SPACES Welcomes New Executive Director Tizziana Baldenebro to Guide the Arts Organization Into the Future


  • Courtesy Tizziana Baldenebro
In its 42nd year, after an exciting international ‘head hunt’ including over 100 applicants, SPACES arts organization will welcome its new Executive Director, Tizziana Baldenebro, in August of 2020.

“We are thrilled to welcome a natural collaborator and convener like Tizziana to lead SPACES at this time of growth and change in our community,” said John C. Williams, SPACES’ board president.

The southern California-native obtained her Master of Architecture degree from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from The University of Chicago. Among her many accolades, she was a Ford Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) where she supported the exhibition, “Richard Prince: Portraits” and curated “Conrad Egyir: Terra Nullius,” among other activities. She has published extensively, including works featured in Daily Rush and The Avery Review. I took some time to speak with Baldenebro about her new position with SPACES.

As her first order of business, Baldenebro would like to meet with everyone who works with SPACES in order to “make room in the workplace for any of the exciting and anxiety-producing realities of working in an Arts organization at this time.”

Baldenebro is entering this position in the midst of a global pandemic which has left SPACES finding creative ways to pivot their strategies in order to support the local arts and cultural community in Cleveland, having just doled out a second round of financial relief grants to 66 local artists via The Satellite Fund Emergency Relief Program.

I asked Baldenebro how she anticipates addressing some of the challenges an Arts organization faces during the pandemic.

“SPACES has done a tremendous job of getting emergency artist support grants out as quickly as possible, and there has been a great deal of foundational support for this," she said. "I hope to continue the framework set in place and begin setting SPACES up for the next chapter!”

“Tizziana has demonstrated her ability to think expansively about the role of the art institution in the face of 21st century events — specifically, the pandemic reality and the work of making progress toward more just and equitable art and public dialogue,” added Williams. “Her experience related to digital technology, community organizing and inclusion in the art world will empower SPACES to evolve its position as a local, regional and national leader in these conversations in the years to come.”

Baldenebro, who is currently residing in Chicago, will be moving to Cleveland this month.

“I am excited to learn all about Cleveland, I am excited to meet the communities surrounding SPACES, to work with the incredible board and team, and to continue working for and with artists, arts writers, critics, and thought leaders.”

This will not be her first exposure to The CLE, as she had a recent weekend visit this month, “I got to stroll around the Lakeview Cemetery, walked around the Towpath Trail, hung out in Tremont— in addition to world class museums, the city has a lot to offer!”

SPACES has a reputation for placing importance on inclusiveness as well as diversity and Baldenebro is no exception, with her diverse Colombian and Mexican-American background.

From her bio: “Tizziana Baldenebro is a curator, writer, and critic. Her practice emphasizes critical research and documentation, privileging historically undervalued and underrepresented artists and designers.”

“Anti-racist learning foregrounds much of that, and right now that means a lot of listening and bridge-building to develop strong foundations of support for artists of every background. I am fortunate that SPACES’ Board has been very receptive to this — we must be a leader in the art world as it finally grapples with its own histories of privilege and access.”

With all of the continued controversy about President Trump’s Mexico/U.S. border wall and the new ‘anti-climb” wall being installed in front of the white house, Baldenebro’s 2018 “Borderline Personalities," which critiqued political sovereignty, seems apropos.

“'Borderline Personalities' specifically looked at border conditions and the ways in which nations behave in these absurd ways to defend imaginary lines. For example, a while ago North Korea and South Korea un-ironically had a tallest flagpole contest. So I reimagined these conditions as a Fluxus-style game in which you perform these increasingly absurd antics, but with an actual neighbor in a residential neighborhood, to really highlight the strange behaviors that nationalism elicits.”

“Borderline Personalities” was included in an exhibition entitled “Designer, Artist, Citizen, Site,” which was a part of Dimensions of Citizenship, the theme of the 2018 U.S. Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale and was later installed at the 6018|North gallery in Chicago, IL as part of the exhibition "Living Architecture."

Baldenebro hopes to bring to her newfound Executive Director role “energy of the moment to the table. This is an enormously transformative time for all of us and I am excited to help steer SPACES into the next era. I like to build connections to communities, to artists, to other arts organizations. This is the time to produce systemic solutions to systemic problems in the art world.”

Since 2019, Megan Young had stepped in as SPACES’ Interim Executive Director and will now resume her role as Deputy Director for the organization. “Megan has provided capable and steady leadership for SPACES in these challenging past six months, and her ability and ingenuity will be a great support to our organization going forward,” said Williams. “We are excited about the ability of this team — with Tizziana at the helm — to build on SPACES’ heritage and show how art can and must simultaneously reflect and shape our communities.”

Find out more about Tizziana Baldenebro here.
For more information about SPACES, click here.

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