Cleveland/Cuba Artistic Exchange and Julian Stanczak Featured in CIA’s Newest Exhibitions

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A report by Josh Usmani for Clevescene.

This week, the Cleveland Institute of Art hosts two events in celebration of its latest exhibitions. First, the school’s Reinberger Gallery hosts an opening reception for a new exhibition exploring the connection between Northeast Ohio and Cuba, and later this weekend, CIA’s Peter B. Lewis Theatre hosts a celebration of Op Art pioneer and former CIA instructor, Julian Stanczak, along with a small, accompanying exhibition in the Ann and Norman Roulet Student and Alumni Gallery.

The latest exhibition at the Reinberger Gallery explores and celebrates the cultural exchanges between Cleveland and Cuba, specifically Cleveland organizations and Cuban artists. The Art of Exchange: Contemporary Cuban Art in Cleveland features a variety of artwork drawn from several private and public local collections. The Art of Exchange opens with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, and remains on view through December 15.

“I think visitors will be surprised to learn how involved Cleveland has been over the years with an exchange with Cuban artists,” says Nikki Woods, acting director of CIA’s Reinberger Gallery. “To see such a wide breadth of work by a diverse selection of artists in one place is incredible. There are over 30 works of art in the show, in variety of media ranging from printmaking, photography and jewelry and metals to painting and drawing. I think this show is an excellent learning opportunity for students, and gallery visitors of all ages— now more than ever. Much of the work is deeply rooted in Cuban culture and politics, so there is a lot of thoughtful subject matter that helps you to better understand others’ experiences. In addition, I think all of the work expresses a passionate commitment to making, no matter the circumstance or difficulty. That is a unifying message that almost anyone can walk away with.”

Featured artists include: Franklin Alavarez, Jose Toriac and Meira Merrero, Los Carpinteros, Manuel Hernandez Valdes, Maria Magdelena Campos Pons, Nelson Dominguez, Nelson Ramirez de Arellano Conde, Osmeivy Ortega, Pilar Rubi, Sandra Ramos, Sofia Marques Aguir, X Alfonso and Yasniel Valdes (with Matthew Hollern).

Julian Stanczak is considered one of the pioneers of the Op Art movement. A longtime resident of Cleveland, he originally received the Cleveland Arts Prize in 1969, and was appointed the organization’s Special Honoree in 2015. Born in Poland in 1928, Stanczak was forced into a Siberian labor camp at the beginning of World War II. While imprisoned, he permanently lost the use of his right (dominant) arm. After escaping Siberia in 1942, Stanczak learned to write and paint left-handed at the age of 13 in a Polish refugee camp in Uganda. Stanczak moved to the U.S. in 1950 and eventually settled in Cleveland. Stanczak taught at the Art Academy of Cincinnati from 1957 to 1964 before serving as Professor of Painting at Cleveland Institute of Art from 1964 to 1995. In 1998, his 50-year career was honored with a collaborative retrospective between Youngstown’s Butler Institute of American Art, the Columbus Museum of Art and the Josef Albers Museum in Germany.

Stanczak passed away on March 29 of this year, at the age of 88. In honor of Stanczak’s life and career, the Cleveland Institute of Art hosts a special memorial event from 2 to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 5, in CIA’s Peter B. Lewis Theater. Scheduled speakers include noted art historian Henry Adams, MOCA Cleveland director Jill Snyder, friend and collector Neil Rector and CIA president and CEO Grafton Nunes. From November 2 to 6, CIA’s Ann and Norman Roulet Student and Alumni Gallery hosts an exhibition of Stanczak’s study swatches.

(Cleveland Institute of Art) 11610 Euclid Ave, 216-421-7000, cia.edu.

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