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Northeast Ohio Hosts FRONT International: New Triennial Art Exhibition of 100+ Artists


From July 14 to September 30, FRONT International Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art: An American City, the biggest, single art exhibition in the history of Northeast Ohio, will take place in various venues in Cleveland, Akron, and Oberlin. As its website indicates, it is an exhibition composed of the works of over 100 national, international, and area-based artists that will examine "the ever-changing and politically urgent conditions of an American city." We are pleased to say that Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC donated to FRONT.

On Wednesday, July 11, a discussion about all aspects of the festival took place at the City Club. Mr. David C. Barnett, Senior Arts Reporter for Ideastream interviewed Ms. Michelle Grabner, FRONT's Artistic Director, and two of the artists involved: Mr. Philip Vanderhyden and Ms. Jessica Vaughn, whose works will be displayed respectively at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the Akron Art Museum.

Among the points touched on were how happy all of those involved were to be working in the Northeast Ohio environment because it had a life and culture of its own. This was a refreshing contrast to other locales, both nationally and internationally, that would be deemed more likely to put on this festival. As such, the artists feel like they have more freedom to experiment than they often would and the spirit of the local art institutions is one of cooperation instead of competition. 

Plus Northeast Ohio will benefit immeasurably from having the festival here. Its reputation as a welcoming place for artistic endeavors will be enhanced, and (even though financial projections were not readily available at the luncheon) it should prove to be lucrative. Also noteworthy is the fact that several pieces of public art have been produced that will remain in the Cleveland area even after the festival ends. 

One artistic undertaking that we are looking forward to viewing is The American Library by Mr. Yinka Shonibare. It will be displayed at the Cleveland Public Library because it celebrates the contributions of immigrants to the United States. As the website describes it, the work "consists of approximately six thousand books displayed in open bookcases, each wrapped in colorful African wax cloth, a prominent feature of the artist's work. Stamped in gold upon each spine is the name of a first- or second-generation immigrant to the United States who has contributed significantly to a particular field of art, science or American culture, or the name of an immigration dissenter who opposed such ideas. 

During the Q and A and also before and after the discussion, we asked about the international nature of the festival and were told that at least 40% of the artists involved were international. It has proven to be both a fascinating and enriching experience for all participants as well as for those who live around the PNC Glenville Arts Campus, where many of the artists reside; one can hear an assortment of languages spoken there.   


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison

Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC

Aimee Jannsohn