You should probably make an effort to go to the Metroparks and see some leaves this fall. But if your sense of beauty is piqued more by craftsmanship and ideas than nature, you'll have plenty of opportunities for contemplation at the region's museums and galleries.
Of all the curators putting on exhibits this season, probably none are prouder than those responsible for the Cleveland Museum of Art's Sicily: Art and Invention Between Greece and Rome, arranged in partnership with the J. Paul Getty Museum of Las Angeles. Both the contents of the show and the surrounding scholarship promise to be talked about for years to come. The event brings together some 150 objects old enough to be contemporaries of Plato, from about 500 to 300 BCE. They originate from the Sicilian city-states which stood at the nautical crossroads between Greece and Roman Italy, and therefore were an important vector for cultural transmission. The assembled artifacts represent a sampling of every strata of Sicily's society, from the army to celebrity athletes, and from pampered aristocrats to the clergy.
However, besides assembling an exhibit with such intrinsic merits, the CMA can also be proud of the deft diplomacy it practiced in making sure the show went forward. Sicily's cultural ministry had seriously considered withdrawing permission to display a pair of prized artifacts then traveling in the U.S. and slated to take part in the Cleveland show. The CMA briefly canceled the show, but after more negotiations—including promises to let Sicily borrow a Caravaggio—the show was saved. It will open as scheduled this Sunday, September 29, and run through January 5 of next year at 11150 East Blvd.
As a ticketed exhibit, adult admission to Sicily is $15, with discounts available for students, seniors, and children. However, the CMA also has a number of free shows on offer. October 27 sees the opening of Fragments of the Invisible, a showcase of objects from traditional Congo culture meant to mediate interaction between worshipers and realms of gods and spirits. Disembodied, an exhibit of over 170 miniature portraits from the 17th and 18th centuries, opens November 10. For more information, call 216-421-7350 or go to clevelandart.org.
Ongoing now at the museum's West Side satellite gallery in Transformer Station, The Unicorn brings together five artists exploring such disparate topics as the history of Surrealism, the logic of books, and the possibility of whether or not building can be the object of blame. See it through November 30 at 1460 West 29 St. For more information, call 216-938-5429 or go to
October 18, during 78th Street's Third Friday open house, Kokoon Arts Gallery and Hedge Gallery will unveil Genius Loci, a retrospective of the works by Randall Tiedman, who passed away in November of last year. In the last few years of his career, Tiedman's art had finally started to attract wider attention. His most enthusiastically-received works were his horizon-wide landscape paintings of imagined industrial environments, inspired loosely by Cleveland's own manufacturing zones. Tiedman described these expeditions into the beauty in black Gothic skies and rusting infrastructure as "dark romanticism."
Both these famous works and Tiedman's earlier experiments from earlier decades of his career will be on display. Many viewers will get to see for the first time his explorations of Willem de Kooning-inspired Abstract Expressionism and Francis Bacon-influenced studies in uncanny portraiture. It will be an important landmark in local art history. Genius Loci will run through Junuary 4 of next year at 1305 West 80th St. and 1300 West 78th St. For more information, call Kokoon at 216-832-8212, Hedge at 216-650-4201, or go to wgsproductions.com or hedgeartgallery.com.
November 1, The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland will premiere two installations by internationally-renowned artists.
Michelle Grabner will open her first solo museum piece, I Work From Home. Grabner's recent work has used manufactured forms with associations of domesticity, like gingham and decorating patterns, to both recall abstract painting and comment on the intersection—and the collision—of home life and creativity. She will also oversee the construction of a replica of her most famous project, The Suburban. Both an artistic environment itself and a venue for display of other works, The Suburban explores the possibility of appropriating that most bourgeois of locales as a laboratory for the avant-garde. Over the course of the exhibit, The Suburban will house works by Karl Haendel, Mike Smith, Amanda Ross-Ho, and Jessica Jackson Hutchins.
Simon Evans' Only Words Eaten by Experience examines from several angles how language and writing are used to organize our interactions with the world, and shape it at the same time. The artist will present obsessive charts sorting everyone he knows, his own hierarchy of needs, and human universals he interacts with. A hoard of objects like paper scraps, bits of tape, pencil shavings, White-Out covered diagrams and flowcharts serve as unselfconscious records of a project, representing usually unseen processes. The tapestry Letter to the Future, a textual piece signed by William Shakespeare, paints a portrait of someone deified by history, but who was frankly unimpressed by his own life.
Both shows run through February at MOCA, located at 11400 Euclid Ave. For more information, call 216-421-8671 or go to mocacleveland.org.
If you find yourself on the West Side Saturday November 2 and want to get a leg up on Christmas shopping for the aesthete near and dear to your heart, stop on in to the Screw Factory Artists' Open Studio. Almost 40 artists and workshops call the Great Lakes Building in Lakewood's "Birdtown" home. Most will be open for your perusal on this much-anticipated biannual event. Between them, you'll find handmade ceramics, jewelry, clothes, painting, sculpture, and more. Come between 12 and 6 p.m. to 13000 Athens Ave, Lakewood. For more information, including an aggregate of individual artists and galleries' websites, go to screwfactoryartists.com.
November 15, SPACES gallery will host two World Artists residencies, Japan's Yuka Oyama and Germany's Axel Ruoff. You might just have a chance to be a part of their project They will be interviewing Clevelanders about the most intimate relationships they have ever formed with objects in an wandering, essay-like exploration of how people create attachments to inanimate things. Video recordings, paintings, and even jewelry will commemorate and interpret Oyama and Ruoff's conversations. The program will run through January 17 at 2220 Superior Viaduct. For more information, call 216-621-2314 or go to spacesgallery.org.