Dec 11, 2011

Upcoming Shows!

Ok, so it hasn't been THAT long since Wall Eye closed its doors, but some of the partners have been busy preparing for shows. Coming up are:

Intertwined a double solo of the works of Stephanie Ayala and Joe Ayala.
Friday, December 16, 12:00p-8:00p
Saturday, December 17, 12:00p-8:00p
Sunday, December 18, 12:00p-8:00p

Negative Space (at Asian Town Center)
3820 Superior Avenue, Cleveland 
(There is a parking lot.)
Visit Negative Space's site for more details for the three days, including a tea ceremony and the companies that will be providing delicious coffee and food! 
If you haven't been to Asian Town Center, come out for one of the three days. It's a great space that not only houses Negative Space, but there are other art galleries, shops, restaurants, and the big feature is their grocery store, Asia Food Co. 30,000 sq ft of Chinese, Vietnamese, Filipino, Thai, Laos, Korean, Japanese, and Indonesian food. Yummm...


Both Joe Ayala and Dante Rodriguez are two of many fabulous artists featured in the Annual Group Invitational at William Rupnik Gallery.
Saturday, January 7, 7:00p-10:00p *One night only!
William Rupnik Gallery
1117 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland


Dante Rodriguez will be showing in Against the Grain at the Sandusky Cultural Center February 19 - March 25, 2012.

Dec 8, 2011

Interview with a Curator : Josh Usmani on "Controversy"

What job is harder than herding cats? Why it's curating an art show, of course! And artist Josh Usmani boldly crosses over from being an artist to a curator with ease. His first curated show, Controversy  opens for one night only on Saturday, December 10th at The Zaller Gallery.
Josh graciously took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about the show and the arts in Cleveland.

Wall Eye: Controversy is your first curated show. Where did the idea come from? And how has the experience been?
Josh Usmani: I was researching the 1913 "Armory Show" for Museum Studies at Cleveland State last spring.  I was intrigued when it became clear the success of that show in terms of visitors, exposure, longevity and dollars was based in large part to the negative press the show received before opening to the public.  I'd always had the idea for "Controversy" in the back of my head if I ever curated a show, but the Armory Show made it seem more realistic.  A month or two later I was approached by Dave Desimone* about potentially curating a show at Zaller.  Controversy was the first and only idea I pitched.  It's funny how these events poetically align. I think it's a perfect time for Controversy too.  Today, the internet allows the masses access to unprecedented, once unimaginable amounts of information, yet some people are so blinded by highly polished propaganda the truth itself offends them.  I believe true art is capable of both enlightening and agitating while still being universally effective and aesthetically pleasing.  This thought-provoking quality is at the heart of Controversy.

It sounds cliché, but the whole experience has been a dream come true.  Zaller is a DIY space that offers curators a venue to work our magic.  It's a lot of work, but I have total creative freedom, which is incredibly important, especially with this show.  I don't know what's happening with the space after my show, but I really hope something like this can exist in Cleveland for a long time. There aren't very many places on Earth like Zaller.

WE: Any notable pieces in the show?
JU: So many!  With over two dozen artists in the show it's hard to single any out.  Plus, I'm actually still waiting on some...Like Semiotext's stuff coming from Sweden.  It's going to be his first show in the US.  With over two dozen artists in Controversy, I was careful to select artists I trust because most chose to produce new work that I hadn't seen.  There have been a lot of very pleasant surprises.  I don’t want to give anything away, but suffice it to say that I'm VERY excited about this show!  The established artists blew me away. as I suspected they would, but I think a lot of people will be surprised by a lot of the artists they haven't encountered previously...Which is part of my job as curator. I can't thank the artists enough.  It's going to be a really cool show.  I should mention Douglas Max Utter and Justin Roberts since they're not on the flyer and both really great artists.  Douglas Max Utter had a solo exhibition at William Busta gallery recently and Justin Roberts did all the album artwork for Simeon Soul Charger's "Meet Me in the After Life".  Simeon Soul Charger is an amazing rock band from Akron currently touring in Europe for over a year.  Justin often does live paintings during concerts.  He was painting at Ingenuity Fest recently.

