Review: Scott Olson and Jerry Birchfield

Cleveland Museum of Art offers fantastic solo shows on Scott Olson, Jerry Birchfield, at Transformer Station
By Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A famous Leonardo da Vinci quote has special relevance to an outstanding pair of solo shows at the Transformer Station on the works of Cleveland artists Jerry Birchfield and Scott Olson, organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art.
In his famous "Treatise on Painting," Leonardo urged artists to seek inspiration in unusual places:

If you look upon an old wall covered with dirt, or the odd appearance of some streaked stones, you may discover several things like landscapes, battles, clouds, uncommon attitudes, humorous faces, draperies, etc. Out of this confused mass of objects, the mind will be furnished with an abundance of designs and subjects perfectly new."

Birchfield and Olson are abstractionists, and as such not interested in translating random stains on walls or stones into battle scenes or drapery. But they are interested in how randomness and chance can produce moments of ravishing beauty.

Provocative pairing

By pairing their shows - the first institutional exhibition either has received - 
Reto Thuring, the museum's curator of contemporary art, is obviously asking viewers to compare their works, which have a lot in common.

New York Times on Private Museums

A Collector’s Dream: Creating Your Own Museum as a Legacy


Transformer Station, a private contemporary art museum opened by Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell in a renovated 1920s power plant on Cleveland’s West Side. 
Michael F. McElroy for The New York Times

Paintings, sculptures, gems, cars, items made perfectly by a single craftsman — if you have the collector’s gene, these are the kinds of things you must own. Add wealth to fuel that desire, and your collection is likely to grow. But then what do you do with it?
If you can’t bear the thought of a life’s acquisitions being sold off — or, at best, going to a museum to be displayed only occasionally — the urge may be to open a museum of your own.
Picture it: your name emblazoned on the facade, your collection arrayed inside just as you like, your taste enshrined for all time. It has worked for people like Albert Barnes, Henry Clay Frick and Isabella Stewart Gardner, who all created museums in their names to house their art. Read More...

Plain Dealer on Art and Innovation

Cleveland's new views on innovation find expression in art, architecture: PD 175


Steven Litt, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio - A century ago, Cleveland's industrial magnates saw art and architecture as sources of pleasure or signifiers of wealth and status - not as fonts of inspiration for creativity and innovation in business.
Today, it's different. At least some business and nonprofit leaders in Northeast Ohio see strong parallels between innovation in arts and culture and in business. And they're changing the city, and the arts.
The most visible embodiment of the trend is cultural entrepreneur 
Fred Bidwell, the retired advertising executive who's masterminding the FRONT International Cleveland Triennial, a summer-long exhibition of global, national and local art that will debut in Cleveland in 2018.

CMA Ohio City Stages Returns

The Cleveland Museum of Art celebrates summer with Ohio City Stages.
These block parties, now in their fifth season, feature acclaimed global music artists on a neighborhood stage outside the Transformer Station on West 29th Street. Food and Drink available for purchase. Grab a drink at the Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer tent, or order something to eat at the on-site food truck.

Wednesdays in July at 7:30 p.m. FREE

July 5: Joan Soriano (Dominican Republic/bachata)
July 12: Totó la Momposina (Colombia/cumbia)
July 19: El Septeto Santiaguero (Cuba/son)
July 26: Mokoomba (Zimbabwe/Afro-fusion)

CMA Studio Go

While enjoying the music, stop by Studio Go, CMA’s mobile art studio, to participate in hands-on artmaking activities, pop-up drawing classes and other family-oriented art projects.


ChamberFest Cleveland @ Transformer Station

ChamberFest Cleveland performance of 'Kafka Fragments' coalesces into riveting whole (review)


Violinists Alexi Kenney, left, and Yura Lee, right, pose with soprano Lauren Eberwein at their performance of Kurtag's "Kafka Fragments" at ChamberFest Cleveland Tuesday evening. (Courtesy of ChamberFest Cleveland)

By Zachary Lewis, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Nothing partial or incomplete about the presentation of Kurtag's "Kafka Fragments" Tuesday night at ChamberFest Cleveland.

The score, the performances, the interpretive film by Cleveland Arts Prize winner Kasumi. All elements aligned in support of a remarkable evening.

Even the weather cooperated. During a fragment called "Everything Flows," while the film showed raindrops and lapping waves, there came a torrential, pounding, and perfectly apt downpour that nearly drowned out the music.

