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City Stages 2022: August 3 & 10

August 3, 2022

City Stages 2022


City Stages, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s free acclaimed summer concerts featuring the best in global music, has returned. These block parties will take place in front of Transformer Station, on Wednesdays, August 3 and 10, at 7:30 p.m.


Before or during the concerts, attendees are encouraged to visit Transformer Station, one of 30 venues across Cleveland, Oberlin and Akron participating in the 2022 edition of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art through October 2. Titled Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, the free exhibition explores art as an agent of transformation, a mode of healing and a therapeutic process. Staff at the PNC Exhibition Hub at Transformer Station will help visitors plan their journeys through 30 sites, where they will encounter the work of more than 100 contemporary artists.


Transformer Station is located at 1460 W. 29th St. (at the corner of Church Avenue), Cleveland, OH 44113. Normal hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., but Transformer Station will remain open until 9 p.m. during City Stages. For more information, visit


Arrive early and grab dinner and a drink at one of Ohio City’s bars or restaurants or visit one of the local shops. Seating is limited—bring camp chairs and enjoy an evening of music and dancing in the street.


FREE to all.


City Stages Schedule:

Dobet Gnahoré (August 3). Photo courtesy of the artist.

  • Wednesday, August 3, 7:30 p.m.
    Dobet Gnahoré

    Hailing from Côte d’Ivoire, Dobet Gnahoré is a virtuosic singer, dancer, percussionist and songwriter who has taken the modern Afropop sounds of her country in exciting new directions. One of Africa’s brightest stars and most striking talents, Gnahoré uses her words and image to empower a new generation of daring, strong and independent African women. “I want to be able to dance to my music,” asserts Gnahoré.



Cimafunk (August 10). Photo by Larisa López.

Wednesday, August 10, 7:30 p.m.

Named by Billboard as a “Top 10 Latin Artist to Watch,” Cimafunk is making a name for himself as one of today’s great showmen, performing an electric live show with his nine-person band from Havana. Cimafunk masterfully blends Afro-Cuban sounds and rhythms with global funk, hip-hop and soul—resulting in a progressive, head-bopping celebration of Black music’s power to eclipse borders and cross-pollinate across cultures. 




Street parking as available, or the Lutheran Hospital parking lot is located at West 28th Street and Franklin Boulevard:


City Stages Parking Map

FRONT PNC Exhibition Hub

July 16, 2022


Transformer Station is a non-collecting contemporary art venue in Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood. It serves as the exhibition hub of Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, the starting point for the visitor’s explorations of art across Northeast Ohio. The curatorial approach and display strategies here intentionally reveal associative connections between artists, texts, and ideas.The venue features an intergenerational group show that touches on several of FRONT 2022’s core themes and methods. Transformer Station’s Crane Gallery is the site for a large-scale participatory video installation made by artists Sarah Oppenheimer and Tony Cokes that blends their distinct approaches to interactive architecture and moving images. This highlights the significance of collaboration between unexpected actors throughout the exhibition.


The main gallery continues this journey, as with Paul O’Keeffe’s In Memoriam (I Wanna Be Pure), part of a larger project spread throughout FRONT 2022 that relates to the tragic passing of his son and his own processing of that event by incorporating his son’s poetry into his artwork. Other works by Langston HughesKarel Martens, and the accomplished local artists Charmaine SpencerDexter Davis, and La Wilson evoke the daily practice of artmaking and its liberatory potential. Elsewhere, Martin Beck and Magali Reus underscore the importance of sharing joy and how the aesthetic pleasure of art can connect different people (and beings) in communion. Kameelah Janan RasheedChristopher Kulendran Thomas, Hughie Lee Smith, and Beni E. Kosh question the artist’s role in society and suggest ways that artists can intervene in larger structures by speaking with power. On Kawara’s One Million Years offers a meditative and participatory way to approach larger-than-human scales of transformation.

The final programmatic focus considers the relationship between artmaking and therapy through works by late Oberlin-based artist Audra Skuodas, alongside Scott MarsLinda D.L. Green, and other clients of Art Therapy Studio, one of the oldest such independent organizations in the nation. Its free public art-therapy workshops hosted throughout the show raise important questions: how legible is the process of collaboration, of learning from others, of healing within finished artworks? How can the pain of the past be transformed through artmaking and its reception?


• FRONT welcomes visitors of all abilities, ages, backgrounds, genders, races, and religions and is committed to providing opportunities for meaningful inclusion.

• The FRONT PNC Exhibition Hub at Transformer Station meets and exceeds ADA requirements, offering accessible parking, ramp access, ADA accessible restrooms, and an elevator to the second floor visitors lounge. Accommodations available upon request; please contact info@​frontart.​org.