WE: Douglas Max Utter?!** Nice! How did you choose the artists for the show? Was it your intention to choose heavy hitters like Douglas and artists people may not have heard of?

JU: My goal has been to keep the show as diverse as possible.  I approached artists of all different backgrounds searching for as many perspectives on the subject as possible. Controversy features artists of different gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, education, age, etc..  I also approached a few art educators (Art Ed. majors, art teachers and my own professors) to get their take on the subject.  I think the show has a really nice balance to it.

WE: Having experience on both sides of a show (curator/organizer and artist), do you like one more than the other?
JU: I'm definitely an artist first-and-foremost, but I genuinely love curating and working on exhibitions.  Like I said, it's a lot of work, but it's so worth it!  I've been lucky enough to organize a few exhibitions at Cleveland State in the past few years and people like Robert Thurmer, Russ Revock and Linda Herman have been instrumental in nurturing my curatorial side at CSU.  My family doesn't spend a lot of energy on art.  I never went to art museums or galleries with my parents, so I feel like I've been exposed to a whole new world recently.  I always preach "Cooperation not Competition" to my artist-friends.  I want to help build a bigger, stronger arts community in Cleveland and this show allows me to do that by exposing new, young artists and bringing lots of different people together and giving them plenty to talk about.  I haven't made a lot of art lately, so I'm looking forward to getting back to it next year, but organizing Controversy has allowed me to focus my energy on something bigger than myself.

WE: I like that, "Cooperation not Competition"! What do you feel more in the Cleveland art community: cooperation or competition?
JU: Honestly, I see a lot of cooperation amongst the artists I've met.  I see a lot of opportunity to expand the networking and communication amongst the arts community in Cleveland, but the people themselves are really great and a lot of the work made here deserves more attention than its getting.  I think the really competitive artists are probably the first to leave town for greener pastures...Or go into graphic design (Just kidding, graphic designers).  We can make all the art we want alone, but if we want a thriving arts community in Cleveland it's going to take each and every one of us.

WE: You've been pretty busy with participating in shows and even having a solo show back in August, and now Controversy. What's next for you?
JU: Yeah, I'm making up for the 3 years I wasn't drawing.  I was out of school for 5 years trying to find a "responsible" job I loved as much as art.  Obviously that didn't work out.  I have a year and a half at Cleveland State before I graduate. I just organized a small exhibition of student work in Gallery B at CSU to accent the alumni show currently hanging in the main gallery.  I'm the President of the Student Organization of Fine Art (SOFA) and the Undergraduate Representative on CSU's Gallery Panel, so I'll be starting preparations for our annual spring Student Show and Merit Scholar Show soon.  The next shows I'll be participating in are the "Fifty Dolla Holladay Sale" at Breakneck Gallery (December 17th) and "Studio Skateboard" a group skate deck art exhibition at the Sandusky Cultural Center (opening January 8th).  I plan to make a lot more art next year and keep trying to participate in as many exhibitions and events as possible.  I'd love to curate another big group show like this.  Nothing's planned yet, but you never know what's coming around the next corner.     
Thanks, Josh! 

Remember that Controversy is one night only on Saturday, December 10th from 5:00pm-11:00pm at The Zaller Gallery at 16008 Waterloo Rd in Cleveland. 

[*Editor's note: Wall Eye ♥s Dave Desimone.]
[**Another Editor's Note: In case it isn't obvious, Wall Eye ♥s Douglas Max Utter too.]
[One more note, I swear: Wall Eye's own Joe Ayala and Dante Rodriguez are artists in the show as well!]

Oct 1, 2011

Studio Visit with Stephanie Rond

Let's visit the studio of another Playing House artist, Stephanie Rond! Through graffiti, Stephanie's work will draw you in with bright colors, details and strong commentary.

Wall Eye Gallery: Tell us about yourself and your work.

Stephanie Rond: I'm a full time art maker living in Columbus, Ohio with my partner Nate and our two cats. Most of my work is hand cut stencils and spray paint but I like to dabble in sculpture as well. I'm very active in my community and believe in the power of helping everyone helps ourselves. I'm interested in making gallery and street art. When I grow up I would like to be a crossword puzzle guru and domestic cat herder.

