Christina Vassallo arrived in Cleveland in 2014 from New York, where she had led the artist collective Flux Factory in Queens, to take over the helm of SPACES Gallery. At the time it was floundering, unclear in its direction and needing a new home after the sale of its building.
In her five years, she brought energy and vision to the 36-year-old artist-driven institution, making it one again an exciting place to be, with a mix of exhibitions, performances and events that were thoughtful, provocative, engaging and always worthwhile. She led SPACES’ exodus to its new home in the heart of the burgeoning “Hingetown” neighborhood of Ohio City in 2016, which required a major fundraising campaign. She created a community engagement department, led the creation of a five-year strategic plan, and explored new collaborations with writers, dancers, musicians, film and video artists, performance artists and more.
SPACES’ contribution to FRONT International Triennial “A Color Removed,” which was built on community contributions and interaction to address issues of race was one of the Triennial’s strongest offerings. This year’s reimagining of SPACES’ longtime annal gala fundraiser brought “End of Days,” featuring installation “rooms” by seven artists/teams with a longer timeline for visiting including a Halloween party this week before its closing Sunday. That’s only scratching the surface of the ways she re-energized the organization.
She’s leaving for a new challenge. She’ll be moving to Philadelphia to become the executive director of the Fabric Workshop and Museum. With her leadership, it’s sure to be a place Cleveland’s will want to visit when they’re on the east coast.