Arts » Arts Lead

Alternative Routes: A Late Bloomer and a Forward-Thinker Pair for Two Exhibitions at 1point618 Gallery



This Friday evening, 1point618 hosts opening receptions for two quite different exhibitions. Local self-taught painter Sid Rheuban turns 90 and celebrates with an exhibition of his latest drawings and paintings on Plexiglas. Liz Maugan's presents Screen Plays, which is a collaborative effort with 20 local and regional writers (myself included).

Sid Rheuban took a unique path on his journey to 1point618. For starters, he has been painting only since his late 60s — about 22 years or so. As a child, Rheuban took a Saturday morning art class at the Cleveland Museum of Art, but after a particularly discouraging experience, he quit.

"The teacher said my original drawing of Moses Cleaveland wasn't good at all, and I should draw like George who sat next to me: He had made a good likeness of Mr. Cleaveland," explains Rheuban. "I didn't try to draw again for another 30 years."

After high school, Rheuban worked in Washington, D.C. while saving money for college. "I used to spend almost every Sunday at the National Gallery of Art getting a lift looking at the Impressionists," explains Rheuban. "I even photographed an Augustus Saint-Gaudens' sculpture in a D.C. cemetery, because I thought it was beautiful. I learned 48 years later in art history class that it was a masterpiece."

At the age of 35, facing a great deal of uncertainty, Rheuban sought help from a psychologist. The psychologist encouraged Rheuban to take an art course. "I took a night class in painting at the high school. I copied Impressionist paintings and my family liked them and hung them all up. But that was the end of it. It had been too easy and therefore I didn't value it. But something about the experience stuck in the back of my brain and evidently stayed there, hidden away."

By the time he retired from selling bonds in the fall of 1990, Rheuban had worked at Radio Shack, jewelry stores, summer furniture stores, in real estate and in college admissions, as well as being a reporter for the former Cleveland Press. For more than a dozen years, Rheuban was the executive director of a Jewish Reform temple. He also served in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War. Clearly, what he lacks in artistic experience, he more than makes up for in life experience.

When Rheuban retired, his wife, Elaine, was still working, so he enrolled as a senior student at Cuyahoga Community College. His art classes encouraged his creativity, and his art history courses introduced him to the masters of German Expressionism. When his wife retired, the two began travelling extensively to museums and locations of significance in the narrative of art history.

"During one of these trips, when I showed an interest in works painted on glass, a successful professional artist directed me to places where I might see more of it," says Rheuban. "This led to my experiments with painting on Plexiglas."

Painting on glass and Plexiglas has become a definitive characteristic of Rheuban's work. He uses the effects of the unique material in different ways. Some paintings are painted on one side only, but he will show either the painted side or the reverse depending on his desired effect. Sometimes he paints on both sides, giving the background different characteristics from the foreground. The process requires Rheuban to apply paint in a manner opposite the one traditionally used to apply paint to canvas: light-to-dark instead of dark-to-light.

"When I create a painting, some part of my psyche as it has experienced life, is reflected in the image," explains Rheuban. "I use color in any way that appeals to me at the moment of creation. Finally, by being an artist in today's chaotic world, I give my life an extra meaning. I hope that my painting will resonate with some people and enhance their understanding of their life on this planet at this time."

Liz Maugans' Screen Plays is similar to Rheuban's work in the use of alternative techniques. For this show, Maugans continues using text in her work, but utilizes a variety of screen-printing and mixed-media tricks to create unique results.

"Text is cut from old discarded prints and everyday detritus using store-bought stencils," explains Maugans. "An open silk screen creates unpredictable painterly resist effects and also capitalizes on the possibility of getting two or more variations from a ghost-image transfer. The variations supply a vastly different tenor and emotional delivery from print to print."

Maugans is the co-founder of Zygote Press and the Collective Arts Network (CAN) Journal. For this exhibition, each of the 20 prints will be accompanied on the gallery wall by a page of text, inspired by the work, and written by an author hand-selected by Maugans.

"I enlisted 20 of my favorite regional writers (also mid-lifers) to draft from one of these images (selected just for them) their own screen play or scene to be exhibited with the work on a one-page sheet of paper," she says. "Screen Plays become conversational mis-en-scenes that extend beyond my contextual framework and introduce, more surprisingly, a new momentum bridging writer's literary illusion to my original image-quest scenario."

The opening reception is this Friday, Oct. 10, at 7 p.m. Additional gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and by appointment. Both exhibitions and the opening reception are free and open to the public.

1point618 Gallery

6421 Detroit Ave., 216-281-1618,

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