Last month, local artist Michael Loderstedt opened Photocentric – a new contemporary photography gallery in the Waterloo Arts District of Cleveland that aims to display important new works by regional, national and international photographers.

On Jan. 3, the gallery will host a reception for exhibition “Hopeful” during the monthly Walk All Over Waterloo art walk. Loderstedt discussed with Canvas the gallery’s inspiration, mission, current works displayed and plans for the first year.

“Pond’s Edge” by Lori Kella. The photo is on view at Photocentric.

Tell me a little about your own history and artwork. How did it lead to your decision to open Photocentric?

I’ve been a working and exhibiting artist for over 35 years. I also was a longtime faculty member of the School of Art at Kent State University, teaching printmaking and photography. I retired from teaching in 2017, and about a year ago decided to open an art gallery devoted to presenting contemporary photography. This decision was made partly because I needed another job, and mostly because I felt a photography gallery was badly needed in Cleveland.

What does Photocentric aim to offer that’s lacking in Northeast Ohio?

Photocentric’s mission will be to present high caliber work by regional and national photographic artists. We will also offer professional services such as gallery framing, black and white film processing and scanning, and film camera rentals.

Any goals for the first year?

Our goal is to be able to meet gallery expenses and to build and support the photographic community and collector base. We’re also planning to build a darkroom on premises, as well as a full-service framing workshop.

Are there any works currently featured in the gallery you are especially excited about? What and why?

There are so many, it’s like a parent being asked about a favorite child. Nancy McEntee’s portraits of her daughter Elizabeth are outstanding, as are Lori Kella’s newest tableaux work creating a minimalist creek environment. I also really enjoy Garie Waltzer’s photographs of urban Vietnam, Bruce Checefsky’s garden scans and Bob Aufuldish’s macro photographs of mid-century travel magazine images.

“Smoke” by Nancy McEntee. The photo is on view at Photocentric.

What kind of programming do you hope to create?

We hope to host events in the gallery such as artist talks, panel discussions on topics related to photographic practice, even video screenings eventually. We’ll also be open for the monthly first Friday Walk All Over Waterloo events.


The reception for “Hopeful” is from 5 to 9 p.m. Jan. 3 at Photocentric, 15515 Waterloo Road. Weekly hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Hours for Walk All Over Waterloo first Fridays are 5 to 9 p.m. 

“Hopeful” is on view through Jan. 18. 

Amy Schwabauer. Photo | Dale Heinen

One-woman show at Playwrights Local howls at the moon

By Bob Abelman

Spoiler alert: Local actress Amy Schwabauer’s self-scribed one-woman show “This Is NOT About My Dead Dog,” receiving its world premiere production at Playwrights Local under Dale Heinen’s direction, is in fact about her dead dog.

It is also about her discovery of sex, her sordid affair with alcohol, and an assortment of tragicomic events that transpired during her childhood, adolescence and current state of young adulthood.

Three parts stream of consciousness confessional, two parts therapy and one part sketch comedy, these 75-minutes with Schwabauer are like watching a train wreck if that train contains a personal baggage car, a full-service bar car and a caboose comprised of mirrors that reflect our own faces as it passes us by on its precarious journey.

We’ve all had moments like those revealed by Schwabauer and see ourselves in her embarrassment and angst. But few of us are brave enough to put it on stage before an audience, bold or brilliant enough to perform it ourselves, and brazen enough to consider it theater.

“This is NOT About My Dead Dog” was developed in Playwrights Local’s new-work incubator in 2016, whose goal is to mold works-in-progress into pieces of performance art with the understanding that they are imperfect, incomplete and still evolving.

This production is in its Neanderthal stage of evolution. It shows positive signs of what it can become intellectually and artistically, but the work – in substance and in style – is still retaining its protruding brow and sloping forehead. As if it just discovered how to use tools, there is a cumbersome overreliance on props.

Raw (lots of stage-vomiting), redundant (every prop box gets stage-vomited into) and often random, too many of the musings that constitute Schwabauer’s collection of interpersonal misadventures are underdeveloped, lack direction and go nowhere.

There are times when the production, like the inebriated Schwabauer in many of the stories, merely howls at the moon.

And yet, her brutal honesty and all-encompassing investment in the telling of her tales, along with genuine moments of inspiration and creativity, make this production intriguing.

Schwabauer’s reenactments of being the center of attention at age 6, craving attention at age 11 and unable to get attention at age 18 are impressive pieces of performance. And she is so very charming and funny when her reactions to her own missteps channel Jack Black in terms of wide-eyed facial expressions and broad physicality.

The make-shift stage and very limited technical bells and whistles available in the back corner of the Waterloo Arts studio are used efficiently and effectively by lighting designer Stephanie Kahn, set designer Elaine Hullihen and sound designer James Kosmatka.

