Fri 1/19-Fri 2/16
Christina Sadowski said her friends knew something was up when last year the co-owner of E11even 2 Gallery bought kayaks with the idea of, well, kayaking around the Cuyahoga River. Now half a year later, the photographer is ready to unveil a photo exhibit tied directly to her waterway experience. Reflections of Cleveland goes on display at the gallery at 78th Street Studios during Third Fri 1/19 @ 5-9pm.
CoolCleveland talked to Sadowski about kayaking, shooting Cleveland and her love of photography.
CoolCleveland: E11even 2, great name. What’s the impetus behind the gallery?
Christina Sadowski: Myself and my two partners — Billy Nainiger and R!ch Cihlar — opened the gallery about four years ago. Our original space was suite #112 and we got creative and called it E11even 2. Then maybe a year after we opened we expanded into the space of #111, which is now the showcasing gallery. We’re really kind of pop art. The boys do mixed-media, a lot of famous people, Beatles, skateboard art. And then I’m more on the photography end of things. It’s a good balance between the three of us. Our target is really everybody, so we want people to come in, have an experience and understand that you don’t have to be high-end to own art. You don’t have to be rich to start a collection. You can come in and buy a $5 bookmark or a $20 print up to a $3,000 original. We really try to target all spectrums of people, and have them realize that you can come in, be an art collector and be the average Joe.
CC: So what you’re saying is there’s nothing wrong with being an average Joe?
CS: No, that’s what we all are (laughs). We all have full-time jobs somewhere else and we all do this on the side as a passion. So we like to cater to those people who are working class people like us.
CC: Is it fair to say E11even 2 has a rock sensibility?
CS: We like to have that edgier, fun experience. It’s family-friendly, but we’re always blasting music and having a good time. It’s the fun space in the building. So we really strive to keep things interesting, changing the shows out, moving things around and keeping it fresh and lively so people want to come back.
CC: In terms of keeping it fresh, tell us about Reflections of Cleveland.
CS: It’s all new work by me. I really got into kayaking this year and what started as just something to do on the weekends, just going out on the water, turned into this is a total different vantage point of the city. I realized I could make a show out of it. So I started going out a few times over the summer and into the fall a little bit at sunrise and capturing the city before it woke up, when the sky was lighting up and the clouds changing. I started looking at the images, thinking this could be a solid show.
CC: What’s one photo that in your mind epitomizes the exhibit?
CS: I have one shot that is under one of the bridges and the Ashtabula, which is one of the big working barges. You get this reflection of the barge and this industrial background of a bridge, of course, because there’s a million bridges in Cleveland. It really shows the city to me. Because it’s a working city, we’re a working-class people. It’s an industrial town. And the waterways are just key to everything here. That’s one of my favorite images just because it really shows how much is going on industrial-wise. I have the cityscapes, reflections with all of the buildings, but I really think the one with the Ashtabula is one of my favorites.
CC: There’s something to be said about an artist pursuing their passion unfettered by commercial aspirations. What does this element of freedom provide to you as a photographer?
CS: I shoot what I love, and for that aspect, I really like that freedom. I don’t have someone telling me, “You need to do a show on this” or “Photograph this.” And I love Cleveland. I’ve been shooting Cleveland since I started doing photography in 2008, so just to get a different aspect of it and to just explore shooting on a moving object and being in a boat on the lake or in the Cuyahoga was a challenge in itself. It was really setting out and giving myself a project and working on it to see if I could make something of it. I’m really proud of these images. I’m excited for people to see the show.
CC: So, we have to ask, have you ever tipped over in the kayak?
CS: (laughs) No, I didn’t tip at all, yet.