2018 Triennial Archive

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art: An American City

July 14 – September 30, 2018

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is an exhibition comprised of artist commissions, performances, films, and public programs that will launch its inaugural edition in July of 2018. An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises, in collaboration with museums, civic institutions, and alternative spaces across Cleveland, Akron and Oberlin, will showcase an ambitious roster of projects, including performance and theater throughout the landscape and built environment. With a roster of national, international and area-based artists at all points in their career, FRONT will examine the ever-changing and politically urgent conditions of an American city.


FRONT is a new Art Triennial based in Cleveland and opening the summer of 2018. This citywide art program will bring together international, national and regional artists, curators and scholars to propose a new format for biennials and triennials. It focuses on process, research, collaboration and long-term engagement with Cleveland and Northeast Ohio to provide an expansive stage to create and share new work that is inspired by and engaged with the social, political, cultural, ecological and economic issues of our time. These themes and ideas are explored by the participants will revolve around the history and the current realities of Cleveland that serves as an example of a midsize American city in time during which this country is deeply divided. FRONT sees museums and exhibitions as places for a nuanced conversation about the difficult issues and concerns in society, away from the perhaps comforting but also reductive way of absolute thinking that is so destructive. The program feels the need to address complexities and diversity of thought within the spectrum of institutions that address the state of the world around us.

FRONT has teamed up with all of Cleveland and the region’s most renowned arts and cultural institutions, making it unique in the world for the scope of its collaboration.

FRONT is organized by the FRONT Exhibition Company.


Fred Bidwell

Executive Director

Fred Bidwell is a philanthropist, collector, and community leader. After a 35-year career as an advertising and marketing entrepreneur, in 2011 he and his wife established the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation. In 2013, the Bidwell Foundation opened Transformer Station, a contemporary art exhibition space on Cleveland’s West Side. Transformer Station alternates between acting as a venue for exhibitions curated by the Bidwells from their renowned collection of photo-based contemporary art and as a venue for exhibitions organized by the Cleveland Museum of Art. Fred Bidwell served twice as board president of the Akron Art Museum and currently on the board of the Cleveland Museum of Art and on the Visiting Committee of the Allen Memorial Art Museum.

Michelle Grabner

Artistic Director

Michelle Grabner is an artist, a writer, and a curator based in Wisconsin. She is the Crown Family Professor of Art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she has taught for twenty years. In addition, Grabner has held teaching appointments at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cranbrook Academy of Art; Yale Norfolk; Milton Avery Graduate School of Arts – Bard College; Yale University School of Art; and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine. Grabner co-curated the 2014 Whitney Biennial and curated the 2016 Portland Biennial. Her reviews are regularly published in X-tra and Artforum. In 2010, Mary Jane Jacob and Grabner co-edited THE STUDIO READER, published by the University of Chicago Press. Grabner is represented by James Cohan Gallery in NYC; Green Gallery, Milwaukee; Gallery 16, San Francisco, Rocket Gallery, London; and Anne Mosseri-Marlio Galerie, Basel. With her husband and Brad Killam, they founded The Suburban in 1999 in Oak Park, IL hosting a range of international contemporary art. After 16 years in the Chicago vicinity, The Suburban began programming exhibitions in a two storefronts located in Milwaukee Wisconsin. In 2009 Grabner and Killam opened The Poor Farm in rural Wisconsin. The Poor Farm is dedicated to annual historical and contemporary exhibitions, lectures, performances, publications, screenings and alternative free pedagogical programs.



Lisa Kurzner

Exhibition Director

Jamie Hardis

Director of Public Programs and Engagement

Arlene Watson

Project Management

Caitie Moore
Nancy Boylan
Joe Lanzilotta
Greg Peckham

Administrative Assistants

Annmarie Suglio
Kai Cochrane
Olga Nazarenko

Curatorial Assistants

Rose Burlingham
Sarah Liska


Sarah Siebert

Finance and Accounting

Rita Tersigni
Elizabeth Place
Kelly Peecook

Chair of Local Artistic Advisory Board

Liz Maugans


Virginia N. Barbato

Fred Bidwell, Executive Director

James Cohan

Joanne R. Cohen

Sarah S. Cutler

Toby Devan Lewis

Helen Forbes-Fields, Chair

Howard Freedman

Ann Hamilton

Michelle Jeschelnig, Vice Chair

Donna M. Kohl

Scott Mueller, Vice Chair

August A. Napoli Jr.

Jon J. Pinney, Secretary & Treasurer

Richard S. Rogers

Charna E. Sherman

Steven D. Standley

Felton Thomas, Jr.

Dan P. Walsh Jr.