For the fourth consecutive year, the Cleveland West Art League (CWAL) presents Tall Walls, its annual unjuried, uncensored members' art exhibition; the one-night-only show is this Friday from 6 p.m. to midnight. Tall Walls is open to any of CWAL's more than 200 member artists. Each artist is invited to submit up to two works, and the show is hung salon-style, with art filling the walls from floor to ceiling.
"I am delighted to say that this promises to be a very good showing," says CWAL gallery director Daniel Neforos. "Viewers can expect to see a wide range of art from emerging, mid-career, and established Cleveland artists. This exhibition highlights the artistic diversity of our membership and their unique take on the world around them. We invite everyone to come to this one-night show this Friday."
This year's show features more than 40 artists and about 80 works. The unjuried, uncensored aspect often inspires artists to make provocative, controversial work, similar to Cleveland State University's People's Art Show, which inspired local artist and gallery owner Loren Naji's initial idea for the show. This year, CWAL asked its members to submit their newest and best work, showcasing each artist's unique style.
"Cleveland West Art League looks forward to this show each year," says Jeannie Oakar, CWAL's vice president and chair of off-site programming. "It is a chance for our members to really show who they are as artists. With the change in theme this year, we look forward to seeing current and unique works from our members. "
Bruno Casiano Gallery (5304 Detroit Ave.) hosts the event. "It is exciting to work with Bruno Casiano and to show off all the hard work he has put into his gallery space," says Oakar, who leads CWAL's organization of Tall Walls each year. "He is kind, easy to work with and excited to help support CWAL and its members. The space is modern and a gem within the neighborhood."
This is the first year that Casiano will host the exhibition. The first three exhibitions were held at Loren Naji Studio Gallery in Ohio City. However, due to Naji's ongoing legal issues, CWAL was forced to find an alternative venue. Last year, they used the former BUCKBUCK space, which is now occupied by Canopy Collective. Ironically (in regard to Naji's troubles), the basement of Casiano's gallery once functioned as a speakeasy during Prohibition.
"It has been a pleasure working with Jeannie Oakar and being the host for this year's Tall Walls," says Casiano. "Today I went by the gallery and it was amazing to see all the great artwork waiting to be hung; it's a very exciting time in Cleveland! It's a great feeling to be part of it!"
Bruno Casiano Gallery is part of the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood, just steps from Gordon Square and its variety of attractions including Happy Dog, Cleveland Public Theater, Capitol Theatre, Near West Theatre, Stone Mad Pub, XYZ Tavern, Gypsy Bean and more. To the east, it's just a short drive or bike ride to Hingetown, Ohio City and downtown.
Tall Walls has a truly democratic spirit: Anyone off the street could pay $25 for a membership and submit anything. Therefore you'll find "warts and all" in a show like this. However, it's a rare opportunity to see so many different forms of expression of the dynamic human spirit. If the canvas is a window into the soul of the artist, Tall Walls offers a glimpse into the sheer range of creative expression.
CWAL started five years ago, when founding director Mona Gazala curated a group exhibition at IngenuityFest. The 20 participating artists became the first CWAL members. In early 2011, CWAL established a board of directors and secured its gallery space at 78th Street Studios. Later that year, CWAL added an educational program and earned its nonprofit status.
CWAL's gallery at 78th Street Studios (suite 110) maintains a regular exhibition schedule featuring work by many of their members. In August, CWAL presents work by Deborah Silver and Bernadette Glorioso. The organization offers a number of opportunities for members to showcase their talents. For more information, visit CWAL's website.
Tall Walls is free and open to the public.