On deck

Event details provided by the entities featured. Compiled by Becky Raspe.

Editor’s note: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, museums and galleries may change how exhibitions are able to be seen and might not allow in-person visitation. Visit their websites for updated information regarding exhibition visitation prior to visiting. 

Valley Art Center

50th anniversary programming | Through May 21

Valley Art Center in Chagrin Falls is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and with it will exhibit work by its alumni and begin a community art project in May.

On view through May 12, the center is hosting an exhibition celebrating alumni who have gone on to successful artistic careers over its first half century. “Illustrious Alum” will feature the work of artists who got their start at VAC, such as Judith Brandon, a mixed-media landscape artist; H. Craig Hanna, a landscape and figurative painter; Jeremy Galante, an animation artist; Kate Kaman, a sculptor; and Judy Takacs, a figurative painter.

And for the community art installation, internationally known fiber artist Carol Hummel will wrap the trees in front of the VAC building in color. “Fantastic at Fifty – Valley Art Center’s Anniversary Community Art Project” asks volunteers to create crocheted circles to encase the trees in vibrant spring colors. The display will be installed from May 15-21, and will be accessible to the public throughout this year.

Valley Art Center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. The center is at 155 Bell St. For more information on upcoming programming, visit valleyartcenter.org.

Above: “Love Denied” by Dale Goode. Oil, latex and enamel on canvas, 96 x 1.5 x 62.75 inches. | Photo / Aireonna McCall

HEDGE Gallery

Dale Goode – “Paintings and Printmaking” | Through June 18

Cleveland artist Dale Goode’s work will be on display as a satellite exhibition at HEDGE Gallery at the 78th Street Studios in Cleveland’s Edgewater neighborhood. The exhibition, which features some of Goode’s more recent paintings and prints, employs both figurative and abstract works on paper, as well as some of his older, never-before-seen paintings on canvas. Goode’s work is created with layers of bold color and expressive mark making, using varieties of paint including oils, enamel, acrylic and latex combined with other found materials. He also works on large-scale sculptures that influence his painting and printmaking.

Shown in the Suite 215 Gallery, hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays, and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays, or by appointment. 

HEDGE Gallery is at 1300 W. 78th St. Visit it online at hedgeartgallery.com. For more information, contact Hilary Gent at hilary@hedgeartgallery.com or 216-650-4201.

Above: “still waters run deep / fall in your ways” (2021) by Shikeith. Site-specific installation commissioned by moCa Cleveland as part of “Imagine Otherwise.” | Photo / Field Studio.

Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland

“Imagine Otherwise” | Through June 6

As part of a three-location installation, “Imagine Otherwise” is a group exhibition on display at moCa Cleveland that expresses the boundlessness and fierceness of Black imagination and love, despite ongoing anti-Black violence and demonstrations. Using Christina Sharpe’s book “In the Wake: On Blackness and Being,” the show features work by artists Shikeith, Imani Dennison, Amber N. Ford and Antwoine Washington. The multi-media exhibition, which also has work on display at ThirdSpace Action Lab in Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood and Museum of Creative Human Art in Lakewood, spotlights Black pathways to self-determination and collective liberation through various artistic media. Organized by La Tanya S. Autry, founder of the Black Literation Center and Gund curator in residence, the moCa installment features work by Shikeith. Dennison and Ford’s work can be viewed at ThirdSpace and Washington’s will be at Museum of Creative Human Art. 

moCa’s hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. The museum is at 11400 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland’s Uptown District.

For more information about the show and its locations, visit mocacleveland.org/exhibitions/imagine-otherwise.

Above: “Sadie” by Karen Novak for “Furtography: Another Show for the Dogs.” | Image courtesy of Cleveland Photo Fest.

Cleveland Photo Fest

“PHOTOTHON 2021” | May 1 – June 30

After debuting in 2019, Cleveland Photo Fest is returning with PHOTOTHON 2021. The show will feature seven photography exhibitions: three drawn from international submissions, three of local talent and Cleveland Photo Fest’s own “I Identify As: Portraits in Black and White,” a Cleveland portrait project of 60 white, Black and those who identify as “other” photographing portraits of each other. The other exhibitions are “Furtography: Another Show for the Dogs,” which features photos of man’s best friend – dogs; “Deja Nude: Not Another Nude Show!” featuring nude photos; and “Dear Diary: Show Us Your Secrets,” featuring photos by women looking to visually share their favorite secret. Additionally, there will be a high school student exhibition, interpretive photography of poetry and an exchange show with photographers from Kerala, a state in southern India. The exchange will be from 6 to 9 p.m. May 26 at BAYarts, 28795 Lake Road in Bay Village.

