The latest edition of our What's Up SPACES? booklets are hot off the press! This one focuses exclusively on A Color Removed, organized by the FRONT International Triennial and presented at SPACES. Find one in your mailbox (if you're on our mailing list) or at a local cafe, restaurant, bookshop, etc... Below we've posted the intro essay, about the evolution of this project.
A Sense of This Place*
The color orange is associated with everything from citrus fruit to European royalty and major world religions. It is used throughout the United States on safety vests, traffic cones, and the barrels of toy guns, to keep us safe. Here in Cleveland-one of the most racially segregated cities in the country-orange shines on the panorama of a divided populace, illuminating the ten-day suspension of the police officer who shot twelve-year-old Tamir Rice and the firing of the other responsible officer two and a half years later for an unrelated offense. The absence of the orange safety tip from the toy gun that Rice held while playing at Cudell Commons on November 22, 2014 cast a shadow across Cleveland when it became the justification for yet another shooting of an unarmed African American.
A Color Removed-activated across the city since 2017 through the collection of orange objects, and installed now at SPACES-is one of many platforms that call us to bear witness to the distinctly American catastrophe of disintegrating police/community relations, but it also looks toward a future of repair. The project originated from an invitation for artist Michael Rakowitz to reconstruct the 2015 Beamer-Schneider Lecture in Ethics and Civics, hosted at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), as a participatory artwork. During his preparation for the lecture, Rakowitz listened to the community-driven Ethics Table discussions at CWRU, which covered a range of the consequences of the 2014 police shootings in Cleveland and Ferguson. A member of the Rice family was one of the participants, and his pain became a shared experience for the group. This laid the groundwork for Rakowitz to request the participation of community and cultural leaders in A Color Removed.
SPACES is a site where urgent topics are explored within an aesthetic framework. Because SPACES instrumentalizes art in times of crisis, we immediately took up Rakowitz's call to join the core planning team for A Color Removed, along with our comrades Jeremy Bendik-Keymer at CWRU, RA Washington at Guide to Kulchur, Kelley O'Brien and Anthony Warnick at The Muted Horn, and countless other artists and community members. Our partnership with FRONT is based in the desire to propel forward the artist's original concept of inviting Clevelanders to surrender their orange objects in order to create a monochrome backdrop at SPACES where fearless listening enables fearless speaking.
One of Rakowitz's eight tenets for A Color Removed states that the project is "specific to Cleveland, but now in the aftermath of Black Lives Matter, considers the endemics of gun violence, militarism, and racism across American cities as well as global ones, while maintaining an anchor here." A Color Removed is about the shared right to safety, whether on the street or on the playground, in a locker room, at work or at school. As I write this and reflect on the February 14th shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, I think of A Color Removed as a shift in perception that runs parallel to the one that is currently being led by the high schoolers who are planning sit-ins and walkouts, calling b.s. on Congress, and demanding action.
The first public step to removing the color orange from Cleveland and suspending its future use was a letter-writing campaign initiated in fall 2017. Through four workshops led by the artist, participants grappled with questions about racial equity and safety, considering ways to affect policy through the expression of grief, create solidarity for a more peaceful city, and redress extrajudicial force against people of color. They wrote letters to institutions, to other individuals, and to themselves.
Through the deceptively simple action of forsaking orange, A Color Removed asks us not only to empathize with those who walk through our city without the expectation of safety, but also to enact change. Workshop participants started to see a place where collective will-combined with legislation that revives rather than degrades police/community relations-could heal our city. We asked: What if First Energy Stadium replaced its orange seats with 67,895 of another color? If the Cavs starting using red, white, and blue basketballs, would the world remember the pain we felt here when we first heard about the Rice shooting? How would visitors get in touch with our collective grief if Cleveland Hopkins International Airport renamed one of its parking areas the "Yellow Lot"? What would the city look like if all of us could reasonably expect to feel safe here?
