret Hines, created in remembrance of his brother, Rodney Hines, who died of AIDS in the 90s. Chief Curator Kelly Pontoni describes, “Rodney lived in San Francisco and when he died, Brent and his family wanted to bring him home to bury him, but they couldn’t fly his body back because he died of AIDS. It was heartbreaking for the family. They had to cremate him… It’s been 20+ years since his brother passed away, and he still just holds so much of that with him and his art.”


In addition to its support of local LGBTQ artists, CONVERGE also marks the first effort to extensively document their contributions to the important visual culture of Northeast Ohio. As AAWR Executive Director Mindy Tousley explains, “It is our hope that holding this exhibition, producing a catalog, recording the artists oral histories, and supporting their stories in a series of virtual programs, will begin the process of historical documentation, and add to valuable insight addressing the extent of their work.” To this end, the Artists Archives is raising funds to archive their first lesbian artist in honor of the tireless efforts of curator Kelly Pontoni and her wife, Martha. Donate online or by calling the Archives directly, 216-721-9020.


Receptions will be held at 4 venues, beginning with an opening reception at the Artists Archives on Thursday, August 26th featuring an appearance by Veranda L’Ni Cleveland’s Tallest Drag Entertainer. Additional receptions will follow at Cleveland MetroHealth (Date TBA), the LGBT Center of Greater Cleveland on Friday, September 17th, and a closing reception will be held at Lake Erie College on Thursday, October 14th.


On September 14th, the Archives will host Un(masc)ing Drag History with Dr. Lady J, a non-binary trans woman who holds a doctorate from Case Western Reserve University and is “the world’s first drag queen with a PhD dissertation on drag history.” During this 1-hour virtual program, Lady J will reveal the real roots of drag, highlighting the overlooked contributions of cisgender women, trans and gender non-conforming people, and people of color to an art form. Registration link coming soon!


The Artists Archives will also be partnering with Cleveland MetroHealth to present a panel discussion on the relationship between art and the AIDS epidemic, including Daniel Marcus, co-curator of the powerhouse exhibition Art After Stonewall, as well as Gil Kudrin, an exhibiting CONVERGE artist and the longest surviving AIDS patient in the United States. The panel will be moderated by Martha Pontoni, historic LGBTQ activist and former publisher of the Gay People’s Chronicle.



Amie Albert, Denise Astorino, Mark Badzik, Tom Balbo, Karen D. Beckwith, Roy Bigler, Melissa Bloom, Kat Burdine, Sam Butler, Arykah Carter, Ray Caspio, Cathy Clerk Dully, Terry Durst, Paxton Enstad, Gene Epstein, Susan Farone, Chuck Fischer, Christa Freehands, Matthew Gallagher, Trey Gehring, Jim George, Nancy Halbrooks, Cassie Harner, Alex Heard, Michael W. High, Bret Hines, Rodney Hines, Mark Howard, William Martin Jean, Margaret Jenkins, Robert Jergens, Jackson Kennedy, Drew King, Gil Kudrin, M. Carmen Lane, Rowan Leek, Tracey Lind, Meg Lubey, Violet Maimbourg, Max Markwald, Randy Maxin, Charles Mayer, Scott Miller, MANDEM (Moco/Maize/Kiki), Ben Oblivion, Wendy Partridge, Jessica Pinsky, Kelly Pontoni, Mary Proctor, Andrew Reach, Laurie Reydman, Christopher Richards, Thomas Roese, Rick Rollenhagen, Dan Rothenfeld, John Saile, Ron Shelton, Kevenn Smith, Elle Strong, Aaron Swank, Dan Tranberg, Anthony Trausch, Arnold Tunstall, Shawny Walthaw, Daiv Whaley, Tony Williams, Charlie Wirfel, Mark Yasenchack, Jan Zorman.


Kelly Pontoni, Forever In Transition, Screen prints on Rives BFK paper, 12 x 8’

Kelly Pontoni, Forever In Transition, Screen prints on Rives BFK paper, 12 x 8’

A Wild Ride: Ken Nevadomi 1976 – 2006

  • Ken Nevadomi, Attacking the A&P II, 1976, Acrylic on canvas, 64.5 x 54.75”, Collection of ARTneo
    Ken Nevadomi, Attacking the A&P II, 1976, Acrylic on canvas, 64.5 x 54.75”, Collection of ARTneo

In-Person Receptions: Thursday, June 17th, 5:30 – 8:00pm and Sunday, June 27th, 5:30 – 8:00pm. No reservations required. Review our visitor safety protocol here
Virtual Program: Adventures in Art Collecting with Christopher Richards: Wednesday, July 14th, 7:00 – 8:00pm. REGISTER HERE ON ZOOM


Some artists have careers which unfold over time – beautiful, clean arcs that advance doggedly toward a mature style. Not Ken Nevadomi. A fearless innovator and unapologetic iconoclast, Nevadomi’s creative journey rides like a rollercoaster: twisting, looping, and changing directions at break-neck speeds.


This June, the Artist Archives welcomes A Wild Ride: Ken Nevadomi 1976 – 2006, an exhibition which follows the soaring heights and hairpin turns of the artist’s remarkable career. Known for his provocative figure paintings which draw on influences from Expressionism to Pop Art and Surrealism, Nevadomi’s work stubbornly resists categorization and interpretation. This is no accident; it’s by design and Nevadomi outright refuses to give you a hand. Over decades, he has cultivated a reputation as one of the “most tightlipped painters in town,” forcing viewers to make sense of the winding road ahead with nary a guidepost in sight.


As curator Mindy Tousley describes, “Ken is an all-out painter. Over the years he consistently has not held anything back in his work. His stream of consciousness paintings explore his inner life without fear, in combination with ongoing investigations of various styles of representation. His creative search for something new and unexpected has confounded viewers and he truly doesn’t care. To me this is a real badass attitude. He is predictably and enjoyably unpredictable.”


A Wild Ride: Ken Nevadomi features 4 distinct categories of work: Pop & Funk Art, Expressionist tableaus, modernist nudes, and deconstructed paintings created by viciously slicing and reweaving his own canvases. These diverse styles were produced concurrently and on one occasion, brashly exhibited at competing shows. A Wild Ride also includes rare drawings which edify the artist’s aesthetic and demonstrate his technical prowess.


Though varied in execution, themes such as voyeurism, social rebellion, and the conflict between humanity and technology can be traced throughout Nevadomi’s work. While the paintings can feel like personal fever dreams, they also signal a deep discomfort with the insane pace and absurdist ideals of the contemporary life. This is particularly evident in Nevadomi’s Pop Funk images which channel the sex, violence, and hysteria of the modern experience. On loan from ARTneo is Attacking the A&P II, a cartoonish, pulsing canvas from 1976 which depicts a nude in a scuba mask and sneakers shooting through the window of the popular urban grocery chain. In the foreground, a garish pin-up flees the carnage, dodging the advances of a protruding hand sprouting from a speeding car. Some elements however, like the floating cactus-like patches of green, are destined to remain non-sequiturs.


In a rare 1991 artist statement Nevadomi explains “My painting has a lot to do with what I am thinking about- views that I may not even be aware of. I am going in a number of directions, and one thing I am doing is not consciously thinking about it. My feeling is that you don’t chose your ideas, your ideas choose you…The viewer has to figure it out. As a figurative artist, I focus on the figure, and the rest develops in ways I can’t predict.”


A more overt critique of society, particularly of religion, is presented in several large Expressionist paintings from the Archives’ permanent collection. A prime example is Mysteries of Repulsion, which portrays a nude, dichromatic woman with her head jerked backwards into frame. In front a young girl, potentially her daughter, watches in horror, hemmed in by an eerily serene nun wielding a cross and flowers. To the left in an isolated plain, a man reclines on a sofa, bathed in the anesthetizing blue light of a small T.V. set. When viewed in the company of works like Adam and Eve at Sea which features the hapless couple sailing towards the edge of a flat earth, a pall of chaos and absurdism is unmistakably cast.


Despite his creative anarchy and provocateur status, Nevadomi possessed a conventionally admirable resume which includes the title of Professor Emeritus at Cleveland State University and receiving the coveted Cleveland Arts Prize in 1988. His work has also been exhibited in countless regional and national exhibitions and is included the collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Progressive Insurance, and Kaiser Permanente. This pedigree becomes evident in the more classical drawings and modernist nudes on view, such as the diffused Somnambulist or Nude on a Cat Mat which mirrors the subdued poise of Picasso’s Blue Period or the dreamy elegance of Modigliani’s ingénues.


Perhaps the most radical offerings of the exhibition, however, are Nevadomi’s woven canvases. Created by slicing and reassembling his own work, the violent process creates a distorted mechanical Cubism; the act reads as unmistakably aggressive, both against his own artistic product, as well as toward the unhinged world they portray. This style is particularly successful in Short Circuit, a piece on loan from the artist’s estate revealing the glitching image of a barefoot man in a tie sitting with a remote control in front of an exploding television. Nevadomi reflects “I think it’s the idea that…. I or we don’t know where we are going… In a hostile universe or world. Where past and present are one or rearranged or happen at the same but going on in different directions… what’s the alternative? Who am we?”


To promote safe visitation to our gallery, A Wild Ride: Ken Nevadomi 1976 – 2006 will be celebrated with two in-person receptions on Thursday, June 17th, 5:30 – 8:00pm and Sunday, June 27th, 5:30 – 8:00pm. No reservations required. Please review our visitor safety protocol prior to arrival.


On Wednesday July 14th 7:00 – 8:00pm, follow former ARTneo curator Christopher Richards on a house tour that highlights his personal collection, including paintings by Nevadomi and other local artists active in the 1970s. Christopher will discuss how he built his collection of Northeast Ohio art on a budget from both primary and secondary markets, and how he curates rooms to maximize the connection between pieces. The program will be followed by Q&A session so you can learn more stories in the adventures of collecting art. Zoom Registration link coming soon!

Beyond Surface: Denise Buckley & Kathy Skerritt

  • Denise Buckley, Ireland, Cast bronze, 10” x 9” x 6”, Collection of the AAWR
    Denise Buckley, Ireland, Cast bronze, 10” x 9” x 6”, Collection of the AAWR

Virtual Opening Reception: Friday, February 5th 7:00 – 8:00pm VIEW OPENING RECEPTION


On the surface, the work of Denise Buckley and Kathy Skerritt seems very different. Appearances, however, can be deceiving. Buckley, a welder and figurative sculptor, and Skerritt, an abstract process painter, share a technical mastery, and the ability to show beyond what is seen. By pushing their materials to the limit, both artists unearth the inner essence of their subjects, and find meaning in themselves. This February, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is pleased to host Beyond Surface: Denise Buckley & Kathy Skerritt, an exhibition which welcomes the artists into the museum’s prestigious 10,000-piece collection of regional art.


In one sense, Kathy Skerritt’s paintings are all about the surface. Richly colored and highly textured, the work reflects an intimate knowledge of her media. The deep, jewel-toned pigments of Humming II, for example, are expertly applied, creating a rainbow, iridescent pulse which buzzes across the canvas with crackling immediacy. Skerritt allows her paint to pulse and peel, intuiting the moment where whole sections seem ready to drop and freezing them in time, as is seen in the furrowed, crocodile-like skin of Mahasamadhi, a mixed media piece on display.


In another truer sense, Skerritt’s work is about anything but the practice of painting. Her works are all things at once: biological, geological, and anatomical, metallic, and fluid. As Skerritt explains, during a well-traveled youth, “I became deeply influenced by hours spent gazing at the Earth from airplanes. Viewing from above the river systems and lakes, mountain ranges, and desert stimulated my sense of the Earth as a living system. Later studies of human anatomy revealed exciting visual correspondences between rivers and the circulatory system, forests and the bronchial tree of the lungs, topographies and the organ, skeletal, and fluid systems of the body.”


On view in the exhibition are several paintings which reflect the connections between our bodies and the natural world, including Indigo Cell, a massive 3-foot square canvas which recalls river deltas, and the Geo-Biologic series which evokes both microscopic life and canyons cutting across a desert landscape.


These layers of meaning “confound the viewer’s mind with an array of possibilities” and point to a deeper reality. “Combined with this observing of environmental patterns has been an investigation of what it is that is continuously being revealed from behind or under or within form. To connect the viewer beyond the surface to the substance or process that underlies appearances, to approach a vision of that most fundamental Truth or source condition, [that] is my artistic intention.”


Sculptor Denise Buckley’s work also strips away the surface- both literally and figuratively. Known for her human forms which blend bronze, clay, and steel, Buckley’s sculptures appear as if they have been pulled from the ruins of an ancient temple. In Ireland, a pair of elegant, neo-classical torsos rise out of a solid grey block, so close they are almost touching, yet remaining inexorably apart. They are penetrable, with open heads, holes, and missing limbs reminiscent of the Venus de Milo or the bomb-ravaged Thinker, allowing the viewers to peer inside to their richly patinaed centers.


“My history is reflected in my work, my relationships with people, the environment, and thoughts which all come together in the safety of the studio.” Buckley describes, there “I can push, pull, pound, form and distort materials into the human form, into my voice, into me.  I make figurative objects sometimes they are beautiful, sometimes not.  The work is personal yet speaks to universal themes of beauty, power, hardship, and compassion as defined by different cultures, both past and present.”


In some cases, entire bodies are replaced with steel frames, leaving serene faces floating on top of cage-like forms. And yet, the subject’s personality shines though, as is the case with Yang, Yang, a piece on view from the Archives permanent collection who, despite her rustic body and expressionist features, exudes the graceful composure of a ballerina waiting to take the stage.


A highlight of the exhibition is a herd of six life-size metal deer set to graze across the gallery floor. Constructed using welded steel rods, these free-standing sculptures represent an exciting new exploration of the animal kingdom. Though stripped down to their sinews, like Buckley’s human subjects, they communicate a fundamental essence. As Buckley explains, “Although, the physiognomy captures my attention, the materials I use bring the pieces to life.  I love the processes used in sculpture and I get lost in the visceral experience of those materials… No matter the process or technique, however, my approach to figurative sculpture is to capture the spirit.”


Beyond Surface: Denise Buckley & Kathy Skerritt will be celebrated with a virtual opening reception on Friday, February 5th at 7:00pm. The Artists Archives gallery is free and open to public Wednesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm and Saturdays 12pm – 4pm. No appointment necessary, groups limited to 10 people or less. To review the organization’s visitor safety protocol, please view our visitor safety protocol.


To accompany the exhibition, the Artists Archives is pleased to host 4 African American Women Artists You Should Know on Wednesday, March 10th, 7:00pm featuring renowned art historian, author, and artist Amalia Amaki. In celebration of  Women’s History Month, Amaki will honor 4 African American women artists who served as the corner stones of their eras, creating meaningful, personal work, and providing crucial support to the development of contemporary art. Featured artists include Nancy Elizabeth Prophet (1890 -1960), Augusta Savage (1892 – 1962), Norma Morgan (b. 1928), and Camille Billops (1933 – 2019). The program is free and open to the public on the Zoom meeting platform. CLICK HERE TO REGISTER ON ZOOM

About Body | About Face

  • Davon Brantley, ON SIGHT, 2020, Charcoal, sepia Conté crayon, chalk pastel on toned paper, 70" x 42"
    Davon Brantley, ON SIGHT, 2020, Charcoal, sepia Conté crayon, chalk pastel on toned paper, 70" x 42"

Virtual Opening Reception: Thursday, November 19th 7:00 – 8:30pm VIEW OPENING RECEPTION

Virtual Artist Talks on Zoom:

  • Wednesday, December 2nd  7:00 – 8:15pm featuring Davon Brantley, Jacques P. Jackson, and Yvonne Palkowitsh VIEW PART I
  • Wednesday, December 9th 7:00 – 8:15pm featuring Lawrence Baker, Amanda D. King, and Tony Williams  VIEW PART II


How we are represented in culture not only reflects our realities, it creates them. This is particularly true for people of color in America. Vilified, exotified, and commodified, for centuries black bodies have been treated as screens, a place to project white desires with little or hostile regard for their own experience.  This November, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) will host About Body | About Face, a small-group, figurative exhibition which examines the representation of African American bodies in art and culture.


Featuring Lawrence Baker, Davon Brantley, Jacques P. Jackson, Amanda D. King, Yvonne Palkowitsh, LaSaundra Robinson, and Tony Williams, About Body | About Face highlights 7 Ohio artists from the massive 2019 seenUNseen exhibition of African American Art. The show includes large scale paintings, drawings, analog photography, mosaics, and textiles, creating a compelling display which is both a meditation and celebration of black identity.


Exhibited for the first time are the Renaissance-inspired self-portraits of Cleveland artist Davon Brantley. Stately and technically dazzling, Brantley’s pieces rewrite the narrow history of western art by inserting himself into the classical world. As he explains,“I reference Renaissance and Baroque portraiture and religious paintings, two era of art that are almost exclusively lacking in depictions of people of color. I disrupt that space by adding myself, an African American, within the fine art realm of realism.” These rich portraits harken back to the great, sweeping saints of Michelangelo and Caravaggio. “By filling that space, I am asserting that people of color and those considered ‘other’ are allowed to have narratives that are metaphors of tragedy, emotion and life.”


An important theme in the exhibition is the representation of women of color. On display will be several new abstract portraits by LaSaundra Robinson which reflect “the strength and beauty of black women,” by stylizing her subjects to let their “inner light come through.” These paintings combine multiple figures to create works which are not simply portraits of individuals, but universal possibilities of being. “I am a painter of women,” Robinson proclaims, “The process starts with finding a face that calls to me…One woman in my painting may consist of two or three images of different women. My work is about finding yourself and being comfortable in your own skin.  I feel a lot of people hide their true selves and stereotypes… If you make it through the maze of fears and doubts, you can transform into whatever you want…I want to make paintings that allow you to feel the person you want to be.”


Photographer Yvonne Palkowitsh’s digital composites examine moments of truth and decision in women’s lives. “I explore the themes of turmoil, struggle and triumph,” Palkowitsh explains, “I am drawn to the story of existing and seeing a life’s story unfold before me and capturing the vulnerability, fragility and the very moment that a peace overtakes her.” Palkowitsh’s work takes on an almost pastel quality, with figures blurring in and out of focus as if rendered in the softest chalk. Characters repeat, sometimes infinitely, to show internal struggle and the pivot to revelation, crystallizing the moment when a fever breaks and insight is revealed. So too can they exude joy and whimsy, as in Tin Can Goodbyes which depicts a young woman boldly walking away from a shuttered and optionless world. As Palkowitsh describes, “The fantasy and surrealism throughout my imagery are intended to express how the reality of one’s life can often feel timeless and dramatized, yet we hold on for that ultimate moment of peace right before it all takes a turn.”


