Cleveland Cautiously Steps Into the Spotlight as a Global Art Capital

© Andrea Rossetti | Courtesy Goodman Gallery, Kaufmann Repetto + KOW

With FRONT International, the city's first-ever triennial, the long-overlooked Midwestern city is primed to take center stage.

Most of the world’s top international art exhibitions take over high-profile, art-centric cities: New York, Venice, Miami, Hong Kong. But this month, a new triennial debuts that rethink the exhibition’s traditional form, taking the citywide fair model as a jumping off point to highlight not only the international artists on display but the creative possibilities of the host city itself.

The first-ever Front International: Cleveland Exhibition for Contemporary Art will feature over 100 artists from all over the globe, placing site-specific interventions throughout Cleveland, supporting artistic and curatorial residencies in the city’s cultural institutions along with a temporary academy, and numerous solo and group exhibitions in Cleveland and the surrounding area.

© Yinka Shonibare MBE. | Courtesy James Cohan Gallery, New York and FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art

This first triennial, titled An American City (and just opened July 7) is directly inspired by the change and hybridization affecting this mid-size Midwestern city, one with a deeply industrial past which, co-artistic director Michelle Grabner has said, “is constantly being undone and rebuilt.” Key Cleveland institutions like the Cleveland Institute of Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland are involved, but so are more far-flung city sites, like the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, the Great Lakes Science Center, City Hall, and Transformer Station, a one-time railway substation converted into a contemporary art space and temporary academy which will host conversations and workshops during Front.

Throughout, visitors will see an impressively diverse roster of significant rising contemporary artists, including Yinka Shonibare, Julian Stanczak, Candice Breitz, and many others–proof that when it comes to presenting boundary-breaking art, venturing beyond the major coastal metropolises has its benefits. July 14-September 30