The Cleveland Photo Fest’s inaugural year in 2019 enjoyed remarkable success, especially for a fledgling event, bringing something new to a local arts scene that seems to be growing its number of arts festivals every year.
Co-directors Laura D’Alessandro, Jim Szudy and Herb Ascherman put together the entire two-month/multi-venue undertaking in around seven months, with her help of supporters and volunteers. In that time, they organized ten exhibitions in 15 venues and helped to promote a total of 21 photography exhibitions. The 250 participants were primarily Cleveland and Ohio photographers, along with contributions from across the country, Canada, England, Belgium, the United Arab Emirates and India.
Once the 2019 Cleveland Photo Fest was history, the core team and its associates met to re-organize and re-prioritize to prepare for its second edition in fall 2020. PHOTOTHON 2020 was scheduled for September and October at the Bostwick Design initiative gallery on Prospect. It was to feature five simultaneous exhibitions in the expansive space, involving more than 200 local, regional, national and international photographers. Those exhibitions will still take place, but they have now been postponed until the spring of 2021, along with the entire event.
But that’s given the organizing team the opportunity to incorporate and address a lot of what’s gone on in the past year.
“Our showcase exhibition for PHOTOTHON 2021 is (and will be) extremely timely, given the social upheaval sweeping the country,” they tell us. “For the first time in Cleveland history, a community of diverse photographers will join in a single portrait project. The exhibition, titled I Identify As, consists solely of local participants. Aware of the prevalent issues surrounding diversity in the arts, the CPF has initiated a portrait project to include Black, White and diverse local photographers. Randomly assigned a collaborator from a different background, each photographer is committed to initiate and explore his/her subject, creating an introspective and reflective portrait for the exhibition.”
PHOTOTHON 2021 will also include a national open show for women, what’s described as an “upbeat look” at figurative photography, an exhibit devoted to animal rights and more. It will also feature 1,000,000 Selfies, a copyrighted exhibition that will attempt a world record sanctioned by the Guinness Book of World Records. Watch for the announcement of the 1M Selfies APP. Many other exhibits and special events are in the works. The best way to stay put date is to go to the CPF website and sign up for the newsletter.