Also included in About Body | About Face is a piece from Amanda King’s collaborative project with photographer Matthew Chasney, To Be Born _____. The series, which references an 1873 sculpture by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, represents a radical reclaiming of the viewer’s gaze. Resistant to the traditional ownership of the white male photographer, To Be Born ____ creates meaning out of art history, personal artifacts, and innocent tokens of faith. As King describes, “To Be Born____ radically revises the conventional role subjects and practitioners play in the production of art. Chasney’s role as photographer reveals deeply entrenched aspects of the male gaze toward the female body and alternately attempts to undermine this by yielding to the artist as subject dynamic.”


Other themes presented in the show include the celebration of human form, and the resilience of African American culture. Jacques P. Jackson’s intimate mosaics exalt the body in its endless variety as the locus of communication and connection. “I wanted to create sculpture that celebrates the design of the human body, both male and female” explains Jackson.  “In our society, we have been presented with ideals for perfection.  I believe that we must learn to appreciate what we have, and therefore, I explore different shapes, proportions, and sizes.” Jackson’s pulsating and primal creations evoke movement, passion, and the vibrance of the human spirit. “Body Language is a form of communication we all use,” Jackson notes. “It can be purposeful, instinctive, seductive, or inadvertent…Through my works, I use the figurative canvas of the body to tell both simple and complex stories. They are stories of love, stories of good times, stories of culture, and occasionally stories of politics and drama…. This human body has many stories to tell; no tongue is necessary.”


On display in About Body | About Face is a new body of work by textile artist Tony Williams which evokes the image of the warrior to empower communities of color in turbulent times. “In a year of fires, storms, social unrest, and the pandemic, my work has taken on a different look and feel,” says Williams. “The warrior figure has emerged as a voice of an unheard and unseen population.” Using indigo dye and paper, Williams has created banner like pieces, some up to 6 feet tall, which fully immerse the viewer. Figures emerge from cross-hatched backgrounds into solid, palpable forms, mythic yet fully human, with the weight of skin and muscle. The use of indigo dye also has a deep, historical significance. “Indigo has been the foundation of centuries-old textile traditions throughout West Africa,” Williams explains. “In West African culture, Indigo symbolizes sacred associations… The blues run through my soul like my DNA my blue-black skin glistening in the sunlight.”


The early figurative work of Archived Artist Lawrence Baker will also be exhibited. A native of Jacksonville Florida, Baker worked as a visual arts instructor for the Cleveland Municipal School District and received his BFA, MA, and MFA, from Kent State University. His large portraits are striking in their simplicity, using bold, flat plains to transmit stillness, longing, and even anxiety. As Baker describes, this “simplicity is an innate clearness, which can beautiful. It doesn’t matter if a man or nature manipulates it.”  Baker depicts his subjects in ordinary clothes and settings, undergoing average moments of thought or even unflattering stress. In this way, his portraits become graphic snap shots of daily life. “I am well aware these everyday observations are things we busy society sometimes take for granted. As a result, I am determined to show the qualified beauty in all of them.”



A virtual opening reception will be held on Thursday, November 19th 7:00 – 8:30pm on Zoom which features a preview of the show, a talk by curator Mindy Tousley, and remarks by the exhibiting artists. To accompany the show, the Archives will also host two artist talks on Wednesday, December 2nd and Wednesday, December 9th, 7:00 – 8:30pm. The exhibition, virtual reception, and programs are free and open to the public. Gallery Hours: Wed – Fri, 10am – 4pm. Saturday: 12pm – 4pm. Visit to read more about our visitor safety protocol.



About seenUNseen: In the Fall of 2019, The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in partnership with The Sculpture Center presented seenUNseen, an exhibition which combined selections from the renowned Kerry and C. Betty Davis collection of African American Art with work by 32 Northeast Ohio artists. Shown for the first time out of Atlanta, selections from the Davis Collection included 32 works by Charles White, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Richard Hunt, Romare Bearden, Sedrick Huckaby, Sam Gilliam, and Mildred Thompson. The story of the Davis Collection began in Atlanta, where Kerry worked as a postman and his wife as a television producer. Over 30 years, on a modest budget, they amassed a collection of over 300 paintings, works on paper and sculpture which includes some of the nation’s most significant emerging and established African American artists. This vibrant body of work now covers every inch of the Davis’ suburban residence, transforming the space into an “in home museum” that provides community access to the important, and often “unseen”, legacy of American artists of color. For more information on the seenUNseen exhibition and the Davis Collection, click here.


Bridges & Barriers

  • Amanda D. King, May 30th, Film still, 16:9, 2020, Courtesy of Shooting Without Bullets
    Amanda D. King, May 30th, Film still, 16:9, 2020, Courtesy of Shooting Without Bullets

Virtual Opening Reception: Friday, September 25th, 7:00 – 8:30pm VIEW OPENING RECEPTION

Virtual Panel Discussion: Through Our Lens: Photography as a Tool of Social Justice: Saturday, October 10th 1:00 – 2:30pm VIEW PANEL DISCUSSION

Virtual Program: The Infamous Bridge Wars of 1836 with Metroparks Historian Judy MacKeigan: Wednesday, November 4th  7:00 – 8:15pm VIEW PROGRAM


Cleveland is more than a city, it’s an environment.  Its streets, neighborhoods and monuments shape our reality, setting up expectations and impacting outcomes with every square inch of brick and concrete. This September, the Artists Archives welcomes Bridges and Barriers, a photography invitational which uses the physical landscape of the city to explore the obstacles which face its people and the connections they forge to overcome.


The exhibition features regional artists Stephen Bivens, Jef Janis, Chuck Mintz, Lauren Pacini, and Shooting without Bullets, a for-impact organization which deploys artistic activism to break down the systemic barriers which prevent Black and Brown youth from thriving. This dynamic body of work spans traditional analog photography, video projections, and multimedia installations, while tackling such important themes as voting access, racial equity protests, foreclosure, homelessness, and immigration.


A highlight of the exhibition is Keep Me Posted, a multimedia installation featuring sound, photography, and hip-hop performance that “juxtaposes the precariousness of Black life and radical resistance against the forces that threaten it, seen through the lens of Shooting Without Bullets.”  Founded in 2016 by artist/activist Amanda D. King, Shooting Without Bullets is an educational artist collective that feeds into a production company which prepares its participants for careers in the creative field. “These talented young adults, ages 18 – 21, engage in valuable experiential learning opportunities, provide creative services to the public, and produce original works… spanning the disciplines of photography, film, music, hip-hop performance, design, and more.”


Crafted specifically for the exhibition, Keep Me Posted is a creative exploration of movement, not just movement through Cleveland’s neighborhoods as young people of color, but also movement through the digital world, and involvement in social movements including removing barriers to voting, and recent protests against police brutality. The work is direct and immediate, combining the candy like aesthetics of Instagram and TiKTok with an immutable cry for social justice. King describes, “We are not here to ask nicely for equity, or to evoke empathy. We are here to take up space. To make our voices heard.” Exhibiting Shooting without Bullets artists will include visual artists Jasmine Banks (age 19) and Lai Lai Bonner (19), and Hip-hop artists James Banks (JB- 19), Maurice Philpott (Los P- 20) and Shatara Jordan (Mixxedrose- 18).


From the loss of industry to environmental disaster, Cleveland has come back from more calamities than it can count. One of the greatest challenges was the collapse of the housing market in 2007.  Considered one of the early epicenters, the effects of the crisis can still be seen today in the boarded-up windows which disrupt communities from East Cleveland to Westpark.


On display in Bridges and Barriers will be 3 installations from Chuck Mintz’s series, Every Place – I Have Ever Lived. The Foreclosure Crisis in 12 Neighborhoods. These 2’ x 2’ constructions feature images of abandon homes mounted on “cheap plywood”, with alternate views revealed by rolling down vintage window shades.  Accompanying these are factsheets containing personal history side by side with sobering demographics of each neighborhood. As Mintz describes,


“The pieces in this project each contain images of a foreclosed home in the 12 neighborhoods I’ve lived. Many were built after wars, in times of what seemed like boundless economic growth. Home ownership had become symbolic of The American Dream…. You cannot tell this story without considering changes in population, race and economics… In Every Place, the original concept was to show how this crisis reaches beyond the very poor and is, in fact, a problem for all of us.”


A particularly salient moment for Mintz occurred as he returned to the site of his childhood home.  “In the end, I didn’t know what to think. When I visited a few weeks ago, it had been torn down. It was disturbing. You expect these things to age and change, maybe deteriorate. But disappear? This feels like a war on the idea of the family home. It is easy to see who lost. I have no idea who won.” Despite the unsettling experience, Mintz was able to find hope just a few miles away. He describes “Four years ago we realized that, with both kids long gone, we could move only constrained by distance from jobs and my son’s home in University Heights. We felt that living by the lake would be worth the bother and discovered the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. Two years ago, my daughter announced she was moving back to Cleveland from Chicago and now lives nearby. Here, there is a feeling that things are only getting better.”


Prior to the pandemic, Cleveland had been described as experiencing a sort of Renaissance, with torrents of resources being poured into developing new businesses and housing stock. While many communities tout this revitalization, it is important to examine who benefits from development and who ultimately pays its price.


On view in the exhibition is a powerful series by Cleveland artist Jef Janis which documents the devastating effects of the Irish Bend Stabilization and Restoration Project on the local homeless population. In 2017, millions of dollars in federal funding was allocated for the creation of a 17-acre park, slated to cover most of the riverbed of West 25th Street from Detroit Ave to Columbus Road. This project included a $49 million hillside-stabilization effort of an area where a community of individuals experiencing homelessness lived, “some for upwards of 20 years.” Though alarm bells were raised, many residents were forcibly displaced by a 2019 clean-up effort which destroyed their possessions and left them without shelter. Janis felt called to record the event. He describes,


“Last summer while doing a great deal of street photography, I was informed that the homeless community down in the flats was being forcefully removed. All the people that were living in this makeshift community had been arrested or runoff and a group of individuals were cleaning up the area. I felt this was something that needed to be documented, I was compelled to be there.” The result is a collection of elegant black and white photographs which capture mountains of personal belongings being shoveled into garbage bags by volunteers with cheerful matching t-shirts. Heart-rending and conflicting, these images show how an overlooked riverbed can become a tangible reminder of the all-too-human toll of development.


Also on view in Bridges and Barriers is a series of work by Lauren Pacini which celebrates Cleveland’s diverse immigrant population by reflecting on one its architectural gems – the Cultural Gardens. The Gardens were established in 1916 with the Shakespeare Garden (now known as the British Garden) by Leo Weidenthal, editor and publisher of the Jewish Independent newspaper. Today, the nearly 40 gardens represent a physical curation of city’s rich legacy of immigration, a model of inclusion rather than assimilation, where different communities are linked by “paths of peace.”


So too does it represent a complicated history, with spaces for Asian, African, and Latin American groups carved out much later than their European counterparts. Featured in the exhibition is a striking image of the African American Cultural Garden to acknowledge those who were brought to this country by force. Pacini’s artful photograph of the Past Pavilion shows the predominately black neighborhood which it borders peeking through its columns, a forceful reminder of the living, breathing community it represents.


Pacini, a black and white, architectural photographer, is as intrinsically tied to the regional as the monuments he depicts. He explains, “As an artist and local history author I strive to understand the story behind the subject matter and to convey that story through my work. I have felt driven to tell the story of the industrial city. I was seven years old when I moved to Cleveland…The never-say-die spirit of its citizens who have not seen a baseball or football championship since 1964 leads Clevelanders to unshakable belief in next year. While I am all too aware of the city’s signs of death, I have been driven to tell another story – one of hope – of rebirth, documenting the renovation, restoration.”



IN HONOR OF STEPHEN BIVENS: Bridges and Barriers will also pay tribute to the late photographer Stephen Bivens, who was slated to exhibit prior to his passing in June. Respected and beloved by the Cleveland arts community, Bivens became known for his elegant portraits of the city and its people. As his wife Jennifer Bivens describes, “Stephen lived a life of disarming simplicity. He was quiet. But when he spoke – wisdom was present. I think that’s why so many loved him… He used his camera as his voice. A bridge. A means of connection. Stephen lived all over the world, but he loved Cleveland- and Cleveland loved him.” On display will be 3 black and white photographs featuring innovative views of Cleveland’s steel bridges. “Bridges were a favorite subject of Stephen’s,” Jennifer explains, “He was fascinated by them. Their strength. Their beauty. Thoughts of unity and possibility. A transition from one space or place into the next.” All proceeds from the sale of his work will benefit the Cleveland Print Room, where Bivens was a Teaching Artist, and a student scholarship fund has been established in his name.



A virtual opening reception will be held on Friday, September 25th, 7:00 – 8:30pm on Zoom which features a preview of the exhibition, remarks by the artists and Jennifer Bivens, the wife of the late photographer Stephen Bivens, as well as a vibrant, multidisciplinary performance by Shooting without Bullets that blends hip hop, dance and spoken word. The exhibition, virtual reception, and program are free and open to the public. Gallery Hours: Wed – Fri, 10am – 4pm. Saturday: 12pm – 4pm. Click here to read more about our visitor safety protocol.


To accompany Bridges and Barriers, the Artists Archives will host Through Our Lens: Photography as a Tool of Social Justice, a virtual panel discussion on Saturday, October 10th, 1-2:30pm. Images have taken a powerful place in the fight against police brutality. From documenting crimes against people of color, to increasing the visibility of protests, mass access to cell phones and digital photography have fundamentally changed the nature of representation.


This powerful program will investigate the ability of images to create social change, the new face of representation, as well as discuss potential pitfalls of this now ubiquitous media. Panelists include Amanda King, Founder/Creative Director of Shooting without Bullets, Barbara Tannenbaum, Chair of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs and Curator of Photography, The Cleveland Museum of Art, and Dr. Nicole Fleetwood, Professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University. Fleetwood is also curator of Prison Nation, a traveling photography exhibition which depicts the “hidden” American prison population, fostering empathy and political awareness to facilitate systemic change. The program will be moderated by Cleveland artist and activist Kristi Copez. Through Our Lens will be free and open to the public.



The Ardent Thread

  • Cynthia Lockhart, The Journey to Freedom, Mixed textiles, leather, snakeskin, beads

Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday, 12:00pm – 4:00pm

Virtual Opening Reception: Thursday, July 16, 6:30 – 8:00pm  VIEW OPENING RECEPTION

Virtual Artist Talks on Zoom:

  • Wednesday July 29, 6:00 – 7:30pm featuring Cynthia Lockhart, Char Norman, Jessica Pinsky and Ron Shelton VIEW PART I
  • Wednesday, August 26, 6:00 – 7:30pm featuring Phyllis Brody, Rebecca Cross, Myrya Johnson, Aimee Lee VIEW PART II

Virtual Program: The Legacy of African American Textile Art with Cynthia Lockhart: Saturday, August 15, from 1:00 – 2:30pm VIEW PROGRAM


*To visit the Archives and view the exhibition, please review our safety and social distancing policy or call 216-721-9020 for additional information*


As close to us as the clothes to our bodies, textiles hold an intimate place in our lives. Though historically dismissed for its utility, it is precisely this closeness which makes fiber a powerful tool to explore our individual and collective experiences. This Summer, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is pleased to host The Ardent Thread, a textile invitational curated by Tony Williams which shares both the personal stories and passionate work of nine regional fiber artists.


Featuring Phyllis Brody, Rebecca Cross, Aimee Lee, Cynthia Lockhart, Myrya Johnson, Char Norman, Jessica Pinsky, Ron Shelton, and Anne Weissman, The Ardent Thread showcases weaving, quilting, embroidery, papermaking, assemblage, and innovative mixed media work. The exhibition also includes artist Oral Histories, unique interactive audio recordings which trace their journeys with the fiber arts.


Curator and fiber artist Tony Williams explains, “We have all learned the craft of fiber for different reasons. Some of us learn because it is something passed down from generation to generation. Some of us learn out of necessity. Some of us learn for its beauty and skill and want to express our voice in these techniques. The group of artists exhibiting in The Ardent Thread are all true masters. They express their love of their craft… creating extraordinary art as they intertwine their chosen thread into a life of its own.”


Though the artists vary widely in process and style, each uses tradition as a springboard to investigate heritage, the boundaries of materials, and their relationship to the world. A powerful theme explored in the show is the deep connection of textiles to African American heritage. Artist Cynthia Lockhart describes, “Perhaps more than any other art form, textiles reflect the pulse of the African American Culture. Symbolism of the cloth has been one of our connections to our African roots.” Lockhart’s own work in the exhibition employs pulsing colors and organic shapes to “simulate the vivaciousness of her African ancestry” and address vital parts of the African American experience, including the slavery and the Underground Railroad.


Myrya Johnson also channels the rich legacy of African American textiles as a source of inspiration and a means to access her creative center. She relates, “Color inspires me, especially the tribal colors of the African cultures and their connection with Mother Earth. I find that these colors bring me to a place of freedom and rawness of self-expression. It is the place that I need to be when I create. When I am in that mental space, I allow the Spirit that comes to me to guide me… I have learned to listen.” Johnson’s deeply personal garments and dolls were previously shown in seenUNseen, AAWR’s landmark 2019 exhibition of African American art.


Aimee Lee draws from her Korean ancestry and hanji, the traditional process of Korean papermaking, to craft elegant and inventive new forms. “I excavate my heritage to reveal cultures and stories we rarely see or read,” Lee explains, “through hand papermaking I look for connections between humans and the wider world.” On view in The Ardent Thread, is a series of Lee’s ducks, which are created by weaving and twisting paper into hollow bodies. In Korea, carved mandarin ducks are symbols of fidelity and fertility, given as gifts to the bride and groom. “I translate these artifacts into contemporary versions that remind us where we have been while pointing to where we are going…. I encourage them to talk, fly and share their stories.”


Phyllis Brody’s work for The Ardent Thread serves both as a reflection on her family’s history as well as on the long and problematic relationship of women and the textile industry. “Textile arts have been a lifelong interest stimulated by having two grandfathers who were tailors and a grandmother who was a seamstress in a shirtwaist factory in the Garment District of NYC.” On display in the exhibition is Brody’s Crazy Quilt, a work comprised of parts of bodices, collars, hems, table runners, napkins, doilies and other obsolete goods. “I am awed by the craft, intricacy and beauty of their handwork and saddened to see it discarded.”


In addition to heritage, several artists in The Ardent Thread use fiber to reflect on human’s connections to and effects on the environment. For Char Norman, threads themselves serve as a metaphor of interconnectivity and the weaving process, a way of binding back together the nature we have broken. On display are several of Norman’s Egret Series, inspired by her encounter with the remains of a great white egret in South Carolina. “There was not much left except a smattering of feathers strewn about the trail… my hiking companion remarked that I should gather a few feathers for a hat.” The resulting sculptures use woven forms as stand-ins for the bird’s bodies and resemble the sweeping Victorian hats which bore their feathers. This fashion craze nearly drove the egrets to extinction. If not for the efforts of Harriet Lawrence Hemenway and Minna Hall, two environmentally conscious women who launched a boycott of the feathers, “we may not know the beauty of these birds today.”