PHOTOTHON 2021 will be housed at Bostwick Design Art Initiative, 2729 Prospect Ave. in Cleveland. Gallery hours will be noon to 8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. Visit it online at clevelandphotofest.org.

To read more about Cleveland Photo Fest’s inaugural year, visit canvascle.com/developing-landscape.

Above: The 2019 Alumni Exhibition at CIA’s Reinberger Gallery. | Image courtesy of The Cleveland Institute of Art.

Cleveland Institute of Art

“2021 Alumni Exhibition” | June 4 – Aug. 13

The Cleveland Institute of Art and the CIA Alumni Council will present the 2021 Alumni Exhibition this summer in Reinberger Gallery. This juried exhibition will showcase work by CIA alums from different graduating years and artistic practices, and it will offer viewers the opportunity to learn more about the college and its influence on art in the region.

Emily Carol Burns, a multi-disciplinary artist who has curated exhibitions across the U.S. that highlight visual art from emerging artists, will serve as juror for the Alumni Exhibition. She is also the founding editor of Maake Magazine – an independent, artist-run publication – and is an assistant professor at The Pennsylvania State University.

CIA’s Reinberger Gallery is at 11610 Euclid Ave. in Cleveland. Visit
cia.edu/exhibitions for the most current visitor policy and check
cia.edu/alumniexhibition for updates regarding public programming.

Above: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her husband, Marty, with their daughter, Jane, in 1958. This photo is on view with “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. | Photo / Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

“Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” | Through Aug. 29

A traveling museum exhibition, “Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage explores the life of the late Supreme Court justice, known simply and commonly by her three initials, who passed away at age 87 due to complications from metastatic pancreatic cancer on Sept. 18, 2020 after almost 30 years on the bench. The exhibition, created by the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles that opened in October 2018, is based off a book focused on Ginsburg’s personal and professional life by journalist Irin Carmon and attorney Shana Knizhnik. The exhibition is broken into seven parts of RBG’s life, each named after lyrics from the late hip-hop artist the Notorious B.I.G. 

The exhibition is included in regular museum admission and is open during regular museum hours, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays. Tickets are by advanced registration only.

The Maltz Museum is at 2929 Richmond Road in Beachwood. Visit it online at maltzmuseum.org.

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage‘s director of external relations discusses “Everyday Heroes,” a family-friendly activity center that opens for its second summer at The Maltz Museum on June 4.

Please describe “Everyday Heroes.” What are the biggest draws for museum visitors?

For anyone with young children, we want them to know about the transformation of our gallery space into the Everyday Heroes Activity Center. For three months, we offer this awesome activity center for kids where they can explore values like kindness, sharing and helping. Great for ages 8 and under but of course open to all ages. Kids can enjoy making their own capes and masks, zooming around the good mood movement area, painting kindness rocks to share, building a better world with LEGOs, being the hero of their own story in the puppet theater and so much more. Kids can nominate their own hero and submit for a chance to win prize packages announced each week. There’s also the Everyday Heroes Story Tour: Sarah & Samuel’s American Story. Oversized pages from a custom-created children’s book guide kids through the museum’s core exhibition to discover the heroic qualities of a Russian immigrant family moving to America in the late 1800s. Last year, we not only hosted individual families but also birthday parties, camps, community centers and religious groups. We have fun family programs in our summer lineup, too, from story times to special events.

This is the second year for “Everyday Heroes.” What’s new this year?

New to the Activity Center this year is the Hero Wall showcasing six remarkable young people from Cleveland and around the country who are doing their part to make a difference, including: Christian Bucks, known for introducing the Buddy Bench to American schools (Pennsylvania); Gabe Feinberg, who wrote a book about inclusion for other kids (Ohio); Reggie Fields who started his own lawn-mowing business (Ohio); Cassandra Lin, known for her work in protecting the environment (Rhode Island); Mia Rodriguez, who raises money and gives gifts to police officers on her birthday (Nebraska); and Ella Tryon, who collects and donates crayons to sick kids in hospitals (Ohio). Visitors can add their name to the Hero Wall, which is sponsored in part by Bellefaire JCB.

 Our partnership with Bellfaire JCB is also new this summer. We are celebrating their work as everyday heroes in the community on their 150th anniversary. Together, we are offering meaningful programs focused on vulnerable youth populations, including: “Take a Closer Look, Youth Homelessness Prevention” (June 5 at 7 p.m.); “Talking with Teens, Navigating Difficult Times” (July 24 at 7 p.m.); and “Becoming a Butterfly, Autism & The Monarch School” (Aug. 28 at 7 p.m.). Sean Martin, Ph.D., will join us in the gallery for a daytime talk on “Bellefaire JCB, 150 Years” (July 23 at 11:30 a.m.) and Bellefaire JCB’s art therapy expert will join us for a talk-back after the Israeli film “Wild Kids” (July 17 at 6:30 p.m.).

