Cleveland Magazine, June 1979

Next door the Flats powerhouse project has run out of steam, but these artists are still steadily rejuvenating the area. The pace is modest but convicing Floor by floor, a huge warehouse is being turned into studios for painting, sculpture, photography, printing and exhibiting. The ultimate goal is a full fledged artistic community like New York's Soho. According to artist and building manager R.C.Naso, the rents are unbeatable and the landloard is a true patron of the arts. Come see what these gregarious folks are up to at their open house. There will be refreshments, entertainment and things to buy.

Riverbed Artists and Craftsmen Open House1250 Riverbed Street.

From the Cleveland Edition September 8, 1988 by Amy Sparks

A Place to Call Home

What do you do if your a frustrated local artist seeing millions of "cultural" dollars being thrown to the same few causes and celebrities, when you are displaced from your warehouse studio because some developer decides it would make a better tourist attraction, when there are only a handfull of places which truly nourish local artists and want to promote their work? What do you do if you are unconnected, nearly broke and disgusted? You open your own gallery. Which is exactly what artist R.C.Naso has done with a group of like minded friends in Tremont, site of the cities fastest growing artist community. No they didn't round up an influential board of trustees, garner a grant from the Cleveland Foundation or the Gund brothers, design a fancy logo and marketing strategy. They just moved into an abandoned building, got their tools and buckets out and started to make it habitable. "I dont have any commercial aspirations" says Naso. "I just want to paint and have a place for artists to show their work. For anyone who thinks Cleveland's art scene needs a shot of adrenalin, this is it. Called simply the Studio/Gallery, its first show opens September 9th with an appropriately gritty group of artists, headlined by enfant terrible Robert Ritchie, mixed media guru Steven B. Smith, painter Ed Raffel and photographer Laura Stuart. But dont expect to pick up any lovely items that match the couch or are perfect for Christmas presents. For those you have to travel to Murray Hill. The artwork like the artists and the gallery itself, reflects its surroundings. To understand these artists you have to understand the raw streets of Tremont. You have to understand why Naso worked in the flats ten years ago and now wont even venture down there. As has happened in New York 's East Village and now in the Bronx and Harlem, the pattern of a city's redevelopment begins with the artists moving into undesirable neighborhoods, fixing up old buildings, living and working there. It isnt just because it is cheap, the neighborhoods also have an aesthetic charm built into their decay and neglect. It happened in the Flats and in the Warehouse District, now white-washed and redeveloped for the gentry and tourists. But the burgeoning artists community in Tremont sees it not as a stopping place, but as home. "Ten years ago I was involved with the Riverbed Artists Association" says Naso, "which claimed more than 100 artists working and /or living in the flats. It was a rough place, back then. There were 40 studios down there, and while there are still studios (now called the Left Bank) all the original people were displaced." Many artists moved to Tremont, but to keep the spectre of gentrification and rising rents off their backs, many have decided to buy a home for the first time. "Hopefully," says Naso "we can finally call this home." But how can a struggling little gallery keep itself afloat without incoming cash? "Were not looking for money," claims Naso, "We don't have any overhead. Whatever an artist sells we take a 25% commission which pays for mailing and wine for the openings." Artists who want a show can just come in and set up, and do whatever they please, as long as they leave the gallery the way they found it. Artists, mostly from the neighborhood, have already booked the space through January. While Naso and the others are clearly excited by this venture, there is an undercurrent of tension and anger fueling their efforts. While some complain about the power of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the lack of education about contemporary art issues, the conserative taste of most Clevelanders, the questionable use of art consultants (why don't people just buy what they like?),virtually everyone complains about the lack of adequate arts coverage by the media, this paper included. Perhaps part of the reason is that for the past ten years SPACES gallery has been the only artist-run alternative space showing local and regional work. In any other city there are reams of tiny storefront galleries, usually run by and for artists, struggling to survive. So what will you find opening night at the Studio/Gallery? A couple coats of fresh paint, a newly hung sign, cheap wine, Ritchie's amazingly transformed bicycles in the window and a sense of accomplishment and vitality. One whole wall will be given over to a collage of all four artists work, crammed together and facing the street. Junk-master and savior of detritus Smith will be showing some new pieces, no doubt difficult and uncompromising. Ed Raffel's photo-realistic paintings-for which he has won special mention in the last three CMA May shows-won't be featured this time. He's abandoned that style for a more abstract expressionistic one. Photographer Stuart is known for her hard-edged urban scenes, and for this show she has been shooting in the neighborhood, a place rife with images. And those who know Ritchie have come to expect a certin tone in his work. But his newer pieces, mostly mixed media and intricately painted windows and doors, show a meticulous side od Ritchie not often seen. Expect the show to be refreshingly irreverent, and difficult. But expect some excitement as well.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer August 16, 1989 by Helen Cullinan

