Personal Prequel: 2022 FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art

Blog Date
Stuart O. Smith, Jr.

I entitled this blog post starting with the words "Personal Prequel," since it covers my interests and activities relating to FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, between the 2018 events and the start of the 2022 events. It certainly does not include all that has taken place between the years of the first event and the second, but instead is my attempt to capture some of the spirit of FRONT International that I enjoy.

The FRONT 2022 Trailer YouTube video above, featuring the words of FRONT International Executive Director Fred Bidwell and Artistic Director Prem Krishnamurthy, does a good job of making the bridge between 2018's first northeast Ohio events, and the events that are happening July 16 – October 2, 2022.

Please retweet the following
so others will view the FRONT 2022 Trailer.



Monday, March 25, 2019 - An Evening with FRONT International 2021 2022 Artistic Directors, Prem Krishnamurthy and Tina Kukielski

Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell cordially invite you to a casual reception at their Ohio City home to meet Tina Kukielski and Prem Krishnamurthy. Rub shoulders with other creatives and thought leaders and share your thoughts on the next edition of FRONT, the region-wide contemporary art triennial that has become one of the world's most talked about arts and culture destinations.

Drinks and hors d'oeuvres will be provided

I wanted to make a point to thank Fred and Laura Bidwell for opening their home to announce the plans for the next FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art. I was told by a FRONT International staff person that 123 people RSVP'd to attend this reception.

Beyond the excitement of the evening learning about FRONT International's plans, I also greatly enjoyed myself talking to people I have a connection with from my recent years blogging, and people I had lost connection with from my previous career. Looking back at my notes from the evening, I talked to people representing United Way Cleveland, Cleveland Public Library, Ingenuity Cleveland, Collective Arts Network, CDPUG (Cleveland Digital Publishing Users Group), PechaKucha Night Cleveland, and a lot of FRONT International volunteers. Thank you, Fred Bidwell, for bringing so many creative people together to support Cleveland as a leading arts city through FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art.


In my notes from the evening, I had the Twitter names of the 2018 partners so that I could thank them on Twitter:

2018 PARTNERS ============================

  • @ClevelandArt
  • @AkronArtMuseum
  • @AllenArtMuseum
  • @OberlinCollege
  • @ClevelandClinic
  • @CleInstituteArt
  • @Cleveland_PL
  • @ClevelandFed
  • @moCaCleveland
  • @PlayhouseSquare
  • @RockHall
  • @GLScienceCtr
  • @TransformerStat
  • @WestSideMarket
  • @UHhospitals

END 2018 PARTNERS ============================



2019 Tweets



Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - @FrontTriennial 2021 2022 "Announcing Exhibition Title and Themes" - Karamu House

From: 'Sarah Liska'
Subject: Look forward to seeing you tonight!
Date: January 14, 2020 at 3:46:15 PM EST

Dear Friend,

We look forward to seeing you at Karamu House at 6 pm tonight for the FRONT 2021 press launch! The curatorial presentation will be followed by a cash-bar reception. There is free parking on-site. We are expecting a full house!

See you soon,

Sarah Spinner Liska, J.D., Ph.D.
Deputy Director
FRONT International
office: 216-938-5799
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @FRONTtriennial

For years, I had heard of the Karamu House theatre, but have never visited their location. It was great to see this venue for the first time, thanks to FRONT International's invitation.

The 2022 FRONT International title, Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows, was announced at this event.

Curatorial Statement

Oh, Gods of Dust and Rainbows embraces art as an agent of transformation, a mode of healing, and a therapeutic process. The title is an homage to a 1957 poem ​“Two Somewhat Different Epigrams” by Langston Hughes, who moved to Cleveland in his childhood and maintained an artistic connection to the region. The poem — a tender, brutal, and provocative prayer — meditates on the inseparability of joy and suffering:

Amidst a time of ongoing tragedy and loss, FRONT 2022 explores how artmaking offers the possibility to transform and heal us — as individuals, as groups, and as a society. . .

. . . sharing joy through movement, music, craft, and color — can bridge differences between people to bring them together. Finally, the exhibition suggests ways that artmaking can speak with power: showing us how to recognize and reimagine the invisible structures that govern contemporary life.



In the following tweets, please be sure to note the names of both the Presenting Partners, and Sponsors, since they make FRONT International possible.



Monday, April 6, 2020 - BIG ANNOUNCEMENT: #FRONTart2021 is Now #FRONTart2022!!

