NEO arts hit glocalization home run with Stanczak, Schutz and Opie openings last night

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Sat, 09/30/2006 - 06:23.

Two major art exhibits opened Friday night, September 29, showcasing the importance of glocalization of NEO art at its best. Barbara Stanczak is showing a large body of recent sculptures, photo manipulations and constructions at the Cleveland Botanical Gardens Gallery, and Painter Dana Schutz and photographer Catherine Opie are exhibiting large bodies of work at Cleveland Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Each artist has strong ties to NEO, yet are globally successful and influential in their own unique ways - rooting their accomplishments back to NEO is how glocalization of arts propels our economy to a higher level, as NEO leverages the  global significance of our arts industry.

The Babara Stanczak show is overwhelming in scope and richness of content, exploding throughout to small but stunning Botanical Gardens gallery space. Especially remarkable, these are all works completed in the past few years by this important local artist and full time professor of the Cleveland Institute of art.

There are over a dozen striking photo manipulations, very fitting to the location of the show, featuring flowers... some in large, complex collages. Adding to the experience shown on the walls of the gallery are unique, intriguing constructions of assemblages of paintings combined with found objects - I especially like one featuring diodes.

Barbara adds to that mix over a dozen major sculptures, whose organic form and feel are again so fitting to this environment, championing the many states of nature in design and content. Barbara collects important natural objects in her travels - old pieces of wood and stones - and then works them in various ways and combinations to produce and assemble remarkable major art objects. Some are subtly sculpted into soft, sensual forms, while others are significantly carved and shaped into powerful design statements. At the opening of this exhibition, Barbara invited guests to touch the work and feel the contours and natural energy.

The importance of these works can't be overstated, and the importance of the artist must be celebrated by the region. Barbara has shown and been collected extensively around the world and continues producing globally important work many decades into her career. I've known Barbara and her also world-renowned husband, Julian Stanczak (the most important op-artist in the world) for my entire life, and they are two of our region's most important global assets. Adding to their significance in this community, they each have dedicated as much of their lives to creating other great artists as they have dedicated to creating great art... which brings us to MOCA and Dana Schutz.

The long line of cars waiting to pull into the MOCA parking lot was a powerful statement of the excitement her exhibition has created in this community. Having graduated from CIA and secured her Masters of Fine Art from Columbia, all within the past decade, Dana is one of the hottest properties on the global arts scene, as is well demonstrated by the high prices realized for her work, and the important collections buying them. Deservedly so - the collection of works at MOCA shows a transformation and strength of style and technique that is powerful and impressive - her results are masterful.

Dana has a great sense of composition, design and texture she applies with remarkable skill. The line of her work is complex, inspired, tight and impactful... the paint always applied with perfection, and the presence of the work is complete, even as the style seems loose and chaotic. The subjects are mind-expanding, edgy and inspiring, presented with a strong impression of political savvy and sense of an artist wth self-awareness of her mind and culture. Even when focused on disturbing or grotesque matter and subjects, the result is uplifting - the artistic expression ascends above the obvious to the intellectual, and if you don't get it it is your problem... Dana gets it.

It is intriguing to consider this successful, rising star of contemporary art is in part the product of our CIA, and likely has been somewhat influenced by her peer showing down the street, who has instructed so many CIA students in design - sisters of different styles and generations, each individually globally influential in completely different ways, share a legacy of artistic excellence arising from Cleveland, as they open new pages in their careers on the same night, back here at home.

Photographer Catherine Opie also shares NEO cultural influences, coming from Sandusky, Ohio, and her images seem to reflect her origins. In a large set of photographs from her travels around the country, in 1999, one feels a sense of barren decay and atrophy. In a set of more recent photos, one senses the uncommon in the common. These are beautifully constructed images, perfectly crafted and presented, truly picturing the world we live in, which the exceptional painter showing in the gallery down the hall so perfectly places on canvas with paint.

The MOCA opening was a packed house, with more young artist types than I've ever seen at any reception, other than at the arts schools in town. That Dana Schutz did a "Brown Bag" talk Thursday and Catherine Opie spoke Wednesday in forums at CIA about their work certainly would have raised interest and connectedness in the community. And, I suspect that these artists are so important in the global arts arena, and speak of such relevant, timely personal perspectives, increases interest among their peers. Compliments to MOCA and CIA for working together within the community to make this a significant experience and valuable glocal event.

Without doubt, these two exhibitions prove the value of art, in and of itself and at the core of our regional economy. But, in that sense, who in the regional economy can take any credit for that. The economic impact may be appreciated at the MOCA level - selling parking and memberships - and it may be appreciated at the CIA level - increasing admissions, donations and revenues - and it is undeniable at the regional reputation level - associating Cleveland with things and people that are world class and global - but how many people in the region can really take credit for helping make that happen - how many people in the region really put out for local artists... BUY LOCAL ART?

I know that several of Barbara Stanczak's works, shown recently at the CIA Faculty Exhibit, were purchased by collectors. But I also know many of the works at that show by all CIA faculty are still available for sale. There are many works for sale at the current Stanczak exhibition - and the Botanical Gardens certainly wants as many people as possible to come to their facility (you will need to pay for admission... well worth the cost), and see the show, and buy the art (which also benefits the Botanical gardens). There is a show of CIA student work up right now at the Cleveland Foundation, with fantastic art for sale, and each student of fine art at the CIA has more to sell - not to mention the work of students and faculty at all the other arts schools in the region, and work of all imaginable types of artists around the region, and from Cleveland artists like Schutz and Opie now living elsewhere.

While Dana Schutz was a student at the CIA, some smart arts lovers hopefully had the sense to buy her work. Now, her work sells for over $100,000 a painting. Are you smart enough to buy the work of the next Dana Schutz, or the current Barbara Stanczak, whose work in in major museums and collections around the world? Do you care enough about the region to help make sure such artists are glocally successes? Going to MOCA once a quarter to have a glass of wine with the artists and be artsy is not enough. Lucky for all of us, some people are committed to making this happen for arts and artists, and we all benefit from their commitment and good work. Let's each do our part to contribute to this sector of our economy, and be rewarded ourselves, in the process... buy art! One important upcoming opportunity - go to the final five shows of 1300 Gallery's existence and buy art.

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