The divine display was unnecessary, as it happens. Long before it began to rain, the musicians and filmmaker had a full house at the Transformer Station squarely in the palm of their hands.

In Concert at Transformer Station, June 20

Local Filmmaker, Kasumi


Experimental film meets avant-garde music this season when ChamberFest joins forces with internationally acclaimed Cleveland-based filmmaker, KASUMI. Her riveting, highly personal digital imagery will provide a stunning visual landscape for Kafka Fragments, a monumental work for violin and voice by György Kurtág. Featuring ChamberFest fan favorites, violinists Yura Lee and Alexi Kenney, and rising star, mezzo-soprano Lauren Eberwein, this powerful, multi-media experience is not to be missed! Buy tickets here.

GYÖRGY KURTÁG Kafka Fragments

Lauren Eberwein, mezzo-soprano Alexi Kenney, violin Yura Lee, violin Kasumi, filmmaker

with Festival Speaker Patrick Castillo, precedes each performance at 6:00pm and 8:00pm

This season, ChamberFest joins forces with Clevelander and internationally acclaimed filmmaker, Kasumi. Her cinematic assemblages will provide visual inspiration for the performance of "Kafka Fragments,” a monumental work for violin and voice by composer, György Kurtág. This one-hour series of short pieces, or “fragments,’” for two violins and voice will be accompanied by digital imagery fragments by Kasumi. ChamberFest fan favorites, Yura Lee and Alexi Kenney will alternately play the violin parts while young, up-and-coming mezzo soprano, Lauren Eberwein provides the vocal piece. The production will take place at Transformer Station on Tuesday, June 20, 2017.  Read More...

Uno Lady in Concert June 8

CDJ2017 Small Hall Concerts
June 8, 7 pm - 8 pm

Admission $5.00
Get tickets here

In association with the exhibition “THEM!”, Transformer Station will present a series of intimate concerts on select Thursday evenings. Seating is limited.

One-woman choir, Christa “Uno Lady” Ebert relies only on her voice for musical accompaniment. With a microphone, small mixer, and loop pedal perched upon a DIY lit podium, layers of vocals entrance, explore, and invoke emotions. Haunting, serene, and always captivatingly beautiful, Uno Lady creates spell like loops, spinning you into her musical web.
Her unique talent has been acknowledged with various awards, including the prestigious Creative Workforce Fellowship,  Best Voice, and Top Band to Watch. Check out the press page for more.

Coming soon:

Collapsed Arc, June 29

Jeremy Bible, August 10

THEM! Press Release

Photographers are Rockstars this summer at Transformer Station

Press Kit

Following a series of process­ oriented and conceptual exhibitions, Transformer Station is pleased to announce THEM!, a group showcase centered around music and photography. All of the artists featured in this exhibition are photographers as well as talented musicians. The artists often write, make videos, produce photography books and present music on vinyl and other sound sharing platforms. THEM! explores how creative relationships between practices may (or may not) exist for each artist.

Referring to the 1954 science fiction film THEM!, this exhibition celebrates the rebellious and experimental nature of the artist. It is also an admiring nod to the 1968 Japanese science fiction film Destroy All Monsters which lent its name to the 1973 Detroit anti­-rock band formed by artists Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw. THEM! embraces a time, both past and present, that recognizes artists who are equally passionate about sound and image.

Artists include
Melissa Auf der Maur, Tim Davis, Joseph Desler Costa, Jacob Koestler, Darin Mickey and Nick Zinner. Representing large commercial bands such as Hole, Smashing Pumpkins and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Melissa Auf der Maur and Nick Zinner separate their artistic practice, their photography and music functioning as separate entities.

Artists such as Joseph Desler Costa, Cleveland-­based Jacob Koestler and Tim Davis work more coherently and blur the lines, often integrating music directly into their work. Darin Mickey, on the other hand, highlights a unique sub­culture in his series Death Takes a Holiday, showing us a community of beautiful recluses brought together by obsession, compulsion and a pure, undying love of music. THEM! will feature photographs, music and videos, in addition to ephemera made by the artists.

Transformer Station has invited Heather Gmucs and Sarah Barker of WAX MAGE to exhibit a selection of hand­-poured, hand­-pressed vinyl records made in Cleveland at Gotta Groove Records. Visitors are encouraged to touch and interact with these one­-of­-a­kind objects and listen to the range of music produced by the exhibiting artists.