. The FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is postponing its second edition by one year to the summer of 2022 in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

Citing a global shock to the arts ecosystem involving partnering institutions, plus artists, galleries, dealers, collectors, curators and other professionals, FRONT has had no choice other than to postpone from 2021 to 2022, said Fred Bidwell, the Cleveland philanthropist, executive director and founding CEO of the exhibition.

Please see the following article by Steven Litt for all the details:

Be sure to follow @Steven_Litt on Twitter to stay up to date on all the arts events in Northeast Ohio.



More 2020 Tweets



June and July 2020 - #Masks4Community at The Madison

ThirdSpace Action Lab is located in Cleveland's Glenville neighborhood at 1464 East 105th Street. Our building, which residents call the Madison . . .

In 1960, Robert P. Madison designed the Medical Associates Building for Black doctors whom University Hospitals and Mt. Sinai Medical Center excluded from practicing.  . . .

Madison was the first licensed Black architect in the state of Ohio, . . .

Today, ThirdSpace Action Lab hosts community lunches, political dialogues, strategy sessions, celebrations, and more in the building’s first-floor storefront space. Imbued with Madison’s legacy, we activate the space to demonstrate the value of radical imagination + investing in place in service of racial equity.

I first visited The Madison and leaned its history at the 2018 FRONT International event. Since then, my wife and co-blogger, Julie, and I have volunteered for #Masks4Community in the building. I also learned about ThirdSpace Action Lab, which is located in the building and works to "disrupt the vicious cycle of disinvestment and displacement that exploit low-income communities of color." The ThirdSpace Reading Room recently opened in The Madison.

Please see our blog post about our volunteer work for #Masks4Community, which was a part of the 2020 Greater Cleveland COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund program.

I learned about #Masks4Communit because of the leadership of Shanelle Smith Whigham, who I met through the Cleveland Foundation 2018 Common Ground program:



Thursday, December 31, 2020 - New Year's Eve Thank-You to Fred Bidwell



2021 Tweets

In one of the following tweets, I mention how I enjoyed talking to 2018 FRONT International artist Amanda King, and learning about her current projects. See more in my blog post:



Fred Bidwell tweeted to me - -  "More to come! #frontart2022" - - during my September 24, 2021, visit to MoCa Cleveland! Excited to know that FRONT International will be here the following year! See details in my blog post:



Friday, October 8, 2021 - FRONT 2022 Preview Exhibition: Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools

. . . FRONT International Executive Director Fred Bidwell saying "more to come!" Therefore, I knew to watch for something to happen soon regarding FRONT International 2022 . . . FRONT 2022 Preview Exhibition Opening & Party: Grand Prototypes, Humble Tools at Transformer Station!! This blog post shares what I saw at the preview party and some of what I learned about next year's FRONT International 2022.

All my photos are in my tweets in the blog post I already wrote about the preview. Rather than include them a second time here, I invite you to please see everything I shared about the preview here:

Also see Scene Magazine photographer, Emanuel Wallace's (@MannyWallace - @ClevelandScene), photos from the preview. He captured a great photo of me wearing my Cleveland Museum of Art face mask, and a photo I really like of Fred Bidwell with Amanda King:



Thursday, November 11, 2021 - @GundFoundation is Now On Twitter

I mentioned on Twitter how The George Gund Foundation supports FRONT International and many other great nonprofits in Cleveland. After years of my thanking The George Gund Foundation on Twitter by using the #GeorgeGundFoundation hashtag, I was glad to learn on November 11, 2021, that they have finally joined us on Twitter on November 3, 2021 as: @GundFoundation



Saturday, November 20, 2021 - FRONT International is in the House at Cleveland Maker Faire 2021

At the Cleveland Maker Faire, I met Ron'Dale Simpson, who is doing a fellowship with FRONT International. He is the founder and artistic director of Blakk Jakk Dance Collective, which was established in 2020. I look forward to seeing Blakk Jakk Dance Collective's performance at the FRONT International's Opening Block Party on Public Square on Saturday, July 16, 2022. Learn more about the Cleveland Maker Faire 2021 in my blog post:



Saturday, January 1, 2022 - New Year's Day Thank-You Tweets!

If you want to see more New Year Thank-You tweets, go to:



Saturday,  January 1, 2022 - "Another COVID casualty!"



2022 Tweets



FRONT International AND PechaKucha Night Cleveland!!! Wow!!!

