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Standing Up: Doubting Thomas Gathers Artists with Causes

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This month's Tremont Art Walk happens on Friday, Nov. 14, and features a very special exhibition at Doubting Thomas Gallery. Opening from 6 to 10 p.m., Stand Up is an exhibition of local and regional artwork created with the intent of raising awareness (and funds) for social and/or political issues near and dear to the artists' hearts.

"With Stand Up, I wanted to give the artists their own voice," explains curator Natalia Dale. "They have their own choice of a 'cause' to support. Be it global or local, the varying interests will enlighten viewers towards specific groups and organizations as well as raising general awareness and knowledge. From politics and medicine to the environment and currents events, this is sure to be a very thoughtful collection of work."

The exhibition includes two dozen artists working in a variety of media in both two and three dimensions. The artists' causes are as eclectic as their artwork, and many of the artists are donating some or all of the proceeds from their sales to the people, places and things that inspired them.

Participating artists include Christina Bender, Judy Campbell, Nancy Cintron, Chad Cochran, Natalia Dale, Andy Dreamingwolf, Jonah Jacobs, Tom Kelly, Stephanie Lipscomb, Bryon Miller, Loren Naji, Marty O'Connor, Eric Ortiz, Jason Rudolph, Jane Reynolds, James Ruby, John Saile, Catherine Spencer, Cindy Smith, Ryan Upp, Elisa Vietri, Shepherd Weita, Meg Wilson and Mark Yesenchak.

"My photography for this exhibition is all about the conservation of nature," continues Dale. "Growing up in Canada gave me a different perspective on the world and how important it is to coexist with our environment. It is important to the heritage, traditions and well-being of future generations that all things in nature be protected. I'll be showing a range of topics such as protecting our Great Lakes, the importance of national parks, saving the rainforest, and informing people about the dangers of submitting to Monsanto-driven food sources."

Like Dale, Meg Wilson seeks to raise awareness of environmental issues. Growing up with a father in the Navy, Wilson has a deep, personal connection with the ocean. She is a graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art and creator of BUNtitled (bunluvbaby.tumblr.com). She has created a number of sea creature-inspired polymer clay sculptures.

"Since I was young, I've had a profound love for the ocean," says Wilson. "In the past couple of years, I've taken note of the increasing problems with polluted waters and shores. The damage we're doing is terrifying. Recently, I made a contribution to the Ocean Cleanup project, which at the time was a Kickstarter fund to help develop the technology for a device that would collect free-floating plastic waste on the ocean surface. The project is still going strong and has since moved into its next phase. I will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the pieces I have created for Stand Up to help further support the Ocean Cleanup."

While the issues highlighted by the exhibition can stand alone, the overarching feeling is that they are all interconnected, as we all are. However, some will undoubtedly hit closer to home than others. For instance, Canton-based painter Andy Dreamingwolf's entries examine an issue that has been making headlines both locally and nationally.

"My piece, "People Not Mascots," is a dialog on the racial, cultural and spiritual stereotyping of indigenous peoples by sports franchises," describes Dreamingwolf. "These caricatures should rightfully offend, not just native communities, but all of us, for their prejudicial imagery as well as perpetuating a bigoted front masked in the name of 'honor.' One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of either of my works will go directly to the Cleveland A.I.M Chapter."

Local photographer Chad Cochran was inspired during a trip to West Virginia. During his time there, he explored the rural, often unseen, back roads of Appalachia. His work is inspired by these people and their struggles.

"I started looking online and found a group called Remote Area Medical," explains Cochran. "They provide much-needed healthcare to poverty stricken areas around the world. The thing that got my attention is an initiative they are doing throughout Appalachia. I challenge you to visit their website. Watch the short film that shows what they are doing. It has some startling facts that pushed me to act. Any profits from photos I take in the Appalachian region will go to this group."

There are too many artists to discuss all of the represented issues, but stop by Doubting Thomas to see (and learn) more. The exhibition and opening reception are free and open to the public. Can't make the opening? No worries; the gallery will be open Nov. 15, 22 and 29 from 4 to 7 p.m. and Nov. 23 and 30 from 2 to 5 p.m.

Stand Up, Doubting Thomas Gallery, 856 Jefferson Ave.

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