Transformer Station will also host a series of performances, CDJ2017 Small Hall Concerts, on select Thursdays during the exhibition. CDJ2017 features the electronic sounds of Uno Lady (Christa Ebert), Collapsed Arc (David Russell Stempowski) and Jeremy Bible. Performances are limited to 50 guests. Each artist will perform new or rarely heard work. Tickets are on sale now, visit for more information.

THEM! May 19 – August 13, 2017

Opening Reception: May 19
Members Preview: 5 – 7 pm
Public Opening: 7 – 9 pm
Music by

CDJ2017 Small Hall Concerts
Select Thursdays: 7 ­-8 PM
$5 Admission

Uno Lady, June 8

Collapsed Arc, June 29

Jeremy Bible, August 10

Arts Leaders Decry Move to Defund NEA

Steve Litt, Cleveland Plain Dealer
Leaders of five major Northeast Ohio art museums released a joint letter decrying the Trump Administration's plan to wipe out the national endowments for the arts and humanities.

The letter, released Friday and posted in its entirety at the bottom of this story, follows other statements by arts and humanities leaders locally and nationwide deploring the damage to the United States that would be caused by zeroing out the $300 million both endowments receive annually.

"The combined budgets of the NEA and NEH cost each American less than one dollar per year," the letter states.

The signers of the letter are:
Mark Masuoka, executive director and CEO of the Akron Art Museum; Andria Derstine, director of the Allen Memorial Art Museumat Oberlin College; William Griswold, director and president of the Cleveland Museum of Art; Jill Snyder, executive director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland; and Fred Bidwell, co-founder and director of Cleveland's Transformer Station gallery. Read More...

Gallery Talk: April 1, 2:00 pm

Esther Teichmann Gallery Talk, April 1, 2 pm
Transformer Station 

Join us for an artist talk with artist Esther Teichmann.

Teichmann’s practice looks at the relationships between loss, desire and the Imaginary. Blurring autobiography and fiction, narratives emerge from photographic fragments, working across the still and moving image, sculpture and painting.

Esther Teichmann grew up in southern Germany surrounded by lakes, rivers and forests. Her earliest memories are of being in and on water, sleeping in tents in thunderstorms and floating in canoes. 

Teichmann received an MA and PhD in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art and lives and works in London. A monograph of visual works, Fulmine, and a book of essays, Falling – On Loss, Desire and the Photographic, will be published by Stanley/ Barker in 2017.

In Concert March 22, 2017

Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble

7:30 pm to 9:30 pm, March 22, 2017

Comprised of vocalists Elizabeth Pearse (soprano), Kayleigh Butcher (mezzo soprano), Amanda DeBoer Bartlett (soprano) and Carrie Henneman Shaw (soprano), Quince Contemporary Vocal Ensemble thrives on unique musical challenges and a genre-bending repertoire.

With the precision and flexibility of modern chamber musicians, Quince continually pushes the boundaries of traditional vocal ensemble literature, and serves as dedicated advocates of new music. They recently received a Chamber Music America award to commission a new song cycle by composer LJ White, and will be releasing an album of New Focus Recordings in early 2017.

In 2016, Quince was featured on the KODY Festival Lublin, Poland, in collaboration with David Lang and Beth Morrison Productions. They have also appeared on the Outpost Concert Series, the Philip Glass: Music with Friends concert at the Issue Project Room in Brooklyn and the SONiC Festival in New York. During the 2016–17 season, they will collaborate with Eighth Blackbird and Third Coast Percussion on performances of Music for 18 Musicians by Steve Reich, and will be presented on the Ear Taxi and Frequency Festivals in Chicago.

$25, CMA members $22
Purchase Tickets


Kaija Saariaho, From the Grammar of Dreams 
Giacinto Scelsi, SAUH II and SAUH IV
Warren Enström, Hushers
Joe Clark, Not Merely Bad or Broken 
David Lang, I Live in Pain
Cara Haxo, Three Erasures 
Among other works 


Review: Michael Gill, "CAN Journal"



One of the things people say in describing the magnificence of opera is that it combines all art forms. We think of it as a musical experience, and we remember the composers, but it is also visual, theatrical, dramatic, poetic, sometimes even including dance, and no single component delivers the whole experience.

