If you've ever marveled at the lines and texture of a well-worn piece of driftwood or the stratification of the Grand Canyon, you know that organic decay can be a beautiful thing. That's the theme in this show of drawings and photos by Greg Ruffing and Josh Rex. For them, the beauty of the object is merely a means to an end: Their work reflects "a culture in a relatively fixed period of time, a snapshot of society, and the ebb/flow of the human footprint — at once imprinted on the shore, then just as quickly washed away in the constant tide." Their show is open by appointment through October 8 at Proximity Gallery (1667 E. 40th St.). Call 216-262-8903 or visit proximitycleveland.com. — Gill
Akron Art Museum:
Andrew Moore: Detroit Disassembled:
Moore has put together a collection of photos that capture the decline of this once-great industrial giant, showing the vast empty space that used to be populated. Through October 10. Also: Isaac Julien-True North: Julien, a British artist and filmmaker, presents a sound and video installation that details the first expedition to the North Pole. The film shows on three screens over almost 40 feet of space and combines "mysterious and haunting sounds" with voices and music. Through October 3 at One South High Street in Akron. Open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Thursday. Call 330-376-9185 or visit akronartmuseum.org.
The Art Gallery at Cleveland State University: On the Corner Off: During his long career, CSU prof Ken Nevadomi's paintings have been part cartoon and part visionary surrealism, almost always built around human figures placed in hallucinatory landscapes or other contexts that carry the work's message. Through October 9 at 2307 Chester Ave. Call 216-687-2103 or visit csuohio.edu/artgallery.
ArtsCollinwood: Hope for the Picture Guild: Matt Dibble is a roofer, and about as regular a guy as you could meet. But Del Rey Loven, director of the art school at the University of Akron and the curator of a show of Dibble's recent works, describes his paintings as anything but regular. "High-risk aesthetic adventurism" is his term for Dibble's expressive compositions, which marry the texture and depth of painting with the linear precision of drawing. Through October 17 at 15601 Waterloo Rd.; call 216-692-9500 or go to artscollinwood.org.
Bonfoey Co.: Urban Scapes: Phyllis Seltzer:
If you've paid any attention at all to Cleveland art in the last couple of decades, you've seen Phyllis Seltzer's cityscapes of Cleveland, Boston, Chicago, New York, and Italy. Through September 25 at 1710 Euclid Ave. Hours are 8:30am -5:30pm Monday through Thursday; till 5 p.m. Fridays; and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays. Call 216-621-0178 or visit bonfoey.com.
Cleveland Artists Foundation: Abel Warshawsky: The Pennsylvania native spent his childhood in Cleveland, eventually studying at the Cleveland School of Art, where he met famed interior designer Louis Rorimer, who financed Warshawsky's travels to Europe. Warshawsky would take France as an adopted home and spent twenty years there, painting impressionistic scenes of Paris, Normandy, and Brittany, and making regular return trips to Cleveland. The Cleveland Artists Foundation presents a selection of his work from that time. Through November 13 at the Cleveland Artists Foundation at Beck Center for the Arts (17801 Detroit Ave., Lakewood). Call 216-227-9507 or go to clevelandartists.org.
Cleveland Museum of Art: Midwest Modern: The Color Woodcuts of Mabel Hewit: Cleveland artist Mabel Hewit uses her woodcuts to show scenes of remote areas of the United States, such as views of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and Saugatuck, Mich. Through October 24. Also: Andrew Borowiec: Cleveland Photographs: The Akron native documents the Flats through black-and-white photography. Through October 17 at 11150 East Boulevard. Open Tuesday-Sunday at 10 a.m. Closes at 9 p.m. on Wednesday and Friday, and at 5 p.m. all other days (closed Mondays). Call 216-421-7350 or visit clevelandart.org.
Gelbke Fine Arts Center (Hiram College): Point of Departure: Five artists working within the tradition of realist painting. Subject matter ranges from landscapes familiar as the Pennsylvania hills and exotic as Iceland. Through October 1 at 12000 Winrock Rd., Hiram. Hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday; call 330-569-5304 or visit hiram.edu.
Heights Art Gallery: Glass artist Rene Culler, a lifelong Clevelander who recently moved to head a new glass program at the U. of Southern Alabama at Mobile, presents works from her Byzantium series — layered colors of glass fused into a topography that suggests landscapes. Through October 23 at 2173 Lee Road in Cleveland Hts. Call 216-371-3457 or visit heightsarts.org.
Museum of Contemporary Art: An Invitation to Lubber-Land: Duke Riley brings his interest in people living in the margins of society to Cleveland's famed "Torso Murders" and the former shantytown that sprung up along the now-buried creek known as Kingsbury Run. This installation incorporates video, mosaic, drawing, found objects, and sculpture to reenvision Elliot Ness' historic purge of the so-called hobo jungle. Through January 9 at 8501 Carnegie Ave. Call 216-421-8671 or visit mocacleveland.org.
1point618 Gallery: What Remains: Painter Michael Benjamin views painting as a meditative retreat from his day job and other worldly concerns. The Cleveland architect has painted throughout his life, but hasn't shown his work much. Through September 24 at 6421 Detroit Ave. Open by appointment; call 216-281-1618 or go to 1point618gallery.com.
Shaheen Gallery: Etant Donnes: T.R. Ericsson's graphite-powder silkscreen creations involve a labor-intensive process that yields photographic images with an ethereal, dream-like quality. This new series of eight drawings takes its name from Marcel Duchamp's final major work — a female figure visible through peep holes in a door. Ericsson's figure isn't hidden behind a door, but is presented large (six by eight feet) and in the open. The sensuality of the naked woman in the woodland scene is undercut by the starkness of the black-and-white medium. She's draped like litter across the edge of a small waterfall. Is she dead? Sleeping? Is she that comfortable in the water? Through November 12 at 740 W. Superior; call 216-830-8888 or visit shaheengallery.com.
SPACES: Fall exhibits include: A Vague Whole, featuring Benjamin Bellas, Steffani Jemison, and Clinton King tinkering with and rearranging common objects as collage; world artist program resident Paul Druecke, of Milwaukee, exploring how landmarks function within social spaces; and Cleveland artist Wes Johansen creating a TV room for group watching and discussion about the strength of TV as a cultural addiction. Through October 22 at 2220 Superior Viaduct. Call 216-621-2314 or visit spacesgallery.org.
William Busta Gallery: Self-described mother, daughter, wife, sister, and ceramic artist Kristen Cliffel explores domesticity in her whimsical fantasies of cupcakes and storybook scenes. Through October 9 at 2731 Prospect. Call 216-298-9071 or visit williambustagallery.com.
Zygote Press: Take It: KSU Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative planner Terry Schwarz sees a parallel between a market flooded with too much housing and the idea of making multiple prints of an image. But if too many buildings devalue the real estate market, she hopes making lots of prints and giving them away has an opposite effect for artists in town. Through October 16 at 1410 East 30th St. Call 216-621-2900 or go to zygotepress.org.