Multi-media artist Rebecca Cross employs fiber to warn of humanity’s profound impact on the natural world. Using the Japanese process of Shibori, Cross fashions highly colored silk sculptures which mimic the botanical specimens found in natural history museums. “At once a mourning and a celebration of the biological diversity that we need, and is rapidly disappearing, these objects suggest a speculative future where plant species of our era…only exist as artifacts.” Cross carefully constructs clear mounts for these forms and etches them with the work’s own cast shadows and hand-written taxonomies of Ohio’s endangered plants. The “additional, linear tracings of these ‘lost plants,’ ultimately cast shadows themselves… Together, these objects become a remembrance, and express the fugitive and fragile nature of living things.”


Ron Shelton transformed his classical textile training into a call to arms over our deadly addiction to plastic. “My passion for textile arts began at the early age of six. I was fascinated by the elaborately crafted starched doilies that my ‘nanny’ created. There was such an innate connection that she began teaching me how to crochet and knit…. Later, as curator/publisher of the online arts magazine/non-profit organization, High Art Fridays (HAF), I began to observe artists using plastic, unsustainable material, in their art. From Ghana to Serbia, El Salvador to Korea, they were making a statement…this devasting medium is wreaking havoc on our communities.” The Ardent Thread features several of Shelton’s plastic hats and garments, including translucent jackets designed expressly for the show.


Another connection between the exhibiting artists, is their joy of experimenting with materials. Anne Weissman constructs elaborate fabric collages with “improvised embroidery stitches and a surprising range of textiles, including those she has hand printed.” Using her needle as a “drawing tool, the thread literally drawing together the elements of these complex, yet intimate, pieces.” With a background in fine arts, art history and world textiles, Weissman’s diverse studio work includes printmaking on paper and fabric, collage, and contemporary mixed-media paper arts.


Jessica Pinsky uses her vast knowledge of the fiber arts to push the boundaries of conventional materials and processes. “With lots of experimentation,” Pinsky describes, “I discovered I could make cloth behave very differently with the same basic materials.” Beyond technique, her weavings serve as metaphors for the human condition. “[We are all] made of the same material, but can behave very differently… Halves of [my] weavings are barely held together by tangled masses of fiber, demonstrating the many divides within our society… In contrast, the yarns that appear similar are side by side but actually very different in material and value… Our communities are segregated based on these differences. How is balance achieved? We need cloth to survive. It is our warmth and our shelter. Maybe this unifier can not only demonstrate our differences but mend them as well.”


The Ardent Thread will be celebrated with a virtual artist’s reception on Zoom, Thursday, July 16th, 6:30 8:00pm. The event features a video tour of the exhibition, a live curator’s talk by Tony Williams, and brief artist statements followed by audience Q &A. The Ardent Thread Artist Talks will also be held via Zoom on Wednesday July 29, 6 – 7:30pm and Wednesday, August 26, 6 – 7:30pm.


On Saturday, August 15, from 1 2:30pm the Archives is pleased to host The Legacy of African American Textile Art with Cynthia Lockhart. This free, online virtual program will be presented on the Zoom online meeting platform. Lockhart is Professor Emeritus at the University of Cincinnati and has taught courses in Fiber Art & Fashion, the Art of Jewelry & Leather Accessory Design, and Master of Design Professional Development. As an exhibiting artist in The Ardent Thread, Lockhart reflects, “Perhaps more than any other art form, textiles reflect the pulse of the African American Culture. Symbolism of the cloth has been one of our connections to our African roots. The fiber artwork and quilts in this presentation celebrate the resilient and creative spirit of our African Ancestors.”


Artists highlighted in the presentation reflect inspiration from Slavery through Emancipation, Reconstruction, Civil Rights, Black Life Matters, “Hands Up”, and present-day protests in honor of Mr. George Floyd.

Artist Oral Histories with Curator Tony Williams

Listen to The Ardent Thread artists describe their journey with the fiber arts… in their own word. Conceived, recorded and edited by curator Tony Williams.

Phyllis Brody

Rebeccia Cross

Myrya Johnson

Aimee Lee

Cynthia Lockhart

Char Norman

Jessica Pinsky

Ron Shelton

Anne Weissman


2020 Annual Members Exhibition

2020 Annual Members Exhibition Preview

Dates: Extended Run, Friday, March 27 – June 27, 2020
Watch the video exhibition tour HERE ON FACEBOOK!
Annual Members Meeting & Closing Reception: Saturday, July 25th 11:00am
Home to Home: Virtual Artist Talks: Part I – Friday, May 1st, 7:00PM | Part II – Friday, May 8th, 7:00PM

To vote for your favorite piece in the show: join the AAWR mailing list by Sunday, May 31st. A digital ballot will be sent on June 1st. Voting may also be done in person when the gallery re-opens on Wednesday, June 3, 2020 until the exhibition closes on June 27.


Click here to join our mailing list! At the end of the show, a digital ballot will be sent to the safety of your inbox

To purchase work: Send an email to with the artist’s name. An AAWR staff member will reach out shortly!


On March 27, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) welcomed the return of its Annual Members Exhibition, featuring work by over one hundred of its member artists, hung salon-style in the main gallery. For more than a decade, this all-media show has brought together some of Northeast Ohio’s finest creators. This year, the tradition’s been updated – we’ve gone digital!


Scroll down to enjoy a mosaic of 106 works by Northeast Ohio artists, including painting, print making, sculpture, drawing, ceramics, photography, mixed media assemblage and more. The digital gallery changes with each viewing, so visit often for inspiration. Detailed images can be viewed by clicking a piece and using the arrows to advance. In support of Ohio’s creative community, all artwork is available for sale online. Email to purchase work.


Viewers have traditionally voted for their favorite work in the show…and this year is no exception. Voting will be done online! At the end of the exhibition, a ballot will be sent to AAWR’s mailing list. The 4 most popular artists will receive awards and cash prizes which to be presented in a virtual awards ceremony on a date TBA. To join our mailing list and receive a ballot, click HERE.


Weekly exhibition highlights will be shared via Facebook and email to help visitors find their favorite work. These digital exhibition spotlights feature views from AAWR’s Main Gallery and links to learn more about featured creators.


If it becomes safe to do so, we hope to allow limited or by appointment access to the gallery space. We promise to keep you posted as things develop! until then, enjoy the digital show!


2020 Exhibiting Artists: Sawsan Alhaddad, Lizzi Aronhalt, Margaret E. Aurthur, Herbert Ascherman, Barbara Bachtell, Philip Lawrence Balin, Karen D. Beckwith, Jeff Benedetto, Ruth B. Bercaw, Diane Bjel, Hazel H. Brown, Denise Buckley, Stephen Calhoun, Kimberly J. Chapman, Ryn Clarke, Kristi Copez, Michele Crawford, John R. Davis, Dian Disantis, Susan Dovovan Lowe, Bette Drake, Leslie Edwards-Humez, Shirley Ende-Saxe, Patty Flauto, Helen Frankovits-Libens, Mark Giangaspero, JoAnn Giordano, Dale Goode, Bonnie Gordon, Adrian Hardin, Lee Heinen, Bob Herbst, Marti Higgins, Michael W. High, Joyce W. Hoffer, Palli Davis Holubar, Zachary Hoon, Mark E. Howard, Hap Howle, Marty Huehner, Harry E. Izenour, Paula Izydorek, Jacques P. Jackson, Lucette Johnson, Amelia C. Joynes, Maria Kaiser, Rebecca Kaler, Tricia Kaman, Wally Kaplan, Milan Kecman, Lisa Kenion, Terry Klausman, George Kocar, Phyllis Kohring-Fannin, James Leslie, Amy Lewandowski, Lewanda Lim, Grace S. Lin, Jonathan Litt, Maria Litt, Barbara Martin, Dennis Mastrangelo, Wayne Mazorow, Kathleen McKenna, Harry Melroy, Janet Mikolajczyk, Charles Mintz, Rita Montlack, Joyce Morrow Jones, Hilton P. Murray, Clare Murray Adams, Lynn O’Brien, Robert Pabst, Johanna Page, Bill Pappas, Katina Pastis Radwanski, James Norman Paukert, Stuart Pearl, Sharlene Pearl-Green, Ted Pikturna, Gloria Plevin, Joe Polevoi, Kelly Pontoni, Hollis Richardson, Kolman Rosenberg, Sam Roth, John Salie, John A Sargent III, Gary Schmidt, Renata Schmidt, Lisa Schonberg, Rita Schuenemann, B.J. Sessions-White, Alex Shaland, Deborah Silver, Jim Soppelsa, Jack St. John, Judy Takács, Barney Taxel, Mindy Tousley, Zoya Trofimova, Eva Volf, Gwen Waight, Al Wasco, Kim Zarney and Paula Zinsmeister.


Digital Gallery Note: To view detailed images, click on any work and use the left or right arrows to scroll through the show. Dimensions listed include framing, where applicable. Want to see the framed work or have any other questions, just reach out! (

Ruth Bercaw: Bold Statements

  • Ruth Bercaw, It’s Going to be a Great Day, 2019, Mixed media, 28 x 50 inches

Campus-Wide Opening Reception: Friday, January 24, 5:30- 8:00pm
Artist Talk: Saturday, February 8th, 1-2pm. FREE, however, please REGISTER HERE or call 216.721.9020 to attend


The Artists Archives is pleased to launch its 2020 exhibition season with Ruth Bercaw: Bold Statements, a vibrant retrospective which highlights exciting new directions in the artist’s work. The show will feature over 20 originals and focus on the debut of large-scale, multi-media pieces, finished as recently as 2019.


Known for her geometric abstraction, Bercaw’s perfectly-balanced creations use a “limited selection of simple shapes and an unlimited selection of colors” to explore relationships between people, their past, and the natural world. The artist is perhaps most renowned for her 3-dimentional paintings: brightly-hued canvases, folded into pyramids or other angular shapes and mounted on the wall. These forms, though quite modern in appearance, were inspired by ancient petroglyphs she viewed while visiting England and Ireland. Enthralled by the shaped stones and elaborate geometric symbols, Bercaw describes her works as bringing the “the power of that imagery to the 21st century with colors both new and yet evocative of our past.”


Bercaw’s mixed media work continues this interest in relationships. Some of the earliest pieces in Bold Statements reflect the interplay of light with the rivers, bluffs and tangled brush of her native Missouri, ruminating on the “interdependence of just about everything and us.” Each creation is also a thoughtful exercise in experimentation. Bercaw often plans her composition with sketches or by meticulously repositioning scraps of colored paper. “In this process, I look for the unexpected while still holding out for combinations that have potential for beautiful development, contexts that exhibit uniqueness and strength, ones that excite and challenge the mind.”


Bold Statements includes recent, large canvases which are direct descendants of her 2015 Transported Garden series. This evolution, the result of decades of aesthetic exploration, has led to works of impressive sophistication and beauty which seamlessly integrate her 2 and 3 dimensional efforts. These pieces, and perhaps more still, the process of creating them, are also meant to evoke optimism and our ability to overcome adversity. “My paintings yet turn out to be experiments involving the human spirit.” Bercaw explains, “In the end, I judge my art to be a visual manifestation of our knowingly positive attitude, our very human ability to experience joy and recognize beauty in a variety of forms.”


Bold Statements will open with a free, campus-wide reception on Friday, January 24th, 5:30-8:00pm featuring simultaneous openings at The Sculpture Center and access to the David E. Davis Studio and Gallery. A free, accompanying artist talk will be held on Saturday, February 8th, 1-2pm. To attend the talk, please register HERE ON EVENTBRITE or call 216.721.9020.


About the Artist: Ruth Bercaw graduated with a BFA in 1959 from Washington University in St. Louis and later received her MFA from Kent State University. In 1990, she was the recipient of the Ohio Arts Council Individual Artist Fellowship Grant. As an active Cleveland artist her contributions to the art community are considerable. She has exhibited extensively in Ohio, particularly Cleveland and Columbus, and is represented in numerous collections including the Ritz Carlton (Cleveland), the Museo d’Arte Contemporanea (Spoleto, Italy), The Cleveland Clinic (Naples, Florida), among many others.

Fulfilling the Eye: Anthony Eterovich (1916 – 2011)

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 21, 5:30 – 8:00pm

  • Anthony Eterovich, Green Curly Haired Boy, Pastel and pencil, Estate of Anthony Eterovich
    Anthony Eterovich, Green Curly Haired Boy, Pastel and pencil, Estate of Anthony Eterovich

“The magic of Shakespeare with words, the thrill of Beethoven in music, is certainly a rewarding experience. But the human eye, being precious, demands another kind of fulfillment…” Anthony Eterovich.


This winter, the Artists Archives is pleased to present Fulfilling the Eye: Anthony Eterovich (1916 – 2011), a retrospective that not only rewards the gaze but traces the evolution of Eterovich over his eight-decade career. The exhibition features rare, early work from the 1930’s including charcoal studies of the artist’s classmates and children impacted by the Great Depression. Over 30 pieces highlight key moments in Eterovich’s creative journey, ranging from vibrant, abstract portraiture to photorealistic scenes of American life and magical realist paintings that blend cityscapes with bursts of color and wonder.


Eterovich’s long career was fundamentally linked to Cleveland. Born and raised in the city’s Tremont neighborhood, Eterovich won a scholarship to the Cleveland Institute of Art (formerly the Cleveland School of Art) where in 1938, he received a degree in portraiture. It was there he was encouraged by designer Viktor Schreckengost, who would occasionally turn classes over to Anthony for a few hours each week. After serving in the army during World War II, Anthony went on to receive a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Masters in Art Education from Western Reserve. During his lifetime, Anthony Eterovich participated in more than one hundred and fifty exhibitions, including multiple May Shows at the Cleveland Museum of Art and other exhibitions at the Butler Institute of American Art, the Canton Art Institute, the Massillon Museum of Art, Ohio University, and the Chautauqua Institute.


In addition to his technical mastery, Anthony Eterovich was known for the impact of his teaching on the local arts community. For more than forty years, he was an instructor for Cleveland Public Schools and taught at Kennard Middle School, Rawlings Middle School, Lincoln High School, and Rhodes High School, where he chaired the art department from 1962 to 1978. Eterovich also instructed evening and weekend classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art for a remarkable 54 years. A few of Anthony’s notable students include Alice Crist, Angelo Stevens, Carl Stokes, Maxine Masterfield, Dorothy Winovich, Richard Bobby, Stuart Wooton, Wanda Ullman, Cathy Pavia, Tom Roese, Laura Ospanik, Andy Rokakis, Walter Ongaro, Nadine Miller, Steven Seward, Danny Pavia, and George Kozmon. In 2014, a classroom was named for him in the Institute’s new Joseph McCullough Building and The Anthony W. Eterovich ’38 Memorial Scholarship fund was established to “provide support to exceptional drawing students.”


Fulfilling the Eye combines pieces from the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, ArtNEO, the estate of Anthony Eterovich, and consignments from Tregoning & Co., to create an unprecedented view of the artist’s life and work. The exhibition opens with a free reception on Thursday, November 21st, 5:30-8:00 which will feature remarks by his daughter, Karen Eterovich.


As part of the exhibition, the Artists Archives will offer Everything in its Place: Personal Archiving with Karen Eterovich on Saturday, November 23, 1:00-3:00pm. In this program, Karen, daughter of the late painter Anthony Eterovich, will share the tribulations and triumphs of archiving her father’s work as well as give practical advice on managing large, personal inventories. A must-attend event for collectors/artists (and their families!) looking to ways to get organized. The event is free and open to public, however, please register by emailing or calling 216.721.9020.

Collecting African American Art with Kerry Davis

Louis Delsarte, Reconciliation (Detail), 2007, Mixed media on board, Kerry & C. Betty Davis Collections

10/11/2019 3:30PM.  ATTENTION. Collecting African American Art with Kerry Davis is SOLD-OUT. But don’t worry!  You are still welcome to come to the Artists Archives. If registered guests cancel or do not attend, their seats will be released to non-registered guests. The exhibition will be on view in the other two galleries during the presentation, and all are welcome to participate in the meet n’ greet at the end of the program!  Please arrive by 12:55pm as Mr. Davis will begin shortly after 1. The presentation should run approximately 45 minutes – 1hr.


This Fall, as part of the seenUNseen exhibition, the Artists Archives is pleased to host a series of programs which promote the visibility of regional artists of color. seenUNseen, held in partnership with The Sculpture Center and presented by the Cleveland Foundation, combines work from the Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art with a curated response of Northeast Ohio creators. The show, which opens September 20, features over 100 paintings, sculptures, textiles and mixed media pieces, and includes some of the nation’s most significant emerging and established African American artists.


Collecting African American Art with Kerry Davis is presented by the Cleveland Foundation and will be held at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve on Saturday, October 12, from 1-3pm.


In this illustrated lecture, Kerry Davis describes his 30-year journey collecting African American art with his wife C. Betty Davis, and how they built their world-class collection using only modest middle-class means.


As Kerry describes, “I want to share how I started- working as a postman and my wife as a television director/producer. Through our partnership we managed to acquire major and unseen artists. You don’t have to be wealthy or an art student to appreciate art– there are different ways to collect… I want to share some of my steps and fortunate encounters as I followed my passion.” This 45-minute presentation will explore Kerry’s unique approach to collecting and trace how a desire to decorate his suburban home transformed into a pursuit that shaped his family’s lives.


Kerry will share his methods of selecting artists and works as well as the “significance of why” he collects art and feels it is so important to tell his story. The program will conclude with Kerry describing his interactions with artists he has “had the pleasure of working with over the years,” sharing memorable experiences, and commenting on his most prized works.


Collecting African American Art is FREE, however, please register as seating is limited. Reserve your spot by clicking HERE or by calling 216.721.9020. Join the conversation on Facebook HERE


More about our speaker:

Kerry Davis: The story of the Davis Collection begins in Atlanta, where Kerry worked as a postman and his wife as a television producer. Over 30 years, on a modest budget, they amassed a collection of over 300 paintings, works on paper and sculpture which includes some of the nation’s most significant emerging and established African American artists. This vibrant body of work now covers every inch of the Davis’ suburban residence, transforming the space into an “in home museum” that provides community access to the important, and often “unseen”, legacy of American artists of color. Their collection includes artists such as Charles White, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Richard Hunt, Romare Bearden, Sedrick Huckaby, Richard Mayhew, Sam Gilliam, and Mildred Thompson.