We are also very excited to offer our most popular group tour as a drop-in guided tour this summer. “Stop the Hate” is available at 2 p.m. every Tuesday, June through August. This is an important, timely tour, and we encourage Cleveland audiences to participate. Hate knows many forms in human history, from everyday acts of discrimination to global terror campaigns. Through the study of historical documents and artifacts, tour-goers are given an opportunity to reflect on their own lives, consider how destructive forces can affect social, economic and political aspects of society, and identify possible solutions for advancing inclusivity. Recommended for ages 12 and older.

What are some of the programming highlights surrounding “Everyday Heroes”?

Our programming categories include: “Family Fun,” “Daytime Gallery Talks,” “Drop-in Guided Tours,” “Documentary Film Series,” “Theatre & Performance,” “Holocaust Remembrance” and a lecture series. We can’t pick just one favorite because within each category are dynamic, compelling programs centered on the idea that within each of us is the power to help someone when they need us, including recognizing when we need help ourselves. We have an intimate theater space that seats 70, so the programs tend to sell out. We highly recommend registration to secure a spot.

How long will “Everyday Heroes” be up and what are the ticketing details?

The Everyday Heroes Activity Center will be open from June 4 through Aug. 18. Attendance is included with general admission. We have special summer rates. General (12+) $10; Youth (5-11) $5; Children under 5 are free. Members are always free. We are also running a summer promotion for new household memberships, which are being offered at just $55, a $20 discount! Members receive discounted or free admission to programs, exclusive store discounts and invitations to private events. For details on programs, please visit our website.

What else can visitors enjoy while they’re at the Maltz Museum?

Our core exhibition, “An American Story,” which chronicles the Jewish immigrant experience to Cleveland, is a fascinating glimpse into our local history; and The Temple-Tifereth Israel Gallery is the fourth oldest collection of Judaica ritual objects in the country. If anyone wants a deep dive into either of these galleries, we offer guided drop-in tours for both, June through August. “An American Story” will be offered every Wednesday and Sunday at 2 p.m. Treasures of The Temple-Tifereth Israel Gallery will be offered every Thursday at 2 p.m. Drop-in tours are included with general admission. Simply let the front desk know when you purchase your ticket that you would like to be part of the tour.

Images courtesy of The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage.


Story by Carlo Wolff

“Nick Cave: Feat.,” the latest blockbuster exhibition at the Akron Art Museum, remains on view there through June 2. Shown here, Nick Cave, Soundsuit, 2013, mixed media including mannequin, ceramic birds and metal flowers, 96½ x 37 x 43 in., private collection, © Nick Cave, installation photo: Mike Crupi Photography.

Pick one: An art show is a hit when a) tickets are immediately impossible to get; b) you have to stand in line to get into the museum; c) once inside, you’re in a long queue to check out an installation; d) the museum is wall-to-wall crowded at an opening reception bursting with people taking selfies; or e) it’s the talk of the town or trending on social media.

Pick any or all, because at least one characterizes a blockbuster show like “Feat.,” a mind-bending show by Chicago imagineer Nick Cave running through June 2 at the Akron Art Museum, or “Infinity Mirrors,” the immersive exhibition by Japanese visionary Yayoi Kusama mounted last summer at the Cleveland Museum of Art. 

The Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage hopes all of those markers come into play for “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music,” a September 2019 to February 2020 show coming to the Beachwood institution from the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, where it was organized.

While CMA and the Akron museum are more broadly based than the Maltz Museum, which is dedicated to Jewish culture, spokespeople for all three want their shows to have the broadest appeal possible. 

Reaching audiences

How to effect that varies by institution, but planning years out is not only key, it’s the norm. Other variables include show availability, cost, community impact, whether the originating museum is willing to loan out the show and whether the art is sturdy enough to travel.

“We want to do shows that have broad audience appeal, shows that will be popular,” says Emily Liebert, contemporary art curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Such shows typically feature artists “who are well-known or household names or have themes with a lot of relevance to what people are thinking about, to the zeitgeist.”

Costs of a show, “blockbuster” or lesser, involves securing the loan, research, travel associated with acquiring it, programming and marketing. The process starts with a suggestion. 