• FRONT is proud to be part of the Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities ALL means ALL initiative to highlight its commitment to inclusion and accessibility.

Related artists:

Transformer Station surveys humanity’s relationship to the violin in outstanding photography show

March 7, 2022

By Steven Litt

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Visitors accustomed to seeing big, bold, up-to-the-minute artworks at the Transformer Station gallery in Ohio City may be taken aback by all the sepia flooding the walls this winter.


The gallery is awash in tintypes, daguerreotypes, albumen prints, and other forms of early photography, plus images made with everything from mid-century 35-millimeter film cameras to the latest digital devices.


The focus of this visual tsunami is an exhibition on photographs of violinists and their instruments.


Drawn from the holdings of Pittsburgh-based collector and Akron native Evan Mirapaul, the show plunges into a seemingly minor subject that turns out to be oceanic in its vastness.


With more than 250 photos hung frame to frame across entire walls, the Mirapaul exhibition is obsessively narrow but wildly broad. It’s an exercise in visual overload, a visual symphony in the minor key of an offbeat motif. It’s kooky, crazy, fantastic, and fun.


The backstory

Installation view by Field Studio.


A onetime professional musician who served as an assistant principal second violin for the Pittsburgh Symphony and as co-founder of the New York-based Elements Quartet, Mirapaul fell into photography collecting after his father put him in contact with an Akron lawyer in 1989 who needed help assessing the value of an estate left behind by a pair of local musicians, Sam and Sylvia Spinak.


The Spinaks were passionate collectors of instruments, books, documents, and photographs, including a significant number of images of violinists. Mirapaul eventually determined that the collection had little value, although it intrigued him enough to acquire it through Summit County’s probate court.


Mirapaul sold the instruments, books, and documents, but kept sifting through the photos. His interest in photography deepened after he moved to New York in the 1990s. Eventually, through discussions with contacts at the International Center of Photography, he realized he could use the images of violinists from the Spinak estate as the core of something bigger he’d assemble on his own.


As Mirapaul discovered, the prevalence of pictures in which people have posed with a violin is huge, particularly from the mid 19th century to the middle 20th century. In effect, the exhibition, on view through Sunday, April 3, doubles as an outline of the history of photography largely through that period, from high to low, professional to amateur, and elite to the everyday.


Organized by Dan Leers, the curator of photography at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, the show is making its debut at Transformer Station, which houses and exhibits the photography collection of Cleveland collectors Fred and Laura Bidwell and also doubles part-time as a branch of the Cleveland Museum of Art.


(The photo collection isn’t Mirapaul’s only cultural venture. He has also created Troy Hill Art Houses in Pittsburgh, a growing collection of private houses transformed by artists into works of art that can be viewed by appointment. Details are available at


Diving in

Installation view by Field Studio.


One way to approach the photo exhibition is to seek images of famous violinists, including Fritz Kreisler, Isaac Stern, Jascha Heifetz, and Yehudi Menuhin. They’re all there, depicted in publicity photos, formal portraits, images in Life magazine, and photos plastered on Album covers.


Another approach is to seek out masterpieces by the world’s greatest photographers, including Julia Margaret Cameron, Andre Kertesz, Alfred Eisenstadt, Irving Penn, Yousuf Karsh, and Henri Cartier-Bresson, all sprinkled throughout the exhibition.


Cameron, for example, is represented by two prints of her 1868 portrait of Joseph Joachim, (1831-1907) the internationally renowned Hungarian violinist to whom Johannes Brahms dedicated his violin concerto in D major, Opus 77.


Kertesz, on the other hand, captured a famous image in 1921 of a blind Hungarian violinist dressed in tattered clothes who is guided by a boy across a dirt road in Abony, a small town near Budapest.

The violin, and the love of music, are what unite Cameron’s globetrotting virtuoso and the hollow-cheeked street musician in the Kertesz, who could be one of the bony wraiths in Picasso’s Blue Period paintings.


Such comparisons show how Mirapaul’s collection encompasses a cross-section of humanity reminiscent of the famous 1955 photography exhibition, “The Family of Man,’’ curated by Edward Steichen at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.


But while the MOMA show highlighted photography as art produced by master practitioners, the Mirapaul collection owes much of its charm, humanism, and wit to vernacular works by photographers whose names are lost to history.


Anonymous power

Installation view by Field Studio.


The exhibition revels in images produced by anonymous shooters for advertisements, and publicity stills from Hollywood films such as “Intermezzo,’’ (1939, Leslie Howard, Ingrid Bergman); and “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,’’ (1938, Tyrone Power, Don Ameche).