  • Yvonne Palkowitsh, Guided, Altered photograph, 20" x 20", 2018

Opening Reception: Friday, September 20th, 6:00-8:30pm
Interview w Kerry Davis (The Soul of Philanthropy Cleveland {TSOPCLE}, The Cleveland  Foundation): Thursday, October 10, Time/Location TBA
Program: Collecting African American Art with Kerry Davis, Saturday, October 12, 1-3pm
Panel Discussion (The Sculpture Center): Saturday, November 2, 1-3pm


This September, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in partnership with The Sculpture Center, is proud to present seenUNseen, an exhibition which combines work from the Kerry and C. Betty Davis collection of African American Art and a curated response of Northeast Ohio artists.


The story of the Davis Collection begins in Atlanta, where Kerry worked as a postman and his wife as a television producer. Over 30 years, on a modest budget, they amassed a collection of over 300 paintings, works on paper and sculpture which includes some of the nation’s most significant emerging and established African American artists.


This vibrant body of work now covers every inch of the Davis’ suburban residence, transforming the space into an “in home museum” that provides community access to the important, and often “unseen”, legacy of American artists of color. Their collection includes artists such as Charles White, Jacob Lawrence, Elizabeth Catlett, Richard Hunt, Romare Bearden, Sedrick Huckaby, Richard Mayhew, Sam Gilliam, and Mildred Thompson*. SeenUNseen will be the first-time work from the Davis collection has been shown outside of Atlanta.


The exhibition will also showcase 32 Ohio artists in conversation with the Davis Collection. Working closely with Kerry Davis, curators Ann Albano (The Sculpture Center) and Mindy Tousley (Artists Archives of the Western Reserve) selected pieces that “demonstrate the deep commitment to the artistic process and great talent of the African American artists of Northeast Ohio.” Tousley explains, that though the exhibition began “as showing bodies of work by a small group of artists” it transformed into “a large survey show of 67 regional works by 32 artists… which by coincidence is the same number of artists coming to us from the Davis collection.”


“Most of these artists,” Albano, describes, “are focused on themes of relevance to the black American experience such as storytelling and fantastical events, ancestral connections, family and community. There is a wonderful freedom in the use of less conventional materials for art making including glass and a profusion of textiles to create exuberant dolls and gorgeous clothing…” Tousley adds, “Specific works were chosen with the Davis collection in mind so that regional artists could be shown in context. I was personally impressed by the large number of artists working in a textile medium in some fashion, and the works of NEO artists Myrya Johnson, Regina Abernathy and Tony Williams which pair up very nicely with John T. Riddle and Ealy Mays from the Davis collection. Riddle & Mays have obviously used the tradition of African textiles and African American quilters as a reference in their paintings.”


SeenUNseen also features work which frankly addresses inequality and discrimination. “There are darker, angry, and very powerful depictions of the injustices still too prevalent in the lives and history of African Americans,” Albano notes. Paintings such as Bloody Sundays by Louis B. Burroughs Jr. and the sculpture Middle Passage by James Halloway confront these issues head-on and present invaluable, first-hand experience and perspective. “The work of these artists of Northeast Ohio will hold its own with grace and impact in the company of the collection of Kerry and C. Betty Davis.”


Exhibiting Ohio artists include Regina Abernathy, Anna Arnold, Lawrence Baker, Donald Black Jr., Davon Brantley, Malcolm Brown, Louis B. Burroughs Jr., Shyvonne Coleman, Kristi Copez, Dexter Davis, Barbara Freeman Eady, Davin K. Ebanks, Amber N. Ford, Dale Goode, James L. Holloway, Mark Howard, Thomas Hudson, Myrya Johnson, Joyce Morrow Jones, Amanda D. King, Michelangelo Lovelace Sr., Julius M. Lyles, Lauren Mckenzie-Noel, Woodrow Nash, Yvonne Palkowitsh, Jacques P. Jackson, LaSaundra Robinson, Charmaine Spencer, Darius Steward, Bob Walls, Antwoine D. Washington and Tony Williams.


The exhibition is proudly presented by the Cleveland Foundation with help from the Ohio Arts Council, and will be displayed in three galleries on the David E. Davis Arts Campus in University Circle. An opening reception will be held on Friday, September 20th, 6:00-8:30pm that will feature a tribute to Cleveland artist Malcolm Brown. The Davis Family and many Northeast Ohio artists will also be in attendance and brief talks will take place midway through the reception. The show will continue until November 16.


The Artists Archives is also pleased to announce a series of related programming. Collecting African American Art with Kerry Davis will be held on Saturday, October 12, from 1-3pm (please call 216.721.9020 to register). The Sculpture Center will host a panel discussion including emerging, mid-career, and established regional African American artists on Saturday, November 2, 1-3pm. In collaboration with The Soul of Philanthropy exhibition which is taking place concurrently at the Cleveland History Center (Western Reserve Historical Society), the Cleveland Foundation is proud to present a live interview with Kerry Davis about grass-roots philanthropy in the arts on Thursday, October 10th. The event will be free and open to the public. Time and location TBA. Dynamic programing is also being planned with area schools.


This exhibition will also help launch a fund to help artists of color to archive their work within the collection of the Archives. Support for this initiative comes from a Steering Committee formed by Sonja Harris-Haywood, M.D., M.S (Senior Associate Dean & Clinical Associate Professor of NEOMED) and made up of community leaders.


Reception, exhibition, and accompanying programs are FREE and open to the public.


About the Artists Archives: The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is a unique archival facility and regional museum created to preserve representative bodies of work by Ohio visual artists. Through ongoing research, exhibition, and educational programs the AAWR actively documents and promotes this cultural heritage for the benefit of the public. The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve would also like to thank Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the people of Cuyahoga County, Ohio Art Dealers Association, the George Gund Foundation, the Bernice & David E. Davis Foundation, the William Bingham Foundation and the Zufall Foundation for their continuing support.


Please contact: Megan Alves, Gallery & Archives Coordinator, or Mindy Tousley, Executive Director,,  for additional information, high resolution images or a PDF of the complete list of exhibiting artists.


*Complete List of Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection Artists exhibited in seenUNseen* Amalia Amaki, Romare Bearden, McArthur Binion, Moe Brooker, Calvin Burnett, William S. Carter, Elizabeth Catlett, Carl Christian, Claude Clark, Kevin Cole, Louis Delsarte, Greg Henry, Richard Hunt, Sedrick Huckaby, Frederick D. Jones, Yashua Klos, Kojo Griffin, Jacob Lawrence, Donald Locke, Lionel Lofton, Ealy Mays, Norma Morgan, Hayward Oubre, James Phillips, Howardena Pindell, John T. Riddle, Henry O. Tanner, William Taylor, Mildred Thompson, Charles White, Charles Edwards Williams, Walter Williams, John Woodrow Wilson, Freddie Styles

Environmental Impact: Stress, Hope and Transformation

  • Gary & Laura Dumm, The Four Horsemen Of Extinction, Acrylic
    Gary & Laura Dumm, The Four Horsemen Of Extinction, Acrylic

Opening Reception: Thursday, July 18, 5:30 – 8:00pm


Man’s impact on the environment is everywhere. Climate change, over population, pollution, extinction of species, deforestation and the consumption of natural resources are all affecting the planet at an alarming rate. In this sea of existential threats jockeying for attention, it is easy to feel overwhelmed, or worse still, apathetic to the changes which surround us.

This summer, the Artists Archives will host Environmental Impact: Stress, Hope and Transformation, a small group exhibition of Ohio artists whose work seeks to energize, activate, and provide hope concerning the future of our planet. Environmental Impact will focus on the role of artist as activist and include pieces by Keith Berr, Palli Davene Davis, Maggie Denk-Leigh, Gary & Laura Dumm, Barbara Gillette, Tatiana Athena Gracyk, Marty Huehner, Lisa Kenion, Stuart Pearl and Gwen Waight.

Among the works featured in the show are digital prints by artist and environmental activist Keith Berr. Keith Berr is a Cleveland based photographer, known for his razor-sharp compositions which blend commercial and fine art. Over the past 8 years, he has dedicated himself to raising awareness of the destruction of the iconic Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, a site that in some regions, has been whittled down from 7 feet thick to a mere 3 inches. Berr’s “Save the Salt” images feature racers during historic “speed week” and have helped to gain real world support to reverse the salt depletion. Berr explains, “I am working with the hope that the salt flats will continue to exist for generations to come, by using photographs to make statements that can help to change the world.”

Another “artist as activist” included the show is Maggie Denk-Leigh, an assistant professor and Chair of the Print Department at the Cleveland Institute of Art. Denk-Leigh’s masterful prints document single moments in time to call our attention to the larger environmental issues. Her work also emphasizes the role of the individual in the process of global change. Written on a panel of her hand-made lithography art book, Critical Condition: December 2008, is this sage advice. “I have a responsibility to participate in the global warming debate. As an engaged individual, locating, gathering, and comprehending research and terminology on the topic in order to comprehend, is exceedingly easy. However, I find it overwhelming, monumental… What am I ultimately to do? I resolve to respect my community and remain engaged.”

The exhibition also includes the art of Gary & Laura Dumm, a husband and wife collaborative team known for their bold style of “pop-surrealism.” The series on view in Environmental Impact frankly expresses their planetary concerns using images from 20th century horror films. As the Dumm’s describe “We utilize classic movie monsters as our “foils” to create a distancing feature, allowing the viewer to remain initially separated intellectually (but only momentarily) from the ‘monstrous’ actions that we highlight in our paintings.” The Dumm’s also make no bones about their art’s intent. “Consider these works a gentle slap across the face to get you to stop for more than a moment and consider one’s sacred place in this existence. Ours is an activist art… We cannot change your habits, only you can do that. We merely ask: What will you do to help preserve this beautiful earth?”

In addition to sounding the alarm, Environmental Impact also features artwork which provides hope for the healing of the planet. On display in Environmental Impact will be an installation of over 20 photographs by Stuart Pearl which document the former Acacia golf course as it transitions back to its natural state. Beyond their beauty, the work demonstrates the positive effect of community action and the profound ability of the planet to mend.

Pearl, an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist, was recruited by the Cleveland Metroparks to document the reclamation of the land which was purchased by a non-profit conservation fund in 2012.  He and his wife Jeanne, who has been instrumental in the project, describe “The original job was to photograph specifically located stake positions. So every spring, summer and fall, we navigate out to 39 stake points…In the beginning it was easier to find the stakes because they were visible. Now as plants and other things start to grow, it is a little more difficult even with using GPS to find them.”

Some other works included in show are striking pastels of suburban sprawl by Barbara Gillette, Palli Davene Davis’ organic, mixed media sculptures, Marty Huehner’s ecology-based ceramics, Gwen Waight’s beach-trash assemblages, nature-inspired bronze reliefs and sculptures by Lisa Kenion, and impactful felted road-kill by fiber artist Tatiana Athena Gracyk.

An opening reception will be held on Thursday, July 18th, 5:30-8:00pm at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. The show will continue until September 7th and will feature a variety of free, accompanying programing. On Saturday, August 3rd, 1-3pm, Stuart Pearl & Jeanne Pearl will discuss their Acacia documentation project in Acacia: Environmental Impact. Suburbanites on Safari will be held on Wednesday, August 14th 6:00 – 7:30pm and feature Alex Shaland as he shares his experience exploring and photographing South Africa and Zimbabwe for his recently released book. After the Burn: 50 Years of Progress on Cuyahoga with Judy MacKeigan will be held on Wednesday, August 21st 6:00 – 7:30pm and discuss the triumphant recovery of the Cuyahoga river.



EVAC: Experiencing Veterans & Artists Collaboration

  • Emily Sullivan Smith, Kirsten, 16" x 16", Serigraph, 2018 collaboration with Kirsten, Marine Corps, 2009-2015
    Emily Sullivan Smith, Kirsten, 16" x 16", Serigraph, 2018 in collaboration with Kirsten, Marine Corps, 2009-2015

Title of Accompanying Program: Art without Limits: VR Technology
Dates of Program: Saturdays, May 25th & June 1st, 1-3:00pm


Today, the world feels increasingly divided. As people segment into online echo chambers, we find it difficult to understand other’s experiences. This is especially true where trauma is concerned- the more painful and complicated the memory, the deeper the riff it can create.


Such isolation is a persistent problem in the veteran community, as many who have served feel profoundly separated from their civilian counterparts. This summer, the Artists Archives will host an exhibition which helps to bridge the gap between service members and society.


Experiencing Veterans & Artist Collaborations (EVAC) is a touring exhibition organized by Lee Fearnside, Joseph Van Kerkhove and Dr. John Schupp, 3 Tiffin University curators who paired veterans from World War II through the Post 9/11 period, and all branches of the military, with artists who interpret their stories.


As curator Lee Fearnside explains, “Mental health providers are losing the battle with helping veterans in part because veterans feel isolated and don’t want to ask for help. Studies show veterans who share their stories may help with PTSD recovery. With EVAC, veterans have an opportunity to share their stories one time, and to have that story impact many people.”


The 28 works on display are created through a variety of printmaking techniques and are exhibited with excerpts from the veterans’ interviews. Some images are heart-rending, some funny, and others out-right terrifying, but they are unified by stunning execution and a deep reverence for the stories they share. The show features national artists as well as 11 artists from Ohio, including Tom Balbo, Erin Holscher-Almazan, Suzanne Chouteau, Maggie Denk-Leigh, Lee Fearnside, Sophie Knee, Liz Maugans, Kathy McGhee, Jonpaul Smith, Joe Van Kerkhove, and Michael Weigman.


Using storytelling and art, EVAC educates the public about life in the military through empathy and creative expression. As the EVAC organization describes “[the exhibition] gives glimpses into real people’s lived experiences. It creates an environment for a viewer that invites genuine understanding and engagement. The process of storytelling and interpretation central to EVAC makes it a project uniquely positioned to promote empathy from multiple groups – the artist and viewer for the veteran’s experience, and the veteran for the artist’s realization of their stories.”


EVAC will open with reception on Thursday, May 16th, from 5:30 – 8:00pm at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. The event will be celebrated with veteran owned and operated The Sweet Spot gelato truck, as well as light refreshments. As always, AAWR openings are FREE and open to the public with free parking available in our adjacent lot as well as on East 123rd Street.


For additional information on Project EVAC, please visit their website,


As part of the EVAC exhibition, the Archives will host programming that explores alternative means of art production. Art Bites- Professional Practices: Art without Limits: VR Technology presented by Blue Robot LLC will be held on May 25 and June 1 and provide artists the opportunity to create in a virtual reality environment. Limit: 10 participants per session. Registration required (please call 216.721.9020)

2019 Annual Member’s Exhibition

(Sculpture- Left) Harry E. Izenour, Redeyed Dancer, Mixed media, wood- shown here with his friend, AAWR member artist Joe Polevoi, Image courtesy of Stuart Pearl

(Sculpture- Left) Harry E. Izenour, Redeyed Dancer, Mixed media, wood- shown here with his friend, AAWR member artist Joe Polevoi, Image courtesy of Stuart Pearl

Campus-Wide Opening Reception: Friday, March 29th, 5:30 – 8:00pm
Closing Reception & Awards Ceremony:  Friday, May 3rd, 6:30 – 7:30pm following Annual Members Meeting, 5:00 – 6:00pm


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is proud to present the 2019 Annual Members Exhibition featuring over 100 original works from its talented member artists. The event will be celebrated with a campus-wide opening reception on Friday, March 29th, 5:30 – 8:00pm which includes simultaneous openings at The Sculpture Center and extended hours for the David E. Davis Studio & Gallery.


 This exciting yearly tradition is known for both the quality and diversity of pieces submitted by its professional-level member artists. In years past, works on view have ranged from traditionally inspired portraits and oils to intricate, multi-media assemblages and innovative digital creations.


2019’s exhibition will continue the tradition of our “all inclusive” format, featuring 1 piece under 24” from each member artist, hung salon-style in the AAWR Main Gallery.  Last year, 125 original, previously unexhibited works were displayed.


Show attendees may vote for their favorite work for the duration of the exhibition.  The four most nominated artists will receive awards and cash prizes at the closing reception, directly following the Annual Meeting on Friday, May 3rd.


The Artists Archives Annual Members Exhibition is exclusively open to artists with active AAWR memberships.  To become a member and to take advantage of this unique exhibition opportunity, please call our offices at 216-721-9020 or click HERE for more details.

Working Women: Gerte Hacker & Elise Newman

  • Gerte Hacker, Untitled (Enamel Landscape), Enamel, 7" x 9", Collection of the AAWR
    Gerte Hacker, Untitled (Enamel Landscape), Enamel, 7" x 9", Collection of the AAWR


With the proliferation of women in contemporary art, it is hard to remember a time when gender inequality was truly rampant, and few women dreamed of supporting themselves with their creative endeavors.


Elise Newman and Gerte Hacker were exceptionsAs women, they made a living off their art in Northeast Ohio when it was almost unheard of to do so. Though Hacker and Newman worked in different media, they shared a passionate, entrepreneurial spirit which allowed them to negotiate the world of art as women in mid-century America.


Hacker began her career studying painting at the Cleveland Institute of Art with Rolf Stoll, one of Ohio’s foremost portrait painters and received additional training at the John Huntington Polytechnic Institute and Cleveland College. She quickly accumulated accolades in her field, including awards from the Butler Institute of Art, the Canton Museum of Art, and an honorable mention in portraiture from Cleveland Museum of Art’s famous May show.


Like many women artists of the time, Hacker was forced to balance the pressures of homemaking with creative expression, eventually setting up a studio in her attic and painting in the afternoons while her children were at school.  It was the early 50’s when Hacker moved from painting to producing enamels.  While citing this change as the pursuit of “unlimited color and three-dimensional design”, it is likely that the decision was economically motivated. It had become apparent that her son, Jim, had profound developmental disabilities and needed special care well beyond the family’s current means. Enamels were small, consumable, and able to be sold to housewives and executives alike, as everything from earrings to ashtrays, not to mention commemorative Christmas plates.


It is Hacker’s enamels that brought her international fame and allowed her to support her family though her husband’s illness and eventual death.  A wizard at self-promotion, Hacker opened her studio to the public and began marketing herself to galleries and major department stores. Her craftsmanship and design soon garnered the attention of retailers such as the Higbee Co., Marshall Field & Co., Cowell & Hubbard, and Lord & Taylor, who purchased and distributed her jewelry, cigarette, and home accessories in major cities across the country.  The Higbee Co. later commissioned a series of enamel trays that were presented as gifts to the governors of each state for use in their mansions, as well as bowls that were given to dignitaries in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Osaka.