Like the portrait she paints of her relationships with men, Schwabauer’s one-woman show is often aimless and unsatisfying, but also quite infectious. CV

On Stage

WHAT: “This Is NOT About My Dead Dog:

WHERE: Waterloo Arts, 397 E. 156th St., Cleveland

WHEN: Through Jan. 28

TICKETS & INFO: $10 – $15, call 216-302-8856 or go to playwrightslocal.org


Bob Abelman covers theater and cultural arts for the Cleveland Jewish News. Follow Bob at Facebook.com/BobAbelman3.

Originally published in the Cleveland Jewish News on Jan. 16, 2016.

Lead image: Amy Schwabauer. Photo | Dale Heinen

From left, Michael Regnier (Rabbi Isidore), Robert Branch (Simcha Bergman) and Kelsey Angel Baehrens (Rachael Bergman). PHOTO | Dale Heinen

Engaging ‘To the Orchard’ pits tradition against desire at Waterloo Arts and Dobama Theatre

By Bob Abelman

Local playwright Les Hunter’s latest contemporary drama is getting its world premiere as the first full-length production of the newly formed Playwrights Local 4181. It is taking place at Waterloo Arts in Collinwood and, later in the run, at Dobama Theatre in Cleveland Heights.

“To the Orchard”— which is about making mistakes, repairing the damage, and reconciling religious traditions with personal desires — was a top 10 finalist in the 2016 Jewish Play Project, received a National Foundation for Jewish Culture New Play Development Grant, as well as a production grant from the Arch and Bruce Brown Foundation.

The play takes place during the 30 days of shloshim — the Jewish ritual of mourning — which happens to coincide with Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, and tracks Brooklyn College student Rachel Bergman’s (Kelsey Angel Baehrens) coming to terms with her homosexuality.

Upon the death of her mother, Rachel decides to come out to her estranged Orthodox Jewish father, Simcha Bergman (Robert Branch) — the starting anew associated with the first holiday. We soon learn that Simcha has been battling his own internal demons, and must forgive himself for past indiscretions before he can forgive others — the atonement associated with the latter holiday.

Throughout the play, Rachel seeks the comfort of her queer studies professor Tracie Braggs (Andrea Belser) while Simcha seeks the counsel of an addled old family friend, Rabbi Isidore (Michael Regnier). And though the play is set in the here and now, spiritual guidance is also provided through dreamlike visitations by 1970s rocker Robert Plant (Regnier), turn-of-the-century author Virginia Woolf (Belser), and 19th century financier August Belmont (Baehrens).

This touch of magical realism adds some light moments to an otherwise intense work, made even more so by some stiff dialogue early in the play and the intimate confines of the Waterloo Arts performance space.

Despite the tight quarters, director Dale Heinen stages an appealing production, using T. Paul Lowry’s superb animated projections to establish a sense of place, Jonathan Maag’s lighting design to manipulate attention and establish a sense of time, Daniel McNamara’s sound design that cleverly merges klezmer with classic rock and roll, and four excellent performers to keep us fully engaged.

During those occasional bouts of stiff prose, the acting comes across as stilted and forced. But the performances soar when Hunter’s words seem to fly from the page and are as poetic as they are poignant, which happens often.

Such is the case with the final scene in Act I, when Rabbi Isidore compels Simcha to recite the Al Chet and the two men rhythmically admit their sins while alternating between Hebrew and English. “For all these, O God of forgiveness,” says the Rabbi as he beats his chest during the confession, “forgive us, pardon us, grant us remission. Simcha, the gates are not closed. This is my gift.” This beautifully sets up the healing that takes place in Act II.

The play’s many short scenes and frequent set changes can be taxing. And set changes performed by the actors rather than a crew are a distraction and detract from the production’s professionalism. But not enough to undermine Hunter’s work, which is thoughtful and so very intriguing.

“To the Orchard” is a welcome addition to the homegrown plays that are being supported, developed and produced in Cleveland. And Playwrights Local 4181 is a welcome addition to the companies lending support and doing the development and production. CV

On stage

WHAT: “To the Orchard”

WHERE & WHEN: Waterloo Arts, 397 E. 156th St., Cleveland through June 5; Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Road, Cleveland Heights, June 10-12

TICKETS & INFO: $10-$15, call 216-302-8856 or visit playwrightslocal.org


Bob Abelman covers theater and cultural arts for the Cleveland Jewish News. Follow Bob at Facebook.com/BobAbelman.3.

 Originally published in the Cleveland Jewish News on May 30, 2016.

Lead image: From left, Michael Regnier (Rabbi Isidore), Robert Branch (Simcha Bergman) and Kelsey Angel Baehrens (Rachael Bergman). PHOTO | Dale Heinen