Also on view are hundreds of images by unidentified professional portrait photographers from the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Among them is a large, hand-colored 1863 tintype of an unidentified Union soldier in his uniform, shown seated while holding his violin and bow in such a way that the bow and the fingerboard create perfectly parallel lines.


Another photo by an unidentified photographer captures a disheveled Albert Einstein, sitting at a music stand in a suit with his shirttails out while practicing with his violin.


The picture, taken after Einstein fled Nazi Germany and established himself at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, is a reminder that the world’s most famous physicist loved playing Mozart because, in his words, the music was “so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master.”


But the show isn’t always so high-minded. It also includes an ad from a 1961 magazine featuring a scantily clad woman violinist who considers whether to accept a cigarette from a man whose hand intrudes from the lower-left corner of the shot, bearing smokes.


The ad copy suggestively asks, “Should a gentleman offer a Tiparillo to a violinist?” (”After all, if she likes the offer, she might start to play. No strings attached.’’)


Instrument of transcendence

Installation view by Field Studio.


Throughout the show, regardless of context, the violin emerges as a symbol of status and aspiration that transcends race and class.


When he took a picture of three well-dressed Black children practicing violin in a Pittsburgh classroom Charles “Teenie” Harris, captured an image of normal, middle-class American striving.


But the violin may also function as a symbol of cultural imperialism, as indicated by images of Indian, Chinese, and Japanese violinists, who took up the instrument during the age of European colonization.


Even so, the violin exerted a reverse flow of influence from East to West. A wonderful series of photos from Japan document the influence of Shinichi Suzuki (1898-1998), the Japanese violinist who invented a method of instruction and a teaching philosophy that became wildly popular around the world.


One of the show’s more memorable anonymous photos depicts hundreds of Japanese children lined up in a massive collective performance in 1968.


Given that the Mirapaul collection thins out as it reaches into more recent decades, the show may indicate that as a cultural icon, the violin may be losing some of its clout.


Mirapaul speculates in an interview printed in a flier accompanying the exhibition that the violin has been replaced by the electric guitar as a cultural totem.


But classical music, and the violin, seem unlikely to go away any time soon. As the exhibition suggests, the bond between humanity and the violin is deep. That relationship makes it likely that anyone who masters such a difficult instrument will want to pose for a photo with it now and far into the future.


In Concert: Photography and the Violin

Transformer Station
1460 W. 29th St., Cleveland

Through Sunday, April 3


A preview at Transformer Station shows how the 2022 FRONT Triennial will focus on art’s power to heal

November 10, 2021

A still from “Dansbana!”, a 2018 video documenting an installation by the Swedish architectural collaborative which goes by the same name. The design team installed a public dance floor in Stockholm, and documented how the public used it. A similar project will be developed in Akron during the FRONT Triennial in 2022.Steven Litt,


Updated: Nov. 07, 2021, 8:33 a.m. | Published: Nov. 07, 2021, 8:33 a.m.


By Steven Litt,


CLEVELAND, Ohio — In a letter to his son in 1892, the great French Impressionist Camille Pissarro noted the miraculous nature of art as a way to create beauty with the most commonplace of tools, including pencil and paper.


“One can do such lovely things with so little,’’ he said.


The organizers of the second version of the FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art may not have had Pissarro in mind when they planned their upcoming show, scheduled to open July 16 at venues across Northeast Ohio.


WATCH: Grand, Humble Conversations: Jacolby Satterwhite, RA Washington, and LaToya Kent

November 4, 2021




Recorded as part of Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools, the FRONT 2022 Preview Exhibition, which runs from October 8, 2021 to January 2, 2022 at Transformer Station in Cleveland, Ohio.


FRONT 2022 Artistic Director Prem Krishnamurthy talks with RA Washington, LaToya Kent, and Jacolby Satterwhite about their process of collaboration on Satterwhite’s commission for Cleveland Clinic’s BioRepository in collaboration with FRONT International and Fairfax neighborhood residents. Satterwhite asked Fairfax residents to draw and describe their visions of utopia. Washington and Kent, who connected with over one hundred Fairfax residents, describe the “class weight” they felt as they interacted with each contributor, and how their feelings deepend and evolved as the project continued. Satterwhite details his intentions for the project, where drawings that were quickly made—intentionally, to access people’s authentic feelings—would have long afterlives, first taking different digital shapes in Satterwhite’s hands, and then persisting as a public “monument” to the moment in which they were created.


Transformer Station

1460 W 29th St
Cleveland OH 44113




Produced By:
Rafeeq Roberts
Third Eye Productions
Cleveland, Ohio

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