In the nearly 40 years since SPACES’ founding in the spring of 1978, the organization has presented the work of over 9,000 artists in its three headquarters: Playhouse Square (1978-1981), Warehouse District (1981-1990) and its current location on the Superior Viaduct (1990-2016). As the organization prepares to move to its new home on the first floor of the former Van Rooy Coffee building, it recently announced that its massive archives will be permanently moving to the Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve University. With similar acquisitions of archives from Cleveland Play House and the Cleveland Performance Arts Festival, the library is becoming one of the leading repositories for the study of contemporary and performing arts in the region.
"The archives show how SPACES has always supported the creation of new work by prioritizing creative expression over commercial viability,” says Christina Vassallo, Executive Director of SPACES. CWRU’s Kelvin Smith Library has taken on the huge task of managing and making accessible numerous documents and materials that tell the story of a beloved art organization in Cleveland.”
Although the organization’s mission is broad and far-reaching, SPACES isn’t equipped to handle such a massive archive of materials. SPACES Community Engagement Manager Michelle Epps led the effort to find the archives a new home, personally overseeing every step of the archives’ yearlong transition to the Kevin Smith Library (KSL).
“On a personal note, the archive was a huge undertaking and required a lot of dedication to whip it into shape and find an appropriate home,” Epps explains. “Since SPACES isn't a collecting institution keeping the archives is not something we are equipped to do. The search for a proper home took nearly a year, and after talks with several possible archives, Kelvin Smith Library was the organization we chose. Not only do they have a very capable staff of archivists, they have an impressive facility which is temperature controlled and have a disaster plan in place. The collection will be available to researchers and students in 2017 after the collection has been properly processed.”
As you might imagine, working with 9,000 artists over 38 years generates a lot of paperwork and other materials.
Epps elaborates, “Culminating in over 30 years of experimental art ,the SPACES Archive includes artworks on paper, early forms of digital and video art, artist correspondence and notes exposing the creative process, internal documents and over 3,000 slide images of original artworks and over three decades of SPACES evolution. The archives will open up details that will help researchers and historians in accurately portraying Cleveland's changing art landscape and the role SPACES played in that landscape.”
Looking forward, SPACES and KSL are planning a collaborative archive exhibition at the library in 2018. Celebrating SPACES’ 40th anniversary, the archive exhibition will coincide with special programming organized at SPACES, including a group show co-curated by SPACES founder James Rosenberger, current Executive Director Christina Vassallo and former Executive Directors Susan Channing and Christopher Lynn.
Before SPACES’ big move early next year, the organization hosts its annual benefit. Great Expectations: WESTWARD HO! takes place from 6:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. at its current location (2220 Superior Viaduct). This year’s benefit celebrates the organization’s 38 years serving as a premier venue for contemporary art, and honors Kathy and Dennis Barrie for their support of SPACES and the local cultural scene. The event includes a silent auction featuring works by about 100 artists. This year’s benefit co-chairs are Pita Brooks, Catherine Butler, Jordan Davis, Hillary Lyon and Kristin Rogers.
“SPACES is one of the longest running alternative art spaces in the country and we've managed to thrive over 38 years,” Vassallo says. “This party is a way for our consistent supporters and new friends to feel connected to the creative community for which SPACES was founded.”
VIP tickets are $150, and include 6:30 p.m. admission, an open bar until 8 p.m., preferred parking and more ($100 tax-deductible). General admission tickets are $50, and include 8 p.m. entry, cash bar, silent auction and more ($35 tax-deductible). Tickets to the Dance Party from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. are $10.
(SPACES) 2220 Superior Viaduct, 216-621-2314, spacesgallery.org
(Kelvin Smith Library at CWRU) 11055 Euclid Ave., 216-368-3506, library.case.edu