The Cleveland Photo Fest brings cutting edge photography exhibits to the city

After a year of uncertainty, a team of local photographers bring artistic relief to Cleveland with the 2021 Cleveland Photo Festival (CPF). “Unity through photography” is the perfect motto for CPF, as the event aims to bring together professional and amateur photographers in artistic expression. After a year of planning, Laura D’Alessandro, Jim Szudy and Herb Ascherman, Jr. are finally directing CPF.

Jim Szudy – Sam NortonThe festival will kick off with its first event on Saturday May 1, followed by a calendar full of different themes photography exhibitions, interactive media installations and other socially distant events. The CPF runs until Wednesday June 30.

This year’s CPF announcement garnered several hundred submissions, Ascherman says. “It was a major effort, for which we are extremely grateful,” he says. The Botwick Design Art Initiative, 2729 Prospect Ave., is the anchor point of CPF Photothon, which includes the I Identify Myself as exhibits: “Where participants photograph a randomly selected partner from a different racial background; »Furtography -« a spectacle for dogs, in their most noble and elegant; Dear Diary, “Show us your secrets, for women only; And Deja Nude – “Upbeat, enlightened, and just plain fun.” The exhibitions will run throughout the duration of CPF.

In addition to the Botwick, more than 40 venues will also host installations and works of art throughout the eight-week festival.

The places include Prama Art Studio in Parma, The Bonfoey Gallery downtown, BayArts in Bay Village, and the Greater Cleveland LGBT Community Center on Detroit Avenue. Special events and guest speakers are scheduled at the Botwick every thursday evening.

Coinciding with the special Thursday night programs, multimedia artists will also be presented with experimental music soundscapes and 2D and 3D image projections in the spaces of the Botwick Gallery. “Another dynamic aspect [is] we involve different local artists who usually wouldn’t have this platform to showcase their art, more and more as we move forward, ”says Szudy of the musicians and sound technicians involved.

In 2019, the CPF team got together after photographer and educator D’Alessandro felt Cleveland needed more photo exhibitions and asked, “Where are all the photographs? We need to bring the community together. “

Karen Novak – SadieD’Alessandro then approached Ascherman, a decades-long mainstay of the photography world who launched the first nonprofit photography gallery in Cleveland in the 1970s. After an exchange of ideas and a common desire to bring together the arts community, D’Alessandro and Ascherman agreed something had to be done.

Thanks to mutual friends in the art world, Szudy came to help us. Photographer, multimedia technician and musician, Szudy suited the trio perfectly. The first CPF exploded onto the scene in less than six months when it launched in 2019. “The organization has organized 21 exhibitions across the city in 16 different venues and 256 different photographers,” says Ascherman.

Since CPF’s founding, the team has been inundated with support from art galleries, curators, and even print houses offering their services. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic. “Our biggest hurdle and factor was the unknown,” Ascherman explains of how the team sailed to get CPF off the ground for the 2021 event.

This year’s festival has grown even further with several venues in the Cleveland area. The team say they believe in Cleveland and want to bring the city together in celebration of art. “We are a city promotion organization,” Szudy says. “We have Cleveland in our foresight and our concept. ”

While art exhibit openings typically include food and drink, today’s times require things to work a little differently. “There won’t be any props for the grand gallery openings,” said Ascherman, describing the different feel of upcoming events without the cocktail additions. “We really focus on the art. There is definitely a new paradigm in the art world.

As the openings approach, the team believes that with the proper protocols of mask warrants and gallery distancing, the events will be a safe and welcome respite. “People really want to go out,” Ascherman says. “And if we can do it in a socially responsible way, we can all do it as a community social event.”

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