“Each curator in the museum has a specialty, so they propose exhibitions that fall within their specialty,” Liebert says. The museum director, the exhibition department and the curator ultimately determine the positioning of the show in the museum.

Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016. Photo by Tomoaki Makino. Courtesy of the artist; provided by the Cleveland Museum of Art. © Yayoi Kusama.

Was the success of the Kusama show a surprise? “I didn’t think at the beginning of the Kusama tour it was anticipated how popular it would be,” Liebert says. 

But she also notes that the show, which attracted more than 120,000 visitors from all over the United States and 23 other countries, “was very popular” when it opened where it originated: The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. The only Midwestern museum to host the Kusama show, CMA featured seven of the artist’s “infinity mirror rooms,” including the Cleveland exclusive, “Where the Lights in My Heart Go.”

Capturing imaginations

At the Maltz Museum, David Schafer, managing director, and Lindsay Miller, manager of collections & exhibitions, regularly bat around ideas for exhibitions they learn about online, through friends of the museum who act as “informal scouts,” and as Miller says, by “keeping an eye out for anything that sounds like it fits in with our mission.”

Is there an audience? Can we afford it? Those are the bottom-line questions, Miller says. Among other considerations: travel, installation, insurance and marketing. Whether originating at the Maltz Museum or not, show costs range from $100,000 for something smaller to $2 million for an ambitious show the Maltz creates, she says.

“Leonard Bernstein: The Power Of Music,” shown here at National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, where it originated, will be on view this fall at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood. | Jessi Melcer / Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

She and Schafer both hope “Leonard Bernstein: The Power of Music” is a smash hit like the massively collaborative “Violins of Hope” in late 2015, the ecumenical “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People” (most of summer 2012) and the internationally planned “Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann” (late February to late July 2016). “Violins” drew more than 15,000, the Eichmann show drew 15,000, and the pope exhibit drew 11,000.

“‘Violins of Hope’ captured the imagination of Northeast Ohio,” Schafer says. “We knew it was going to be a successful show, but it exceeded our expectations, with people coming back two and three times to see it.” A first for the Maltz Museum, it originated there and involved collaboration among the museum, Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Orchestra.

Another totally unexpected blockbuster, says Schafer, was “Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People,” a show originating from Xavier University in Cincinnati. It had been traveling for seven years and the Maltz Museum was contacted to be the last U.S. venue to host it; it’s now in Poland, “gifted to the people of Poland.” It had broad appeal, drawing from all over the Northeast.

Like “Violins,” “Operation Finale,” which focused on the capture of key Nazi mechanic Adolf Eichmann, joined various parties, including the Maltz Museum; Beit Hatfusot – The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, where it originated; and the Mossad, Israel’s security force. The Maltz Museum customized it.

There is no in-house curator at the Maltz, so it turns to different ones depending on the project, Schafer says. The National Museum of American Jewish History is curating the Bernstein exhibition, which was on view there last year. The Maltz will be its third showing. Miller says the installation will require the construction of interior walls, something that also had to be done for the Eichmann exhibit.

Serving communities

Like CMA’s Liebert, Ellen Rudolph, chief curator at the Akron Art Museum, wants to present shows with broad appeal, but that also speak to social issues. 

“While potential attendance numbers are an important measure in considering an exhibition, we don’t differentiate between blockbuster and non-blockbuster exhibitions,” says Rudolph, who joined the Akron museum in 2017 from the Maltz Museum, where she had been executive director. “We always seek to present the most relevant, interesting and high-quality work for the community we serve.”

A long-time fan of Cave, Rudolph learned his show was available while discussing the possibility of another one with the chief curator of the Frist Art Museum in Nashville, where “Feat.” was on exhibit for nearly eight months starting in late November 2017. 

“We felt Nick Cave’s work was the right fit for the Akron Art Museum because it combines visual wonder, found objects that are familiar and personal to many people, and an immersive experience for viewers. And the social justice aspect of the work offers the opportunity to utilize the art as a catalyst for conversation, so it’s visually exciting, speaks to Akron as a maker community and has deep meaning that relates to our world today.”

Viewers take in “Nick Cave: Feat.” at the Akron Art Museum. | Shane Wynn Photography / Akron Art Museum

Cost is always a major factor, and Akron “can’t show three very expensive shows in one year, so we have to spread out that resource investment,” says Rudolph, who worked with the museum director and the design and marketing departments to position the Cave show within the museum’s overall program. 

“We tease out themes of the work, identify potential stakeholders and look at how we can best engage our community through a variety of programs including talks, performances and hands-on activities.”

