IN FULL VIEW

By Alyssa Schmitt

The women in the center of many of fine art photographer Yvonne Palkowitsh’s works are inspired by stories she’s heard from real women in her life. 

The idea for a scene might stem from a story her grandmother told or it might come from a conversation with friends, but each speaks to a level of truth and reveals a narrative that might otherwise go unnoticed.  

Some of the women show a vulnerability while others turn away from the viewer. Many of them are African American, like Palkowitsh, and often find themselves alone in the photo. Through each piece, she forces the viewer to see them and their stories. 

Acknowledgment and recognition – or the lack thereof – are overarching themes in the upcoming “seenUNseen” exhibition at the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, where Palkowitsh’s work will be on view.

The show will feature pieces from Northeast Ohio-based African American artists the public might not often see alongside nationally known artists of historic importance, such as Elizabeth Catlett, Charles White and Jacob Lawrence, whose work appears courtesy of the Atlanta-based Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art.

Among the local artists featured will be Dexter Davis, Darius Steward, Tony Williams, Michelangelo Lovelace and Amber N. Ford.

Momentum for and involvement in “seenUNseen” grew so large that, in addition to filling the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s gallery, it will overtake available space in The Sculpture Center next door. The show will run from Sept. 20 to Nov. 16.

“Jazz” by Romare Bearden, silkscreen on paper, 1980. From the Kerry and C. Betty Davis Collection of African American Art. Courtesy of Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

Seeing local artists

“seenUNseen” began to take shape when Artists Archives of the Western Reserve executive director Mindy Tousley was approached about exhibiting part of the 300-piece Davis Collection. For the past 35 years, Kerry Davis and his family have amassed a collection of paintings, works on paper and sculptures on a modest budget from emerging and established African American artists. 

When Tousley explains the Archives’ mission of supporting regional artists to Davis, it resonated.  

“I suggested to him that because bringing in a collection like this is not really part of our mission statement … that perhaps we could do a show of regional artists and put the work in with his collection all in one exhibition, which would help the regional artists because their work is going to be seen and going to be produced in a catalog and advertised alongside this other work,” Tousley says.

Some of the local artists may have found it difficult to get their work into regional galleries or exhibitions, or some work in a medium that might not garner as much attention in the art world. Others, like Palkowitsh, who lives in Dover, Ohio, highlight concepts that might be overlooked. Yet each is working to have themselves, their work and their community be seen.

“(The show) is going to point out that good art is being done all over from different kinds of people throughout history, and probably the conventional institutions have ignored a lot of it – the really big museums,” Tousley says. “I mean, we know they’ve ignored women, for the most part. They’ve ignored African American artists, too, for the most part, and African American women artists and maybe artists who are working in more traditional craft mediums, like some of the textile artists and quilters. I think it’s going to bring some of that out to the public eye.”  

Palkowitsh hasn’t personally faced challenges in showing her work but she knows others who have and recognizes the importance of providing an exhibition for those artists. Two pieces from Palkowitsh will be in the exhibition.  

“It’s really important that exhibitions like this are held because it really gives an opportunity to artists who are struggling to get their works into places – into museums, into galleries – to be represented, to be seen,” she says. “It’s really, really important to have exhibitions like this, and collectors like Kerry, who see the significance of collecting these stories and celebrating artists of color and getting the word out there.”

Through different opportunities over her career, Palkowitsh came across the Davis Collection and took note of its significance. 

“This is one of those situations you put them over to the side and think, ‘One day, one day I will possibly be a part of that,’” she says. 

When she heard there was an open call for artists to submit their work to be considered for the show, she was thrilled. 

“I couldn’t believe they were going to be in the Cleveland area and close to home,” she says.

Anna Arnold, “The Storyteller” by Anna Arnold, acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

The Davis Collection

The seen/unseen duality reverberates further in that “seenUNseen” will mark the first time the Davis Collection will leave the Atlanta area. The collection’s home is in Davis’ suburban residence in Clarkston, Ga., where it covers nearly every inch of the walls. The works transform the space into a gallery-style home museum that provides community access to the often unseen legacy of American artists of color. 

His collection started when he began work at the post office and bought his first house. Wanting to adorn it with something meaningful and representative of his heritage, he began purchasing art. He became familiar with artists in Clark Atlanta University’s collection and read books to familiarize himself with the work so if he saw it at a flea market or someplace else, he could purchase it. 

As he began networking more in the art world and even assisted in studios by framing art, he started collecting from local artists who were unseen, or rather, who were not as prominent in the art world. 

