Dan Tranberg photographed at University Hospital last summer. Photography by Jerry Birchfield, courtesy of the Cleveland Institute of Art.
As students and faculty return to classes this month, the Cleveland Institute of Art showcases the work of its outstanding faculty in the Reinberger Gallery, as well as a special exhibition honoring one of their own lost too soon in the Ann and Norman Roulet Student + Alumni Gallery. Located just steps away from one another on CIA’s first floor, both the 2017 Faculty Art Exhibition and Dan Tranberg: So Vivid, So Luminous, So Fluorescent open with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. this Thursday, August 31.
A beloved member of the CIA family, Tranberg passed away at the end of May. So Vivid, So Luminous, So Fluorescent is curated by Amber Kempthorn who teaches in CIA’s Drawing, Sculpture + Expanded Media, Foundation, Printmaking and Painting departments. This small exhibition showcases work created during the last several years of the artist’s life. Tranberg continued painting prolifically, even during his last hospital stay, posting a photo of himself painting in his hospital room on social media, calling it his “new studio.”
“This exhibition, meticulously curated by CIA faculty member Amber Kempthorn, speaks to the innovative and experimental artistic practices of our beloved professor and friend,” says Nichole Woods, Reinberger Gallery coordinator on the Tranberg exhibition. “The title, So Vivid. So Luminous. So Fluorescent., was inspired by Bono’s words describing the late David Bowie. It presents the audience with an allusion that is as appropriate as it is necessary, an artist who is effortlessly cool, an inspiration to many, and who created persistently.”
Tranberg was born in Newark, NJ on March 5, 1964. Before moving to Cleveland, he received a BFA in ceramics from Northern Illinois University in 1988, before earning his MFA in drawing and photography from Purdue University in 1991 and later studying contemporary art theory and criticism in Chicago at the University of Illinois.
Tranberg lectured and taught painting as an adjunct faculty member at CIA for more than 15 years. One of the region’s most respected art critics, Tranberg began writing for the Plain Dealer in 1991. His articles and essays were also published in Art in America and Bomb, as well as locally for the Cleveland Free Times. In total, he published more than 750 articles on art in local, national and international publications, and his personal artwork has been featured in more than 40 exhibitions.
“I have nothing but fond memories of working with Dan,” says Chris Whittey, senior vice president of faculty affairs. “During critiques of student work, his was one of most astute, deliberative, and caring voices I have ever heard, and every bit of that knowledge and understanding is supremely evident in his studio work. He was a sensitive colorist and an orchestrator of space with few equals. In addition to these things, and on a more personal note, I also often think of how that caring and sensitivity, that understanding and deep probing seemed to have been perfectly reflected in Dan’s beautiful blue, penetrating and compassionate eyes.”
Tranberg literally wrote the book on painting theory, Acrylic Fusion: Experimenting with Alternative Methods for Painting, Collage and Mixed Media (Quarry Books, 2012). In 2004, he was awarded an Excellence in Journalism award, as well as Individual Artist Fellowships from the Ohio Art Council in 2002 and 2007. As a painter, his last series explored hard-edge geometric abstraction. In early 2014, Progressive Corporation purchased 13 of his paintings for their renowned corporate art collection. His paintings are represented by the Bonfoey Gallery in Cleveland, and have been included in recent exhibitions at American Greetings’ Gallery W at Crocker Park, the Galleries at Cleveland State University, 1Point618 Gallery in Gordon Square and more throughout Cleveland. On September 30, Bonfoey Gallery will host a memorial auction of artwork by Tranberg’s talented colleagues and friends to raise funds for a new CIA scholarship in his name. Stay tuned for more details next month.
Meanwhile, the Faculty Art Exhibition is a tradition dating back more than eight decades. This inspiring annual showcase presents a diverse collection of new and recent artwork by the school’s internationally renowned art and design instructors. The Faculty Art Exhibition sets the tone (and the bar) for each upcoming school year. Not just for students and staff, the exhibition is an inspiring spectacle, free and open to the public. Although the work is eclectic and often unrelated, common themes tend to emerge as these accomplished artists coexist and share ideas under the same roof of CIA’s unified campus. The diversity of processes, media and subject matter showcases the range of possibilities available to each student as they arrive or return to campus.
“One advantage our students enjoy from studying at CIA is the close mentoring and constructive criticism of these gifted individuals,” says Whittey. “You see before you a breadth and depth of work not usually associated with a small institution like ours and this rigor and experimentation are profoundly inspirational for our students and validates our deeply held conviction that a creative life is not only possible but, in fact, supremely admirable. I can think of no other moment in my 60 years in which conscientious role models, models for professional practice but also personal presence in the world, is more important than now. And, along with their fortunate students, I count myself among those benefiting from the examples set by these practices and investigations, these engaged and dedicated lives.”
The 2017 Faculty Art Exhibition remains on view through October 8, and Dan Tranberg: So Vivid, So Luminous, So Fluorescent remains on view through October 13.
(Cleveland Institute of Art) 11610 Euclid Ave, 216-421-7000, cia.edu.