The Cleveland Institute of Art Exhibition

Former or present Cleveland Institute of Art students and teachers star in a small but challenging exhibition opening from 5 to 10 tonight at the Studio/Gallery at 2271 Professor Ave. in Tremont.
Among highlights of the show are glazed ceramic object and landscape sculptures by Mary Jo Bole and painted portrait heads bt Anna Arnold. Chris Bonner, a 1989 Gund prize recipient, evokes a surrealist mood in dark muted figurative photographs including images from her "Frost Circus" film and performances that she designs and conducts.
Recent graduate Mitzie Good shows some of the searching self portraits that she did for her BFA project, posed against painted backgrounds, with a hint of Cindy Sherman in the self-confrontation. Fifth year student Billy Palin photographs the figure in rigidly posed setups-a male in a "Toothbrush" torture device and a female nude whose written-on body meshes witha lettered backdrop. Colorful large painterly abstractions by Laura Jamerson and post card landscapes in oil on paper by Catherine Redmond complete the ensemble.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer by Hellen Cullinan

Interpertations of the Nude

Drawing from the live model is an indespensable part of an art education. Well past school it continues to attract artists interested in developing their skills. West side artists who have been doing that in weekly co-op sessions at the Studio /Gallery, 2271 Professor Ave. in Tremont, will show results of their project today through Sunday.
"Interpretations of the Nude" subtitled "The Tremonsters Capture Lisa Nickerson Live" will open with a reception from 5 to 10 tonight. The show was put together by Tim Herron who organized a 10 week series of three hour sessions with this finale in mind. Nickerson, who posed for the sessions, is a performer on the "Electric Avenue" television show. Participants in the loosly knit are 20 amateur and professional artists whose daily routines include cable television, commercial design, foundry casting, picture framing, nursing, computer programing and other pursuits. Best known of the Studio/Gallery regulars are R.C.Naso, Sheryl Hoffman, Steven B. Smith, Robert Ritchie and Laszlo Gyorki. The works to be shown vary from straight forward figure and portrait studies to imaginative interpretations in drawing materials, paint, mixed media, photography, clay and bronze. Although the show has an avant-garde flavor, the artists see it as reaching out to the community at large.


