Thursday, September 09, 2021

‘Active and Vibrant Group of Modern Artists’

My hometown leaves me disappointed when it comes to literature. Cleveland has had brief intersections with a few gifted writers, but even making that modest assertion sounds boosterish and unconvincing. The same cannot be said for the city’s contributions in the visual arts, especially painting. Early in the twentieth century the Cleveland School produced Charles Burchfield, William Sommer, Abel Warshawsky, Frank Wilcox, August Biehle and Hugo Robus, among others. All are worth pursuing. Often the colors are sumptuous.

In Painting in Pure Color: Modern Art in Cleveland Before the Armory Show 1908-1913 (2013), Henry Adams writes:

“While almost entirely overlooked in surveys of American art, Cleveland was in fact one of the first American cities to support an active and vibrant group of modern artists—known at the time as the ‘Secssionists’—who made paintings influenced by the fauves, the cubists, and the Blue Rider group even before the famous Armory Show of 1913.”


Faze said...

Henry Adams' book "Out of the Kokoon" shows how the Cleveland School evolved through the 20s to the 40s and flowered in painting, printmaking and murals. (Adams' books on Thomas Eakins, and Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock are strong in original insights. Clevelander Adams is underrated as an art historian and critic.)

In literature, Mark Winegardner's "Crooked River Burning" is an ambitious attempt to craft a big novel out of Cleveland's 20th century history. It was well-reviewed and Winegardner was later chosen by the Mario Puzo estate to continue to "Godfather" series of novels.

Don Robertson was long a favorite son novelist, "The Greatest Thing Since Sliced Bread" being his best known title. Stephen King has been a vocal champion of Robertson's works - which is no recommendation.

Cleveland State University writing professor Sheila Schwartz's 1991 "Imagine a Great White Light" is an outstanding story collection. Unfortunately, she died four weeks before its publication.

A couple of very famous science fiction authors were born in Cleveland, but since I can't bear science fiction, I don't remember their names. But SF fans would be impressed.

Faze said...

I was mistaken about Shelia Schwartz. She died in 2008, and lived to complete a novel, "Lies Will Take You Somewhere," which I must now read.

Baceseras said...

No sci-fi fan but I can easily name the authors Faze forgot: the always good copy Harlan Ellison, a real attention-whore who would not even mind my calling him that because because because it gets him attention . . . and the high-style pulpster Roger Zelazny. Both wrote plenty and won scads of awards and played the pirate-king role to the hilt. They added to the merriment of earthly life. Those who care for that brand of writing will find them both still in print.