Hacker was famous for her miniature portraits and landscapes, a throw-back to her original passion for painting, executed in stunning multi-dimensional color and created by fusing layer upon layer of pigment on copper plates.  Working Women will feature a series of these enamels, as well as decorative pieces and early paintings and portraiture.  The exhibition will also feature examples of her later work, when she returned to her first love of painting, as she said, “purely for her own enjoyment.”


Elise Newman was another regional female artist who cut her way through the red tape of the male dominated art world. Newman’s education was primarily in graphic design. Born in Louisville, KY in 1922, Newman moved to South Africa with her parents, where she finished an art education program at Witswaterand College, Johannesburg before winning a scholarship to the Studio School of Fashion Illustration in Cincinnati, OH. After graduating with honors, Newman took a job in 1944 as a graphic designer at the Guttman Candy Company.


Like Hacker, Newman also found an economic outlet for her talent in the  massive department stores of the era. Newman worked as a fashion illustrator for the A. Polsky company in Akron, Ohio as well as for the Halle Brothers Co., Cleveland’s leading large-scale commercial retailer.  Her crowning professional achievement, however, came in 1967 when she opened the Elise Newman Gallery, an independent business located on Cleveland’s famed Murray Hill for 30 years.  Newman’s gallery was a flagship institution in Little Italy, one of the first neighborhoods to gentrify using the creative community as a spearhead.


The same courage and independence that empowered Newman to work in the arts, fed her love of experimentation and innovation. Though Newman was known for her intricate water colors, which she exhibited widely and received international acclaim, she worked in many milieus.  Elise explains: “To limit oneself to a sole medium would seem to me limiting my progress and transformation in art forms. Every medium pursued by artist has merit. Through my work I want to try everything. I have a tremendous curiosity….One of the principles that define my work is a prized line by poet Robert Browning, ‘Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?’”


Elise’s background in fashion design influenced her decision to work with batik, a medium that is featured widely in Working Women.  Also on view will be a series of her prints, water colors and mixed media pieces.


This exhibition not only offers a buffet of colorful, eye catching period artwork, it provides a window onto how women were able to negotiate the world they were given, finding pathways to pursue their passion, and to make it a profession. A campus-wide opening reception will be held in conjunction with the sculpture center on Friday, January 25th, 5:30 – 8:00pm.    

Holiday Treats 2018

Gwen Waight, The Magpie Stole My Way, Mixed media assemblage

Gwen Waight, The Magpie Stole My Way, Mixed media assemblage

Tis the Season! For the annual Holiday Treats exhibition at Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. Held in our Entrance Gallery, the show will feature small, original works by our accomplished archived and member artists. All pieces will be available for purchase with deliciously low prices- under $500!


On display will be assemblage sculpture, ceramics, vibrant abstracts on canvas, photography and delicate traditional drawings. Exhibiting artists include Archived Artists Herbert Ascherman Jr. , Rebecca Kaler, Terry Klausman , Jean Sommer and Member Artists Sawsan Alhaddad, Hazel Brown, Leslie Edwards Humez, Shirley Ende-Saxe, Samuel Francazio, Marti Higgins, Ralph Hunt, Wally Kaplan, George Kocar, James Leslie, Wayne Mazarow, Marcello Mellino, Kelly Pontoni, Katina Pastis Radwanski, Rita Schueneman, Sharon Taylor and Gwen Waight.


Holiday Treats will share an opening reception with Vivid Colors: Bess Rodriguez Richard, the artist’s inaugural show as an archived artist. The event will be held on Friday, November 16th, 5:30 – 8:00pm. The show will continue until Friday, December 21st


Opening reception and exhibition are free and open to the public. AAWR is fully wheel-chair accessible and has free parking both in its adjacent lot as well as on East 123rd Street. Gallery Hours: Wednesday – Friday, 10am – 4pm, Saturday, 12pm – 4pm and by appointment.

Current Exhibition- Vivid Stories: Bess Rodriguez Richard

  • Bess Rodriguez Richard, Ox of Vignales, Cuba, Acrylic on wood, 40” x 30”, Permanent collection of the AAWR
    Bess Rodriguez Richard, Ox of Vignales, Cuba, Acrylic on wood, 40” x 30”, Permanent collection of the AAWR

Title of Exhibition: Vivid Stories- Bess Rodriguez Richard

Dates:  November 16th – January 12th, 2019

Opening Reception: Friday, November 16th, 5:30 – 8:00pm


At two years of age, Bess Rodriguez Richard began to draw… in color.


The child of US diplomats, Rodriguez Richard spent much of her early years abroad and has resided many places.  It was Mexico, however, with its vibrant, saturated hues, that made a lasting impression on her work.  “Perhaps due to the bold colors I observed while living in Mexico City as a child, I love to create vibrant pictures. This impulse to create something pleasing or intriguing that captures one’s eye coupled with an increasing fascination with color has only grown in me.”


Rodriguez Richard’s paintings are dominated by color. Bold strokes of lemon and ochre juxtapose cool splashes of lavender and blue, pooling to form the façades of buildings from Venice to the villages of Cuba and fishing shacks in Maine.  Though real architecture is often featured, the purpose of her work is not simply to replicate a place or time. Rodriguez Richard transmits the mood or impression of a scene, a “transcendent moment,” she “strives to communicate with kindred spirits.”  “At heart I am a storyteller…” Bess explains, “To tell a story, to create a mood, or to evoke…this all fuels my creative process.”


Many of Rodriguez Richard’s landscapes feature patterns of luminous red flecks, drifting through the scene like confetti after a passing parade.  In fact, the shapes are patches of the under-painting peering through to create an optic sparkle, like the dazzling effect of the noonday sun. Combined with loose and “broken brushwork”, Rodriguez Richard “creates a setting and a story.”  In her painting, Ox of Vignales, Cuba, a great beast plods along a violet road with two children riding on his back.  Figures watch the scene, strolling through a dreamy yet electric haze.  “I was ‘channeling’ Henry Moore when trying to capture it.  And in creating this work, I was also inspired by the Latin American writers, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende, and their fantastic writings.”


Rodriguez Richard’s floral paintings will also be on display in Vivid Stories.  “These represent a more abstract form of nature-derived expressionism.” Rather than a physical object in space, they capture the vibrant energy of a flower in bloom.  In addition, a series of the artist’s still lifes and examples of her newer figurative work will be on view.


Vivid Stories will be celebrated with an opening reception on Friday, November 16th, 5:30 – 8:00pm at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. The exhibition will run from November 16th until January 12th, 2019.  In conjunction with Vivid Stories, Holiday Treats, our annual member’s show will be on display and feature original artwork for delicious prices.

Recast: Curated by Mary Urbas

  • Jenny Mendes, Platter, Ceramic
    Jenny Mendes, Platter, Ceramic

Title of Exhibition: Recast: Curated by Mary Urbas
Dates:  September 21st – November 10th, 2018
Campus-Wide Opening Reception: Friday, September 21st, 5:30 – 8:00pm

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to begin the Fall season with Recast: Curated by Mary Urbas, the follow-up exhibition to 2016’s popular Ceramics Invitational.  The event will be celebrated with a campus wide opening reception on Friday, September 21, 5:30 – 8:00pm which includes the Sculpture Center’s premiere of Swing States: Recent Perspectives in Glass Sculpture from the Middle West and Two of Wands by Adam Milner and Allison Smith.


Recast is part of a larger, regional showing of ceramic artists known as Clay 5: A Clay Tour through Northeast Ohio, featuring 5 exhibitions, 3 curators and the work of both national and local creators.  Clay5, the brain-child of curator Mary Urbas, highlights the volume and diversity of area talent.   Urbas also emphasizes the role of the Cleveland Institute of Art in the formation of Northeast Ohio’s clay community, noting that all 3 Clay5 curators have CIA ties: Val Grossman (’12), Faculty Emeritus Judith Salomon and Urbas herself, who graduated in 1980.


Urbas explains, “My fascination with clay started when I was a student at the Cleveland Institute of Art… I took a hand-building class with Judith Salomon [whose work will be displayed in Recast].  I was intrigued by the alchemy, the chemistry of taking dry raw materials, adding water, creating a three-dimensional object, and then firing it in a kiln. I distinctly remember that moment… pulling the red-hot piece out… laying it in a nest of combustible materials, watching it catch fire, squelching the flames and containing the smoke. I was hooked!”


Urbas’ selections for Recast reflect this love of process. “I chose artists who honor their craft and incorporate the many different techniques of surface embellishments and various glaze applications, into ceramic art that will be hand-built, wheel thrown or sculptural in design.”  Urbas also added, “I wanted to take advantage of a different venue; to curate and design an installation that featured Ohio artists who don’t regularly show in this area, and I wanted to help bring some new visibility to their work.”


Among these rarely exhibited artists is Kimberly Chapman, a 2012 CIA graduate who returned to school after two decades in marketing to pursue a fine art degree.  Chapman’s haunting, post-modern objects juxtapose the traditional medium of porcelain with jarring, contemporary subjects like drug-addiction, gun violence and homelessness.


Richard Schneider, another lesser-shown artist, has been producing since the 1970’s, though his work has not been exhibited for some time.  Schneider’s art joyfully turns on its head the notion of clay as a functional medium, interrupting the surfaces of his work with unexpected and whimsical objects.  Schneider’s piece, Chili Peppers, features a neon cow-splotched platter with a collaged pyramid chained to its surface.  A row of sculpted ducks swim serenely by on the vessel’s lip, observing the irreverence with a tranquil grace.  Other Recast artists who do not typically show in Cleveland include Sarah Clague, Tom Radca and the late David Batz.


The Recast roster of artists will also be rounded-out by area heavy-hitters such as William Brouillard, Stephanie Craig, Michael W. High, Todd Leech, James Leslie, Jenny Mendes, Seth Nagelberg, Sandy Miller, the late Archived Artist George Roby and Judith Salomon.


Clay will also be on display at the Valley Art Center (Woodfired Ceramics of Northeastern Ohio: Curated by Judith Salomon, September 4 – October 10),  the Gallery at Lakeland (Made of Clay: Curated by Mary Urbas, September 20 – November 2), Article/Art in Cleveland Gallery (Ceramic Invitational: Curated by Mary Urbas, October 5 – November 2), and Brick Ceramic and Design Studio (Susan Gallagher: Curated by Val Grossman, October 5 – November 2).


Both reception and exhibition are free and open to the public.  Gallery hours: Wed – Friday: 10am – 4pm, Saturday: 12pm – 4pm.  Ample free parking in AAWR’s adjacent lot and on East 123rd Street.

GRAPHIC- the Counter Culture of Cartoons, Comics & Graphic Novels in Northeast Ohio

  • Zachary Feador, Guardian of Cleveland #1 Pg. 1: Cleveland: The Birthplace of the Superhero, Ink on Bristol board with digital color
    Zachary Feador, Guardian of Cleveland #1 Pg. 1: Cleveland: The Birthplace of the Superhero, Ink on Bristol board with digital color
Opening reception – Videography by Brad Masi with Blue Heron Productions

Show Dates:  July 19th – Sept 8th, 2018

Opening Reception: Thursday, July 19th, 5:30 – 8:00pm

Accompanying Program: The History of Street Art with Roger Gastman and Bob Peck
Date of Program: Saturday, August 18th, 1:00 – 4:00pm
Location of Program: 78th Street Studios


It is true.  Most people in Northeast Ohio are excited for the arrival of FRONT International- and with good reason.  This massive, multi-city triennial for contemporary art promises to attract the influential eye of the international creative community as well as provide a healthy dose of revenue to our diversifying economy.


It is also true that some local artists feel disenfranchised by the event and have expressed concerns the international exhibition descending upon their region provides few avenues for grass roots participation. AAWR’s Summer show, Graphic: The Counter Culture of Cartoons, Comics and Graphic Novels in Northeast Ohio was created as a two-fold response to this divide.


AAWR Executive Director and exhibition curator, Mindy Tousley explains “We like the idea of juxtaposing our focusing on ‘low art’ against the ‘high art’ from non-regional artists that FRONT is promoting.  By holding this show at the same time [as FRONT], we are re-enforcing our position as advocates for local artists” and supporters of all forms of art, regardless of their position in the hierarchy of the art world.


Graphic will feature a diverse survey of cartoons, comics and graphic novels by regional artists from the 1930’s until present day and will illustrate Northeast Ohio’s influential role in the development of this uniquely American art form.  On display will be the work of such pivotal artists as Robert Crumb, Derf, Gary Dumm, Laura Dumm, James Giar, Archived Artist Marvin Jones, Jake Kelly, Gerry Shamray and Siegel & Shuster.


The exhibition will be co-curated by Gary & Laura Dumm, two native Cleveland artists with long histories in comics and commercial art.  For over 35 years, Gary collaborated on American Splendor, a Cleveland-centric autobiographical comic.  His cartoons have been printed in Entertainment Weekly, the New York Times, the VillageVoice and France’s le Monde.  Laura owned her own graphic arts business for over 20 years and widely exhibits her pop-art style of pattern-based painting.


Laura explains that though comics have faced discrimination from the high-art establishment, the possibilities of the genre are meaningful and infinite.  “Comics fall somewhere in the twilight zone between fine art and the cinema… they are basically finished storyboards for movies of the mind. The artwork has no rules… Although there may be a commercial aspect to their creation”, a distinction often used to separate “low” art from “high” (or “fine” art from craft and commercial), “there is often the commonality of creative inspiration and dedication that is evident in the work, as long as the viewer does not dismiss it out of hand as low-brow… Any art that the viewer enjoys IS ‘fine’ art.”


Harvey Pekar, the author of America Splendor, often said this about comics: “With the combination of words and pictures you can do anything.”  Please join the Artists Archives this Summer, as GRAPHIC uses the power of words and pictures to appreciate local creators and celebrate art in all its forms.


Continuing in this vein of regional advocacy, the Artists Archives is also pleased to offer our program, The History of Street Art with Roger Gastman and Bob Peck on Saturday, August 18th. 78th Street Studios


This two-part presentation will cover both the regional graffiti/street art scene as well as the broader history of street art on a national and international level.


Cleveland artist Bob Peck began his long career with street art and is considered one of the region’s leading experts in the genre.  Peck has exhibited his abstract, graffiti-inspired paintings in galleries for over a decade and has been creating commissioned public art and murals for nearly twenty years. Peck’s portion of the presentation will focus on the history of Cleveland graffiti from the 1980’s to present day.  It will showcase photos of regional work, spotlight local artists/crews and even include a few harrowing stories of “close calls and sketchy situations” while painting.


Roger Gastman, one graffiti’s foremost international authorities, will place the regional street art scene into a larger national and global context.  Gastman is a curator, graffiti historian, urban anthropologist and collector who Forbes says “has made a career of being the cultural connector between street artists and the art world.” Gastman founded and co-published Swindle magazine with Shepard Fairey, co-authored The History of American Graffiti and co-produced the Oscar-nominated Banksy documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. His most recent project, BEYOND THE STREETS (BTS) is the premier exhibition of graffiti, street art and beyond and will feature over 100 artists including Shepard Fairey, Jason REVOK, FUTURA 2000, LADY PINK, Lee Quiñones, INVADER, HAZE, SWOON, Guerrilla Girls, Barry McGee, Stephen Powers, CHAZ, FAILE, Kenny Scharf, Dash Snow, Jenny Holzer, C.R. Stecyk III, Felipe Pantone, Maripol, RETNA, Gordon Matta-Clark, Martha Cooper, TAKI 183 plus Dennis Hopper, Takashi Murakami, and Mark Mothersbaugh. BTS opens to the public in Los Angeles on May 6, 2018.


The History of Street Art with Roger Gastman and Bob Peck is free and open to the public, courtesy of a matching grant by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC). Please call our offices, 216.721.9020 to reserve your spot.

2018 Annual Members Exhibition

Jennifer Leach, Gender Identity Avatar Portraits , Polyptych composed of 8” X 8” white line color woodcuts on BFK Rives

 2018 Annual Members Exhibition

March 15th – May 4th, 2018

Opening Reception: Thursday, March 15th, 5:30 – 8:00pm

Closing Reception & Awards Ceremony:  Friday, May 4th, 6:30 – 7:30pm following Annual Members’ Meeting, 5:00 – 6:00pm


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is proud to present its 2018 Annual Members Exhibition featuring the multi-media work of its Member Artists.  The event will be celebrated with an Opening Reception on Thursday, March 15th, 5:30 – 8:00pmA Closing Reception and Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 4th, 6:30 – 7:30pm directly following the Annual Members’ Meeting, which will be held from 5:00 – 6:00pm.


This exciting yearly tradition is known for both the quality and diversity of pieces submitted by its professional-level Member Artists. In years past, works on view have ranged from traditionally inspired portraits and oils to intricate, multi-media assemblages and innovative digital creations.


2018’s exhibition will once again take an “all inclusive” format, featuring 1 piece under 24 inches from each Member Artist hung salon-style in the AAWR Main Gallery.  Last year, almost 100 original, previously unexhibited works were displayed.


Show attendees may vote for their favorite work for the duration of the exhibition & 4 awards will be given out at the Closing Reception on May 4th, directly following the Annual Members Meeting.


The Artists Archives Annual Members Exhibition is exclusively open to artists with active AAWR memberships.  To become a member and to take advantage of this unique exhibition opportunity, please call our offices at 216-721-9020 or visit


Each Member Artists may drop off 1 piece, under 24″ in any direction, at the AAWR on…

  • Friday, 3/2/18, 10am – 5pm
  • Saturday, 3/3/18, Noon till 4pm
  • Tuesday, 3/6/18, 10am – 5pm
  • Wednesday, 3/7/18, 10am – 5pm

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve would like to thank Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Ohio Art Dealers Association, the George Gund Foundation, the Bernice & David E. Davis Foundation, the William Bingham Foundation and the Zufall Foundation and our members for their continuing support.


Marilyn Szalay, Unforgiveble Silence, Charcoal and chalk on paper, Permanent Collection of the AAWR

Marilyn Szalay, Unforgiveble Silence, Charcoal and chalk on paper, Permanent Collection of the AAWR

SZALAY/TAKÁCS SECRETSArt is full of secrets…secret meanings, symbolism, struggles and statements.


Some secrets go to the grave with the artist, leaving curators and art historians to spend centuries speculating and theorizing about the mysteries hanging on museum walls.


And some living artists blog about the secrets they have hidden in their paintings, hoping someone will care about the painting enough to read the blog.


SZALAY/TAKÁCS SECRETS is chock-full of both kinds of secrets.


Judy Takács and the late Marilyn Szalay share their inaugural exhibits at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, and this colorful, symbolism-packed, large-scale figurative, artistic feast, opens Thursday night May 24th from 5:30 to 8:00.