Esther Teichmann’s Heavy the Sea, on view now through April 30 at Transformer Station is primarily visual, and it doesn’t have a singer, but it does weave tragic tales in prose and poetry, and it does come with music composed as a part of the exhibit, performed live several times by the quartet Opus 216 throughout its run at Transformer Station. The exhibit in Cleveland is Teichman’s first solo show in the US.

Review: Steve Litt, "The Plain Dealer"

Esther Teichmann’s “Heavy the Sea” show takes you to paradise.

Steve Litt, The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Call it Eden, Arcadia or the Golden Age. However you imagine such a realm, the multiplatform German-born photographer and installation artist
Esther Teichmann wants to take you there in her captivating exhibition, "Heavy the Sea," at the Transformer Station gallery in Ohio City. Read More...

Opening May 19 at Transformer Station


The title of this exhibition refers to the 1954 science fiction film THEM! and celebrates the notion of the rebellious and experimental nature of the artist. It is also an admiring nod to the 1968 Japanese science fiction film Destroy All Monsters which lent its name to the 1973 Detroit anti-rock band formed by artists Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw. It embraces a time, both past and present, that recognizes artists who are equally passionate about sound and image.

This show features photographers who are musicians. Many of the artists also write, make videos, have produced photography books and presented music on vinyl and other sound sharing formats. THEM! explores how these creative relationships may (or may not) exist for each artist.

Photographic images, video and ephemera will be presented along with the music and sound compositions of each artist. Visitors are encouraged to look and listen to what each artist has created.

The photographers/musicians in this show are Melissa Auf der Maur, Tim Davis, Joseph Desler Costa, Jacob Koestler, Darin Mickey and Nick Zinner.

The Transformer Station will also be featuring the hand-poured, hand-pressed, one-of-a-kind records created by WAX MAGE vinyl artists Heather Gmucs and Sarah Barker and made in Cleveland, Ohio at Gotta Groove Records.

THEM! On View May 19 - August 13, 2017 at the Transformer Station. Read More...

Jeffrey Zeigler in Concert

CMA@Transformer Station
Jeffrey Zeigler
Wed, 04/26/2017 - 7:30pm to 9:00pm

Described as “fiery,” and a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone.”—The New York Times

Jeffrey Zeigler is one of the most versatile cellists of our time. Known for his independent streak, he has commissioned dozens of works and is admired as a potent collaborator and unique improviser. Zeigler has premiered works by John Adams, Damon Albarn, Derek Charke, John Corigliano, Henryk Gorecki, John King, Steve Reich, Terry Riley and John Zorn. His collaborations include Andy Akiho, Laurie Anderson, Nora Chipaumire, Helga Davis, Philip Glass, Hauschka, Magos Herrera, Vijay Iyer, Glenn Kotche, David Krakauer, Hafez Modirzadeh, Kimmo Pohjonen, Gyan Riley, Netsayi and Black Pressure and Tom Waits.

In 2014, Zeigler released his first solo album, Something of Life, featuring world premiere recordings of works by Philip Glass, Glenn Kotche, Felipe Perez Santiago, Paola Prestini, Gity Razaz and John Zorn. Other upcoming highlights include a curatorial position at National Sawdust, and a number of newly commissioned works by Doug Cuomo, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly, Richard Reed Parry and Jim Thirlwell.

$25, CMA members $22
Purchase tickets online

Canvas reviews Esther Teichmann

Esther Teichmann’s “Heavy the Sea” at Transformer Station examines the weight of emotions and longing
By Michael C. Butz for Canvas

London-based artist Esther Teichmann brings a childhood spent in the swampy, cavernous Black Forest region of southwestern Germany to the gallery walls of Transformer Station for her show, “Heavy the Sea.” She also brings many of her family members as subjects, photographing them in those familiar surroundings.

But more importantly, Teichmann brings to the multimedia exhibition, on view at the Ohio City gallery through April 30, a skillful ability to draw in viewers through depictions of her subjects’ physical responses to moments of loss, longing and despair. In so doing, she adeptly navigates the blurry lines between autobiography and fiction, inviting onlookers to make connections.

“This is definitely a heavy show,” says Transformer Station gallery manager Caitie Moore, noting “Heavy the Sea,” the artist’s first U.S. solo show, came about in part due to San Francisco-based artist and photographer Todd Hido, a Kent native, who connected Teichmann with Transformer Station owners Fred and Laura Bidwell a few years ago. Read More...