SPACES

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New art. Not old, used art.

Day Three: The Event

Brush High School students Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell report on the opening night environment …

Artist Kristin Bly poses for participants during the opening.

This is the day we’ve all been working towards; the opening. During the day, SPACES is bustling with constant activity. There was an excess of things to prepare, but in due time, with a touch of magic, everything was ready to go.

A line forms outside of Josh Parker’s installation: “Sometimes an entrance is actually an exit.”

The event: 7:00 p.m. Things were at a good pace. The food was nearly gone, there was a long line outside of the tunnel, and Kristin Bly’s room of viewer portraits was being created right before our eyes. One viewer, on his way to Bly’s room expressed,” I feel like it’s all potential,” which it certainly was.

Ben Kinsley and his mom- also the auction winner- discuss plans  for their future project. At 7:30 p.m. Arzu Ozkal came waltzing in, fully equipped with hooks and ropes. She included the audience, in a pulling performance leading her into her empty space. “SPACES has been doing a lot of creative things. It’s not passive, I love it,” said involved audience member, Elaine Hcilinen.

Every artist was pushed far beyond their comfort areas. “I’m entrusting people with myself, and I’m hoping that they don’t take advantage of me,” said artist Ben Kinsley who auctioned himself off. Ben, who usually directs people to surprise others, now had to allow himself to be surprised and directed.

Arzu Ozkal and her color commentator Eleanor Lebeau prepare to enter SPACES for their live performance.

Even though I knew art and creativity would be utilized and challenged; it was still surprising to actually witness it myself. Witness the artist’s showing of their challenges, and witness the public’s reaction to that challenge. The experience was cultivating, inspiring, and something that I would never take back.

By: Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell

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Filed under: Artists, As the World inTerns, Beyond Thunderdome, Cleveland, Guest Bloggers, Interviews, , , , , , ,

Day Two: The space

SPACES worker helps T.R. Ericsson apply his idea onto the wall High School Seniors Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell rethink space …

A space is usually filled or occupied. A space is used for gatherings of people and storage of things. But today I learned about SPACES and how they break the bounds of a space.

When coming back to SPACES there’s an overwhelming feeling of new and fresh energy. It’s amazing how much things have changed, from the black vinyl letters being put on the wall, the torn down lights, and the fully separating black curtain in the back. A room that was completely empty yesterday is now filled with little paper notes and lines of black tape marking off areas. The funny thing is that we don’t know if these are requests for the things written or if they are part of the display.  Any avenue can be explored.

Notes written by artist Kristin Bly

Lights sit after they've been taken down

Seeing these changes and looking at booklets from other displays gives me a clue that this isn’t going to be a traditional art show. The jelly splashed walls and usage of popcorn bowls from prior shows mixed with the interactive tunnel of this show means that anything can happen by tomorrow night.

By: Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell

Filed under: As the World inTerns, Cleveland, Guest Bloggers, SPACES, , ,

Day One: Lasting Impressions

View from Ben Kinsley's "Art Auction" stand

We are proud to present the fine writing and documentation of Brush High School students Chealsia Smedley and Shayna Mell. As part of their senior project, the students chose to shadow SPACES staff over the course of a few weeks. We are very grateful to have them on our team, even if it is for a short time. We are all so happy to have them work right by our sides as we push through exhibition openings and events. They continuously provide valuable insights into the process along the way.

I walked up to the tiny door, without research and without knowing. The only information that I previously obtained was that SPACES was an art gallery and that I was helping with an opening- that would commence in two days. I know that being unprepared is usually a disadvantage, but in this case I wouldn’t have it any other way. When I walked through the entrance I was awestruck by this space of endless possibilities awaiting me.

View from inside Josh Parker's installation "Sometimes an entrance is actually an exit"

The first thing that caught my eye was the bulging green wall decorated with a scarcity of scattered flowers. While at first it appeared merely an interesting wall, it revealed a room containing a multitude of boxes which would later make up a tunnel. Everyone was in a line to enter a room, with an imitation “doggy door” to gain access. The room looked like something taken directly from a horror film. The trap door and dripping water went hand in hand to create a foreboding room. It was difficult to imagine that this separate entity would become an inviting final step at the end of a tunnel adventure Friday night.