Judy Takács, Guardian Angel of the Good Death, Oil on linen

Judy Takács, Guardian Angel of the Good Death, Oil on linen

Marilyn Szalay is best known for her superbly drafted figurative charcoal drawings; bodies, heads and hands are closely cropped for maximal compositional fascination. Szalay taught life drawing to decades of artists at all the major art institutions of Northeast Ohio; Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland State, Cuyahoga Community College and Cooper Union. Stories of her larger than life personality live on as does her legacy of powerful and psychologically charged figurative art which took inspiration from her journalistic style of photography.  Many of the stories behind her drawings will now forever remain a secret.


Judy Takács has made a mark on Ohio art and nationally with her Chicks with Balls series, celebrating unsung female heroes, topless and holding balls. Several of her Chicks paintings, including a self-portrait, will be included in SECRETS, as will various paintings inspired by the health decline and subsequent death of both of her elderly parents over the past two years. In administering to their lives and later their possessions and writings, Takács uncovered many stories which she explores in recent works with titles like, Cancer Honeymoon, Serenity Prayer, Ephemera Collector, Guardian Angel of the Good Death and a posthumous imagined portrait of her aunt, who was sent away as a teenager and died at 21. Takács blogs about the symbolism and stories behind many of her paintings at, but also knows how to keep a secret.


SZALAY/TAKÁCS SECRETS opens May 24th from 5:30 to 8:00 and runs through July 14th at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. Both exhibition and reception are free and open to the public.

As part of the ArtBites series of Professional Practices programming and the SZALAY/TAKÁCS SECRETS exhibition, the AAWR is also pleased to present  How to Make Friends & Influence Strangers- Social Media for the Artist with Judy Takács on Wednesday, June 6th 6:00-8:00pm.  This series of programming is designed to help artists of all ages navigate the marketplace and provide knowledge beneficial to artistic careers.  ArtBites programming is made free courtesy of a matching grant from Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC).  The program is free and open to the public but REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED.  Please call 216.721.9020 to reserve your spot or click HERE to register on Eventbrite!


Current Exhibition: Core Functions- Bette Drake and Marvin Jones

  • Marvin Jones, Untitled, Mixed media on board, 24” x 18”

Title of Exhibition: Core Functions- Bette Drake and Marvin Jones
Dates: January 19 – March 3, 2018
Campus Wide* Opening Reception: Friday January 19, 5:30 – 8:00pm
Art Bites: Collecting Art Talks –
February 10, 1:00 – 3:00pm Improves with Age, Collecting Fine Wine with Cris Drugan


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to open its 2018 exhibition schedule with Core Functions, an inaugural show for two new Archived Artists, ceramicist Bette Drake and painter and printmaker Marvin Jones. The event will be celebrated with a Campus Wide Opening Reception on Friday, January 19, 2018, 5:30 – 8:00pm* during which all three entities within the Davis Foundation Campus, The Archives, The Sculpture Center and The David E. Davis Sculpture Studio and Gallery, will be open to the public.


Bette Drake, born in Cleveland in 1942, is a studio potter who makes functional work well within the tradition of reduction fired stoneware established by twentieth century studio potters like Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada. She works with a mix of Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri clays on a wheel and with slabs, formulates her own glazes, and fires work in the reduction atmosphere of a gas kiln. She learned her craft from Toshiko Takaezu, who was her teacher at the Cleveland Institute of Art, until her graduation in 1965 with a major in ceramics and a minor in painting. She also holds an MFA from Tulane University. Her philosophy of art making is informed by her materials and dedication to the craft of making work that is functional. The plasticity and versatility of clay as medium appeals to her and she likens her forms to blank canvases for decoration. Studio pottery made in this fashion is both a science and an art. The reduction firing process itself is not totally predictable and so the experience and technical skill gained over her years as a ceramicist are communicated by the achievement of her forms and glazes which read like expressionistic paintings. Drake has been included in several CMA May shows, The Best of…Ohio Designer Craftsmen Shows, various national juried exhibitions and fairs, and is in the collection of the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona California and the Ohio Craft Museum in Columbus Ohio.


Marvin Jones (1940 – 2005) was a professor of art at Cleveland State University from 1976 – 2004, where he primarily taught printmaking. His extensive resume includes over five hundred group exhibitions throughout the world, including many major biennales such as The 3rd and 9th International British Print Biennales, The Yugoslavian 13th International Biennale of Graphic Arts, The 8th Biennale of Graphic Design in Czechoslovakia, and The International Drawing Exhibition of the Joan Miro Foundation. He has had over 75 solo exhibitions of his paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture and his work is included in over forty public collections. Jones was himself a great collector of the works of many cultures and held a very large collection of Outsider, Inuit, Aboriginal, African and Mexican Folk Art. He used these objects widely for inspiration within his own work, particularly in his later years. His earlier work was heavily influenced by the other California artists who taught at his alma mater, the University of California at Davis in the 1960’s. Teachers like Roy De Forest, Robert Arneson, Wayne Thiebaud, William Wiley and students like David Gilhooly, who were the founders of California Funk art. This movement was characterized by an outrageous wit that fused counter–culture thinking with a devil may care attitude. Marvin’s early work clearly shows the “funk” influence in his choice of subject matter, and cartoon style. His later work, while changing in focus and process, still relates back to those former teachers and fellow artists from Davis. The eyes that Marvin often painted by hand on his prints in later years, look very much like the eyes Roy De Forest painted on his dogs in the 1970’s, and works like Squirrel Descending a Staircase and Aunt Bea Catches a Squirrel are printed in a style that shows Deforests influence. In general Jones took a very crafted, deliberate, approach to the numerous drawings, prints and ceramics that he produced prolifically during his lifetime. He was beloved teacher whose sense of humor was never very far from either his personal art or his teaching style.
…” Both Western and non-Western art, except at the most trivial level, is about the experience of being human and is an attempt to control and understand the environment in which we live…. The Ocumicho figures are usually seen as humorous. It is always good to remind ourselves that the basis for comedy is tragedy and that the thing that is most unhappy is often the best occasion for a smile. ”*


As part of Core Functions, Art Bites programming for 2018 begins in February with a Collecting Art Talk on Collecting Fine Wine, for Valentine’s Day. Improves with Age, a lecture on collecting fine wine given by licensed wine appraiser Cris Drugan will take place Saturday, February 10, starting at 1:00pm, followed by a wine tasting courtesy of Vintage Wine Distributor, Inc. led by Sommelier John Constantine. While the lecture is free we are asking for donations of $10 to visitors of age 21 and over, who wish to stay and partake in the tasting.


We request that attendees please REGISTER on our website, or call 216.721.9020 to reserve a spot. AAWR is fully wheel-chair accessible and has ample free parking both in its adjacent lot as well as on East 123rd Street. Light refreshments will be served after the programs. Exhibitions and programming are free courtesy of a matching grants provided by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC) and Ohio Arts Council(OAC).


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve would like to thank Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Ohio Art Dealers Association, the George Gund Foundation, the Bernice & David E. Davis Foundation, the William Bingham Foundation and the Zufall Foundation and our members for their continuing support.



Current Exhibition: Visual Emotions- The Way I Remember You

  • Augusto C. Bordelois, When Polka Dot Dreams Fail Me, Oil on Canvas, 36" x 48"

Show Dates: November 9, 2017 – January 13, 2018

ART BITES: Collecting Art Talks – Cuba: The Land, the People, the Arts – 60 years after Castro’s Revolution with Irene Shaland: Saturday, November 18th, 1:00 – 3:00pm


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to present its exhibition Visual Emotions- The Way I Remember You, Augusto C. Bordelois’ inaugural solo show as an Archived Artist.


Bordelois, a native of Havana, Cuba, is known for his sensual, narrative style of Magical Realism created through traditional Renaissance painting techniques.  Though it is tempting to confuse Magical Realism with its popular and highly publicized cousin, Surrealism, Bordelois is quick to point out the fundamental difference between the styles.  “In Magical Realism, every element means something.  In Surrealism, you’re putting everything your brain is generating right into the painting. In [Magical Realism] everything is calculated, everything has one thing to do- to tell a story.”


Narrative is paramount in Augusto’s work.  It transcends media and even begins before the piece is created.  “I write the story before I paint,” Bordelois explains, “I am a story teller by nature.  If I wasn’t using paint…I would find another way.  To me, painting is just a medium to tell a story.”


Visual Emotions will primarily feature paintings from Bordelois’ Outcasts and Other Rejects series.  Far from being discarded or unfinished work, each piece reveals vignettes, meticulously crafted from layers upon layers of symbolic language.  The “Outcasts” and “Rejects” Bordelois refers to are the characters within the paintings, who struggle to find self-acceptance and belonging within their relationships.  Many of the subjects are also outcasts from society at large, inspired by real-life people, including pimps and prostitutes that frequented clubs where Augusto once bartended.


“This group of paintings has a more serious and philosophical flavor. But sometimes it is hard to see the connection among them because they don’t tell a lineal story. Each painting is story of something that has happened to me, or a person that I have met. This is my take on personal, social events and the lives of others distilled through my brushes and encoded with ten thousand symbols.”


This encrypted visual language is one of the most striking elements of Augusto’s work.  The meaning of objects can sometime seem quite opaque while others images are warmly familiar, beckoning us closer to explore and decode.   His canvases are populated by herds of blue rabbits, ruffed Elizabethan dwarves, musical instruments, overflowing pots of sunflowers, and men in black bowlers hats drifting through exotic backdrops.  Bordelois’ paintings are truly visual poems, written in an emotional language and begging to be translated.


Another unique feature of Bordelois’ work is his depiction of women.  The women in Bordelois paintings are not only ubiquitous, they are undeniably strong.   “I paint powerful women.  If one of my women hits you, you’re going down.”  Bordleois playfully notes.  This strength, however, extends much further than their physical bodies.  The story of the Outcast series is really the story of power and appearances- who is perceived to have power in day to day life, and who truly has it when pretense is stripped away.  It is these relationships that captivate Bordelois. “The relationship between men & women, or lovers, the relationship about power- there is no other story line- at least not for me.  That’s what it is.  The rest is variations of that.”


In addition to Outcasts and Other Rejects, other series that are represented in the show are Brides and Warriors which depicts the effects of war on youth and Immigrant Stories which Bordelois began shortly after moving to the United States.  Bordelois describes “I became aware that for some people no matter what my passport reads, I won’t ever be a “real” American. But I only started painting when the controversy about immigration in the United States and Europe started heating up. Every time that the news outrage me, because of a new law or another politician blaming immigrants for the faults of society, I add a couple of paintings or drawings to this series.”


Augusto C. Bordelois graduated from the University of Havana with a major in English Language and Literature. He has also studied sculpture, ceramics, costume design for theatre and cinema, classical drawing and painting.


His visual artwork has been awarded much recognition in Cuba as well as competitions in the United States. He has participated in more than 120 national and international group shows and 31 solo exhibitions. Some of his works are in private collections in Cuba, the United States, Venezuela, Colombia, Mexico, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Ecuador, Japan, Greece, Germany, Chile, Switzerland, England and Norway. His work is also part of the permanent collection of Cleveland Marshall Colledge of Law / Cleveland State University and The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR).


Augusto is a teaching artist at the Center for Arts-inspired Learning (previously known as Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio), The Art House and the Ohio Arts Council. He has served as a board member at Near West Theater, and is currently a board member with the Center for Arts-inspired Learning. He is a member of CSU’s Cleveland Arts Education Consortium Diversity Committee. He has been featured as a guest lecturer at Cleveland State University and Baldwin Wallace University. Currently, he owns and directs Augusto Fine Art Studio and Art Center in Berea, Ohio.


In addition to the opening reception on Thursday, November 9th, 5:30 – 8:00pm, the AAWR gallery will also be open on Friday, November 10th until 8pm in conjunction with the opening of The Sculpture Center’s exhibitions, Screaming Voicelessly to a Distant Silence and Sculptural Voyage/2017/Andrew T. Chakalis


ART BITES: Collecting Art Talks – Cuba: The Land, the People, the Arts – 60 years after Castro’s Revolution with Irene Shaland: Saturday, November 18th, 1:00 – 3:00pm


The AAWR is also proud to present in conjunction with Visual Emotions and as part of ART BITES series of Collecting Art Talks,  Cuba: The Land, the People, the Arts – 60 years after Castro’s Revolution with Irene Shaland, Saturday, November 18th, 1:00 – 3:00pm


Cuba defies conventional thinking: with half the land and people of the whole Caribbean, it seems more of a continent than an island. At the crossroads of the Western hemisphere for over 500 years, 20th century Cuba became a country where the clocks stopped for many decades. Its recent troubled history presents a story of brutal oppression and deprivation, but which is at the same time intriguing and fascinating. From the hot music clubs to Che Guevara murals, sensuality and socialism rub shoulders in Cuba’s great cities; and the newly-allowed art galleries display cutting-edge paintings and sculptures that might make New York or Santa Fe envious. Dilapidated mansions neglected for decades stand side-by-side with beautiful newly renovated colonial, art nouveau and art deco buildings.


Take a journey with internationally published art and travel writer Irene Shaland to rediscover this island against the background of its 500 plus year history. Travel from Santiago to Havana, from Cienfuegos to Trinidad-  to learn how Cuba is finding its way back to the future.” Cuba: The Land, the People, the Arts – 60 years after Castro’s Revolution with Irene Shaland is FREE and open to the public, however, please REGISTER ON EVENTBRITE or call 216.721.9020 to reserve a spot.


AAWR is fully wheel-chair accessible and has ample free parking both in its adjacent lot as well as on East 123rd Street.  Light refreshments will be served after the program.

The ART BITES series of programming is free courtesy of a matching grant provided by Cuyahoga Arts and Culture (CAC).

Current Exhibition: In the Details

  • Lilian Tyrrel, Loss of Communication, Wool and linen
The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to present its exhibition In the Details, a group, textile show curated by Lakeland Gallery Coordinator and independent curator, Mary Urbas.


In the Details showcases the work of Libby Chaney, Juli Edberg, Sandy Miller, Jessica Pinsky, Gayle Pritchard, Susan Shie, Deborah Silver, Lilian Tyrrell, Archived Artist Evelyn Ward and Jennifer Whitten. This will be the second exhibition curated by Urbas for the Archives, and promises a wide range of subject matter and styles which will stretch the viewer’s conceptions of what constitutes a piece of “textile art”.


Urbas herself holds a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art, where she majored in textile design. Of importance to her when selecting work for this exhibition was choosing artists who honor their craft and whose primary concern is the physical surface. Although they vary widely in their mediums and subject matter, they share a consistent attention to the handwork that is rapidly becoming a lost art, “…When you gaze upon and investigate the surface of a printed banner, a quilt, an embroidered or beaded surface, a handwoven piece of fabric, you get a sense of the time that was invested into creating the artwork. You can appreciate the quiet time and hours of meditation that the artist experienced while creating their artwork… I chose artists who …incorporate the many different techniques of surface embellishments; the “details” that were included into each piece. I invite the viewer to notice the contrast in sizes and scale of the works, to see how each artist approached the surfaces on a flat plain or a 3-dimensional sculpture. Some include and introduce other materials such as clay and glass into the work. These are works that beckon you to examine them more closely, to discover the subtle enhancements of the imagery, to see the woven intricacies of the fabrics, and experience the tactile quality of the surfaces.”


While all the artists Urbas selected for In the Details share the attributes described above, there are a few that stand out for other reasons as well. Of note is the inclusion of Lilian Tyrrell, and Susan Shie.


The reputation of both artists exceeds the boundaries of a regional classification. Both artists also have a background in political activism dating back to the 1960’s and both were at Kent State at the time of the shootings in 1970 and were affected by the incident.


Shie is an internationally recognized Ohio artist. Embodied within the copious writing, which is part of her signature quilting style are social and political justice statements based on her personal life experiences, both good and bad. She has truly adopted the feminist slogan, “The personal is political”. Her quilt for In the Details is part of a 78-piece Tarot Deck, The Kitchen Taro, she has been working on since 1998, While the Tarot Quilts weren’t essentially political to start when George W. came along she began voicing her protests as part of her work. While the actual writing on her work is not scripted beforehand she does research the facts before she begins.


Lilian Tyrrell’s large-scale tapestries portray socio-political commentary which is as relevant today as it was when the work was created. In the Details, along with a simultaneous solo show at the Sculpture Center, will mark the first reappearance of her work locally, following her death in 2007. While Lilian had a lifelong interest in textile art, she was neither self-identified as an artist nor formally educated as a weaver. She became interested after taking one class and was essentially self-taught. Her work is shocking because of the blatant imagery, presented in true historical tapestry fashion, as a painting would be, representational imagery, flat, made on a loom, and meant to hang on the wall. Unfortunately, many of the environmental disasters, famines and wars that she depicts are as germane today as they were back in the 1980’s when they were created.


Libby Chaney also claims longstanding politically concerns, and has been very vocal about her distress over the current administration’s policies. Her studio work in progress for In the Details reflects that concern, albite in a more abstract way, than the obvious statements made by Tyrrell and Shie. Her work is typically monumental in scale and process is very important as she lays down one piece of fabric at a time building up a landscape of texture and color, cloth and thread.


A campus wide Opening reception focusing on fiber works was held on Friday September 15, 5:30-8:00pm at the AAWR Gallery. The Sculpture Center & the Davis Sculpture Gallery and Studio were also open for viewing.


Art Bites: Collecting Art Talks – Quilting Today with Tracy Rieger, Saturday October 7th from 1:00 – 3:00pm

Clarissa Jakobsons, One Hundred American Poems, Sculptural Crystal Book, Borax, Altered 1962 Ed

WORD. palabra, ,كلمة字, Wort, mot, ワード, слово, parola

  • Clarissa Jakobsons, One Hundred American Poems, Sculptural Crystal Book, Borax, Altered 1962 Ed


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is pleased to announce Word– an exhibit disposed/preferential to the subject/object of WORDS. The exhibition is inclusive of but not restricted to their use in media and or as an aesthetic vehicle for communication and expression.  In other WORD(S) an exhibit exploring WORDS.  This curated show will feature the diverse multi-media work of Ohio artists Liz Maugans, Janet Mikolajczyk, Clarissa Jakobsons, Shirley Ende-Saxe, Jon Keppel, Todd Leech, Maurice Sherman, and Archived Artist Adele Marihatt.


The use of words in this exhibition is as varied as the media chosen to depict them.  From the “simplest representation of a visual idea,” to magical invocations and gateways into interior realities, each artist was chosen for their unique “sensitivity to language” and its complicated workings in our text-saturated society.


The opening reception, to be held at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve on Thursday, July 20th 5:30 – 8:00pm will host a performance art piece by CAN Journal co-founders Liz Maugans and Michael Gill featuring live printing.  Cleveland poet Chris Franke, known for his many collaborations with Archived Artist Adele Marihatt, will also be performing a reading of his work.