All these executives suggest locale also influences the decision to mount a show, and they hope an exhibition plays well to the hometown crowd – and beyond. Still, as places vary, so do the marketing and programming of art.

“A blockbuster for The Met (The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City) is very different for the Akron Art Museum,” Rudolph says. “Blockbusters are typically associated with household-name artists that have worldwide appeal and are expected to bring in masses of audiences, and in turn, profits from admission fees, memberships purchased, store merchandise (sold), and food and beverage sales. 

“Publicity certainly goes along with that – both in the media and in social media. Today, it’s the cachet of posting selfies in front of – or inside – certain artworks. Attendance and publicity go hand-in-hand and are key to defining the success of an exhibition for sure, but so are other variables, such as the imprint an exhibition leaves on the community.” C

On View

Buzz-generating blockbusters

Ongoing exhibitions attracting large audiences and upcoming exhibitions expected to make a big splash include: 

Akron Art Museum

  • “Nick Cave: Feat.,” on view through June 2
  • “Dread & Delight: Fairy Tales in an Anxious World,” opening June 29

Cleveland Museum of Art

  • “Shinto: Discovery of the Divine in Japanese Art,” on view through June 30
  • “Medieval Monsters: Terrors, Aliens, Wonders,” opening July 7
  • “Michelangelo: Mind of the Master,” opening Sept. 22

Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

  • “Israel: Then & Now,” on view through May 12
  • “Leonard Bernstein: The Power Of Music,” opening in September

PHOTO | Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

Everyday Heroes Activity Center opens at the Maltz Museum

By Tess Kazdin

With school out for the summer, many parents are in search of educational and super fun activities the entire family can enjoy.

One such option in the metropolis of Northeast Ohio is the new Everyday Heroes Activity Center, which recently opened at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood.

Recommended for children 8 and under, the activity center uses books, crafts, movement and more to explore values of being an everyday hero.

“It’s a place where families can explore the values of being an everyday hero while having hands-on fun,” said Dahlia Fisher, the Maltz Museum’s director of strategic marketing and communications.

To kick-off the summer season, Mandel Jewish Day School’s graduating kindergarten, first-grade and second-grade classes visited the Maltz Museum on their last day of school.

More than 150 children, parents and caregivers attended. While dressed in “Everyday Heroes” capes, they zoomed around the good mood movement area, painted kindness rocks, made gratitude boxes and played at the jumbo block station.

The Everyday Heroes Activity Center is open during regular Maltz Museum hours. Visit maltzmuseum.org for more information. cv

Lead image: PHOTO | Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

Kenneth B. Liffman, a member of the Maltz Museum board of trustees, inspects the Cleveland section of “This Light of Ours.” | Photo / Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

Civil rights exhibit shines spotlight on struggles

By Carlo Wolff

One of the many striking features of “This Light of Ours,” the stirring exhibit of civil rights photography at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, is how low-key it is. This is a display focused on timeless issues. It is not about flash or theatrics, though it’s packed with drama.

The nine photographers showcased here, who abandoned their objectivity to participate in the civil rights movement of the 1960s, decided to tell the story of ordinary people with extraordinary passion. That’s why, for example, Matt Herron’s photos of black protestors smiling as an integrated march passes through rural, “virulently racist” Lowndes County in Alabama are so moving.

At the same time, “This Light” doesn’t sugarcoat the ugliness that fueled the movement that brought white sympathizers, including Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple Rabbi Arthur J. Lelyveld, to Mississippi in 1964. Herbert Randall’s photo of a bloody but unbowed Lelyveld is one of the more memorable images.

At the heart of this exhibit, which runs through May 14, 2017, is a room about local and state terror. At its center is a cage that partially replicates the “nigger wagon” Jackson, Miss., police used to round up protesters.

On the outside of the cage are quotations about courage, perseverance and human rights. On the inside are photos of the wagon in action. It’s an arresting way to frame the issues that were being played out at that time.

Pictures by Bob Adelman and Herron show police intimidation; black girls taunted by white adults; a black girl trying to make eye contact with a guy wearing a hard hat stickered with a Confederate flag; white guards dragging another black girl on the street; a black girl picketing a department store in Birmingham. Even innocent bystanders were corralled.

The exhibition, which originated at the Center for Documentary Expression and Art in Salt Lake City, has been customized by and for the Maltz Museum. Not only did the Beachwood institution add a section on Cleveland – the exit area celebrates brothers Carl and Louis Stokes, respectively the first black mayor of a major American city, and Ohio’s first black congressman – it also added 3-D, immersive images like a “freedom cross” and a thicket of hate-slogan signs.

