Artists from Northeast Ohio in the CMA's Collection

Works by artists from Cleveland are nothing to overlook, and the museum owns many fine examples. Let’s take a look at some of the cultural production from our region and take in the creativity of Northeast Ohio!

Our first object is a tobacco Pipe from the Great Lake region on display in Gallery 231.

Tobacco had social and ceremonial significance for Native American societies, and ritual smoking is still practiced today. When a pipe is lit, prayers are offered in four (and sometimes six or seven) directions to honor the cardinal compass points and the symbolic meanings attached to each. The hand around the base could imply an offering or an ancestor.

In Gallery 228A we will find a glass sculpture by Brent Kee Young entitled, Matrix Series: Catenary Ellipsoid…Bi acquired in 2010. 

This work is made by heating thin glass rods with a blowtorch and fusing them together to create a 3-dimensional structure. The artist likes to explore the question, “can [a] form be defined using only light and line?” While the glass comes together in a web of organic shapes, the sculpture also contains an underlying geometry. Perhaps we can interpret the piece as the many paths of an electron, or the sudden crash of billiard balls in a game of pool.  

In the same gallery we encounter a work by Julian Stanczak, from 1971 titled, Flow.

This piece may look like a flowing curtain, but it is actually an acrylic painting on a flat canvas. Stanczak passed away in March of this year, and he was a leading figure in the Op Art movement. These artist were interested in the optical effects of line, color and pattern, and the ways in which these can play upon our perception. The flowing composition, along with Stanczak’s color pallete, can offer an ethereal experience.

In the adjacent Gallery 228B, you can find Mary Spain’s 1977 oil on canvas, Girl with Birds

Spain frequently depicts a solitary figure in a colorful but sparse interior. She often includes childlike themes such as pets or other dreamlike animals. Her representation of the human form was inspired by her love of antique dolls. The blocky gestures and toy-like face paint impart a fanciful but unsettling quality to the figure- as if she is not entirely in control of her body. This may remind some viewers of an uncanny episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark where a child is turning into a doll.

On the opposite wall you will find Sheffield Kagy’s Bridges from the 1930s.Through much of the 20th century, Cleveland was a center of heavy manufacturing, and the Cuyahoga River grants access to the shipping lanes of the Great Lakes region.

Kagy used the process of lithography to produce this image. Traditionally, this type of print was made by inking an image that is drawn upon a special type of limestone. The grain of the stone can produce a stippling effect when printed, lending a soft glow to the scene. This stylized view the Flats seems to hover between a typical overcast day, and a moment from a gritty film noir.

Stop by the Atrium this Sunday, April 9th, were Art Cart will be presenting more work by artists of our region that you will be able to hold in your hands! Don’t miss out!


Guest Author

Hauser, Ben

The Cleveland Museum of Art

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