A Color Removed continued its momentum with the installation of collection bins across Cleveland this spring, allowing participants to surrender their totems of safety. At SPACES, you will see toys, clothing, sports equipment, household items, and other quotidian objects serving as a stage for a robust series of events set to take place during FRONT's An American City. But before you enter the supersaturated display, you will walk through a group exhibition in the front gallery, comprised of work by local artists Amber Ford, Amanda King and Shooting Without Bullets youth photographers, M. Carmen Lane, and RA Washington, who have long explored the conceptual underpinnings of A Color Removed in their work. Their installations comment on the vulnerability of black women navigating the intersecting oppressions of race, gender and socioeconomic status; the cumulative impact of racialized violence; and the shared responsibility of improving our community.
We core collaborators provide a site for the conversation to emerge that will shape the city we want, but A Color Removed requires from its participants active engagement and willingness to interfere in resolute political and social structures. If one of us doesn't feel safe, none of us can truly feel safe.
*This essay is a revised version of text that SPACES Executive Director, Christina Vassallo, originally wrote for the FRONT Triennial catalog. It has changed to reflect the fluidity of the project, the ability of the core planning team to respond to the feedback of community members, and the engagement of Tamir Rice's mother--Samaria Rice--in the project.
Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Your annual Season Pass membership gets you access to some pretty incredible perks:
-FREE admission to next week's members-only closing party for the 40th anniversary exhibition
-10% discount in the SPACES Publication Shop, where you can buy limited edition publications by artists like Jacob Koestler, Corrie Slawson, and Ward Shelley.
-Artists can get a seat at the 8x8x8 table on 6/28 (RSVP to bedwards@SPACESgallery.org).
We are also thrilled to announce that SPACES programming staff will conduct monthly portfolio reviews with our artist Season Pass members, starting in June. If you are a Season Pass member and would like to participate in a portfolio review with SPACES Executive Director Christina Vassallo on 6/29, please RSVP to cvassallo@SPACESgallery.org and indicate which time slot you'd prefer: 10 am, 11 am, noon. Reviews are offered on a first-come-first-served basis.
Membership starts at $25 for students, artists, and seniors and $50 for everybody else. Higher membership levels get you additional bragging rights on our website, donor wall, emails and quarterly printed publication.
Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
Category: Season Pass
Our SWAP Coordinator, Bruce Edwards, will be leaving SPACES in mid-July to pursue personal projects. As I know many of our artist followers will appreciate, sometimes you have to say goodbye to your day job in order to find the time to let your creative juices flow. For over 20 years, Bruce has been an exceptional SPACES volunteer, and over the last 5 years, a dedicated employee. It's now time for him to put the same effort into his own practice that he has put into helping other artists achieve their ambitious goals.
During Bruce's tenure, he helped bring major projects to fruition through the SPACES World Artists Program (SWAP). His ability to work collaboratively with our residents can be seen in notable projects by Heidi Neilson, Ward Shelley, and Roopa Vasudevan, as well as our current 40th anniversary exhibition, 20/20 Hindsight = 40 Years. Bruce and I worked closely together to seek out local, national, and international artists and art writers for SPACES, positioning the SWAP residency program as a model for how mid-sized organizations can help materialize the ideas of cultural producers who help us see the world in unexpected ways.
Bruce's departure comes at a time when SPACES reevaluates its programming goals through a strategic planning process. Rather than seeking out a SWAP Coordinator replacement, we are taking this opportunity to consider shifting to a new model, in which we dissolve the boundaries of our existing artist-driven opportunities and redesign our programming to emphasize residencies as a core component of our work. For that reason, we are seeking a Project Coordinator, and I invite qualified candidates to consider applying. More info about the position can be found here.
Bruce will remain on staff through the opening of the A Color Removed project at SPACES, for the FRONT International Triennial. Please join me in wishing Bruce the best of luck, during our opening reception on July 14.
Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
In late-2017, SPACES spearheaded Hingetown Culture Works, a platform for the co-creation and implementation of free cultural activities that serve the diverse populations living in and visiting this area of Ohio City. Our inaugural project as an alliance-comprised of partners like the Music School Settlement, Transformer Station, Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio City Inc., residents and local business owners-was creating an artistic hub in Hingetown, during Open Streets on May 6, 2018.
For this engaging one-day event, Hingetown Culture Works commissioned 6 new artworks that celebrate people-powered movement and promote decreasing dependency on automobiles. One of the artists, Tony Ingrisano, filmed the skaters, cyclists, and pedestrians enjoying the day's activities and created the video work, Open Streets, which is on view at night, in the SPACES corner window, through June 17, 2018.
Author: Christina Vassallo, Executive Director
For this edition of "Kid Art Review" our guest reviewer is Evan who is a fan of the Beatles and a member of the Junior Model UN . Evan joined us after school last week and gave his review in the fanciest words he could think of.
(SPACES) What is your favorite piece in the show and why is it your favorite?
(Evan) My favorite is Ward Shelley's Back Office in the Flats because it is creative, funny and had a lot of effort put into it. The labels on the boxes were really funny. My parents are always arguing about the Beatles and Elvis. My dad likes the Beatles, which I 100% agree, and my mom likes Elvis, because that's what she was raised on. So to see "Beatles > Elvis" was really, really funny.
The art wasn't what I expected, I wasn't expecting any of it to exist, I was expecting picture frames with small little paintings with fancy lines. Not what this is, so glad what it is, because this is so much better.
(SP) If this artwork were a movie what kind of movie would it be? A love story, science fiction, comedy, documentary, action, horror, etc.
(EV) It would be a comedy. It would be an action comedy, like the world is being taken over by robots in the future and this is the last library ever. Each one of the boxes contains all the stuff. Like a sci-fi comedy.
(SP) What do you think a caveman would think of this artwork?
(EV) He would be confused and grunt, because he couldn't read anything and because he would just see oddly shaped things stacked on top of each other. He wouldn't know anything; it would be kind of funny.
(SP) How would you explain this art to an alien?
(EV) I would choose simple words to explain it, and then Google fancy words for it. If they were more advanced than me a thousand fold I would need to use fancy words. I would try to find a fancy word for box, it's a word you use everyday, but I would use fancy snazzy words like "rectangular prism." I don't think aliens would find the boxes funny if they were literally advanced, like if they were more evolved than us, but if they were just technologically or intellectually advanced, I think they would find some of the boxes to be funny.
(SP) If you could sum the show up in one word what would that word be?
(EV) Creative, because there is just so much going on. Each one you could describe with 10 different words and that's what I call Creative, or miscellaneous chaos. Creativity is a self-evaluated trait of a non-living object, which is very hard to achieve. The definition of creativity is something can't break down through literality and statistic, and a lot of these pieces you just can't.
(SP) If there was one thing you could say to the artist what would that be?
(EV) This is so cool, you should make more like it. I thought the "Back Office in the Flats" was amazing and really cool. You can tell he was running out of ideas for labels and actually gets funnier. One of my favorites, I'm guessing it's one of the last boxes he did, that said "Ideas for labels." I thought that was really funny.
(SP) If there was one question you could ask the artist what would that be?
(EV) How long did it take for you to make "Back Office in the Flats." If he had daily things to deal with it looks like it would take several years.
(SP) Out of 5 Truman's how many Truman's would you give this show ?
(EV) I gave 4 and a half Trumans. My original plan was to give 6, but then I remember that this was supposed to be serious in a way and I'm trying to use the fanciest words I can conjure up. My secondary plan was to give 5, but then I remembered some of the other pieces I didn't completely understand, and I don't like being confused.
Author: Michelle Epps, Community Engagement Manager
Category: Kid Art Review
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