Since 2008, PechaKucha Night Cleveland has brought together audiences to hear amazing presenters share their passion around topics ranging from visual art, architecture, and technology to food, film, music, photography, and furniture design. Presentations are limited to 20 slides (timed to 20 seconds each) and feature diverse topics at every event, guaranteeing something interesting for everyone! This rapid-fire presentation format keeps audiences engaged and exposes people to new ideas, communities, and connections.

I can't tell you how excited I am to learn that PechaKucha is returning to Cleveland in 2022 after being on hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic. For them to be combining with FRONT International is just incredible!

Mark your calendar for Friday, July 29, 2022, at 7:00 pm, at moCa Cleveland!! This is a MUST-SEE gathering of creatives!

I have written many blog posts about both PechaKucha Night Cleveland and PechaKucha Night Akron (click here to see them all).  FRONT International Executive Director Fred Bidwell is featured in the following PechaKucha Night Cleveland blog post from 2017, announcing the creation of FRONT International:



Tuesday, July 5, 2022 - See That FRONT International is Coming to the Cleveland Museum of Art

On July 5, 2022, I took my dad to see the current Cleveland Museum of Art exhibition The New Black Vanguard. While there, I saw the banner announcing FRONT International, but more importantly, I saw a new mysterious exhibition being built. (There was no sign to even give a hint to what was coming.) The guards at the museum are always helpful, so I asked one of them, and found out that what my dad and I were seeing was the early stages of a special exhibition for FRONT International.


Save The Date Finally, Happening This Week!

Sunday, July 10, 2022, I updated my personal calendar with all the events happening this opening week -- glad we are finally here!

Thank you, Fred Bidwell, for the email you sent me on July 4, 2022, with information about the preview events that start before the public opening this weekend.



2022 Presenting Partners



Tuesday, July 12, 2022 - Facebook Memory: 2018 FRONT International First Day

As the opening day for FRONT International 2022 opening approaches at the end of this week, I see on Facebook good memories from four years ago. View the full description from Facebook by clicking on the new Twitter "Alt" button feature on the following tweet:



Tuesday, July 12, 2022 - Read Steven Litt's Article on the FRONT Triennial Opening

. . . FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, an 11-week extravaganza of local, national, and international art officially opening July 16 at 30 venues across Northeast Ohio.

The opening will follow two days of previews intended for out-of-town visitors and media, but also open to the public.

. . . 100 artists at locations including the Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland Public Library, the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Akron Art Museum, the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, and even the Cleveland Clinic. Details are unfurling at . .

The Transformer Station at 1460 W. 29th St., . . . will serve as the headquarters for this year’s FRONT, in part as a response to comments that the sprawling 2018 triennial lacked a central point of orientation.

Wow! I am excited! Thanks, Steven Litt, for your article. I now feel I have a better sense of how FRONT International's scope and theme will be implemented.

Also . . .

FRONT will coincide for the second time with the CAN Triennial, a regional exhibition organized by the nonprofit Collective Arts Network that will run from July 8 to Aug. 31. It will involve works by scores of artists at dozens of venues across the region. Details are available at

I also learned that CAN (Collective Arts Network) Triennial, which ran concurrently with FRONT International in 2018, will happen again this year! I really enjoyed this exhibition in 2018 at the 78th Street Studios, so I am excited that CAN Triennial: “You Are Here” will run July 8, 2022 — August 31, 2022, in more than a dozen venues around Cleveland, Ohio.


Thank you, Toni Chanakas, for letting me know that the image I shared had the wrong dates for CAN Triennial. I have been told that the correction has been made on the website.


The following is a reply to Ian Meadows's (@urbanetics_) tweet, which is in the "2020 Tweets" section of this blog post. I recommend that Ian Meadows read the answer to his question in Steven Litt's article.



Related Blog Posts

In addition to the blog posts I mentioned above, I always like to end with a list of related blog posts. Since my wife and co-blogger, Julie, and I have written 12 past blog posts about FRONT International, rather than listing them all here, it is best that you just see them all by pulling up the posts tagged with:

The one FRONT International blog post that directly relates to 2022 is the FRONT 2022 Preview post:

For all art-related blog posts, please see:


I am writing this blog post as we enter the kickoff week of FRONT International. Please watch and share with others the tweets I share as I attend events, and watch for future blog posts. Also, feel free to tag me on Twitter as you explore FRONT International venues and activities, so I can share in your enjoyment, and retweet.