January 9, 2017
Let's Talk About Love, Baby!: Zygote Press brings traveling 'Love Library' to Cleveland
Cleveland.com, 01/09/2017
Nikki Delamotte

Let's Talk About Love, Baby!: Zygote Press brings traveling 'Love Library' to Cleveland
Cleveland.com, 01/09/2017
Nikki Delamotte

CLEVELAND, Ohio - Growing up in Zimbabwe, Chido Johnson watched his mother read one Harlequin romance novel after another as an exercise in improving her English. Anyone who's ever paged through the books knows the storylines can become so predictable that it's difficult to tell where one ends and the next begins. But when Johnson devised his "Love Library" in 2008, the idea was to have artists create their own unique interpretation of the iconic romance novels, then travel the exhibit around the globe with new artists adding their own books in each city.

To add to the intimacy, each city the show visits is based on personal invitation. It was artist Sarah Kabot who invited Johnson to bring his library to Zygote Press, 1410 East 30th St., on Feb. 13. Kabot, along with Zygote's co-founder and executive director Liz Maugans, will act as the "love librarians" who invite artists to make their contribution. Each of those artists will then be able to invite one more person into the circle.

"This show itself and idea of collective exchange is key to the heart of what we do here at Zygote every day," says Maugans. "Sarah and I both adore so many artists and it was important for us to invite people that have not exhibited here, spreading the love even more. The 'love' connection will continue to spread with each Love Library artist being able to invite someone they love."

It's the tour's ninth stop after visiting Rochester, St. Louis, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis and Columbus, as well as Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. At each location, artists explore the Harlequin novel in mediums across the board, from textiles to ceramics.

As the show has grown in each city, there are now books by more than 200 participants. Though artists are separated by many things regionally and culturally, it all comes back to the perplexing, confusing, sometimes awkward and magical concept known as love.

"There's quite a few similarities between artists who are not connected, who are unaware of each other," says Johnson. "The way we talk about our personal narratives are so varied. But as we recognize their differences, we can see their similarities as well."

The contribution of Cleveland artist and writer Evan Fusco takes the broad idea of love presented and focuses it through a biographic lens. His book, "for she's touched your perfect body with her mind," is a combination of his own poetry and photographs as well as text from various sources and images from the internet, primarily of roses.

"I was interested in the relationship between this large, seemingly universal idea of love, and the small and personal, and what happens when those two things sit side-by-side," says Fusco.

Johnson catalogues the books on the Love Library's website with snippets of each artist talking about their work. In St. Louis, artist Katie Ford created a box holding the mementos of love letters with a mountain constructed inside.

"The thing about love is there's always some element of surprise, no matter what's professed or withheld of expected," the recording of Ford relays. "It sneaks up on you."

Ford notes that she chose love letters because they endure even after a relationship is over. It's not unlike the exhibit itself, which while fleeting, will continue on.

Selection of artists invited to contribute their own addition to the library was split between Maugans and Kabot. It includes up-and-coming artists like Amber Esner, Justin Will, Breanne Trammell and Jake Hatmaker, along with seasoned artists such as David Reid and James Klein, Kristen Cliffel, Loren Naji, Dana Depew and Rian Brown.

The show runs through Feb. 25, and will also host a fundraiser, "Let's Make ... with Love" on Feb. 9. Attendees will get to use Zygote Press' printmaking materials to "make all kinds of love," such as T-shirts, posters, coasters and Valentine's Day cards. Poet David Lucas will be leading guests in writing sonnets. Candy hearts, Sweet Designs chocolates and cocktails will be served.

On Feb. 25, Zygote will host a closing potluck event featuring artists talking about their work.

"There's no better time to start the year with love than now," Johnson says.

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January 17, 2017
Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts
J. Willard Marriott Library
The University of Utah, 01/17/2017

The University of Utah’s J. Willard Marriott Library will host the art exhibition Globalocation: Celebrating 20 Years of Artnauts, Jan. 20-March 3.

Artnauts, an art collective formed 20 years ago by George Rivera, professor of art and art history at the University of Colorado, Boulder, consists of 300 global artists who serve as goodwill ambassadors, acknowledging and supporting victims of oppression worldwide. Their creativity has generated over 230 exhibitions across five continents. Five faculty members from the U’s Department of Art and Art History are members of the collective, Sandy Brunvand, Beth Krensky, V. Kim Martinez, Brian Snapp and Xi Zhang.

Globalocation derives from “Globalocational Art” — a concept used by the Artnauts to refer to their exhibitions in international venues. It is the mission of the Artnauts to take art to places of contention, and this anniversary exhibition is a sample of places where they have been and themes they have addressed.

“The Artnauts could not exist without the commitment of the artists in the collective to a common vision of the transformative power of art,” said Rivera. “The Artnauts make their contribution with art that hopefully generates a dialogue with an international community on subjects that are sometimes difficult to raise.”

Krensky, associate department chair of the Art and Art History Department, had the opportunity to travel with Rivera in Chile as part of an Artnauts project, working with mothers who were searching for their children who had mysteriously disappeared during a time of political unrest.

“When I travelled to Chile in 1998, George and I spent an afternoon with the Mothers of the Disappeared, and the meeting changed my life,” said Krensky. “It was from that moment on that I placed a picture of them on my desk to look at every day. I was so moved by what they each had lost — a son, a brother, a father — and yet what remained for them was a deep, deep well of love. They were fierce warriors and stood up to the government to demand the whereabouts and information of the people who had disappeared, but they lived within profound love.”

The 20th anniversary exhibition at the Marriott Library is a retrospective of the traveling works the Artnauts have toured around the globe. The exhibition will be located on level three of the library. The opening reception is open to the public and will be held on Friday, Jan 20, 4-6 p.m. Rivera will speak at 4 p.m.

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