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March 16, 2016

Reinberger show features New York trio's view of America - varnished and otherwise

For Immediate Release
Contact: Karen Sandstrom

CLEVELAND (Ohio) – American Real, an exhibition of works by Monica Cook, Ryder Ripps and Chris Verene, will be on view April 1 through May 8 at Reinberger Gallery at the Cleveland Institute of Art, 11610 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.

The show presents Ripps’ paintings derived from manipulated Instagram selfies, Cook’s sculptural tableaus with farm animals, and Verene’s documentary photographs of an impoverished town in Illinois where he grew up.

The artists now live in New York, where they are represented by Postmasters Gallery. Gallery owner Magdalena Sawon will join them at CIA for the opening reception at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 1. The artists also will be the featured speakers at the April 1 Lunch on Fridays, a free, public lecture that happens at noon on Fridays during the school year in the Peter B. Lewis Theater.

Bruce Checefsky, Reinberger Gallery director, curated the exhibition with an eye toward themes of concern in the Midwest.

Cook plays with garish, humorous imagery that riffs on a staple of idealized rural life. “She likes to mine state and county fairs, which people think of as a place for the idealized super animal, and she makes them just the opposite – decaying, kind of falling apart, older,” Checefksy says.

Ripps’ images begin with selfies borrowed from model Adrienne Ho, warped in Photoshop, then painted by Jeff Koons’ assistants. Ripps is neither a painter nor a performance artist, Checefsky notes – more like an impresario who exploits the space where art intersects popular culture and fashion.

Verene’s color photographs showcase family and community members against the backdrop of rural Illinois hard hit by a changing economy and the 2008 mortgage crisis. “The housing crisis was about people getting access to homes they couldn’t afford, and in that way played off their desire to achieve a part of the American Dream,” Checefsky says.

American Real in part reflects input gathered from students and faculty. Among Checefsky’s goals for the gallery is to expose students to as many different kinds of art as possible during their time at CIA. “Not just conceptually or politically, but in media, too — sculpture, painting, whatever — and then link it to the educational program,” he says. “So the gallery becomes a tool, almost like the library is a tool.”

Checefsky also is eager for New York artists to witness the cultural riches and support of Cleveland at a time when the cost of an East Coast life is skyrocketing. “It’s a way to show people in New York that Cleveland is a viable alternative to living in New York,” he says. “People come to Cleveland and are just amazed at what’s here. My hopes are maybe we bring some of those galleries and artists here.”

Reinberger Gallery hours are 10am to 5pm Monday through Thursday, 10am to 9pm Friday, and noon to 5pm Saturday and Sunday.

Public programs at CIA are generously supported in part by the residents of Cuyahoga County through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture.


Founded in 1882, the Cleveland Institute of Art is an accredited, independent college of art and design committed to nurturing the intellectual, artistic and professional development of students and community members through rigorous visual arts and design education. The Institute offers 15 undergraduate majors, from the visual arts and craft to design and digital arts. It extends its programs to the public through gallery exhibitions, lectures, a continuing education program, and the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque, a nationally acclaimed art and independent film program.

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