The exhibition opens with a recreation of a bedroom in a sharecropper’s shack. It feels lived in, authentic. That paves the way for the heart of the display, 150-plus black-and-white images by photographers of different backgrounds and ethnicities who found common cause in civil rights. Named after an old gospel song, “This Light of Ours” serves up pictures of segregation, like an Adelman image of a socialite gathering in Dallas where, as the caption says, the maid “was just another piece of furniture,” and of determination, like Herron’s photo of Jim Leatherer wearing a yarmulke, so sweaty his T-shirt stuck to him as he walked the 50 miles between Selma and Montgomery, Ala., – on crutches.

Bob Fitch’s photos of the funeral of Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta are particularly heartbreaking. They show King’s family, friends and mourners devastated by his assassination in 1968. Remarkable blends of directness and respect, these photos show King’s family in moments as intimate as moments get, but there’s nothing of celebrity in them, only sorrow. The photos attest to Fitch’s sense of the gravity of the event. He captured that while maintaining a proper, respectful distance from his subjects.

“It’s impossible not to connect the images that you see with what’s going on in our country today,” said
Ellen Rudolph, executive director of the museum. People protested police brutality then – and today, with “the same messages being telegraphed.”

“The broader message was the civil rights movement was not a moment in time, but civil rights are something we constantly have to fight for,” Rudolph added, noting that “on the eve of this incredibly divisive presidential election we’re still fighting for voting rights.” CV

On Exhibit

“This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement”

WHEN: Through May 14, 2017

WHERE: Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood

INFO: 216-593-0575 or maltzmuseum.org

Originally published in the Cleveland Jewish News on Oct. 13, 2016.

Lead image: Kenneth B. Liffman, a member of the Maltz Museum board of trustees, inspects the Cleveland section of “This Light of Ours.” Photo | Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage

Charles Mintz framed the Lustron portrait, “Detroit, MI: Miles and Terrence,” in baked enamel, a material similar to that used in Lustron Homes.

Photographer Mintz captures different kind of home

By Carlo Wolff

In the late summer of 2012, Cleveland photographer Charles Mintz presented “Precious Objects,” a show of people with their favorite things, at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood. Now he’s trained his deadpan, open-minded eye on one of the most important parts of people’s lives: their home.

Mintz just published “Lustron Stories,” a book of photographs about a very unusual kind of residence. Published by Trillium Books, a new imprint of The Ohio State University Press, it’s both intimate and affectless. Mintz’s photographs, like the smooth surfaces of Lustron Homes, are oddly opaque yet remarkably expressive.

The $49.95 book is available at Loganberry Books on Cleveland’s Larchmere Boulevard. Mintz has mounted two exhibitions drawing on his Lustron photos and is looking for a local venue to showcase the project.

Lustron Homes are prefab houses of porcelain-baked, enamel-coated steel manufactured in Columbus between 1948 and 1950. About 2,500 were sold, mostly 1,100-square-foot, two-bedroom, one-bath bungalows, to buyers all over the country, from Los Alamos, N.M. to Maine to Miami. About 1,500 survive.

They sold, without land, for $7,000, or close to $71,000 in today’s dollars. In some cases, they’ve remained with the original family. Mintz photographed 125 between 2011 and 2014. Their owners let him into their lives. While the focus is the people, the context is equally eloquent. These photos are nothing if not balanced. Not to mention lived in.

The Lustron project derived from one Mintz embarked on in 2009 to photograph foreclosed homes in every neighborhood in which he’d lived. His research showed that many had been built after either World War I or World War II.

Since he, like Lustron, was born in 1948, “this is history through my lifetime,” said Mintz, who owns a stucco house in Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. “The project is about the meaning of having your own home.”

Three of the photographs feature members of the original families, including the cover photo of Clementine and her mother, Anita, in Oak Park, Mich.

In that one, there’s the woman who bought the house, Mintz said. “The other story is the daughter who grew up in the house, which I find fascinating. We all remember, most of us, the home we spent the bulk of our childhood in. The house I grew up in in Cleveland Heights was a wooden house but it was essentially the same as these: a two-bedroom, one-bath bungalow built in 1949.”

Lustron Homes sold to a target audience of nondisabled, heterosexual, working-class families, Mintz said. It was the time of “Leave It to Beaver,” of “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” before the government began to build the interstate system in 1956.

Assembling a Lustron Home might take as few as 350 man hours, he said. But getting the pieces of these low-maintenance, if problematic, homes (you couldn’t nail a picture to a wall, for example) from Columbus to their destinations could be daunting, as semis hauling them had to travel through towns, not to mention on challenging roads. If you had to carry a Lustron Home to, say, Topeka, Kan., you’d have to travel US 40, which in some places was “not much better than a dirt road,” Mintz said. And the semi would have to return to Columbus – empty.

