Homeless Still: A Second View of the Streets

By Harold Dopman

“Homeless still: Second view of the Streets ”is the second annual juried multi-media art exhibit presented by The Northeast Ohio Coalition of the Homeless and Americorps*VISTA. The exhibit features the works of both professional and student artists from the area and homeless persons.

Two hundred art works by over 100 artists were juried by Tom Hinson, curator of contemporary Art and Photography at the Cleveland Museum of Art; Janus Small, former executive director of New Organization for Visual Arts(NOVA); and Susan Channing, director of SPACES, Cleveland’s non-profit alternative gallery. Approximately 75 were chosen for exhibition in the seven art galleries involved in the project. In addition, 75 art pieces by homeless people, which were produced at three art workshops presented by NEOCH, were shown.

Damon Taylor, Americorps*VISTA volunteer assigned to NEOCH, started organizing the project in September 1996.

“The show was organized as a means to bring about social change under the guise of an educational art exhibition,” explained Taylor. “This brought together professional, student, and homeless artists together to visually speak to the ills of extreme poverty.”

Staci Santa, NEOCH’s other Americorps*VISTA volunteer, explained the purpose of the art workshops. “We wanted to give the homeless an opportunity to express themselves. There’s no roomin a shelter for a person to create art and the cost of materials is prohibitive. Also, the exhibit gave the homeless and formally homeless a chance to show their view of the streets.”

As this edition of the Homeless Grapevine goes to press openings have already been held at and exhibits are still on view at The Lightkeepers Gallery in Lakewood, a photographic exhibit space; the art gallery at The Beck Center in Lakewood; The Black Box, on East 74th St. (also the site of the art workshops); The Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University; and the Florence O’Donnell Wasmer Gallery at Ursuline College, which highlights Pat Fallon’s sabbatical work on poverty.

An exhibit opens at The Cleveland Play House Friday, June 6, with a reception from 6pm to 8pm and at Cuyahoga Community College- Metro Campus Friday June 13 with a reception from 6pm to9pm Exhibits remain on view at the various galleries until the end of June or the end of July. Call NEOCH(241-2204) for further details.

Food for the exhibit openings, consisting of black bean soup and bread was provided by members of Food Not Bombs, a Cleveland organization which feeds the homeless, and poetry was read to percussion accompaniment by Cuyaoga County Poet Laureate Daniel Thompson. Keynote speakers at various openings included Sherrie Swearington, from Westhaven; Leskie Presnell, Lakewood Christian Service Center; Harold Dopman, Homeless Grapevine managing editor; Joe Cimperman, West Side Catholic; and Brother Gary Morton from the Antioch Baptist Church. Spontaneous performance art will be presented at various galleries by Art Acts.

“People are tired of information being shoved down their throats—being bombarded by brochures and leaflets” Brian Davis, Director of NEOCH added. “The Homeless Still Art Exhibit gives us an opportunity to reach an audience who we do not normally have access to.”

Gallery Listings

Lightkeepers Gallery in Lakewood Exhibit remains until June 30th

Case Western Reserve Mandel School- Exhibit remains until July 12th

Beck Center Lakewood- Exhibit remains until June 30th

The Cleveland Playhouse on Carnegie- Gallery opens June 6th and remains until July 26th

Cuyahoga Community College – Metropolitan Campus Gallery Opens June 13th and remains open until July 27th

Photos by Karen St. John Vincent

Copyright NEOCH and the Homeless Grapevine published June-July 1996 Issue