Like a scene from Swift’s classic “Gulliver’s Travels,” the Reinberger Galleries at the Cleveland Institute of Art this month may have you feeling dwarfed, or at the very least disoriented.
“The Art of Scale + Form,” the most recent exhibition at CIA, opened on March 30. While many visitors may have wondered if they had stepped onto a construction site, or a half-finished installation, many art enthusiasts had already heard something of the immense hype surrounding the exhibition, almost as immense as the piece itself.
Conceptual artist and former CIA professor Dave Cole presented Ivy Garrigan, project coordinator, and her staff with quite a task for this show: unpack and put together again a repurposed 13-ton piece of industrial equipment. Cole, a Rhode Island native, received the CAT industrial compactor as a donation from Ohio CAT in Broadview Heights, Ohio. Once it had been reassembled in the gallery, Cole turned the object (now weighing roughly 11 tons less) into a fully functional music box.
Audiences are serenaded by Cole’s version of “The Star Spangled Banner” emanating from oversized tuning pins positioned in the steamroller’s large rotating front wheel. The massive industrial rolling pin is completely out of place in a room spacious enough to house hundreds of artworks on its walls. The piece is low-lit and completely alone in the room. It is by far one of the largest installations CIA has ever seen, and is arguably one of Cole’s most ambitious works to date, according to Bruce Checefsky, the Reinberger Galleries director.
The piece’s imposing scale underscores the patriotic tones that the object embodies. The music box and its melody serve as a sad reminder of the American dream when paired with the old, construction-site yellow body of the industrial equipment. It is eerie, yet urgent. Art in America has described Cole as “an artist who tackles ambitious political and historical subjects with a great deal of material ingenuity and not a trace of dogmatism.”
In the adjacent gallery sits a retrospective of new and old sculptures by Barbara Stanczak, a Cleveland sculptor and recently retired CIA faculty member. Stanczak’s husband Julian, a Cleveland Op-artist, had a dual exhibition with Robert Mangold at the Reinberger Galleries in December of last year. The legendary creative couple has demonstrated individually that they are at a peak in their careers, despite their age.
“Barbara’s one-person show is significant because it represents a selected survey of her work over the past 20 years,” says Checefsky. Stanczak’s sculptures are meticulously crafted with attention to minute details. They are abstract, with sweeping movements, yet at once a testament to the extraordinary craftsmanship that went into their being.
Stanczak displays pieces made of Italian translucent alabaster, butternut wood, gold leaf, and copper in this exhibition. They slowly reach toward the ceiling in a creeping way, creating a striking natural comparison to Cole’s piece a stone’s throw away.
Natural and refined elements seemed dwarfed by industrial strength in this exhibition that showcases scale and form in a re-imagined way. The show is open Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. through May 19.
End of Year Design Shows
Cleveland Institute of Art will be celebrating the culmination of the academic year with annual departmental showcases. These mini-exhibitions will highlight key projects completed this semester from students in design, jewelry and metals, material culture, and biomedical art.
The 2012 Spring Design Show will take place in the basement and ground floor of the Peter B. Lewis Building on the Case Western Reserve University campus. Opening night begins early at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Apr. 24 with a public lecture by Adam Carmichael (CIA, ’03) who is the director of store design for Saks Fifth Avenue. He will be addressing how he actively blurs the line between interior architecture and visual merchandising on a daily basis by referencing all five senses. Carmichael was awarded the Rising Star award in 2011 by the Planning and Visual Education Partnership.
The Spring Design Show reception will formally begin at 5:30 p.m. and kick start the week of student presentations. Students design showcases to display the latest in a variety of products including automobiles, toys, furniture, interior design, and graphic design, all created over the course of the year or a semester by the students themselves. Mock-ups of the designs are on hand, making this show an interactive smorgasbord of innovative and improved items. Student work can be seen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Apr. 27.
After the Design Show’s opening reception on Tuesday, head over to the Gund Building at 11141 East Blvd. at 7:30 p.m. The CIA fashion and materials studies department will host Culture: A Runway Show in the main lobby. The walk of fame (or shame) will be the closest that many Clevelanders can get to a Project Runway inspired show-off, sans the heart-wrenching criticism (that was already dealt out in class). Accessories, ensembles, and avant-garde pieces created by jewelry, fibers, and metals students will be displayed on peers serving as models for the night. The show begins on the staircase in the Gund lobby.