A Cleveland Art Exhibition With A Global Pedigree Coming in 2018

This Northeast Ohio-based triennial is the brainchild of art collector Fred Bidwell (Photo: DCB)
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by David C. Barnett

A mix of artists from around the block, and around the world, will be invited to submit work for a $4.2-million Northeast Ohio art show based on the general theme of: "The American City."  The effort is called "FRONT International: Cleveland Exhibition for Contemporary Art".

The 3-month-long exhibition will go on display in 2018 at multiple local venues --- ranging from marble-walled museums to neighborhood storefronts.  Area art collector Fred Bidwell is leading the effort as a way to put Cleveland's arts community under a global spotlight.

"We swing way above our weight in terms of the quality of our cultural institutions," he says, "despite the fact that we're a mid-sized city.  And so, it seemed like this was the place to do it, and following the RNC, this is the time to do it."

The plan is to hold a similar, broad-based exhibition, once every 3-years.  Bidwell suggests this Cleveland Triennial is a macro version of the recent project that created a series of murals along the RTA Red Line, which he also helped shepherd; the rapid transit paintings were executed by a varirety of local and national artists, who were recruited for a single purpose. 

"We thought, this is actually a cool way to, sort of, pilot this concept in a smaller way and see how it works," he says.  "It was a nice 'proof of concept', if you will."

The Cleveland and Gund Foundations will help support the FRONT International effort, along with local and national funding.  Bidwell says he's on track to have half the budget raised for the pilot project by the end of the year.

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