The Sun Herald, Thursday, September 16, 1993 by Karen Zupanc, Staff Writer

It's Friday night and, once again, you're faced with the age old question. What should we do? Well, if it's the second Friday of the month, you're in luck, because there is something that's different and fun. The Tremont Art Walk, a cooperative effort of area establishments to bring people to the neighborhood, is a must see (or do) for both patrons of the arts and fun-seekers. Basically, many businesses in the Tremont area display the work of local artists--in some cases, their own work--and open their doors to all. Tremont always has been known as an artist colony because of the individuality of the old neighborhood--also, perhaps, because of the favorable rent rates. So, having local artists show their work is not something new to the neighborhood. But, last December, the neighborhood got together to organize the showings. There have been art walks in Tremont off and on for several years, according to Jean Brandt, an attorney whose office doubles as gallery space. In fact, a few years ago, some residents opened their apartments for the walk. "There was all that various energy going on when, last fall, a couple of the bars and studios did a cooperative art show," Brandt said. Then came the December meeting, organizing the first all-neighborhood walk, with the original one held in January. Since then, the walks have been held monthly, always the second Friday. As it was, December also was the grand opening of Wildflower, 2337 West 11th Street. As the name suggests, Wildflower is a floral shop, but it also is a vintage clothing store and cafe, with wall space for art and basement space for performances. Lara Kalafatis, one of the proprietors, said the walks are good for her and partner Sylvia Clayton because, each month, they have a deadline to meet as their business evolves, because they know people are coming. In fact, the cafe section just opened. With frequent art walks, people can see the progress they are making, as well as the art, something they have no difficulty finding. "The artists come to us," Kalafatis said. R.C. Naso, a painter and one of the first artists to locate in Tremont, has no trouble finding work to display. He displays his own paintings. For September's walk, though, he added a twist in order to get out of a jam. Naso needed to raise money fast because, earlier this summer, he accidentally backed into another car, and the damage estimate came in last month. So Naso painted everything in his studio white--the walls, furniture and even the fixtures. And, for $1, anyone could buy a paint-filled balloon to throw at anything in the room--an audience participation form of art. His fund-raiser was going well. Naso was credited by many in Tremont as the brains behind the art walk, though, he said, "The walk just sort of evolved." But it has evolved into a bar walk, in Naso's eyes, with many of the people touring taverns in the area. "I open the weekend before the walk, for serious art buyers," he said. In defense of the bar walkers, though, Naso said it brings people to the area and that is good for the neighborhood. One person it brought was Erich Hooper. Naso joked that Hooper was a stranger who set up a sausage stand outside his studio. Since he gave Naso a sandwich, the latter let him stay. Now that the art walk is beginning to hold its own each month, it has gained a place on the agenda of many Clevelanders as a great night out. It's also bringing Tremont to the attention of people as a great place to go.

From the Cleveland Plain Dealer April 1, 1994 by Helen Cullinan

Forgeries and Parodies of the Masters

Studio/Gallery in Tremont is observing April Fools Day with "Forgeries and Parodies of the Masters."
Offerings range from Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel ceiling in slide projection, by David Cudney to a Mona Lisa look alike by R.C.Naso. Show organizer Robert Ritchie does a Dada steal in his Marcel Duchamps dress dummy signed R.Mutt. There will ba an imitation Kurt Schwitters collage by Florence Smith; Sally Lachina's copy of a Piet Mondrian painting at the National Gallery in Washington D.C.; and George Kocars burlesque of a knotty pine painting by mainstream appropriator Sherrie Levine. And Douglas Utter does "Desposition II" in homage to Belgian Master Gerard David
Some of the artists on a regional level are keeping their work secret until the reception from 6 to 10 tonight. Show particpants include Billie Lawless, Melissa Jay Craig, Steven B. Smith, Joan of Art, G.D.Hay Jeffrey Chiplis, Jacci Hammer, Sheryl Hoffman, Abe Bruckman, Terry Tuffs, Ken Motz, Roena Colinot, Tim Herron, Mike Hurley, and Richard Head.


The Cauldron, Cleveland State University Thursday, November 17 - Sunday, November 20, 1994 by Ken Gradomski, Artist's Art Review

The most controversial (and best attended) art show in
Greater Cleveland opens this Friday, November 18. It may
even be the most controversial show in the country since
commentary over the 1992 show went nationwide. The local
electronic media, especially one Mr. Feagler, used small, poorly
done outline drawings of a missing girl to incite a bonfire
of indignation because he thought he understood public
aesthetics. Free speech was the issue and perhaps rage
that art could be something besides pretty pictures
(Art is more than just pretty pictures...)
"Dick Who?" by R.C. Naso, is one of the more controversial pieces
at this year's People's Art Show. The painting portrays
Pee Dee columnist Dick Feagler as part of a penis. Mr.
Feagler has been quite critical of the show in years past.


