The Lure of Painted Poetry
The latest exhibition at the Cleveland Museum of Art is designed to illuminate the intricate connections between Chinese poetry and its reinterpretation as visual art by Japanese and Korean artists. The Lure of Painted Poetry features approximately 80 diverse works, including calligraphy, painting, and decorative arts, spanning nearly seven centuries; almost all of the pieces are drawn from the museum's preeminent collection. The basic concept — that poetry can be expressed as painting — can be a slippery one. But the museum earns kudos by providing highly accessible context for the show and for not shying away from discussing the complex interactions between ideologies like Confucianism, Shinto, and Zen, and their influences on the artists. Scrolls like "Watching a Waterfall" (left) are particularly compelling, if somewhat foreign to Western thought: Among the well-educated Asian elite, the ability to identify the poems inside the circa-1790 painting would have been considered the highest level of poetry appreciation. And here we thought it was just a pretty picture. The exhibit runs through August 28 at 11150 East Blvd. in University Circle; admission is free. For more information, call 216-421-7340 or go to clevelandart.org. — Joseph Clark
Akron Art Museum: M.C. Escher: Impossible Realities. This crowd-pleasing show features more than 130 of Escher's works, including such instantly recognizable pieces as "Drawing Hands." The exhibition comes from the Herakleidon Museum in Greece, which houses one of the world's largest collections of Escher's work; Akron is one of only two U.S. venues to host it. Through May 29. Also: All-Star Jazz. Jazz history comes to life in the black and white photography of Herman Leonard, who captured greats like Billie Holiday and Frank Sinatra in moments of both staged glory and private vulnerability. Through July 10 at 1 South High St., Akron; call 330-376-9186 or go to akronartmuseum.org.
Arts Collinwood Gallery: New Work. Painter Liliane Luneau's abstract works contrast rigid quadrilaterals with free-form blotching brushstrokes to promote the reconciliation of order with accident, and intuition with rationality. An opening reception will be held April 22 from 6 to 9 p.m. The show runs through May 15 at 15601 Waterloo Rd. Call 216-692-9500 or visit artscollinwood.org.
The Bonfoey Gallery: All Over the Place. Artist Ken Nevadomi believes paintings should be fun, and he encourages viewers to formulate their own interpretations in an eclectic exhibit that includes abstracts, pastels, and animal portraits. Through April 23 at 1710 Euclid Ave. Call 216-621-0178 or visit bonfoey.com.
Convivium33 Gallery: 21st Century Expressions of the Second Sex. This exhibition boils down to the strength and fascination inherent in personal experience, and the way that an image or a story can sum up hardships, insights, and triumphs. In other words, it's simply a really good show about life. (Douglas Max Utter) Through May 8 at Josephat Arts Hall, 1433 East 33rd Street. For details, call 216-881-7838 or go to josephatartshall.com.
Custom Picture Framing Gallery: Bella Italia. Photographer and physician Marcello Mellino's focus is on the areas outside Rome and Venice, capturing a way of life unknown to many Americans. Through April 29 at 15733 Madison Ave. in Lakewood. Call 216-221-1327 or go to custompictureframingoh.com for more info.
Forum Art Space: BioAccumulation: The Presence of Synthetic Growth. University of Akron painting and drawing major Elizabeth Dunfee's paintings of bloated, livid cells represent the poisoning of environments with pesticides and other industrial chemicals. Opening reception on April 15 from 5 to 9 p.m.; through April 29 at 1300 West 78th St. Learn more at forumartspace.blogspot.com.
John F. Seiberling Gallery: Earth & Sky. Painter Donna Drozda, a Cleveland native, unveils works inspired by the birds of the Chesapeake Bay area. Through May 14 at 1403 West Hines Hill Rd. in Peninsula; call 330-657-2909 or go to conservancyforcvnp.org.
Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery: Adaptability. No matter the medium, Detroit-based Lebanese artist Adnan Charara's work reflects on adaptation by creative repurposing of materials. Postmarked envelopes become the canvas for a pictured narrative, and found objects become humanized characters in fragmented stories. Through May 14 at 1305 West 80th Street; call 216-631-6719 or go to kennethpaullesko.com.
Kent State University Museum: Beyond Fashion: Fiber and Fashion Art by Vincent Quevedo. Culled from 20 years of past collections, Quevedo's works range from sculptural clothing to quilted wall art. Through February 2012 at 515 Hilltop Dr. on the K.S.U. campus; call 330-672-3450.
Kokoon Arts: Regional Watercolors: This large exhibition aims at raising consciousness of Cleveland's 90-year history of leadership in watercolor paintings, including works from masters of the 1920's "Cleveland School" to the present day. Through May 14 at 1305 West 80th St. in the 78th Street Studios. Call 216-832-8212 or visit kokoonarts.com.
Legation, a Gallery: To Each His Own. Kent State University graduate Justin Pierce mixes painting, drawing, and mixed media presentations to explore what makes moments memorable and authentic or artificial. Through May 20 at 1300 D West 78th Street in the 78th Street Studios. Call 216-650-4201 or go to legationagallery.com.
Museum of Contemporary Art: Blind Landscape. Internationally known for her tall monuments of graphite, stainless steel, glass, and plastic, sculptor Teresita Fernandez incorporates light, shadow, and reflection into her large-scale pieces, often exploring the relationship between nature and perception. Through May 8. Also: Letter on the Blind, for the Use of Those Who See. This 2007 film by Javier Téllez documents the reactions of six blind people as they touch and respond to a live elephant. Also: Passive Voices. Lorri Ott transforms synthetic and natural materials into poignant, evocative subjects, giving each work a unique yet ambiguous voice. Through May 8 at 8501 Carnegie Ave. Call 216-421-8671 or go to mocacleveland.org.
Pink Eye Gallery: Ken Nordine's Colors. Voiceover artist and jazz man Ken Nordine's trippy 1967 short film Colors inspires interpretations and homage from 16 local artists. The pieces are all small (no bigger than 24x36), experimental, and media-spanning. Through April 30 at 3904 Lorain Ave.; call 330-671-6123.
River Gallery: Five women artists explore the use of figures and narrative in media ranging from collage and painting to sculpture. Through April 23 at 19046 Old Detroit Rd. in Rocky River. For more information, call 440-331-8406 or go to rivergalleryarts.com.
Shaheen Gallery: Oil Studies 2006- 2010. Faris McReynolds' paintings range from caricatured representation to the expressionistic and borderline abstract, often featuring groups of bare-limbed young people in dynamic action. Through May 27 at 740 West Superior Ave. Call 216-830-8888 or go to shaheengallery.com for details.
Tregoning & Company: Aspects of Modern Life. Matt Dibble's abstract works use thick, muscular brushstrokes to transcribe a simple vocabulary of rough geometric forms from which emerge striking compositions: elegant with subtle order like a garden bed. Through May 31 at Tregoning's North Gallery, 1300 West 78th St. For details, call 216-281-8626 or go to tregoningandco.com.
William Busta Gallery: Crossings. Painter Andrea Joki's simple patterns of abstract forms and colorful clusters seem to vie for attention like an eager crowd. Through April 30. Also: Geometry of the Clouds. Georgia Tech architecture professor Mark Cottle's exhibition transcribes a world history of geometry, translating into paint and ink the grammar of Egyptian and Greek architecture, the forms of Renaissance stonework, and the interpretations of Modernist minimalism. Through April 23 at 2731 Prospect Ave. Call 216-298-9071.
Tregoning & Company: Through X at 1300 West 78th St. Call 216-281-8626 or go to tregoningandco.com.