WEG: Tell us about your studio. Location? Favorite part? Time spent in it?

SR: My studio is in our two car garage. It has a loft upstairs, and I use the bottom part of the garage when the cars are removed for spraying aerosol. We call it "Fonzie's Place" because Fonzie lived above the Cunningham's garage on Happy Days. On a good week I spend 45-55 hours there. I have several contract jobs, so sometimes I have to squeeze in a couple hours here and there and it only averages about 20 hours.

WEG: Silence or music while you create?

SR: Music for sure! I listen to lots of books on tape as well. When I'm plotting and planning I turn on music, but when I'm cutting the stencils I listen to books on tape. It helps pass the time and I get to learn and use my brain.

WEG: What tool(s) do you use the most?

SR: From my brain toolbox I try to use my creativity and freedom as much as possible, physically I use a razor blade and painters tape the most.

WEG: What is your ideal studio?

SR: I consider myself really lucky as far as my studio goes. The only thing I wish I had was walls that didn't slant. It's hard to make large work in my studio, but I try to get around that too.

Thanks for taking the time, Stephanie!

Visit Stephanie's website to see more of her work!

Sep 22, 2011

Studio Visit with Sharon Dorsey

Studio Visit is a new series where we'll learn about the spaces in which an artist creates. Whether a fun space, a sacred space, messy space, or immaculate, it's always fun (and fascinating) to peek into where an artist settles in to make a work of art.

First in this series is Columbus based artist, Sharon Dorsey. Sharon's fabulously imaginative works seem to have old souls and a stories to tell. She is also one of four artists featured in Playing House.

Wall Eye Gallery: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your work.

Sharon Dorsey: Making art is a method of communicating the stuff inside me that is too odd to say out loud. Like maybe I am thinking, “That son-of-a-bitch stomped on my heart and left me an empty shell of a human!” Well, then I make a painting with a sad, sick-looking woman with children growing out of her stomach and her hands raised in supplication that explains exactly how I feel. I work in many mediums because I feel like there are many different ways I need to make a statement... and because I get bored really quickly. I'm usually inspired by spiritual ideas and also by the symbolism of an image. I love the idea of recycling as it pertains to people, in an “ashes to ashes” kind of way. Or in a redemption kind of way.

WEG: Tell us about your studio. Location? Favorite part? Time spent in it?

SD: I share a small office with my husband that's attached to our bedroom. I have a 3' long table to create, but next to it is the table with the evil computer that taunts me to look at it every 3 seconds. My favorite part of the space is that I share it with my husband!

WEG: Silence or music while you create?

SD: I love to listen to music while I create! I often have Mondays off, so if I'm at home while my husband is working (he works from home), we listen to "whale music" (new-age-y ambient music). Most other times it's 80's music up in there!

WEG: What tools do you use the most?

SD: I work with many different mediums, so I have an assortment of favorite tools. The three things I seem to reach for the most are the Xacto knife, the needle nose pliers, and the awl.

WEG: What is your ideal studio?

SD: I would have to change addresses to have the ideal studio. I would love to have a huge, enclosed porch-office overlooking the back yard (which happens to be mountains with lots of animals running/flying around outside) with an enormous sound system and a wall of shelving and drawers. And maybe a wet bar.

Thanks, Sharon! To see more of Sharon's work, you can visit her blog or you can see her work in person at the exhibition, Playing House.

Aug 20, 2011

Pictures from The Art of Artisans

Looking to furnish your home, office, apartment? Don't you dare go to a big box store to buy mass produced, disposable home furnishings! That was a bit harsh, wasn't it? Sorry about that. But you would feel passionate too if you saw the pieces in The Art of Artisans. Each piece is worthy of gracing a pedestal in a fine museum yet it tells you it wants to go home with you instead.

To see more of an artisans work, buy or commission a piece, simply click on their name. If there isn't a link then contact Wall Eye and we'll happily get you in touch with the artist!