The Plain Dealer, June 9, 1995 by Helen Cullinan, Plain Dealer Art Critic

R.C. Naso has been painting up a storm for months in preparation for tonight's Tremont ArtWalk. He will have shows of his work at four of the nine participating galleries. Most will be from his "Famous Faces" series, of small enamel-on-board paintings, measuring about 12 by 10 inches. "This is the most fun I've had painting in years," said Naso, who picked up on today's widespread celebrity craze with his wildly colorful, personality-plus portraits with frames that he paints to match. "The best part is that people love them." The Bohemia Club at 900 Literary Road will show Naso's "Famous Bohemians," portraits of artists ranging from Vincent Van Gogh and Pablo Picasso to Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt. The Literary Cafe, 1031 Literary Road, will show the literary figures: Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, Charles Dickens and others. Edison's Pub, 2372 Professor Avenue, will show his portraits of Superman, John Wayne, Alfred E. Newman, Wonder Woman and others from his "Superheroes and Villains" group. Naso's own Studio Gallery at 2271 Professor Avenue will show mainly his large abstract drip paintings.


Cleveland Freetimes May 19, 1997 by Laura Putre

It’s a cruel night for an art walk, or any other sort of walk. Traveling a block from Edison’s to the Treehouse in Tremont could freeze off the fingertips of a longshoreman. Inside the Studio Gallery on Professor Street, R.C. Naso’s paintings of sunflowers, in a decidedly Van Gogh vein, practically have icicles hanging off them. The artwalk officially begins at 8 o’clock. At the stroke of 8, a collegiate-looking group, dressed in Saturday night best, hurries in to Naso’s gallery, noticeable from the street at night only by a single spotlight and an Art Walk banner in a darkened window. The young visitors glance at Naso’s work — portraits of famous people, mystical scenes — shyly thank him, then make a beeline for the door. No one’s going to show up on a night like this, Naso says good-naturedly and decides to close up shop, which involves shutting off the gallery lights. Naso lives and works in this three-story building, which had a four-inch-thick sheet of ice covering the basement floor when he moved in about ten winters ago. He fixed the plumbing and heating, and five year’s worth of payments later, became the owner of the building. Upstairs, in Naso’s living quarters, his friend G.T. Tracy is sitting on a weatherbeaten couch, playing Nintendo. Tracy is a math teacher at Martin Luther King High School.. Last summer, he lent Naso his melange of computer equipment after Naso waxed enthusiastic about setting up a website on the Internet for showing and selling his artwork. It wasn’t that long ago, I started seeing on TV, everybody’s got their little Web address, their URL on the bottom of the screen, Naso recalls.The newspapers, were talking about it, CNN would always have somebody on talking about the World Wide Web, the information highway. Naso was hoping to reach a much larger audience than the devoted circle of friends and artists who have been dropping by his studio since the late 1980s when, as portrait painter Tim Herron says, there was no Tremont Art Walk. There was only Ron’s Studio Gallery.Naso had almost nothing to spend on starting up a website. Unlike Herron, who works at a cable company, he doesn’t have a regular paycheck; instead, he manages to get by selling an occasional painting and working freelance jobs when they come up. He collaborated on a sculpture hanging in the lobby of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and was the water engineer for a theater production of the Grapes of Wrath last year, making sure the pumps worked so the rain fell on cue. Naso thought the Web would quickly bring the commercial success that had so far evaded him. At first, he tried showing his work on on-line art galleries that charge a fee, spending $15 a month plus $5 per painting. After two months with no responses, he abandoned that, thinking he could do better on his own. Although the little computer experience he had was outdated, Naso was eager to learn as he went along. But things happened at a frustrating pace, even for a self-taught artist. Naso spent years learning painting techniques — from life drawing to air brushing — mostly on his own, though he occasionally took a formal art class. His classrooms were his studio and his rooftop, where he and Herron would sometimes paint the neighborhood skyline. Naso said that although he had a vision of the importance of technology, he didn’t realize how long it would take to get a grip on it.Naso still spends an hour or so every day cruising the Internet, looking at other artist’s sites, sometimes stopping to chat with them on-line.


