After more than a year of speculation and anticipation, SPACES will finally break ground on its future home on the first floor of the former Van Rooy Coffee Roasters building, located at 2900 Detroit Ave., next week. Thanks to a purchase agreement and generous support from building owners Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell, who also founded the nearby Transformer Station, SPACES is set to move into their new home in the early days of next year.
“SPACES is like the little engine that could in this relocation story,” says SPACES Executive Director Christina Vassallo. “The groundbreaking is one chapter about us clearing the mountaintop for this ambitious project. Just a few months later we'll be swinging our doors wide open and presenting cutting-edge work in a part of Ohio City that is brimming over with exciting possibilities.”
The construction will begin with a historic groundbreaking ceremony at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28. The ceremony is free and the public is encouraged to attend. Tuesday’s ceremony will begin with remarks from SPACES Board President Thomas Starinsky, as well as speeches from Ward 3 Cleveland City Council Member Kerry McCormack, SPACES Executive Director Christina Vassallo and Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell.
Following the ceremony, guests are invited to the nearby Jukebox CLE (1404 W. .29th St.) for food and light refreshments. Twenty percent of all food and beverage sales between 7 to 9 p.m. will be donated to the SPACES capital campaign. As of late May, SPACES had raised over $1.6 million of its $3.5 million goal, which includes real estate acquisition, renovation, equipment and the establishment of an endowment to ensure the organization’s future for generations to come.
SPACES will permanently close the doors at its current location at 2220 Superior Viaduct in November, three years after it sold its three-story warehouse building that it had owned since 1990. A target grand opening is set for January 2017.
The design of the interior and exterior of the building will be overseen by John Williams, principal of the award-winning architecture and design firm Process Creative Studios. SPACES will occupy the ground floor’s 9,300 sq. ft. The new space will allow the organization to increase its programming spaces, art production areas and educational facilities, including a dedicated classroom space for engaging the community. The space will also include two galleries with 13-ft. ceilings, a screening room for SPACES’ video and sound art program, The Vault, individual studios, communal workspaces and rooftop access with an inspiring view of Lake Erie. SPACES plans to program performances, film screenings and social gatherings with this new rooftop access.
To support the relocation, the Bidwells made a $150,000 donation toward the cost of the facility and are financing the mortgage at a below-market rate.
“Laura and I are thrilled to have SPACES in the neighborhood as an artistic resource and a catalyst for growth and innovation," Fred Bidwell said in the press release. "We believe that the arrival of SPACES to Hingetown will complete the transformation of the neighborhood into a national model for successful creative place-making.”
SPACES began very humbly with a rather plain-looking notice created on an average typewriter by Ohio native James Rosenberger. The document invited members of the arts community to a “gathering” on May 25, 1978, at 1375 Euclid Avenue. The letter read: “A space is an interdisciplinary arena for the visual and performing arts with an interest in creating and presenting new art including individual and collaborative works. The purpose of this first gathering is to introduce a space to area artists, and to discuss with them outlets for their creative energies during this first year.”
In the nearly 40 years since that initial gathering, SPACES has presented the work of more than 9,000 artists in its three venues – Playhouse Square (’78-’81), Warehouse District (’81-’90) and Superior Viaduct (’90-present). During its time on the Viaduct, SPACES has established itself as a sanctuary and laboratory for contemporary artists seeking safe places to experiment with new ideas and media. Their unique programming brings artists to Cleveland from throughout the US and around the world, and still allows local and regional artists an opportunity to showcase their talents as well.
“This move is an essential evolution of SPACES as we continue to engage the community in the creation of new work,” said Thomas Starinsky, President of SPACES’ Board of Directors. “I am proud of the effort the board and staff have put forth in search of our new location. We are all very excited to move to a new facility that will improve our ability to support artists and enhance how we involve the public.”
(SPACES) 2220 Superior Viaduct, 216-621-2314, spacesgallery.org