Janet Mikolajczyk is a visual artist and art historian who has lectured at multiple institutions including Cleveland State University, Akron University, and the Cleveland Institute of Art where she covered the Medieval to early modern eras.  Mikolajczyk also served as adjunct professor of art history at Ursuline College and has exhibited her art extensively around the region.

In Mikolajczyk’s work, text becomes a somatic landscape through which the viewer must journey to find meaning.  The Dante’s Inferno series features 13 cantos from the 14th-century epic wrapped around tree-like forms that seem to sprout from the gallery floor.  “I felt that because Dante starts in the dark woods, a forest of totems would be appropriate,”  Mikolajczk explains.

Viewers are encouraged to make their own physical pilgrimage through the words of Dante, which transforms into the surface of the work as they twist and curl around each totem.  Mikolajczk continues, “As the poem moves the medium changes.  For example, the words were first written in Conté crayon, or stamped and at the end of the poem the words were printed on transparencies.” This shift in materials not only denotes the passage of time as traditional wood transitions to contemporary plastic, “but indicates content because deep in the Inferno all is frozen.”


Clarissa Jakobsons is a poet and visual artist who tangibly combines her passions by the creation of unique “artist books” which have been exhibited at the Denver Abecedarium Gallery, Cleveland Museum of Art Ingalls Library, Morgan Conservatory, the Beck Center, Cuyahoga Community College, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center and many other institutions. Jakobsons has also taught numerous courses on the topics of visual art, writing and bookmaking.

On view in Word are several of Jakobsons’ mesmerizing “crystal books” which are created through the hand-manipulation of manuscripts in Borax.  The finished sculptures take on a crystalline quality which reflects the light and represents the changing of “old into new.”

One such crystal book on display is One Hundred American Poems which is also part of an interactive installation.  Viewers are encouraged to select words from the frozen pages and transcribe them onto paper, “salvaging phrases into new poems.”


Liz Maugans is a Cleveland artist, co-founder and Executive Director of Zygote Press, and the founder of the Collective Arts Network (CAN) Journal.  Maugans has organized numerous one-person and thematic exhibitions featuring regional, national and internationally known artists.  Her curatorial specialization is her devotion to emerging art, social justice and local experimental practices that broaden access through social networks and community-building initiatives.

The work Maugans is exhibiting in Word is part of her Desperate Signs series which explores how people coped with the difficult after-math of the Great Recession.  Her pieces incorporate transactions and ads from Craigslists, Penny Saver Magazines, signage and personal classifieds.   Maugans explains, “I am interested in particular phrases that originate in my familial vernacular, a kind of story-telling rumination on the power and brevity of language.”

By examining these salient times as expressed in language, Maugans pins down the moments when personal desperation becomes a broader cultural reality.  “Like in a Craigslist ad, the narrative unfolds between the people who want and those that need- much of the physicality we express daily falls neatly into those two categories”


One of the most doggedly-held beliefs about language is that the meaning of words is somehow fixed or immutable.  Shirley Ende-Saxe’s multi-media collages boldly and systematically challenge this notion.  Ende-Saxe explains, “Words and text are supposed to clarify, perhaps validate, authorize and record but [my] work conjures something more uncertain, elastic and suspicious,”

In Ende-Saxe’s work, written language loses its footing and slips perilously out of place.  “Similar to the way collage is reassembled to demonstrate the instability of images,” Ende-Saxe rearranges strips of text into lattices or webs which partially obscure the images underneath.  “The stiff rows of letters become textures or values and a reminder, that once, these words were very precise.”

Ende-Saxe received her MA in Art Education from Kent State University and has exhibited her works widely, winning many awards, such as the 2015 Merit Award in the Massillon Art Museum’s Ohio Collage Society Member Show and 1st Place in the Artist’s of Rubber City May Show in Akron, OH.  Ende-Saxe’s work has also been included in multiple publication including COLLAGE LAB by Bee Shay and ALPHABETICA by Lynne Perrella.


Jon Keppel is a writer, musician and conceptual artist from Akron, Ohio.  Keppel, who holds a BFA from the Ohio State University, is a member of the Artists of Rubber City in Akron and has displayed his work both nationally and internationally. In 2017, Keppel gave a TEDx Akron Talk about art in the city of Akron and beyond.

Keppel’s innovative artwork focuses on the “idea and perceived reality of presence both as a conduit for perceptual experiences and also as a subject of contemplation.” Keppel’s work ask the viewer to participate in a form of mental collage, deliberately rearranging pieces of ideas and concepts into evocative new configurations to create meaning.

As Keppel describes it, “In essence it is the conference of art onto chunks of reality, making [those] chunks as defined by time and place into readymades reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp.  Instead of an object like a bottle rack being presented as art as a part of a brick and mortar exhibition, my work takes swaths of reality as it is lived such as a city (New York City for example) and asks the participant to consider that entire city and what happens there as a work of art”

In Word, Keppel’s conceptual piece Entrance focuses on the interpersonal potential of art, or “transpersonal art” as he calls it.  “Themes with this aspect of my work deal with the generative power of conversation as it relates to the development of self and the objective modeling of the world as we come to know it.”


Todd Leech is a Cleveland raised sculptor with an MFA in ceramics from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania.  His current works are platter forms meticulously imprinted with text from contemporary pop culture- often song lyrics.  These salvaged messages are revealed through the craters sandblasted into the surface of the work, giving the pieces the appearance of being eroded over time.

“The content of the texts deal with advanced technologies and its influence on modern humankind and the environment. These quotes, like prophecies or declarations, are archived in clay, not unlike the historical inscribed artifacts of past civilizations.”  By re-contextualizing these fragments of popular culture as distant, dystopic artifacts, Leech highlights their bleak socio-economic implications and brings into question the future of our world.


Maurice Sherman is a photographer and illustrator who was educated at the School of Visual Arts in New York, New York.  His images in Word reflect his childhood in Coney Island, New York and highlight the deliberate and visceral use of language in advertising and popular culture.

Sherman’s graphic background can be seen in his hands-on approach to his work, or what he calls his “take it then make it” method of production.  Sherman explains “Capturing the image is not just documentation but the beginning of my process. Enhancing the image to reflect atmosphere and texture allows me to add my hand in creating the finished work.”

Sherman’s work, like Leech’s, deals with the use of language in popular culture and examines how the meaning of words change when isolated and re-contextualized.  Viewers of Sherman’s carnival-inspired pieces are left to ponder what words like “chaos,” “thrills” and “wonder” even mean when they are glowing in neon and towering stories over the heads of passers-by.


The work of Archived Artist Adele Marihatt will also be on display in the upcoming exhibition.  Marihatt was born in Winterthur, Switzerland and though she initially showed an aptitude in art (at 16, her stained-glass window design was chosen for the entrance hall of the Swiss National Library); she began her professional career studying physiology and medicine.  After the birth of her second of three children, she returned to art and became an Archived Artist at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in 2002.  She exhibited her painting widely until her untimely death from cancer in 2010.


Word will feature two large canvases from Marihatt’s Reflections series, works which were inspired by the coy pond of a quiet tea house in Osaka, Japan in 1994.  Marihatt’s works typically combine elements of poetry and mathematics with natural imagery- a juxtaposition that allows the viewer to ruminate on themes of language, meaning and translation between the real and the representational.


Marihatt’s use of language in these pieces takes on a mystical quality, resembling mantras or incantations that infuse the elemental quality of her work.  Two E.E. Cummings poems are featured in her pieces, including I Will Wade Out in Reflection 46. Artist and writer Douglas Max Utter described the words emerging from the depths likes “bubbles,” surfacing then drifting across the watery face of the inverted images.


As part of this exhibition and the new 2017 ART BITES series of Professional Practices for Artists programs, AAWR will present Word Play with Laura Grace Weldon on Saturday, August 12th.  1:00-3:00 pm at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.  This small-group workshop will consist of a series of writing exercises, both solo and collaborative, designed to stretch participants into seeing language differently.


The opening reception and exhibition are FREE and open to the public.  The program is also FREE, however, please visit or call 216.721.9020 to register.


This exhibition was curated by the AAWR exhibition committee- Archived Artists Mindy Tousley (Chair, Executive Director), Barbara Gillette, Bonnie Gordon, William Martin Jean, Stuart Pearl, and Member Artists Marti Higgins, Lisa Kenon, George Kocar and John A. Sargent III.


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve would also like to thank Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Ohio Art Dealers Association, the George Gund Foundation, the Bernice & David E. Davis Foundation, the William Bingham Foundation and the Zufall Foundation for their continuing support.

Current Exhibition: NewCelle +1

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is pleased to announce its Summer exhibition NewCelle +1, featuring the collaborative drawings of Archived Artist Bea Mitchell, John Jackson, Ed Mieczkowski and Achala Wali.


NewCelle formed as a group in the late 90’s with the purpose of “revitalizing drawing in the light of the new Millennium.” Lead by influential Op Artist Ed Mieczkowski what began as a communal experiment lasted over four years, producing work that developed “a new language of drawing” through the creation of a collective consciousness or as they called it, a “shared mind.”


From early in his career, Mieczkowski “extolled the virtues of artist groups as a viable way to generate ideas.” NewCelle was directly preceded by two Mieczkowski-lead collectives, Anonima, which played a prominent role in the emergence of Op Art in the mid 1960’s, and Drawing in the Community, which emerged from a class taught by Mieczkowski at the Cleveland Institute of Art.


Bea Mitchell, John Jackson and Achala Wali all began as Drawing participants, though ultimately both Jackson and Mieczkowski took issue with the group’s loose organization and its eclectic membership, many of whom, according to John, “were not visual artists.” Mieczkowski, Mitchell and Jackson broke away from Drawing in 1998 to create NewCelle, a group that while intellectually descended from its predecessors, was distinct in its philosophy and experimental methodology. Though Achala was not an original member of the group, she did eventually join the collective. NewCelle’s influence on her work and her stead-fast support cannot be understated.


NewCelle’s unique process was “informed by the science of chaos and complexity, emerging information about consciousness and [their] own spin on the surrealist practice termed psychic automatism.” Members would take turns working on a single surface, drawing continuous lines then passing the piece to their fellow-artist for the 2nd line to be laid and so forth. Each time the group met, a new piece was introduced until a full 9 works were in rotation.


NewCelle also chose to focus almost exclusively on the property of line. Jackson explained, “we decided that LINE, the singular domain of drawing, was our subject; and that other properties–color, texture and value–would assume minor roles, if any. A fifth property, shape, would be that which adheres to the line.”
Above all, NewCelle was governed by a paramount aesthetic principle- the entirety of the drawing had to remain within a circle, a barrier which is visible in the finished work as a thin graphite or ink ring keeping individual parts bound by the collective.


NewCelle met its end in 2001 when Mieczkowski left for the West coast to pursue his solo endeavors. The group dissolved under the weight of dispersant interests and what Jackson politely described as the pressures of a “provocative mix of dispositions.” A short time later, John Jackson’s own career met its tragic end when he was killed a 2006 double murder- a catastrophe that also took the life of photographer Masumi Hayashi and shook the Cleveland artistic community to its core.


Though NewCelle lasted only a few years, they produced both a singular body of work as well as enriched the lives and careers of its participants. As John put it, “[NewCelle] generated a phase shift in my own life and work as an artist” Or, in the words of Bea Mitchell, “I could tell a number of interesting stories that would reveal how I found, not only my own line, but my own voice.”


The exhibition, NewCelle +1 opened on May 18th, 2017 and will feature both the communal works of NewCelle, as well as singular works by each artist, including framed and unframed works on paper and sculpture by John Jackson. An Artists’ Reception will be held on Thursday, May 25th from 5:30-8:00pm. In celebration of this occasion, complimentary Mitchell’s Homemade Ice Cream is being served as the proprietors are relatives of Archived Artist Bea Mitchell.



Annual Members’ Exhibition 2017

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to present its Annual Members’ Exhibition 2017 featuring the multi-media work of Members of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve. The event will be celebrated with an Opening Reception on Thursday, March 30th, 2017. 5:30 – 8:00pm. A Closing Reception and Awards Ceremony will be held on Friday, May 5th 6:30 – 8:00pm directly following the Annual Members’ Meeting, which will be held from 5:30 – 6:30pm.


AAWR’s Annual Members’ Exhibition is known for both the quality and diversity of the work submitted by its wide array of professional-level Member artists. In years past, works submitted have ranged from traditionally inspired portraits and oils to multi-media assemblages and digital creations. Though the Annual Members’ Exhibition has traditionally been juried, 2017 will bring a new and timely egalitarian spin on the show.


In the true spirit of democracy, this year’s exhibition will be “all inclusive,” featuring 1 piece under 24 inches from each Member hung salon-style in the AAWR Main Gallery. To ensure the originality of the show, works shown in previous Artists Archives exhibitions will not be permitted.  Show attendees can vote for their favorite work for the duration of the show & 4 awards will be given out at the closing reception following the annual meeting.


Only Members of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve in good standing are eligible to enter the Annual Members’ Exhibition. To become a Member or to check your Membership status, please call our offices at 216-721-9020 or visit


About the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve: The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is a unique archival facility and regional museum that preserves representative bodies of work created by Ohio visual artists and, through ongoing research, exhibition and educational programs, actively documents and promotes this cultural heritage for the benefit of the public.


The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve would also like to thank Ohio Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Ohio Art Dealers Association, the George Gund Foundation, the Bernice & David E. Davis Foundation, the William Bingham Foundation and the Zufall Foundation for their continuing support.

Lee Heinen, Thinking About Selfies, Oil on Canvas

Miller Horns - The Electrostatic Man

The Electrostatic Man: The Art of Miller Horns

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to present its exhibition The Electrostatic Man:  The Art of Miller Horns, Miller’s inaugural show as an Archived Artist.  The event will be celebrated with a campus-wide opening on Friday, January 27th, 2017. 5:30 – 8:00pm held in conjunction with the Sculpture Center and David E. Davis Studios.


Miller Horns (1948 – 2012), an Akron artist and community activist, is known for his innovative, autobiographic prints created with a combination of electrostatic technology (Xerox), thermal-heat-color-transfer and lamination.  Horns often worked in large scale, tiling together many smaller copies to create life-size images of people, animals and everyday objects.  While electrostatic art has existed since the 1960’s (sometimes referred to as “Copy Art,” or “Xerography”), it is this grand size, as well as Horn’s ability to produce a wide array of textures and vibrant colors that make his work unique.

Miller’s subject matter varies widely- from warm reflections of daily life, to intimate emotional confessions and historic documentation.  Frequent themes include meditations on grief, love, the production of art, race in America society and the often-overlooked contributions of African-Americans to the development of Northeast Ohio.

Horns studied Commercial Art at the University of Akron and earned his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art.  In 1989, Horns was selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants as the recipient of the prestigious Rome Prize Fellowship and lived at the American Academy in Rome for a year.  Miller was also awarded a residency at McDowell Colony in New Hampshire and was a guest artist at the historic Yaddo artist community in New York.  Horns completed numerous public commissions including murals for the Akron Children’s Hospital Medical Center and the Maple Valley Branch Library in Akron, Ohio.  The last sixteen years of Horn’s life were spent in raising public awareness and support for his design for The Matthews Hotel Monument in Akron Ohio. This public monument, built in the year of his death, commemorates the former African-American entertainment district of Howard Street which played host to such famous entertainers as Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald.

Horn’s choice of technique was as much informed by his delight in technology as it was by his difficult financial circumstances.  Though it was true that Miller, in his own words, was “as much interested in invention as…in art,” after a debilitating heart-attack, he was forced to survive on a severely limited income.  The use of the electrostatic copy fulfilled a double purpose:  feeding his insatiable desire for innovation and technology and providing a low-cost mode of creation.

Mindy Tousley, Executive Director of the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve, where Miller’s work is archived, and former acquaintance of the artist, described it as such: “Miller had very sophisticated ideas and limited economic means.  He was using whatever was at his disposal as a means of production.”  That just happened to be the photocopier at the corner office store.

Miller was not satisfied to use the “Xerox” as a mere tool for reproduction.  He altered the replication process extensively, manipulating scale and setting layer upon layer to produce life-like texture and dazzling tones never dreamed of by its inventors.  Adjusting through experimentation, Miller would work and re-work an image, almost to the point of obsession- sometimes taking upwards of 6 months to produce a final piece.

The results are remarkable:  a combination of abstraction and realism where dream-like images are constantly dissolving into, or reconstituting out of, memory and imagination.  The finished artwork was irrefutably original- what Miller referred to as “An Electrostatic Painting.”  Miller’s work was never a cold duplication or sterile copy, just as Miller’s vision of life was wholly unique unto itself.

As Horns described it, “Art is just life.  It’s what I do in a day.  It takes in everything.  It’s not just my working with a photocopier.  And every day is different.  It’s not repetitious by any means.”

As part of this exhibition and Black History Month AAWR will present a “Collecting Art Talk” by David Lusenhop centering on African American Artists.  These talks are part of our new 2017 Art Bites programing, and are designed to help promote the idea of art as an economic engine. The goal of “Collecting Art Talks” are to stimulate the local economy by pulling together artists, art collectors both new & experienced, curators, art historians, art dealers and gallery owners.  The Collecting Art Talk:  Collecting African American Art with David Lusenhop will be held on Saturday, February 18th, 2017. 1:00-3:00pm at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

David Davis - Harmonic Grid

20th Anniversary Founder’s Exhibition

In celebration of its 20th anniversary, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to present its 20th Anniversary Founder’s Exhibition, a group show featuring the art of founder David E. Davis and the other 8 pioneering Archived Artists: Shirley Aley Campbell, David A. Haberman, William Martin Jean, Robert Jergens, Patricia Zinsmeister Parker, Phyllis Seltzer, Phyllis Lester Sloane and Randall Tiedman.

The Artists Archives was founded in 1996 by Bernice and David E. Davis to preserve representative bodies of work by Ohio visual artists and to prevent their creative legacies from being lost to future generations or worst still, destroyed in the event of their deaths. As late as 1952 there are accounts of Cleveland City Hall throwing away large quantities of paintings including valuable works by American modernist William Sommer. Incidents such as this created a profound sense of urgency for Davis, inspiring him to establish a unique archival facility to ensure the survival of Northeast Ohio’s visual heritage- the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

Today the Artists Archives houses over 6,000 original paintings, sculptures, and other visual media created by regional artists and has expanded their mission statement to include ongoing research, exhibition and educational programming. The Archives is unique in its goals of providing programs and services to not only the general public living in Ohio but to its Archived Artists, member artists, art scholars, and students of the visual arts. Its community vision is to help Cleveland, Northeast Ohio and Ohio at large to grow more vital and vibrant as places to live and work by drawing greater inspiration from the arts and utilizing the creative talents of Ohio visual artists.