In addition, Lustron ran on money borrowed from the Reconstruction Finance Corp., a federal agency designed to provide economic stimulus, Mintz said.

In “The Idea of Home,” the essay that ends “Lustron Stories,” Mintz says he worked with Ohio History Connection, a Columbus nonprofit and the state’s historical society. Armed with a skeletal database of Lustron Home owners, Mintz wrote “hundreds and hundreds” of letters, eventually connecting with the subjects of these photographs.

“It’s very hard to find volunteers to participate in projects,” he said, “but when you do, with few exceptions, they’re remarkably generous people.” CV

Originally published in the Cleveland Jewish News on Sept. 23, 2016.

Lead image: Charles Mintz framed the Lustron portrait, “Detroit, MI: Miles and Terrence,” in baked enamel, a material similar to that used in Lustron Homes. Photo | Carlo Wolff.

Career Mossad agent Avner Avraham discusses Adolf Eichmann’s clandestine residency in Argentina at “Operation Finale.”

The Maltz Museum’s ‘Operation Finale’ captures intensity of Nazi Adolf Eichmann’s Byzantine story

Story by Carlo Wolff
Photography by Michael C. Butz

Moshe Dayan, from left, an Israeli military leader who would become defense minister during the Six-Day War of 1967, looks on as Adolf Eichmann – viewed through the bulletproof glass booth from which he testified – listens to Moshe Landau, presiding judge at Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem in 1961.

Moshe Dayan, from left, an Israeli military leader who would become defense minister during the Six-Day War of 1967, looks on as Adolf Eichmann – viewed through the bulletproof glass booth from which he testified – listens to Moshe Landau, presiding judge at Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem in 1961.

“Operation Finale,” the name the Mossad gave to its capture of key Nazi mechanic Adolf Eichmann, vamps on the Final Solution, the term Adolf Hitler’s regime used to prettify the extermination of the Jews the Nazis came so close to fulfilling.

“Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann,” on view at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood, is an extraordinary exhibition. It engages your intellect at the start and tears your heart out by the end.

A co-production of the Mossad, the Maltz Museum and Beit Hatfutsot-The Museum of the Jewish People in Tel Aviv, “Operation Finale” presents four themes, according to Avner Avraham, a career Mossad agent who curated the Tel Aviv exhibit on which the Maltz Museum’s larger exhibit is based:

• SS Lt. Col. Eichmann’s role in the Final Solution
• The identification and capture of Eichmann in Argentina
• Preparing for and prosecuting Eichmann’s trial in Jerusalem
• The legacy of the case.

Another highlight of “Operation Finale” is a thicket of silhouette cutouts of the original Mossad team detailing each member’s specialty.

Another highlight of “Operation Finale” is a thicket of silhouette cutouts of the original Mossad team detailing each member’s specialty.

The idea is to present an installation so comprehensive that an alien visiting from outer space could tell this was the whole story, Avraham said.

The 4,000-square-foot exhibition, which features 60 original artifacts, 70 photographs and seven original films running a total of 35 minutes, is dense, informative and exciting. It starts as a thriller and ends as an epic. It gathers many pieces, several of which the Mossad has never shared, of a very large puzzle.

Unlike the more personal “Violins of Hope” exhibit at the Maltz Museum, which ended in January, “this exhibit touches on people’s emotions in a different way,” said Maltz Museum Executive Director Ellen Rudolph. The feeling here is more collective, and “Operation Finale” is more interactive.

It proceeds chronologically.

After establishing him as a key Nazi operator, “Operation Finale” tracks Eichmann to a prisoner of war camp where he spent 1945 to 1950, then follows him to Argentina, which he entered under a pseudonym, using a Red Cross passport.

Enter the Mossad, dedicated to bringing key Nazis to justice. Avraham, who also helped curate the Maltz exhibit, suggested that Mossad was as slippery as Eichmann. Actually, it was more slippery.

Mossad agent Avner Avraham spent five years curating exhibits on the capture of Adolf Eichmann in both Tel Aviv and Beachwood.

Mossad agent Avner Avraham spent five years curating exhibits on the capture of Adolf Eichmann in both Tel Aviv and Beachwood.

“Operation Finale” uses period photography, originals and replicas of materials including passport forging tools, license plate kits and tourist guides the 11-person Mossad team used to nail Eichmann in Buenos Aires, where he was finally identified in 1957. The father of a girl who was friends with Eichmann’s son, Nicholas, recognized the name of the elusive Nazi kingpin, alerting German law enforcement authorities and triggering the hunt.

