Cleveland Scene / Josh Usmani / January 11, 2017
After months of anticipation, Spaces is finally ready to open the doors to its new location in the former Van Rooy Coffee building at 2900 Detroit Ave. Although its first exhibitions won’t open to the public until later this month, Spaces is hosting several events this weekend designed to celebrate its grand opening and introduce the public to its new location. More than a dozen local artists, performers and musicians will take part in this weekend’s grand opening celebration.
The design of the interior and exterior of the building, now owned by art patrons Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell and Spaces itself (which purchased the first floor), was overseen by John Williams, principal of the award-winning architecture and design firm Process Creative Studios. Spaces occupies 9,300 square feet on the building’s ground floor. The new space allows the organization to increase its programming schedule, art production areas and educational resources, including a dedicated classroom for engaging the community. The space also includes two galleries with 13-foot ceilings, a screening room for video and sound art program, the Vault, individual studios for resident artists, communal workspaces and rooftop access with an inspiring view of Lake Erie. Spaces plans to program performances, film screenings and social gatherings with this new rooftop access.
“Our new location places us front and center in a bustling neighborhood,” says Spaces executive director Christina Vassallo. “Now we’re in a position to serve as an easily accessible cultural convener, where different points of view can be expressed through the art on display and our educational initiatives.”
The celebration officially begins this Saturday, Jan. 14, with a sold-out roving dinner for VIP guests and sponsors. But don’t worry: It is immediately followed by a general admission Super Hot Housewarming party from 8 p.m. to midnight. The festivities include a dance party with DJ Genna Petrolla, art installations and several special performances. Spaces solicited proposals from the local art community for site-specific art installations and performances for the grand opening. During Saturday evening’s event, nearly two dozen artists will present new, exclusive work.
“The grand opening is structured like a housewarming, where guests are encouraged to poke around and see parts of our space that they normally wouldn’t see during our public events,” says Vassallo. “There will be art and performances all over, and each piece will activate the building in some way, as well as highlight our new neighborhood, key moments in the history of Spaces, or the artists’ personal connection to the organization. The housewarming is very much in line with the artist-driven focus of Spaces programming.”
Participating artists include Amber Anderson, Christopher Auerbach-Brown, Christi Birchfield, Catherine Butler, Susan Danko, Lauren Davies, Dana Depew & R Ferris, John G, Kevin Hogan, Lori Kella & Michael Loderstedt, Christine Lewis, McKenzie Merrimen, Kristina Paabus, Steven Simmons, Stephen Yusko, and Meng-Hsuan Wu.
Saturday evening’s performances include Jeffry Chiplis’ reprise of his 1983 portable pipe organ dedication performance, originally performed at Spaces on West Sixth Street, Cosmika’s Space Age lounge lizard act, as well as a singing-in-the-shower performance by Adam Tully and Sheffia Randall Dooley. General admission is $25.
The celebration continues from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 15, with a free, public open house. The afternoon includes tours of the new Spaces lead by Vassallo and project architect Williams. Guests can enjoy light refreshments and a drop-in performance by members of new-music ensemble Zeitgeist, based in St. Paul, Minnesota, presented by No Exit.
Grand opening committee members are Laura Ruth Bidwell, Pita Brooks, Alex Budin, Carrie Carpenter, Julia Christensen, Patricia Mintz, Rita Montlack, Kristin Rogers, Marika Shioiri-Clark and Corrie Slawson. The celebration is sponsored by Ahola, William Busta & Joan Tomkins, FORM, McCarthy, Lebit, Crystal & Liffman Co., Swagelok Foundation, Ulmer & Berne, Margaret W. Wong & Associates and Wood-Lee International Art Handler. In-kind sponsors include Bonbon Pastry & Cafe, Fire Food & Drink, Marigold, Jukebox Cle, Cleveland Bagel, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Great Lakes Brewing Co. For more information on these events, visit bit.ly/SPACES-Grand-Opening.
Later this month, Spaces debuts its first exhibitions in its new location. Opening Jan. 27 with a free, public reception from 6 to 9 p.m., these initial exhibitions include Philadelphia’s Imani Roach, Cleveland’s Anthony Warnick and Australian collective Soda_Jerk.
In its nearly 40 years, Spaces has presented the work of more than 9,000 artists in its three venues: Playhouse Square (1978-1981), Warehouse District (1981-1990) and Superior Viaduct (1990-2016). During its time on the Viaduct, Spaces established itself as a sanctuary and laboratory for contemporary artists seeking safe places to experiment with new ideas and media. Its unique programming brings artists to Cleveland from throughout the U.S. and around the world, and still allows local and regional artists an opportunity to showcase their talents as well.