In the 20th Anniversary Founders Exhibition, each of the 9 original Archived Artists, including Founding Artist David E. Davis, will be represented by several original works emblematic of their creative legacy and vital energetic contribution to the organization. A campus-wide opening reception including the Sculpture Center and historic David E. David Studios is to be held on Friday, November 11th from 5:30-8:00pm.

First Responders postcard

First Responders: As We See Them, As They Are

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is proud to present its exhibition First Responders: As We See Them, As They Are, a collection of photographic portraits by Herbert Ascherman Jr. featuring Emergency Responder personnel personnel from the Greater Cleveland Area.

When our routine is shattered by emergency, we dial 911 and trust that someone will answer the call. That help is on the way. Whether we see those who arrive simply as heroes or as something more complicated, one fact remains: they are human. Underneath the exterior of authority, they are like us- spouses, siblings, friends, children, parents.

Herbert Ascherman Jr.’s collection of photographic portraits, First Responders: As We See Them, As They Are documents the apparent “multiple lives” of regional Emergency Responder personnel. In these images Ascherman, a fourth generation Clevelander and internationally recognized portraitist, explores the dualistic nature of emergency responders, depicting them first as they appear in uniform, then in the casual clothing familiar to their friends and family.

Working in partnership with Silver and Gold of Cleveland, the Fraternal Order of Police’s public support organization, Ascherman has captured his humanizing diptychs on film with his 8 x 10 large format field camera. Printing his portraits in enlarged silver gelatin, the diptychs form a complete picture of his collaborators: revealing both the private citizen and public figure with a single glance.

In keeping with Silver and Gold’s mission statement, Ascherman sincerely hopes his portraits “will help foster public support and goodwill for Northeast Ohio Safety Forces in the communities in which they serve.” Opening reception is Thursday, September 15th at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

Herbert Ascherman, Jr. is considered by many as one of this nation’s foremost living portrait photographers. Herbert has been creating fine art and professional portraiture for more than 35 years and is internationally recognized for his photographs of people in creative, commercial, and social settings. Ascherman’s work has been exhibited and commercially published throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan and India. He has taught for over 30 years (including at the Cleveland Institute of Art), appeared on many television and radio programs, and authored three books on portraiture as well as numerous articles and essays.

Ascherman-H-Cap-Davis-1 Herbert Ascherman Jr. - Cap Davis

Herbert Ascherman Jr. - Mercado Herbert Ascherman Jr. - Mercado

Paul-Henri Bourguignon - View Of Toledo

Paul-Henri Bourguignon: Citizen of the World

The Artists Archive of the Western Reserve is proud to present its exhibition Paul-Henri Bourguignon: Citizen of the World, a showing of the globally-minded works of world renowned modernist and art historical magnate, Paul-Henri Bourguignon.

With rich golden hues, bold plains and unapologetic brush strokes, Bourguignon opens a window to a world where all places, no matter how distant, seem magically familiar and all faces glow with the nobility of the human spirit. A long-time resident of Columbus, Paul-Henri chose Ohio as the location from which to transmit his borderless ideals of compassion and identification for nearly 40 years. Far from succumbing to the limitations of his land-locked address, Bourguignon used his art as a vehicle for cultural exchange. His acrylic paintings and gouaches were not mere exercises in color and form; they allowed the extension of his physical reach into people and locations unknown, known or merely imagined.Paul-Henri Bourguignon - The Crowd

Paul-Henri Bourguignon - FigureThis sense of unity, however, did not spring from an unchallenged life. Born in Belgium in 1906, as a young man Bourguignon was subject to all brutalities and horrors World War II Europe had to offer. In 1940, Paul-Henri enlisted in the Belgium army and was sent North to France, only to be cut off by the German advance and forced back to Brussels to labor under the cruel hand of Nazi occupation. After the country’s liberation by Allied forces, the artist eagerly returned to his pre-war profession of journalist, covering the Battle of the Bulge and witnessing the pivotal and trying moments that marked the end of the war.

Despite experiencing first-hand the cruel realities of the human condition, Bourguignon did not withdraw from the spiritual light that he found inherent in mankind. He chose instead to create and exalt a universal voice that spoke to all people, regardless of race, faith or country of origin. This unique exhibition features a diverse sampling of the artist’s favorite subject matter. Landscapes depicting vivid, sunbaked shores and portraits that are more composites of human traits than individual likenesses stand boldly next to more abstract renderings of the rhythm and flow of crowds, events and personal meetings.Paul-Henri Bourguignon - Busy Street

These images, many of which are from the Archive’s own collection, document the artist’s own travels to such far-flung places as Haiti and Peru. Even after he and his wife Erika settled in Columbus (Erika taught as Professor of Anthropology at Ohio State University for over three decades), Bourguignon refused to tie his identity to a single land or cultural perspective. He instead chose always to be a citizen of the world, forever turning elsewhere to see the truths in us all. As the artist put it in his own words, “Why not go elsewhere? Oh yes, elsewhere. That’s the right place for me. Where else could I nurture my dreams?”Paul-Henri Bourguignon - View Of Toledo

Ceramics Invitational Exhibition

Ceramics Invitational Exhibition

Ceramics Invitational Exhibition 2016

The Artists Archive of the Western Reserve is proud to present its Ceramics Invitational Exhibition, a showing of the vibrant work of local ceramic artists. Curated by Mary Urbas, this exhibition highlights the exceptional clay community of Northeast Ohio, bringing to the forefront their unique and diverse vision of this primordial medium. The show’s ample roll call features pieces from 17 regional artists including Jeffrey Allen, Tracy Ameen, Diana Bjel, Susan Gallagher, Yumiko Goto, Michael W. High, Eva Kwong, James Leslie, Lynne Norwood Lofton, Jenny Mendes, Sandy Miller, J. Derek O’Brien, George Roby, Jack Rotar, Mindy Sand, Brinsley Tyrrell, and Theresa Yondo. 

Mary Urbas, Gallery Director at Lakeland Community College, has over 35 years of experience in the professional art world as a gallery owner, curator, teacher and consultant. Urbas’ careful selections both exalt the alchemic quality of ceramics as the invocation of art from raw elements, as well as pay homage to the artist’s mastery of texture, painterly color and transmission of idea through form.

In Mary Urbas’ curatorial statement she writes, “I appreciate that a clay artist honors the handmade object.  I respect the process of how they integrate the surface to the forms they create, initiating a relationship to the object to create a dialogue within themselves and the viewers…With this collection of artists that I brought together for the show at the Artists Archives, I chose [those] who honor their craft and incorporate the many different techniques of surface embellishments and various glaze applications into ceramic art that will be hand-built, wheel-thrown or sculptural in design.  I wanted to take advantage of a different venue- to curate and design an installation that featured artists who don’t regularly show in this area, or whom I wanted to help bring some new visibility to their work.”

Though the artists showcased vary widely in methodology, many are united by themes of organic mimicry, transformation, evolution and the discovery of wonderment in everyday phenomena.  Most importantly- they are all representatives of the vast pool of artistic talent that graces our region.  By giving a space for the exhibition of often under-exposed local artists, these pieces are allowed to thrive, flourish and as featured ceramicist, Jeffrey Allen describes it, “take on a character or soul of their own.”

Opening wine and cheese reception on Thursday, May 26th from 5:30pm-8:00pm.

Image: Lynne Norwood Lofton’s Pair of Rabbit Vases on Base



REINVENTION documents the story of 5 artists who reinvented themselves and their work in order to overcome limitations forced on them because of traumatic injury, aging or disease. The acceptance, adaptation and evolution that each underwent as part of the crisis process resulted in the production of powerful, original bodies of work in divergent directions.Continue reading

Remembrances: The Art of Joseph McCullough

Joseph McCulloughArtists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) is proud to announce Remembrances: The Art of Joseph McCullough, a retrospective exhibition of the work of the influential educator and painter. The public is invited to attend this free art exhibition and the opening reception which will be on Friday, January 18, 2013 from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Remembrances will be on display through February 15, 2013.

Joseph McCullough, an Archived Artist with AAWR since 2002, passed away on November 17, 2012 while this exhibition was being developed. The Pittsburgh native, born in 1922, first came to Cleveland in 1940 to study at the Cleveland School of Art. That school was the predecessor organization to the Cleveland Institute of Art which he subsequently headed for 35 years. The Yale graduate was a dominant force in art education, having served as President of the National Association of Schools of Art & Design. McCullough also had major impact on Cleveland’s public art, having served as chairman of the Fine Arts Advisory Committee for the City of Cleveland’s Planning Commission.

Joseph McCullough was a painter of the highest order, as evidenced by the assemblage of art on display at the AAWR exhibition. His talent as an artist did not go unnoticed; he was awarded the Cleveland Arts Prize for Visual Arts in 1970. Other major awards of his included the National Watercolor Award and the Rome Collaborative Competition. Some of his works can be seen on the website of Artists Archives of the Western Reserve at

Majority Rising

The Artists Archives presents Majority Rising in celebration of National Women’s Month. Majority Rising is only one of many shows being held in area galleries to celebrate. The opening reception will take place at the Artists Archives on Thursday, March 12 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. Majority Rising will run in the AAWR gallery through Saturday, May 2.

This exhibition is curated by figurative painter, Judy Takács, who is also included in the show. This show is a reflection of female artists of the Artists Archives who have used women as their primary subject matter over the course of their careers.

The artists included in the show are: Judy Takács, Kathleen McKenna, Lee Heinen, Marsha Sweet, Shirley Aley Campbell, and Marilyn Szalay.

Judy Takács is widely known for her ultra-realist portrait paintings and her provocative Chicks with Balls series. She not only curated the show but painted each of the artists included in the exhibition. Each of these portraits will make their debut in Majority Rising.

Kathleen McKenna decided to use Majority Rising to pay homage to writer, Malala Yousafzai by painting a work inspired by her story. McKenna explains how she was inspired by Yousafzai , “The models for my painting, three girls in my neighborhood, represent what Malala was willing to die for. As I observed Amelia and Zoe, twins, and their friend Emma walking home from school together, riding bikes, and challenging their older brothers in kickball, a painting took shape in my mind’s eye. Together and individually my models had a strong and colorful presence that I wanted to capture. While the painting was in progress, Malala won the Nobel Peace Prize.”

Lee Heinen will have paintings from her American Family Album Series. Heinen describes this series, “In today’s digital world, photo albums are quickly becoming a thing of the past. My intent is to have these very material paintings tell a story of passing generations similar to an old fashioned American family album.” Many of Lee’s paintings in this series deal with what is typically viewed as women’s traditional role within the family structure.

Marsha Sweet’s art was affected by her experience as a single working mother of three girls in the 1970’s and 1980’s. This experience inspired her to begin making prints of women she considered extraordinary. “These focused personalities had made it through the tough stuff of life with pluck and determination. I wanted to reveal their lives as inspiration to young women as real possibility for their lives. I had come of an age in the 1950’s and had seen and experienced gender discrimination, and felt powerless.”

Shirley Aley Campbell’s works feature a number of what Judy Takács calls, “fascinating folks who live beneath the radar of conventional society.” Campbell typically chooses gay and transgendered people as her subject matter. This came about when a close family member came out and inspired Shirley to explore and except alternative gender identities.

Marilyn Szalay, a recently archived artist who passed away in 2012 will have her graphite compositions included in the exhibition. Szalay’s skills in this medium far excel master artists. Throughout her career she drew self-portraits, and portraits of family, friends, and other acquaintances, mainly women. The portraits have detailed dreams with a surreal feel to them and are frequently lifesize in scale.

The Three Amigos: A Painterly Tribute to Ron Joranko

The Three Amigos - Ron Joranko

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) announces an exciting upcoming new exhibition, The Three Amigos: A Painterly Tribute to Ron Joranko, which will be on display at the Artists Archives’ gallery from September 18 through October 24, 2014. The public is invited to attend the free art exhibition as well as the opening reception which will be on Thursday, September 18th from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Ron Joranko (1935 – 2008) left his career as a tax accountant in 1993 for the life of a plein air painter. Within two years he landed his first one-man exhibition at a Tremont gallery. In pursuit of his career, he began classes at Tri-C under the tutelage of Ron Johnston. Joined by another classmate Cleveland artist Loren Naji, the three comrades formed a life-long friendship working locally and traveling internationally. The Three Amigos will feature landscape, still-life, and figurative work by Joranko, a stunning plein air portrait of Ron by Ron Johnston, and selected paintings by Loren Naji.

Former art educator, Ron Johnston, will lead a plein air painting excursion at the Kentucky Gardens in Ohio City (W. 38th St. off of Franklin) on Saturday, September 20, 2014 from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. Johnston will be offering suggestions and critiques for participating artists. Although not a traditional classroom or class, this is the perfect opportunity for participants to work on and learn more about plein air painting.
Donations are welcomed.

Watershed, an exhibition of Archived Artists and their pupils. Curated by William Martin Jean

Phyllis Seltzer

Ruth Bercaw - Venue

This show examines the influence of three local teachers and accomplished artists, W. M. Jean, Ruth Bercaw and Tom Roese and a selection of their pupils, who became noted artists in their own right, Susan Lowe, Derek Hess, Ken Nevadomi, Dexter Davis, George Kozmon, Glen Ratusnik and Nick Taylor.

Under the guidance of teachers there may have been a turning point, a “watershed moment” when the world of art opened up to the student. These moments are difficult to pin point, but they do happen and when they take place a certain energy develops that feeds that talent into a satisfying pursuit. It can be the small encouragement of a teacher who puts your work on the bulletin board or the poster contest you were prompted to successfully enter. These little things all add up to a sense of pride and confidence in your creativity and artistic abilities.

In William Jeans curatorial statement he writes,

“All of the artists exhibiting here have similar stories to tell about how they came to the realization of pursuing a career as an artist. My high school art teacher was a Sister of Charities nun who made us understand that to become an artist you had to work at it seriously. It just wasn’t something you did at school in art class, you had to do it all the time at home, think about it in church, read about it in libraries; look at art in museums, in magazines and books, and relate it to your other subjects. In other words it was total absorption that would make you stand out from the crowd…. Watershed includes three teachers Ruth Bercaw, Tom Roese and myself ,all of whom are also archived artists along with some of their former students who they taught in high school or in Saturday or summer programs or in colleges or universities. The background of each of these teachers is similar to mine in that there was someone early on who made them understand that there must be a total commitment if one is to succeed in this difficult business…

The development of an artist’s work goes in many directions with many influences along the way. Sometimes these influences come early in an artist’s career and sometimes later. We as teachers have the delightful and challenging task of attempting to open the eyes of young talent to the basic fundamentals of art and allow them to find their own creativity…. Viewing the exhibition makes one aware that each of these artists has; in time found their own voice, creating diverse approaches in subject and media. It is always a proud moment when teachers can reflect on the part of the road that they helped these former students travel.”

The conversation surrounding the benefits of art education has been in the forefront of public debate in recent years. It is rapidly becoming scientifically accepted that learning visual arts, music and dance can be instrumental in the formation of physical connections in the brain which have lasting effects on human development. Artists have always been in the vanguard of creative thinkers and the encouragement of teachers cannot be underestimated in the formation of future generations of artists.

Watershed will open with a public reception on Thursday November 12, from 5:30 – 8:00pm. A brief artists talk will take place mid-way during the opening reception where the artists will speak about their work and answer questions from the audience.

This event is free and open to the public.

Collecting Art: State of the Art Market

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve (AAWR) announces Collecting Art: State of the Art Market with Antiques Roadshow and History Detectives celebrity, Wes Cowan.

Cleveland, OH – The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve is excited to announce Collecting Art: State of the Art Market, one of the many gallery talks in the Artists Archives new Collecting Art series. This talk will take place Saturday, March 7, 1- 3 p.m.

Wes Cowan, Antiques Roadshow and History Detectives celebrity, will be discussing the current state of the art market from an auction perspective. Cowan will go into detail about how you no longer need to attend an auction in person, and how the Internet has drastically changed the auction world – both for competition and for the quality value of the items being offered..

About Wes Cowan

Wes Cowan is founder and owner of Cowan’s Auctions, Inc. in Cincinnati, Ohio. An internationally recognized expert in Historic Americana, Wes stars in the PBS television series History Detectives and is a featured appraiser on Antiques Roadshow. He writes an antiques column for the Cincinnati Enquirer and is a frequently requested speaker at antiques events around the country. Wes is licensed as an auctioneer in Ohio and holds a BA and MA in anthropology from the University of Kentucky, and a PhD in anthropology from the University of Michigan.

A native of Louisville, Kentucky, Wes grew up in a household filled with Victorian antiques, nurtured by a mother who liked all things “old.” Torn between the antiques business and American archaeology, Wes first chose a course that set him on an academic road.
After receiving his doctorate degree, Wes taught at the Anthropology Department of Ohio State University. In 1984 he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to assume the post of Curator of Archaeology at the Cincinnati Museum of Natural History. He has published widely in the fields of American archaeology and paleoethnobotany, and is coeditor of The Origins of Agriculture in International Perspective and Societies in Eclipse: Eastern North America at the Dawn of European Colonization.

In 1995, Wes left academia and the museum world to return to his childhood love – antiques. Since then, Cowan’s Auctions has grown from a one-man shop to a nationally recognized business generating $20 million in annual sales.

Copyrights and Trademarks

Copyrights and Trademarks

Artists are increasingly finding themselves navigating through the complex issue of copyrights.  The internet has become a useful tool for artists to market themselves and share information with the world.  As images become more easily accessible, artists must have a clear understanding of their own intellectual property rights as well as when it is legally permissible to use the images made by others freely.

Michael Vary will give us a better understanding of Intellectual Property laws as he discusses copyrights and trademarks.  There will be a question and answer session to follow.

Mr. Vary practices Intellectual Property Law with McCarthy Lebit Crystal & Liffman, was a partner at Jones Day, and has lectured and taught intellectual property law as an adjunct professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law.

This presentation is free and open to the public, but please register by “purchasing” your free tickets. Click to register for this event

Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

HAND IN HAND – Artists, Collectors and Conservators Working Together

by Jamye Jamison, Paper Conservator

Case studies: As a multi-disciplinary regional conservation center, ICA Art Conservation has developed a specialty in contemporary art. This talk will highlight three projects that were recently completed by the ICA and the various ways in which conservators approached working with contemporary objects. Two of the projects were strictly works on paper, while the third was a composite sculpture with a paper component. Each case study will delve into the varying degrees to which artists can be involved in the conservation of their artwork and how the relationship between owner, artist, and conservator can play a role in conservation decisions.

Click to register for this event

AAWR Members Show 2016

Annual Members Show

An annual juried exhibition of the works of our Artist Members.

Juried by Anna Arnold, Director of Wasmer Gallery, Ursuline College

Opening Reception on Friday, Jan 15th 5:30-8:00pm