Sat 1/12 @ 3-9PM
Located inside of Cuyahoga Falls’ Comstock Building, Studio 2091 Mothersbaugh, which includes nine resident artist studios, as well as two gallery showrooms, has provided area artists a haven to showcase their work for the better part of the last decade.
Now gallery owner Amy Mothersbaugh has announced she’s closing the epicenter of artistic expression for a new job opportunity. However, before the Front Street location closes its doors for good, the talented — who mostly creates animal kingdom-related works — is showcasing her art with the “Alit: Bug Studies” exhibition, which opens Fri 1/12 and runs through the end of the month.
CoolCleveland talked to Mothersbaugh about the gallery’s legacy and her future.
CoolCleveland: Before we talk about the closing of the gallery, can you discuss the origin of Studio 2091?
Amy Mothersbaugh: I started Studio 2091 nine years ago. Over that time it’s really become more than just an art gallery. It was pretty much a hub in Cuyahoga Falls for art. It has a pretty big community following. The typical art show has 10 people or so. I set standards and could pretty much guarantee a minimum of 100 people coming through. With social media, a gallery’s responsibility had to evolve and change with the times. If an artist can show a piece of art around the world just by having an Internet connection, a gallery has to be able to provide more. I worked really hard for that. Also, I took my previous business experience and made an actual business plan so that I would not go underwater. I figured out who walked past my building and who was my immediate community. I think a lot of people open a business but they don’t bother to figure out who they’re hoping to bring in. And because I’m not Akron or Kent, people from Cleveland all the way to Canton had no problem coming to the openings. I drew people across city lines and that’s kind of a big deal.
CC: Tell us about the Comstock Building.
AM: That building has been in my family for probably 50 years or more. It was my dad’s, he renovated it so that it actually looked like how it did 200 years ago. It’s the second oldest brick building in Summit County. Also, Devo (Mothersbaugh’s older brother is Mark of Devo fame) shot videos there. I grew up going there when I was shorter the receptionist desk. It’s more than just brick and mortar to me. It’s been a building in my family pretty much my whole life.
CC: If that’s the case, why are you closing the gallery?
AM: My brother Mark has owned the building for 13 years. Honestly, the amount of money to repair these historical old buildings will domino the expenses for more repairs. It will just out-price what an art gallery can afford to pay. And Mark’s been great. He bought the building from my dad, and he kept it for way longer than he probably wanted to. He’s been really supportive of what I’ve been doing down there. He’s seen firsthand the art community that has been created, but it’s time to move on. He’s going to sell the building.
CC: So what’s the legacy of Studio 2091 Mothersbaugh?
AM: I hope the gallery is remembered as a place that showed edgy art and, despite controversy, I never backed down or censored work of artists. I always made the artists my highest priority. They got 80% of the commission; there was never a showing fee. I was able to show some of the best artists – Andy Dreamingwolf, Dara Lynch – who have gone on to become internationally known.
CC: The gallery’s swansong event will be your exhibit Alit: Bug Studies. How did you decide on this project?
AM: I gave shows to pretty much everybody I wanted to and I’m the only one who hasn’t had a solo show there, so the time was right. I figured I’ll be the last solo show with Alit, which is a series of bugs, insects, butterflies and moths that I started painting when I started taking care of my parents at the end of their life. These are small watercolor studies that were mobile enough while my parents were in hospice or in the hospital or I was at their home taking care of them [that] I could keep working and creating. This is a culmination of showing all of these pieces I made during the last six years. I have more than 100 pieces.
CC: Finally, what’s the next chapter in the Amy Mothersbaugh story?
AM: I have quite an interesting opportunity. I’m always excited at trying new things and that’s what it’s all about. I had a publisher/agent ask if I would be interested in creating a children’s picture book series based on my octopus art. Of course I said, “Yes.” Now I’m learning how to actually do a storybook. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. You just don’t draw pictures for children, you have to tell an entire story through images and I love the challenge. That will be my fulltime job doing illustration work as soon as I’m done closing the gallery.