From the Cleveland Free Times, July 9-15, 1997 by Frank Green

Community-based work is all the rage now in the art world. Its popularity with arts presenters may result from the availability of funding. While most government and corporate arts funding is being drastically cut, grants for "community-based art" are increasing. This type of funding is earmarked for activities for "disempowered" interest groops - senior citizens, "at risk" youth, gays, women, Hispanics. Too often, the quality of the artwork produced seems less important than the neediness of the people making the art.
Ironically, artistic communities are ignored in this framework. In neighborhoods across America artists have formed communities that transcend race, ethnicity, gender, age and sexual preferance. Rather than defining themselves in such terms, individuals in these communities identify as artists. Yet no art funding exhists specifically to support communities such as these.
Cleveland has several communities of artists, including one based in Tremont, and leave it to Cleveland State University Art Gallery to buck the current funding climate in order to showcase this local artistic community. Four by Eight, an exhibition on view through July 25, was organized by Tim Herron with help from R.C.Naso, both Tremont artists, and features work by 28 friends, neighbors, drinking buddies. The few who dont live there have participated in the neighborhood's art scene for years.
Although they often exhibit together in local bars and galleries, these artists have little in common stylistically. Regarding this diversity as a sign of their community's strength the organizers devised a wide-open theme for the exhibit. Artists were asked to submit a single work in any media and style, on any theme, as long as it measured four by eight feet. The exhibition features single prototypical works in these dimensions by some of Tremont's most consistently interesting artists - a neon sculpture bt Jeffrey Chiplis, a cement casting by Jeeson Pak, an assemblage by David Cudney, a conceptual installation by Bruce Edwards, and paintings by Michael Hurley and Ben Parsons.
Unfortunately, these accomplished artists are not well-served by this exhibit. The theme's openness results in a lack of cohesion, and the show ends up with the same problems as many community-based exhibitions. Valuing inclusivity over quality, and diversity over clarity od focus, the organizers have put together a weak exhibition that resembles a smaller version of CSU's biennial, democratic, uncurated Peoples Art Show. There's mediocre and even sophomoric work included and the more accomplishes work fails to add up to more than the sum of its parts.

The exhibits strongest section features thematically related paintings by Naso, Herron, George Kocar, and Ken Nevadomi. All four contribute dense, panoramic paintings that blend various representational styles to create visionary self-portraits of the artists working in their studios.

Naso's Studio 96 is stylistically influenced by surrealism. The artist sits dead center above a reflected darker double of himself, his back is turned on a highway to heaven, in a space that's simultaneously interior and exterior expansive and contained. The tools of his trade - paintbrush, light, six-pack, cigarette, - spread out before him, he calmly receives his vision, while other artisis agonize and paint and drink and run all around him. Everything is depicted behind a series of semitransparent frames (the studio windows) so that the whole panorama look like it's been unfolded, a hand fan opened up, a pack of cards unfolded, a magic trick.

While Naso's painting is architectural, angle and line, Timothy Herron's sumptuously fluid painting, Hidden Danger, an undulating current of organic forms, is more expressionistic. It's as if Naso depicted the linear mind of the artist, and Herron the fluid soul. Herron's rendering of his face, floating off in a corner, is far more evocative than the other three self portraits. He depicts himself squeezing a tube of paint, releasing a serpent that wraps itself around a watery world of seaweed and surfers and fish. Eyes, windows of the soul, are everywhere,the skin of transformation, flowers of vision rising out of the void. These two pieces together with Nevadomi's Famished Muse with its slide viewing cherubs, and Kocars Full Tilt Boogie, in the artist's trademark cubist cartoon style, anchor the exhibit and painting becomes its strongest suit. There are strong paintings by Hurley, Parsons, Anna Arnold, Judith Brandon, and Shirley Aley Campbell.
I hope Cleveland State University will continue to support area artists by allowing them to organize exhibitions of their peers.