He looks for his African American heritage in the work, but when selecting something to add to the collection, he says he doesn’t always feel like he’s the one making the decision.

“Pieces kind of select me,” he says.

The collection itself has gone mostly unseen, usually being shown only to family members, church members and friends in the community, Davis says. His collection reached a national stage when it was exhibited at the Clark Atlanta University Art Galleries in 2016. The humble beginnings of artists in the exhibition reflect Davis’ own.  

“This is all about community,” he says. “I started out and no one saw my work (other than) people who came to the house, like church members, family and friends in the community. For us to share with another community, it feels really great. Plus, I just really appreciate being able to see works by other artists up there (in Cleveland).” CV


On View

Artists Archives of the Western Reserve

• “seenUNseen” will be on view from Sept. 20 to Nov. 16 at 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland. An opening reception will be held from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 20,
during which an appearance by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and a tribute to Cleveland artist Malcolm Brown are scheduled.

• In related programming, “Collecting African American Art” with Kerry Davis will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 12 at Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

• In addition, The Sculpture Center will host a panel discussion, “Seeing the Unseen,” moderated by Charles Peterson, associate professor of Africana Studies at Oberlin College from 1 to 3 p.m. Nov. 2. The panel will include emerging, mid-career and established regional African American artists.


Lead image: “Guided” by Yvonne Palkowitsh, altered photograph. Courtesy
of the artist.

The Sculpture Center’s executive director and chief curator previews “After the Pedestal,” which opens from 5:30 to 8 p.m. June 14 and remains on view through Aug. 2.

What can visitors look forward to from “After the Pedestal”?

“After the Pedestal,” an almost annual juried exhibition of small sculpture by artists of Ohio and its greater region is a fascinating compendium of contemporary sculptors’ approach to stand-alone object making, long the back bone of sculptural practice. Each year’s invited juror, a prominent artist or curator, brings a personal aesthetic to the selection of works, whether it be a focus on materiality, craftsmanship, aesthetic relationships or thematic complements. The result is always a uniquely curated exhibition of small works that allow an intimacy of viewing experience rarely afforded in larger museum settings.

Juror Sara O’Keeffe is currently deeply engaged in the recently revealed relationships among plants and fungi and their underground communications in response to environmental and predatory dangers. She sees parallel implications for humans and their art production with “evocative metaphors about dependency, violence, power, care and collectivity.”

This 12th iteration of “After the Pedestal” includes 35 pieces by 16 sculptors, which allows the visitor a mini-immersion into each sculptor’s practice. Sculptures of ceramic, thick glass, cast metals, African textiles and exquisitely dyed silks relate one to another in their rounded forms, subtle coloration and content related to the environment, its degradation, and its need for protection and recreation. Many of the pieces have hidden, interior aspects that are revealed only by careful looking. Particularly striking is the evocation of natural forms and the creation of the formal sculptural relationships of solid and void, shape and materials through the joining of discarded materials. Each gallery contains a microcosm of contemporary sculptural practice.

“Call and Response: Hollyhock” by Ana England and Steven Finke courtesy of The Sculpture Center

“After the Pedestal” is now in its 12th year. In what ways has the annual show helped raise the profile of sculpture — and individual sculptors — in the region?

These juried exhibitions introduce visitors to the extraordinary talent of sculptors in our region, artists who often do not have the exhibition opportunities afforded those in the larger urban art centers of the U.S. Our jurors always comment that the high quality of the work is equal to any being shown in the larger cities and note their professional appreciation of the discovery of these sculptors.

These group exhibitions are particularly successful at introducing sculptors outside Northeast Ohio to the high quality of the work done by The Sculpture Center and to the vibrant art scene and engaged art community of Cleveland. Many of the early-career sculptors whose work is first shown in “After the Pedestal” subsequently apply for the solo exhibition opportunity of W2S (Window to Sculpture Emerging Artist series).

“Stibnite Daydream” by Lauren Baker courtesy of The Sculpture Center

Speaking of individual sculptors, whose work will be included in this year’s show (and who hails from Northeast Ohio)?

