CLEVELAND, Ohio – Artists and photographers have flocked to the industrial Flats along the Cuyahoga River for more than a century. But while they once reveled in images of smoky factories lining a brown waterway, they’re now chronicling the rebirth of a cleaner, healthier and more life-giving river.
The Cleveland Museum of Art and the Cleveland Foundation are recognizing new artistic perspectives on the Cuyahoga with exhibitions and events taking place before, during and after Saturday, June 22, the 50th anniversary of the 1969 fire on the river that helped launch the nation’s environmental movement.
Here’s a brief look at some of the upcoming activities:
- Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang is exhibiting a series of exploded gunpowder drawings at the Cleveland Museum of Art in a show called “Cuyahoga River Lightning.” On view through Sunday, Sept. 22, the show includes a 40-foot-long mural depicting the curves of the Cuyahoga River in smoky traces of gunpowder on paper. On Wednesday, June 26 at 6:30 p.m., the museum will host a public conversation between Cai and David Stradling, co-author of “Where the River Burned: Carl Stokes and the Struggle to Save Cleveland. Free tickets are available at clevelandart.org.
- Also on view through Sept. 22 at the museum is “Water: Edward Burtynsky,” a series of 13 monumental color photographs exploring mankind’s strained relationship with water resources around the world. Admission is free.
- On Wednesday, the Cleveland Foundation, LAND Studio and the Cleveland Print Room will hold a preview from 6 to 8 p.m. of “Bridged,” a new exhibition of photographs of the industrial Flats by Cleveland native Sophie Schwartz at the at the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority Riverview community center building at 1701 West 25th St. The show opens officially from 2 to 6 p.m. June 22, and continues through mid-July.
- Also on Wednesday, Kent State University’s Urban Design Collaborative and the Cleveland Foundation will host a free opening from 8 to 11 p.m. for an immersive light installation on the lower level of the Detroit-Superior Bridge created by the UK-based collective Squidsoup. The bridge exhibit includes indigo-dyed banners created by Cleveland’s Praxis Fiber Workshop. Free preview tickets are available at Eventbrite.com. Free, selfguided visits on the bridge are available June 22 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Details are available here.
- On Thursday from 7 to 10:45 p.m., PechaKucha Night Cleveland and LAND studio will host a series of high-speed presentations by thought leaders and activists from around the globe at the Nautica Entertainment Complex, 1231 Main Ave., on the West Bank of the Flats. Free tickets for
“Global PechaKucha Night: Waterways” are available at Eventbrite.com while they last. The event is designed to kick off a weekend of Cuyahoga 50 happenings.
- On Friday June 21, from 5 to 9 p.m., Cleveland Print Room, 2550 Superior Ave., will hold an opening for a show of aerial photos of the Cuyahoga by Ethiopian photographer and photojournalist Michael Tsegaye. Like other artists involved in exhibitions related to the 1969 fire on the river, including Schwartz, Tsegaye is a participant in the Cleveland Foundation’s Creative Fusion International Artist-In-Residence program. The show runs through Sat. Aug. 3.