Paints used to decorate Josh Parker's installation

This interactive art piece and the mission of SPACES were both inspiring, and original. The idea of taking something that is already creative and original and challenging it can be described as beyond cool. The fact that the staff at SPACES kept a movement alive and challenged art itself made them artists in that way. They encouraged me to be an artist among them by giving me the freedom to think and carve my own ideas. When my first day concluded, I realized that I would be coming back tomorrow, and I couldn’t wait!

Written by: Chealsia Smedley
Photos by: Shayna Mell

Filed under: As the World inTerns, Cleveland, Guest Bloggers, SPACES, , , ,

As the World inTerns: Episode II

nickIn this episode, Nick will attempt to discuss 9/11, the Plum Academy, and the spirit of volunteerism without too many English Major meanderings.

As the resident English Major intern, I was asked to blog about Friday, September 11, 2009: the opening celebration of SPACES Plum Academy. Recently, it has also been declared the first National Day of Service and Remembrance. Despite its new designation, 9/11 is a difficult day to host an opening. Let’s face it, there’s no room in perceptions of “9/11,” for a non-profit art gallery. For the novice blogger, it is similarly daunting to fuse these absurdly unrelated phenomena. But what after all, creates the feeling of unease here?

In linguistics, they talk about what differentiates human language, from say, chimpanzees grunting. Steven Pinker refers to human language as a system of symbols. Words are arbitrary symbols like musical notations, an alphabet, or numbers. They, unlike a screaming monkey, don’t seem to be rooted in the concrete. (Bear with me!)

After all, can you, in real life, point out to me the letter “A,” or a B flat minor chord, or 9/11 walking down the street? Maybe on Sesame Street, but even in that case, I’d like to see how they might approach the latter…

I’m straying. But my point is that perhaps “9/11,” an arbitrary combination of numbers and punctuation, does not have to represent ground zero, Muslim fanaticism, or the terrifying idea of human life as not only an expendable means of proving a point.

For me, that last idea is the most difficult to get past. It is hard to see past the tragedy of it when the New York skyline is permanently changed. Thankfully, there are people who push me to do so. In April, President Obama signed legislation making September 11, 2009 the first National Day of Service and Remembrance.

Maybe the symbol “9/11” can mean something else: Instead of focusing on the fear and anger of 9/11, perhaps the best way of remembering the lives lost that day is by recreating the spirit of empathy, volunteerism and service that emerged out of ground zero. It is a call to action: do a good deed for someone else in remembrance and reverence.  

As a non-profit gallery, SPACES is dependent in many ways on volunteerism and service. And so, on September 11, 2009, the first National Day of Service and Remembrance, SPACES will not only hold an exhibition opening for the Plum Academy. We will also be working alongside our volunteers, because they are an integral part of how art happens at 2220 Superior Viaduct and beyond our walls, too. The SPACES staff—interns included— will be honoring the spirit of volunteerism that drives so many individuals who help us every day. And that is undeniably good.

Until next time,

Nick, the English Guy

Filed under: As the World inTerns, Guest Bloggers, SPACES, ,

Who you will find at SPACES

vanessa
Photo by Vanessa La Valle (of Vanessa La Valle), 2009

Vanessa La Valle. Super lady. Awesome Volunteer. You will find her here at SPACES telling stories (you would never believe unless you have met her in person), making us laugh, talking about art, and working hard and creatively while tackling any task thrown at her. Here is what she has to say about being an artist and finding SPACES:

“I love constructing environments. In the past, I was one of those teenagers with walls full of posters, ticket stubs and magazine clippings that amounted to a museum of my experiences and perceptions. Looking back on photographs of the rooms I have inhabited, I feel as if it is the clearest picture of my mind next to something a psychoanalyst might be able to come up with. In some ways it is like walking into the brain of the inhabitant. I am certain this old habit has influenced the way I create work and the type of places in which I would like to view and live.

Ten years later, after experimenting with constructing soundtracks to visuals and vice versa, I was searching on the internet for alternative approaches the traditional concept of the gallery; something that incorporated physical space into design. SPACELab is just that. Volunteering has been an excellent way of experiencing a segment of Cleveland’s art scene and the nature of an alternative exhibition space.”

If you want to see more of Vanessa’s work, visit: topnotch-indeed.blogspot.com

Filed under: As the World inTerns, Guest Bloggers, SPACES, , , , , , , , ,

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