“The Grab” would take three years, numerous identity shifts on the agents’ and Eichmann’s parts, and various automobiles and airplanes to bring down Eichmann and transport him, anesthetized, to Jerusalem. It would take close to another year and a 14-person, multilingual Mossad team to prepare for the trial, which led to Eichmann’s conviction on charges including crimes against the Jewish people and crimes against humanity. Despite protestations of innocence and a no-regret attitude, Eichmann was found guilty and hanged in 1962. His ashes were scattered on the surface of the Mediterranean Sea.

“Operation Finale” swarms with media, stressing graphics, an interactive display at the very end asking visitors to identify current hotbeds of intolerance, and, as an emotional climax, an extraordinary triptych virtually putting Eichmann on trial again.

This triptych, its centerpiece the original glass booth from the 1961 Jerusalem trial, is the display’s knockout punch. As Rudolph said, it “kind of raises you up and punches you in the stomach.”

The triptych brackets an impassive, largely expressionless Eichmann with videos of prosecutors and Holocaust survivors, many of whom told their stories for the first time there. Not only did the globally broadcast trial attest to Israel’s intelligence acumen, it also was the first time the world at large learned of the Final Solution; footage includes news clips of liberated concentration camps. This is strong stuff, and parents of children younger than 12 should take caution before exposing them to it.

“The biggest challenge in curating this exhibition, both in Beit Hatfutsot and in the Maltz Museum, was how to present this great drama of the abduction and the trial through objects/materials that the majority of them are old paper documents written in languages that not many can read,” Orit Shaham- Gover, chief curator at Beit Hatfutsot, wrote in an email from Tel Aviv.

“There are few 3-D objects in the exhibition and museums tell stories through objects. Telling this story via such ‘unattractive’ objects was definitely a challenge, and in this respect I think that” the designers in Tel Aviv and Beachwood “did a great job. Another challenge was how to portray the atrocities of the Holocaust without intimidating American visitors (Israelis are used to Holocaust images), but this I think is the challenge of every Holocaust museum.”

Shaham-Gover became involved with the Eichmann exhibit in its American version, and said she was pleased with it when she attended opening day in Beachwood Feb. 19.

Other “Operation Finale” highlights are a thicket of silhouette cutouts of the original Mossad team detailing each member’s specialty, the languages he and the lone female agent spoke, and a mini-biography; a room section lined with vintage radios, all acquired on eBay, broadcasting then-Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion’s address to Israelis about Eichmann’s conviction; and placards of photographs of Holocaust survivors, many of them local, keyed to audio that tells their stories.

The colors are largely red, black and white, and most of the photos are black and white, conjuring a pre-digital era in which intelligence agents had to hand-craft their tools and information had to be ferreted out in brick-and-mortar places. “Operation Finale” speaks eloquently of a time when the world was only actual and guilt and innocence seemed clearer than they do today.

Michael “Mickey” Goldman, a key figure in Eichmann’s prosecution, was 17 when a Gestapo train transported him and his family to an extermination camp in Belzec in southeastern Poland in 1942. Eichmann, who headed the Gestapo’s department for Jewish affairs, had lashed the boy in the ghetto nine years earlier.

In Jerusalem, Eichmann stuck to the line that he was only following orders, telling prosecutors that loyalty was the very highest value and a breach of loyalty was worse than murder. He asked for clemency toward the end of the trial.

Goldman summed up the situation succinctly, however, saying Eichmann was not a cog in the Nazi killing machine “but the machine itself.” It was Goldman who scattered Eichmann’s ashes over the waters.

In a telephone call Feb. 24 from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Maltz Museum founder Milton Maltz said museums in New York and Chicago, have expressed interest in “Operation Finale.”

This exhibit and “Violins of Hope,” its immediate predecessor, show “this museum is now getting national recognition for the work it’s doing,” said Maltz, adding it will also be shown in a new building at his International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C.

Maltz said he felt it was high time the Mossad was recognized, adding it took two years to negotiate with that intelligence agency and Beit Hatfutsot, the Tel Aviv museum where he first saw the Eichmann display on which his Beachwood museum. CV

On View

WHAT: Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichmann

WHEN: Through June 12

WHERE: Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, 2929 Richmond Road, Beachwood

TICKETS & INFO: Free to members; $12 adults; $10 students, those 60 and over; $5 ages 5-11. Call 216-593-0575 or visit maltzmuseum.org

Originally published in the Cleveland Jewish News on Feb. 24, 2016.