Convention Center Channels Creativity With New Art Gallery

Author: David McMillin       

PCMA Education Conference attendees haven’t had to travel far to get a sense of Cleveland’s creative vibe, thanks to a new art gallery located inside the Huntington Convention Center.

When Ron King left his role as the executive director of the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas near the end of 2017, he noticed a glaring hole in his new home at the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland and Global Center for Health Innovation.

“When I arrived in Cleveland, I was staying in the adjacent Hilton Cleveland Downtown hotel with a vibrant Cleveland-based art program,” said King, who took over as general manager of the facility in late 2017, in advance of the 2018 Education Conference. “When I would walk into our building, it was a stark difference in that our facility did not have art and, frankly, didn’t have anything on the walls that differentiated it from any other city.”

Those blank walls are now a canvas for hometown creativity. For the past six months, King and his team have been working to develop the new Cleveland Convention Gallery, an exhibition space for local and regional artists that opened on June 7. “We moved forward with a plan to ‘Clevelandize’ the building by adding local art, large photographs, and partnerships with iconic Cleveland landmarks,” King said, “such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Pro Football Hall of Fame, and the Cleveland Metroparks.”

Located in the C2 Concourse in the venue, the central location “brings the artwork into an area that is used by convention attendees for registration and meetings,” King said.

“It is a central gathering place overlooking exhibit halls,” he said. “The current art display, ‘A Conversation in Metal and Canvas,’ features the metal tools and object sculpture of David Deming and the abstract paintings of Samuel Roth. This decision was intentional for the symbolism of grit and elegance that truly epitomizes Cleveland and showcases its vibrant arts and culture scene.”

Eileen Roth, founder of Ohio-based Art Source, serves as the gallery’s curator. When the gallery opened, she spoke about a key reason why the space is important: It belongs to the city’s residents. “As a Cuyahoga County–owned facility, the Huntington Convention Center of Cleveland belongs to the people, and our mission in creating an art gallery is to honor the broad diversity, history, and significant momentum and growth in our community,” Roth said. “Our goal with the Cleveland Convention Gallery is to create a memorable destination by presenting thoughtfully crafted experiences that support education and the commerce of art in the city of Cleveland and throughout Northeast Ohio.”

With that public connection, attendees looking for a break from educational sessions or exhibit halls won’t be the only ones who can take advantage of the gallery. When the center isn’t being occupied by conference and trade-show groups, the space will be free and open to everyone.

Want a glimpse inside the Huntington Convention Center? Click here to register for today’s free live-stream program from the Education Conference.

And for a look at how some cities are turning every corner into a canvas for artists, check out “4 Destinations That Paint the Town.”

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