The Cleveland Free Times

October 21, 1998

A Good 48 Hours

Painesville isn't usually such a hotbed of artistic activity. Lake Erie College has something like 12 students majoring in art, but there's a well-equipped fine arts center with a large gallery. In an effort to expose people from the surrounding community to contemporary art, former gallery director Pat Sears set up an eight-hour event during which the public was invited to observe and question visiting artists as they made art. The demonstration proved so popular that it became an annual event. When Nancy Prudic took over as gallery director she lengthened it to 16 hours in order to give artists the time to complete more ambitious pieces. Laila Voss was one of the artists who participated in the project last year. For her, the event wasn't just an opportunity to communicate with the public, but also a chance to work side by side with other artists. When she became co-director of the gallery with Prudic this year, they decided to expand the event to 48 hours. Not only would the artists reach out toward the larger community, they would also form a more intimate community of their own. With a small grant from the Ohio Arts Council, they invited an eclectic group of eighteen artists from northeast Ohio to participate. In addition to painters, sculptors and ceramicists, there were artists who work in audio, film, installation, dance and performance. The only things they had in common were a dedication to their craft, an experimental spirit and a desire to communicate. I arrived at the gallery toward the end of the second day. Though there was an incredible amount of activity going on, the ambience was more peaceful than agitated, with the artists basking in an atmosphere of camaraderie and support. David Cudney had gotten the water running from a fountain in the middle of an assemblage of birdcages and was busy wrapping wire mesh around the entire construction. Kim Eggleston had completed the wooden armature of her closet-sized walk-through installation, and had filled the walls with insulation. Some artists continued work they'd already been involved with before the event. R.C. Naso painted a couple dozen more canvases in an on-going series of nearly identical paintings duplicating Van Gogh's blue self-portrait. John Ranally built two more of his whimsical welded sculptures assembling bicycle parts into Rube Goldberg-like contraptions, a contribution enjoyed by children who visited the gallery during the event. Others were more adventurous, using the opportunity to try new things. Sculptor Jee Sun Pak worked with plastic drop cloths, bending and tying them into ruffled puffs that she hung from the ceiling. Ceramicist Theresa Yondo worked with gourds, gutting and otherwise manipulating them to create abstract forms she will later reproduce in clay. Sound artist Kristen Ban Tepper composed a piece on a computer. Many created works informed by the activities of the artists around them. Mark Yasanchek made ceramic pieces on which he engraved stories told to him by other participants. Dan Tranberg painted directly onto a wall, employing shapes and gestures inspired by what he saw happening in the gallery. Robert Banks asked both artists and visitors to draw onto film stock that he planned to construct into an abstract animation. Thaddeus Root contributed a kind of visual tape recording of the whole event, writing descriptions of what was happening at any given moment onto strips of masking tape attached to the walls. Some of the work was intensely personal. Amy Bracken Sparks stitched a new wholeness out of pieces from her life. Combining baggies filled with dried leaves, seeds, flowers and other specimens from her garden, a place that functions as a refuge from the demands of city life, together with pieces of crockery broken during domestic arguments, she tried to create a more permanent peace. Jerry Mann documented the contents of the most private drawer in his dresser, the one where he stashes the mementos of his past, with movie film. Sally Hudak endured the most physically exhausting process by making a small house out of a thousand pounds of clay she mixed with her feet in a wading pool. Dancer Young Park was a kind of thread tying everyone together, moving through the space and the surrounding environment in slow increments. At one point, she took Butoh to its logical extreme by remaining completely still as Tim Herron painted her portrait. I was attracted to the concept of this project from the beginning, but I anticipated that the emphasis on process would result in finished products that wouldn't be very strong. I was wrong. Most of the work looks great installed in the gallery, where they will remain on view until the end of the month.

Tremot ends here but the best is yet to come.

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