There is a higher preponderance than usual of sculptors working in Ohio in this year’s “After the Pedestal.” Clevelanders include independent artists Joyce Morrow-Jones, Mona Kolesar, Jacquie Wynn Kennedy, E.D. Taylor and Don Stuart. Ben Johnson arrived here last summer to head up the Cleveland Institute of Art’s glass department. Lauren Baker is practicing in Akron, having graduated from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Jennifer L. Jones, also in Akron, is teaching at The University of Akron – Wayne College and Kent State. Rebecca Cross lives in Oberlin, teaches at Kent State University, and is often found at the Morgan Paper Conservancy and Praxis Fiber Workshop. Michelle Droll is working in Cuyahoga Falls. Sharon Koelblinger is a recent transplant from Philadelphia to The College of Wooster, where she holds a one-year appointment. Carol Boram-Hayes works in Columbus, where she teaches art history at The Ohio State University. Casey Bradley is also practicing in Columbus, where he is studio manager at the Columbus College of Art and Design. Ana England and Steven Finke (collaborators), faculty at Northern Kentucky University, are the Ohio outliers from the Cincinnati area. Peggy Breidenbach teaches at the Indianapolis Art Center in Illinois. Finally, Kristine Mifsud works across our northern border in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

What can you tell us about this year’s juror, Sara O’Keeffe?

Juror Sara O’Keeffe, associate curator at the New Museum, New York, is a rising star in the contemporary curatorial world. She grew up in Northeast Ohio and received her bachelor of arts from Reed College in Portland, Ore. At the New Museum, she was part of the curatorial teams that organized “Trigger: Gender as a Tool and a Weapon” (with Johanna Burton, 2017-18) and the “2015 Triennial: Surround Audience” (with Lauren Cornell and Ryan Trecartin, 2015). She curated “RAGGA NYC: All the threated and delicious things joining one another” (2015) and “Screens Series: Dynasty Handbag” (2018-19) and co-curated “Jeffrey Gibson: The Anthropophagic Effect” (2019); “MOTHA and Chris E. Vargas: Consciousness Razing—The Stonewall Re-Memorialization Project”(2018-19); “A.K. Burns: Shabby but Thriving” (2017); “My Barbarian: The Audience is Always Right” (2016); “Beatriz Santiago Muñoz: Song, Strategy, Sign” (2016); “Cheryl Donegan: Scenes and Commercials” (2015-16); and “Wynne Greenwood: Kelly” (2015), all with Johanna Burton. Her critical essays are frequently seen in art journals, most recently in the current issue of Mousse.

“I Blossomed: A Survivor (Detail)” by Joyce Morrow-Jones courtesy of The Sculpture Center

What programming is scheduled surrounding “After the Pedestal”?

The Sculpture Center’s openings always include informal talks by the exhibiting artists to afford our visitors direct access to them. Many of the artists included in this year’s group exhibition will be at the opening. Brief remarks by each about their practices and works on view begin at 6:15 p.m. in the Euclid Avenue Gallery and will move later to the Main Gallery. Visitors’ questions are encouraged.

Juror Sara O’Keeffe cannot be at the opening. She will return the next week to be our featured curator for the Cleveland Sculptors Network panel “Beyond the Walls: Support for Artist Driven Research and Production.” Other panelists are photographer Amanda D. King, founder of shootingwithoutbullets.org, and Canadian artist Kristine Mifsud with moderator Key Jo Lee, Assistant Director, Academic Outreach for Education and Academic Affairs at the Cleveland Museum of Art. The following morning Sara will meet privately with four selected sculptors for Master Reviews & Collective Discussion. CV


Lead image: “Night Shadows” by Mona Kolesar courtesy of The Sculpture Center.

“Collateral Damage” by Lilian Tyrrell, 1992; Wool, silk, metallic thread and linen; 84 x 120 inches. Courtesy of The Sculpture Center.

Exhibitions at The Sculpture Center and the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve will return Lilian Tyrrell’s masterful artwork to the forefront – and lead visitors to discover the institutions’ tucked-away campus in University Circle

By Michael C. Butz

“Falling Man” by Lilian Tyrrell, 2003; wool and linen; 74 x 38 inches. Image courtesy of The Sculpture Center. This “Disaster Blanket” was made following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Falling Man” by Lilian Tyrrell, 2003; wool and linen; 74 x 38 inches. Image courtesy of The Sculpture Center. This “Disaster Blanket” was made following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The scenes Lilian Tyrrell’s “Disaster Blankets” depict are historically significant and significantly challenging. Famine, terrorism and natural disasters are but a few of the themes Tyrrell brought to bear in her works, which when juxtaposed with the sense of comfort and security typically associated with blankets, confront viewers with some brutal realities of society.

Her efforts – awe-inspiring detail, painstaking craftsmanship and arresting imagery (sometimes pulled from news reports) – earned her the 1992 Cleveland Arts Prize. What’s more is that in the decades since, her work has remained strikingly relevant because many of the difficult topics she examined remain in the headlines today.

