Experimental Art in Cleveland

Following their work at LaunchU this winter, The Syndicate for the New Arts, an organization run by Oberlin Fellow Jackson Studzinski ’17 and Oberlin Student Danilo Powell-Lima ’18 are providinging a space for art to occur and community to flourish. They are bringing art from around the world to Cleveland and empowering the incredible experimental art community that calls Cleveland home. Currently housed at St. John’s Ohio City, we began curating events in January, bringing in Null Point from Buffalo, and have hosted groups from New York, Chicago, Norway, and North Carolina.

Upcoming events include Joo Won Park and the Electronic Music Ensemble of Wayne State from Detroit (4/14; 8pm; $10 suggested), Jaribu Shahid from the Sun Ra Arkestra and Art Ensemble of Chicago (4/21; 8pm; $20 suggested), and the opening of our multi-media series TRANSMITTER with tape artist Drekka, Aaron Dilloway, and Rachel Gibson (4/10; 9pm; $10 suggested), and that’s just April. Check us out on Facebook and take a look at our website for more upcoming events at http://www.thesyndicatecle.org. Pictured below is a photo from our 3/27 show.

If one scratches the surface of Cleveland’s cultural sector, one will find a very disproportionate amount of underground and experimental art. With legacies of boundary-pushing art-making as far back the 1960s with Pere Ubu, Electric Eels and the noise-punk scene that followed suit, the free improvisation of Albert Ayler, Abdul Wadud, Frank Wright, and the Black Unity Trio, and the experimental poetry of d.a. levy, rjs, and Dagmar Ferek, Cleveland has a wealth of historical precedent for experimentation. It might just be something in the water, but whatever it is, that legacy has continued healthily into the 21st Century with world-class experimental musicians like John Wiese, Aaron Dilloway, and Emeralds, and forward thinking artists like Kasumi and Matthew Gallagher, Cleveland’s position as a leader in experimental media is poised to continue.

Currently, however, there is no home, symbolically or physically, for this experimentation to occur. It all exists rather decentralized, with very little funding, and is held in disparate locations around the city, in short-lived DIY spaces, and sometimes-unfriendly music venues, coming together only occasionally in large, impersonal institutions. The Syndicate for the New Arts is working to become that home.GRID

One comment

  1. Jackson and Danilo, I am so thrilled at your success. Yes, Cleveland is a sleeping giant. There is enormous pent up creativity…looking to be centralized. Your work is very exciting and I’m hoping to get to one of your shows soon.


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