Issue Date: December 2013
Bonfoey Gallery celebrates more than a century of showcasing local artists’ work.
One hundred twenty years ago, Bonfoey Gallery opened in downtown Cleveland as one of the nation’s premier framing galleries, attracting clients such as John D. Rockefeller and Henry Ford. Cleveland artists, looking to have their own works framed, sauntered into the space, resulting in Bonfoey’s second life as a burgeoning exhibit hall. From Dec. 6 to Jan. 4, the Euclid Avenue gallery will host 120 Years of Art in Cleveland, an exhibit highlighting many of the local artists it has represented, such as Clara Deike and Frank Oriti. Shown together, the works reveal the history of Cleveland in pictorial form. “We’ve always been a proponent of Cleveland,” says gallery owner and president Richard Moore. “We’re excited to celebrate both our histories.” Here are six must-see pieces.
Around the Bend — Cuyahoga River
A prodigious painter of 1920s industrial landscapes, Carl Graetner would take his easel, canvas and oil paints, and walk around the steel mills, the Flats and the Cuyahoga River looking for scenes that struck him. Around the Bend — Cuyahoga River is one of his most famous works. “The painting is characteristic of the Cuyahoga River,” says Moore. “He was able to capture that moment and scene better than anyone ever did before.”
Still Life with Masks
Clara Deike painted during a time when women weren’t accepted as artists. “She was a real pioneer,” says Moore. She took a playful cubist style, experimenting with colors and geometrics, without regard for critics’ comments. “That was her forte,” he says. “She was able to amalgamate colors and lines together in a way that pleased her own eye.”
Many of Viktor Schreckengost’s paintings reflect his precise, mathematical training, gleaned from his time as an industrial designer. He is known for his detailed city views, but Schreckengost also dabbled in more animated subjects, such as Potted Cacti, a painting from a series of still lifes he created while visiting Mexico. “Viktor was one of Cleveland’s best artists of the last 100 years as far as divergence of subject matter goes,” says Moore.
Untitled silk-screen print
Although Seven Hills resident Julian Stanczak is known as one of the founders of the op art movement, a style characterized by bright, 3-D geometric patterns, his work was largely ignored until 10 years ago. “For 30 years he went along, and there was nothing spectacular as to his notoriety,” Moore says. “And then all of a sudden, for some reason I can’t explain, he just took off. … I’m happy for him.”
A veteran of the steel mills, Frank Oriti paints gritty portraits of blue-collar friends and relatives. With precision and detail, he superimposes their faces on whitewashed ghost images of the old, worn houses they grew up in. “If you look at their faces, you can see the history of Cleveland,” says Moore.
A veteran of the steel mills, Frank Oriti paints gritty portraits of blue-collar friends and relatives. With precision and detail, he superimposes their faces on whitewashed ghost images of the old, worn Laurence Channing’s charcoal drawings are marked by striking details of bridges, interstate highways and abandoned industrial areas from the working-class neighborhoods where he grew up. While beautiful, the scenes have a bit of sadness to them, Moore says. “You can really see the ramification and impact of the industrial age,” he says.houses they grew up in. “If you look at their faces, you can see the history of Cleveland,” says Moore.
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