'Unseen Cleveland' revealed at BAYarts this August

In "What Moses Saw," artist Marge Gulley depicts a view of the shoreline as it was seen by Moses Cleaveland and the Erie Indians.

The allure of Cleveland's past speaks loudly to artist Marge Gulley.

A Bay Village resident and award-winning artist, Gulley is presenting a new exhibition at BAYarts this August. "Unseen Cleveland" explores the original, untouched Cleveland that was seen by Moses Cleaveland and the Erie Indians. Modern life has layered itself onto the land over the course of several decades, but when this debris is erased the original land can then be visually explored. Of course, quite a good deal of work goes into revealing this sort of view.

Indeed, an incredibly thorough and vast amount of historical research was involved in creating these works of art. Interestingly, Cleveland at large hadn't been the original target.

"Several years ago, my original quest was for facts on the history of Cleveland's lighthouses," Gulley said. "I spent hours, days and years searching various sources. At the Western Reserve Historical Society in particular, I would get sidetracked by interesting but totally non-related information on Cleveland's history. I became fascinated with Cleveland's past, and ultimately came up with the idea of Unseen Cleveland, an artist's interpretation of Cleveland's impressive past and its inspiring and beautiful history."

It proves difficult to imagine Cleveland without the buildings that cover it today. But at one time it was untouched land. Not only that, but it was coveted land. Historically, Cleveland was always a highly prized area because of its prime geographic location. With a space on the lake and near the river, trips to the Gulf of Mexico were made easily. Gulley explains, "It was recognized by Ben Franklin as a place of great promise and was settled by creative and industrious individuals who kept that promise."

Cleveland's past might hold an importance in finding current pride and prosperity, and the Bay artist provides a massive amount of acquired and compiled knowledge in this exhibition. "My goal was to inspire an interest in Cleveland's interesting past." This meant Gulley was seeking out Cleveland's secrets in many separate locations. "The archives of the Western Reserve Historical Society, Cleveland Public Library, the Cuyahoga County Library, Cleveland State University – and sometimes unexpected sources – hold written accounts and old, grainy or poorly lighted photographs that preserve for us what can no longer be seen. These are the source."

"Unseen Cleveland" will be revealed with an opening reception on Friday, Aug. 7, from 7-9 p.m. The show will be on display through Sept. 12, inside the Sullivan Family Gallery at BAYarts, Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Email eileen@bayarts.net to schedule an appointment or to meet the artist.

Jessica Stockdale

BAYarts

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Volume 7, Issue 15, Posted 9:43 AM, 08.04.2015