Cristian Schmitt

David Smith

Bottom: Walnut Credenza by Michael McMillin
Top: Stained glass rubbings by Peter Billington & David Smith

Left: Jason Radcliffe. Right: Michael McMillin

Lou Erste & Grant Smrekar
Back left: David Smith. Back right: Peter Billington

The Art of Artisans is up through September 4, so give us a call or e-mail to set up an appointment to see it in person!

Aug 18, 2011

Interview with Peter Billington

We here at Wall Eye are pretty excited for the next show, The Art of Artisans. It's the first show featuring furniture (of the functional kind) and art from craftsmen. Particularly impressive are the stained glass pieces by Peter Billington. Each piece is a testament to the harmony of craftsmanship and art through the obvious hard work involving glass to the hand painted vignettes in its panes.

Wall Eye Gallery:
Tell us about your background and how you came to be an artist. And specifically a glass artist. You don’t see too many artists working in that medium.

Peter Billington: I was always interested in the arts, since a toddler when my grandfather would draw caravans and circus animals over my finger painting. I went to CSU for liberal arts majoring in painting. Had a summer job working at Whitney Stained Glass studio when I was about 19. After graduation, I floated around for a few years, working at an art supply store and a movie theatre. Aside from learning lots of technical details about art supplies, which is truly helpful, I learned one thing. That I hated working retail. After about 4 years, I went back to my old boss, who was a friend of the family, and asked for a job and he reluctantly hired me first part-time then shortly full-time. Jim encouraged me to delve deeply into the craft and sent me to a number of intensive workshops to further my education. Jim passed away from cancer about 6 years ago and I purchased the studio from his widow about 5 years ago. The majority of projects that my studio works on is church work, both restoration and new work.

WEG: It's interesting that you had a formal education in painting and then glass came later. When you create a piece, what comes first? The idea of the painting or the glass?

PB: Depends. Sometimes I will do a pile of quick paintings or thumbnails, either in watercolor or gouache on black board, in rapid sucession and then decide which ones would work within the medium of traditional stained glass. Sometimes I will start with a specific idea and work with it. Sometimes I will arrange some glass on the table and just spontaneously paint. And sometimes I will have something hanging around the studio for years before being struck with how and where to use it...

WEG: Tell us a bit about your work we are going to see in The Art of Artisans.

PB: The work I put in the show is mostly traditional painted and stained glass, with non-traditional, non-church related subject matter.

WEG: Which Cleveland area artist(s) do you like/admire? Artist(s) outside of Cleveland area?

PB: I admire a lot of artists, but am mostly curious about glass painting and take yearly workshops with some of the best glass painters in the country. That being said, the majority of older glass work is unsigned and more or less anonymously done by craftspeople who probably never considered themselves artists at all. I have a great deal of admiration for these people who built and decorated churches and cathedrals since medieval times.

~ Thank you, Peter! You can learn more about Peter's studio at

Come to the opening reception Friday, August 19 from 6-11pm to see the equally impressive way Peter's pieces have been hung [Oh, yeah, we're patting ourselves on the back] and the fabulous furniture and art.

Aug 5, 2011

Saying Goodbye

It is with mixed emotions to announce that Wall Eye Gallery will be closing in October of this year. After much deliberation we have decided to end our two year run. The seven partners have either had a life change, new job, new opportunities involving more responsibilities, or the desire to focus on artistic careers. It has been difficult to balance these changes while continuing to organize Wall Eye’s shows.

Although Wall Eye Gallery will no longer be a brick and mortar space, we will have an online presence to share news of other shows in Cleveland, competitions, news about the art world and interviews with artists. But maybe you’ll see us pop-up from time to time.

We have been humbled and flattered by everyone’s love for the space and our shows. Whether you have attended our shows, bought art from us, or have been our cheerleader, we thank you. We thank the wonderful artists we have worked with. We are honored to have been a small part of your artistic life and we wish all of you much success. We also thank the guest curators and organizers who have brought us fun and challenging shows and awesome community events. We were in awe of your hard work.

Please join us for our two remaining shows, Art of Artisans opening August 19 and Playing House opening September 23, and lift up a glass and let’s make a toast to making new friendships and strengthening old ones, to art, to working our butts off, taking chances and trying out a dream.