Try Cleveland: Rust Belt Gets a Triennial

MOCA Cleveland. Courtesy of Dean Kaufman.

MOCA Cleveland. Courtesy of Dean Kaufman.

Cleveland is joining the ranks of major American cities with a dedicated, large-scale art program. Today, the FRONT exhibition company announced FRONT International: Cleveland Exhibition for Contemporary Art, a large-scale, triennial art event to take place in the rust belt city.

The inaugural edition of the triennial, titled “An American City,” is set to take place July 7 to Sept. 30, 2018.

Naturally, the details of the event are still in the works, but as of now, it promises to showcase the works of over 50 international artists in various exhibitions spaces across the region, including the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, the Akron Art Museum and the Cleveland Institute of Art. The whole event projected to cost $4.2 million.


Fred Bidwell, Jens Hoffman, and Michelle Grabner. Photos: Laura Ruth Bidwell; Bob Adler; School of the Art Institute of Chicago/Lucy Hewett.

The triennial will be led by three familiar art world figures: Fred Bidwell, Michelle Grabner, and Jens Hoffmann.

Bidwell, an art collector who also served briefly as the interim director of the Cleveland Museum founded FRONT, a non-profit organization, and will serve without pay as its CEO and executive director.

Grabner is no stranger to this kind of large scale-event. She co-curated the last Whitney biennial in 2015, and organized this year’s Portland Biennial. Jens Hoffmann currently serves as the deputy director of the Jewish Museum in New York. however, it was revealed yesterday that he plans to step down from that position, presumably to focus on this newest endeavor. Both Grabner and Hoffman will serve as co-artistic directors.

“This unique European-style citywide exhibition model, paired with the ambition of FRONT, could only be made possible in the city of Cleveland,” said Bidwell in a statement. “The unprecedented and unmatched collaboration of Cleveland’s superb visual arts and cultural institutions, spread across the complex landscape of an industrial city in transition, will offer North America a provocative contemporary art experience driven by ideas.“

“FRONT will inspire its visitors to experience the wealth of cultural and artistic opportunities inherent to Cleveland.”

 — Taylor Dafoe (@tddafoe)