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strengthening, unifying and connecting greater Cleveland's arts and culture sector

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Cleveland Artists Define Their City Through Narratives of Hope and Grit

Video interviews share local stories by local artists

CLEVELAND (November 15, 2016) - Today, the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture releases a fourth wave of Creative Workforce Fellows’ artist profile videos. In light of our nation’s rapidly changing social and political landscape, these artists continue to anchor the community by giving voice to the rich stories of Cleveland and its residents. Even in times of uncertainty, these artists maintain the power to inspire, make us laugh, give us pause, activate and unite the community through their work. 

Video interviews with Derf Backderf, Dana Depew, John G., Ryan Jaenke, Allison Lukacsy-Love, Paul Sobota and Chris Webb give you the story of the people behind the work: https://vimeo.com/album/4243528 

Celebrated comic artists, Derf Backderf and John G. (Greiner) are both as much a part of Cleveland tales as they are the story tellers of the city. After decades of creating local comics, internationally recognized Backderf continues to roll out gritty and hilarious accounts of Cleveland natives. His newest web comic, The Baron of Prospect Avenue, unfolds free to the public online at derfcity.com. In 2016 Derf toured his Eisner award-winning graphic novel,Trashed and watched his second graphic novel, My Friend Dahmer, become a film. John G., subject of local documentary Draw Hard, focuses new work on his own incredible personal story through recent memoir comics, such as Love Again. He continues to produce local cult favorite, fantasy horror comic The Lake Erie Monster, posters for local bands and a poster for each of Melt’s monthly specials. He can be found this month orchestrating Ghengis Con, his wildly popular small press and underground comic convention on November 27, at the Lake Erie Building.

Likewise, filmmaker and poet, Chris Webb has considered himself a storyteller from a young age, sharing a similar resolute sensibility. His multi-media film project, If These Walls Could Talk, quite literally gives voices and perspective to the city around him. “If the vacant structures around me had memories and a voice, what would they say about their lives in the city?” says Webb. In this part documentary, part animation, vacant houses in the Glenville area describe how they see Cleveland.

Architect and tiny gallery owner Allison Lukacsy-Love and visual artist Dana Depew weave Cleveland’s stories out of the fabric of the city. Lukacsy-Love is the creator of such visible public projects as the tiny Phone Gallery and Bus Stop Moves. Using an abandoned payphone box in the Waterloo arts district, the artist developed a small sidewalk gallery, making other artists’ work easily accessible and re-purposing an existing structure. With primarily found material and detritus collected from the city and surrounding area, Dana Depew fabricates sculptural pieces, as well as his ubiquitous urban bird houses. His work has the capacity to comment on the history and current narrative of Cleveland from a fresh, but somehow familiar perspective.

Through filmmaking, photography and visual methods, Paul Sobota and Ryan Jaenke open windows into quieter, less visible stories of Cleveland residents. In his documentary work such as, Up This Hill and The Fixers, Sobota captures subtle moments of human unity. “The power of people coming together, when maybe they feel like there is no other way or there is no other hope, I think is really beautiful and I like to tell that story,” he says. Ryan Jaenke shines a spotlight on hidden gems throughout the city in his documentary series, Behind the Sign. The series focuses on small local businesses and their impact on Cleveland’s rich anecdotal history. 

CPAC will continue to release video interviews and collectible trading cards with all 40 Creative Workforce Fellows through December. Collect all 40 trading cards featuring your artists by attending their events and connecting with the artists. Learn more by following CPAC and CAC on Facebook and Twitter, or visiting the website, cultureforward.org/2016Fellow.

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About the Creative Workforce Fellowship

The Creative Workforce Fellowship is a program of CPAC that invests directly in Cuyahoga County artists. Funded disciplines include crafts, dance, design, literature, media, music, theatre and visual arts. Since 2009, 161 Cuyahoga County artists have received funding through the program. The Creative Workforce Fellowship is made possible by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.

About Community Partnership for Arts and Culture (CPAC)

Community Partnership for Arts and Culture is a nonprofit organization in Cleveland, Ohio. CPAC serves and supports arts and culture professionals and community leaders who are working to create a brighter future for greater Cleveland. Through counsel, relationship building, research, programs and advocacy, CPAC works to strengthen, unify and connect greater Cleveland’s arts and culture sector. CPAC envisions greater Cleveland’s diverse arts and culture sector as a leading partner in contributing to our community’s vitality and enlivening the human experience. For more information, visit www.cultureforward.org.

About Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC)

Cuyahoga Arts & Culture (CAC) is one of the largest public funders for arts and culture in the nation, helping hundreds of organizations in Cuyahoga County connect millions of people to cultural experiences each year. Since 2007, CAC has invested $155 million in more than 300 organizations both large and small, making our community a more vibrant place to live, work and play. For more information, visit cacgrants.org.

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