Tyrrell’s tapestries largely have been out of the public eye for years, however. That will change in September, when her work will figure centrally in exhibitions opening at The Sculpture Center and the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, which share a campus in Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood.

Tyrrell’s work was last widely seen at a 2006 retrospective at SPACES Gallery in Cleveland, shortly before her death in 2007 following her battle with a long-term illness. That exhibition resonated with Ann Albano, executive director and chief curator at The Sculpture Center.

“I thought the exhibition that SPACES did … was one of the most important exhibitions I’ve ever seen in Cleveland,” she says. “I was completely astonished by both the quality of her work and the topics she was addressing. …  I’d never forgotten the work, and thought about it often, and then with everything that’s been going on politically in this country and internationally, it came back to me.”

The Sculpture Center will host “The Nowness of Then: Lilian Tyrrell’s Disaster Blankets,” as well as a complementary group show titled “Objections and Connections, Fiber Artists Talk Back,” starting Sept. 15. That same night, the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve will open a group show of its own, “In the Details,” which will include one of Tyrrell’s blankets.

“I think all of the work is still relevant, which is incredibly upsetting. There’s still famine, there’s still war, there’s still environmental concerns,” says Mindy Tousley, Artists Archives executive director. “Lilian is someone who had an international reputation, so we think of her maybe in terms of that show at SPACES, but that work was actually shown in different venues around the country, and I think, internationally.”

“Cradleboard: 10 of Potholders (coins) in the Kitchen Tarot” (detail) by Susan Shie, 2016, 60 x 90 inches. Image courtesy of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

“Cradleboard: 10 of Potholders (coins) in the Kitchen Tarot” (detail) by Susan Shie, 2016, 60 x 90 inches. Image courtesy of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve.

“In the Details,” curated by textile artist Mary Urbas, gallery coordinator at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, will emphasize the handwork of the artists featured. The show will include artists Susan Shie and Libby Chaney, who, like Tyrrell, infuse political statements into their work.

“Susie Shie, who’s from Wooster, has for years made political statements in her work,” Tousley says. “It’s very different work than Lilian’s. I think it’s more personal, it comes out of a kind of stream-of-consciousness diary writing about whatever is on her mind at the time. And what seems to be on her mind, especially since George W. Bush was elected, is the administrations of our government.”

The Sculpture Center’s second exhibition, “Objections and Connections,” will showcase fiber artists who, like Tyrrell, glean artistic inspiration from mass media or other publically accessible landscapes.

Pittsburgh artist Penny Mateer creates photographic collages using only photographs from The New York Times, Albano explains, and the ones she thinks are particularly strong she takes to Walmart to be made into fleece blankets.

“She was the last artist I found, and when she said ‘fleece blankets,’ I nearly fell out of my chair because (there) became, instantly, (a parallel between) the Disaster Blankets and fleece blankets,” Albano says. “I think even the least-prepared visitor will make the connection.”

Also in the show will be Cleveland-based artist Lauren Davies, whose “Industry Unraveled” series consists of large tapestries on which photographs of Northeast Ohio’s deteriorating buildings are printed. The fabrics are then unraveled to symbolize the disappearing industry and decaying properties present throughout the region. 

“She brings in both the unraveling of norms, which I think is a lot of what Lilian Tyrrell was also talking about in her work,” Albano says, “and that brings in the environmental problems of our area, which are so very clear when you look at these disintegrating buildings.”

‘The place to be discovered’

“The Last Hope” by Lilian Tyrrell, 1991; wool, metallic thread, cotton, linen, and other fibers; 84 x 112 inches. Images courtesy of The Sculpture Center.

“The Last Hope” by Lilian Tyrrell, 1991; wool, metallic thread, cotton, linen, and other fibers; 84 x 112 inches. Images courtesy of The Sculpture Center.

“The Last Hope” by Lilian Tyrrell, 1991; wool, metallic thread, cotton, linen, and other fibers; 84 x 112 inches detail image. Images courtesy of The Sculpture Center.

“The Last Hope” by Lilian Tyrrell, 1991; wool, metallic thread, cotton, linen, and other fibers; 84 x 112 inches detail image. Images courtesy of The Sculpture Center.

Despite their shared geography, schedules allow The Sculpture Center and Artists Archives of the Western Reserve to hold only two campus-wide openings each year, once at the beginning of the year and once in the fall.

However, ties between the two nonprofits run deep.

Both were founded by visionary artist David E. Davis. The Sculpture Center began in 1989 when Davis, whose practice had been doing well, became increasingly concerned over whether sculptors graduating from the Cleveland Institute of Art would have opportunities to succeed as artists.

