Updated: Nov. 07, 2021, 8:33 a.m. | Published: Nov. 07, 2021, 8:33 a.m.
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.
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.
1460 W 29th St
Cleveland OH 44113
Third Eye Productions
JEN JONES DONATELLI | THURSDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2021
A lot can happen in four years, and for many of us, 2018—the year that FRONT Triennialmade its colorful debut across Cleveland—feels like a lifetime ago. As the triennial event prepares to yet again position The Land at the epicenter of the global art world next summer, FRONT plans to explore much-needed themes of healing and transformation.
“Believe it or not, this idea of art as a mode of therapy and agent of healing was developed even before the pandemic,” says Fred Bidwell, owner of Transformer Stationand executive director for FRONT Triennial. “But COVID and all of the social unrest that has happened has made it even more relevant. We firmly believe art can be an agent for change because it’s a safe place to have difficult conversations and bring people together.”
FRONT will bring that to life through the theme “Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows,” a nod to a 1957-written Langston Hughes couplet: Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, help us to see that without the dust the rainbow would not be. That theme will guide the 2022 rendition (postponed from its original 2021 date)—slated to take place from July 16-October 2, 2022 with a compelling array of programming, performances, and artwork across Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin.
The return of FRONT is an exciting prospect—especially in light of the 90,000 visitors from 25 countries and $31 million in economic impact generated by the first installment. And for those who can’t wait until next summer, Bidwell and his colleagues have a sneak peek in store. This Friday, October 8, a ribbon-cutting ceremony and free opening reception will be held at Transformer Station to kick off the FRONT festivities and the preview exhibition, “Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools” (a title also inspired by Langston Hughes).
“The show opening this weekend will be a really unusual exhibition,” says Bidwell. “We don’t see it as a finished, polished presentation—it’s really a peek into the process of making a show. What you’ll see are works by artists who are developing new commissions for next summer, and you’ll be able to get a feel for what kinds of artists they are.”
According to Bidwell, the preview showcases an eclectic mix of media from virtual reality video to textile art to hard-edged sculpture to art furniture. Locally-focused works include Jacolby Satterwhite’s Dawn (a CGI fantasy film created in tandem with Fairfax residents and the Cleveland Clinic) and seating prototypes by SO-IL (the architecture firm designing Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Euclid Avenue).
While the exhibition and triennial event will feature artists from around the world, Bidwell is energized by the prospect of raising the profile of local artists such as Dexter Davis and Paul O’Keeffe. “FRONT positions Cleveland as a player in the international art world,” says Bidwell. “We’re bringing renowned artists to Cleveland, but also putting local artists on the same level. Ultimately, our dream is that one or two local artists will gain the attention of the international art world and build careers around that. “
The Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools preview exhibition runs from October 8 – January 2, 2022 at Transformer Station (1460 W. 29th St., Cleveland). The opening reception is from 6-9 p.m. on October 8, featuring music by DJ Red-I and live screen printing of artist-designed t-shirts from nyceCO Prints. Refreshments will be available. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools
FRONT 2022 preview exhibition
October 8, 2021–January 2, 2022
FRONT International launches a preview exhibition that introduces processes, themes, and artists for its second edition.
Since its announcement in January 2020, the second edition of FRONT International—entitled Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, after a couplet by Langston Hughes—has explored art’s role as an agent of healing, a theme that has become ever more urgent in the subsequent phases of the COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing social crises. This preview exhibition, whose title also takes inspiration from Hughes, points both to the boldness required to envision change and to the everyday tools that might help to enact it.
You may carve a dream
With a humble tool.
—Langston Hughes, “Ballad of Booker T.”
How can the everyday processes of artmaking be transformative for artists and their communities? How can art catalyze healing?
To explore these questions, the first exhibition of FRONT 2022, Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools, will embrace a uniquely transparent and iterative curatorial approach: existing artworks will be exhibited alongside projects still in development for next summer, and the show itself will undergo changes as artists add to, revise, and reconfigure the works being displayed.
By previewing the curatorial methods of the show in this way, Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools intends both to pull back the curtain on the triennial-making process and invite participation directly from Cleveland-area communities. Visitors will be asked to engage in activities related to each project, and the open-ended installation—which will extend across both galleries of Transformer Station and include a range of media—will also be a site for diverse public programs.
Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools includes: Jacolby Satterwhite’s Dawn, a utopic CGI fantasy film developed with residents of the Fairfax neighborhood and Cleveland Clinic; Dansbana!, a Stockholm-based architectural trio, creating a Bluetooth-powered open-access dancefloor in Akron; Leigh Ledare’s The Task, a discomfiting film that emerged out of close involvement with the Tavistock therapeutic community; Sarah Oppenheimer’s I-001-7070, a participatory sculpture that explores the potential for visitor input in gallery display structures; seating prototypes by architecture firm SO-IL, who are designing Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Euclid Avenue; tufted sculptures by Loraine Lynn, whose work expands on the idea of gathering; as well as work from other FRONT 2022 artists such as Dexter Davis and Paul O’Keeffe, who both live and work in Cleveland, and Asad Raza, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, La Wilson, Renée Green, Tony Cokes, Wong Kit Yi, and others.
Art Therapy Studio, participatory workshops
October 10, November 14, and December 5, 2021 at 1pm EST
Transformer Station, with pre-registration
Grand, Humble Conversations
Premiering every month through December on FRONT’s website
October 29, 2021: Jacolby Satterwhite in conversation with RA Washington and LaToya Kent
November 19, 2021: Sarah Oppenheimer in conversation with Tony Cokes
December 10, 2021: Asad Raza in conversation with Loraine Lynn
Moderated by FRONT 2022 Artistic Director Prem Krishnamurthy.
Saturday film program
Saturdays, 3–5pm EST, October–December 2021
Transformer Station, Crane Gallery
Asad Raza, Minor History, 2019
Renée Green, Come Closer, 2008
Wong Kit Yi, A River in Freezer, 2017
Launched in 2018, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is a free, public, contemporary art exhibition. Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, the second iteration of FRONT International, launches with a preview exhibition in fall 2021, and the main exhibition will run from July 16 through October 2, 2022. Building on the success of FRONT’s first edition, FRONT 2022 furthers the Triennial’s commitment to the belief that by supporting creative communities and stimulating new cultural encounters in the region, contemporary art can be an important catalyst for positive social change.
Press inquiries: Dushko Petrovich Córdova, FRONT Director of Communications, email@example.com.
Due to the rapid spread of Covid in Cleveland, Transformer Station will be closing Wednesday, December 22 through the end of FRONT‘s Preview Exhibition on January 2. If you’re looking for ways to connect, FRONT has Artist Conversations with Jacolby Satterwhite x LaToya Kent x RA Washington, Loraine Lynn, and Tony Cokes x Sarah Oppenheimer available online, along with FRONT 2022 Artist Asad Raza’s Ge. Check FRONT’s website for more content and updates. Stay safe and see you in the new year!