“He was concerned that when the students graduated, they couldn’t make a living and that they would have to leave the area to make a living,” Albano says. “He was hoping that if he could give them exhibition exposure through The Sculpture Center, it would be of help to them.”

Davis enlisted the help of fellow established artists to provide sculptors apprenticeships, and in 1990, the Window to Sculpture Emerging Artist Series was born.

“Then in the mid-’90s, probably some of the same artists who were helping the students, as well as other artists, began to think about their own futures and what to do about their work and started the Artists Archives,” Albano says.

A catalyst for the Artists Archives, Tousley says, was an experience in which Davis discovered a sculpture he’d been commissioned to make for a well-known collector’s home had been discarded and was scheduled to be bulldozed after the collector moved and sold the property. That incident drove home the realization that artists have little control over their work after they’ve sold pieces, so Davis set out to change that.

“The Archives was founded by David and eight other artists for artists who give them control over their legacy, which is really what we do,” Tousley says. “We cannot sell the work once it’s part of the collection. That’s very important. Once the work is here, an artist can be assured that it’s going to be cared for, it’s going to be preserved and future generations will be able to enjoy it.”

From left, Ann Albano, executive director and chief curator at The Sculpture Center, and Mindy Tousley, executive director of the Artist Archives of the Western Reserve, enjoy a moment in the sculpture garden that’s part of their organizations’ shared campus in University Circle. Photo by Michael C. Butz

From left, Ann Albano, executive director and chief curator at The Sculpture Center, and Mindy Tousley, executive director of the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve, enjoy a moment in the sculpture garden that’s part of their organizations’ shared campus in University Circle. Photo by Michael C. Butz

The organizations’ differing roles – in a sense, The Sculpture Center ensures there is culture to preserve by supporting young artists, and the Artists Archives ensures culture will be preserved for future generations to take in – mean their respective audiences also differ. Campus-wide openings bring those audiences together.

“I really appreciate that crossover because the young people, the college students, who come to her exhibits then come over and often see things that are very relevant to them, or they will see artists they didn’t know about who are important to the history of the area,” Tousley says. “And on the other side, I will get our older artists who maybe need to be nudged a little bit into looking at things a little differently, and they get to keep up with what’s new and what’s emerging by going over to see what’s in Ann’s (galleries). I think the crossover is good for both.”

The joint openings also serve to raise the profile of both organizations. Though it’s just off of Euclid Avenue in University Circle, their campus is nestled between the Greater Cleveland RTA Red Line Rapid tracks and Lake View Cemetery and isn’t in the most highly traversed part of the neighborhood.

“The fact we are a little bit hidden, I think, can work to our advantage,” Tousley says. “We’re a little bit like a secret that’s being kept – and people love to find a secret.

“We’re the hidden garden back here, a little bit. That’s going to change as University Circle expands and grows, which it’s doing. We won’t be hidden anymore, but right now, we’re the place to be discovered.” CV


On View

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve / The Sculpture Center

A campus-wide opening reception will be held for the Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s “In the Details” and The Sculpture Center’s “The Nowness of Then: Lilian Tyrrell’s Disaster Blankets” and “Objections and Connections, Fiber Artists Talk Back” from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Sept. 15 at 1834 E. 123rd St., Cleveland.

Both shows at The Sculpture Center will be on view from Sept. 15 to Oct. 27. “Objections and Connections” will feature the work of William Marcellus Armstrong, Lauren Davies, Trey Gehring, Penny Mateer, Kathryn Shinko and Sarah Wiideman. Artists present at the opening reception will speak at 6:15 p.m. in the Euclid Avenue Gallery. Also at the opening reception, Brinsley Tyrrell, Lilian Tyrrell’s husband, is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. in The Sculpture Center Main Gallery.

The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve’s “In the Details,” curated by Mary Urbas, will be on view from Sept. 15 to Nov. 4. and will feature the work of Libby Chaney, Juli Edberg, Sandy Miller, Jessica Pinsky, Gayle Vickery Pritchard, Susan Shie, Deborah Silver, Lilian Tyrrell, Archived Artist Evelyn Ward and Jennifer Whitten. Related, as part of Artists Archives’s “ART BITES” series of programs, “Quilting Today” with Tracy Rieger will be held from 1 to 3 p.m. Oct. 7.


Lead image: “Collateral Damage” by Lilian Tyrrell, 1992; Wool, silk, metallic thread and linen; 84 x 120 inches. Courtesy of The Sculpture Center.