Laura Ruth Bidwell began her career as an artist with a painting major from the University of Akron and, after a career as a graphic designer in advertising, works on photography, video and on-demand book projects.
As an artist-in-residence at Zygote Press, she has created a body of work called “Mondegreen”. A mondegreen is a mis-hearing of words or phrases. The pieces made at Zygote reference a childhood mis-hearing of the lyrics to Eartha Kitt’s “C’est Si Bon”. The works also refer to the unreliability of memory.
One way a mondegreen is created is when a person incorrectly hears a song lyric and then substitutes words that sound similar and make some kind of sense. American writer Sylvia Wright coined the term in 1954, writing about how as a girl she had misheard the lyric “…and laid him on the green” in a Scottish ballad as “…and Lady Mondegreen”.
This also applies to memory. As time passes, we roll the recollection of events into a compact ball as details fall away and a hardened belief remains. Fictions become fact and the truth emerges from dreamlike details. In 1961, we moved to Detroit for one year. I was 7 years old. It was far enough away from comfort and filled with enough anxiety that I do not remember much about that time. What I do remember is a damp basement filled with toys that ultimately mildewed and a red portable record player.
I had moved on from dramatic readings of Jack and The Beanstalk and a 1941 version of A Christmas Carol when I discovered a 45rpm record of Eartha Kitt singing “C’est si Bon” in the record stack. The record sleeve had no photo but I knew immediately from the French lyrics and her eerie, idling voice that she stood for glamour. And adulthood. Once she started confiding in you about Cadillac cars, mink coats, and des bijoux the stars were there to reach for.
The mix of one slightly muffled speaker and baffling French lyrics combined to create a song that was still grand enough for swanning around in plastic high heels and castoff jewelry. I offer the following versions of C’est Si Bon – the original opening verses and the remnants of my youthful version.
C’est si bon
De partir n’importe où
Bras dessus, bras dessous
En chantant des chansons
C’est si bon
De se dire des mots doux
De petits riens du tout
Mais qui en disent long
Say see bone
Ah bactine ah backtoo
Waddah choo waddah choo
Casey and Dee
Foreign Affairs Exhibition: September 9-16, 2017
The Ohio Arts Council & Zygote Press Dresden Exchange Program
September 9, 1-3pm: Foreign Affairs Opening Reception
September 9, 2pm: Foreign Affairs Artist Talk
In its 18th year, the Dresden Exchange Residency is an ongoing cultural-artistic link between the State of Ohio and the City of Dresden. Zygote Press, Cleveland and the Grafikwerkstatt, Dresden, host two guest artists each year with the support of the Ohio Arts Council (OAC.) Residency artists are expected to engage with the fine art printmaking studios by creating art, exploring new techniques and interacting with their host colleagues.Zygote Press builds upon its record of international exchange this month with featuring visiting artists Thomas Hellinger & Falk Toepfer. Zygote will be sending Rebekah Wilhelm, Zygote’s Shop Manager and Patrick Mauk from Dayton, Ohio. Zygote’s Dresden Exchange is the longest-running international artist exchange program in Ohio.
Rasmuson Residency Exhibition – Michael Conti & Claudio Orso
Zygote Press Gallery. July 7 – 28, 2017
Trapiantato Remoto Opening Reception: July 7, 6-8pm
Trapiantato Remoto is like a joke within a joke (in Italian). It is a misspelling of a verbal tense referring to something long past. Both artists were responsive to their environments and soaking in as much as the people, places and participatory events that they could during their respective stays.
Artist Michael Conti, of Anchorage, Alaska, has been in Cleveland this summer capturing images with his camera of our most historic monuments, both the ones that exist and others should exist because they mark significant events in our city’s history. The project is part of his summer residency at Zygote Press, through the Rasmuson Resident Exchange program between June 1st until the end of July.
During Orso’s residency, he responded to much of the animals and awe inspiring Alaskan landscape around him through creating woodcuts. He came home after his two months in Homer and had another residency in Montana. The culmination of these two residencies will be in the exhibition along with his inspired creations that he created as a Resident Artist for Parade the Circle at the Cleveland Museum of Arts huge 2017 celebration.
FREE STYLE: Tease and Tension between Abstraction and Representation
Zygote Press Gallery. May 12 – June 24, 2017
Opening Reception: May 12, 6-8pm
Brings together many of the regions most exciting artists working on the edges and tensions of abstraction. These artists re – evaluate abstraction, recognizing that though the subject itself, that it is often perceived to be unified, where in reality, it is a highly complex, fluid and many – sided phenomenon. The group exhibition illuminates how the act of making a representational painting has become redefined following the emergence of abstraction as a competing proposition.Representational painting has always been in rebuttal of abstraction – sometimes polemically against it but more often incorporating aspects of it into a new synthesis. The exhibition draws on some of the contentious encounters and its impact on the many ways these artists have revised their conception of what representation can be. Several strands of abstraction are showcased through various types of artistic production, including paintings, drawings, mixed media collages, and prints. This is a brief survey of some of the exciting, responsive approaches taking place in NEO. Many of the artists are exhibiting for the first time at Zygote and we are honored to show this work and celebrate the freestyle energy that these artists present.
Patricia Zinmeister Parker
Above image; Strange Attractor, Jamey Hart
Generously supported by Tom Balboa
Ghost Images: Prints from the William Busta Archives and Zygote Press the first golden age of Cleveland printmakers
Zygote Press Gallery. March 17 – April 15, 2017
Opening Reception. March 17, 6-8pm
Saturday, April 1, 2017, 1-3pm: “On Collecting”, Curator’s Lecture.
William Busta, of the respected William Busta Gallery, who was a key dealer in supporting local artists for over 26 years, has selected prints from his own collection of etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, serigraphs, linocuts and wood engravings from the Depression decade. Despite the dire economic times of the Great Depression, publishers of original prints, associations, clubs, groups and societies provided an opportunity for American artists to thrive.
Bill collected prints circulated by the Cleveland Print-a-Month Club whose activities aimed at increasing the democratic reach of art by making it affordable for a larger market and accessible to the wider public. The Federal Art Project gave out-of-work artists a regular paycheck, and hired a diverse group of artists – women and African Americans as well as white males – to produce art for public buildings and for display in tax-supported institutions. Artists portrayed the issues of the day: labor, economic progress, recreation, adversity and hard times, the Dust Bowl, and urban and rural life. The prints in the show present a diversity of subject matter through a wide range of printmaking techniques.
Bill Busta, a founding Board Member of Zygote Press and a committed supporter of printmaking, brings together these print-parallels and contrasts with Zygote’s 20 year archive collection. Special thanks to Zygote’s committed archivist, Corrie Slawson and Jake Hatmaker for their support and technical assistance with this exhibition.
4U: Four University Print Shops Show Us Their Stuff
Open Portfolios, Demonstrations, Opportunities for Students
Zygote Press Gallery. March 11, 2017, 1-4pm
Demonstrations by Rebekah Wilhelm & Bob Keleman
4U is a gathering of students and teachers from the print making departments of four Ohio universities. Participating this year are student and faculty print makers from The University of Akron, Kent State University, Cleveland Institute of Art, and Oberlin College. Participating faculty members in 2017 include: Maggie Denk-Leigh (CIA), Karen Beckwith (CIA), Michael Loderstedt (KSU), Taryn McMahon (KSU), Hui Chu Ying (UA) and Charles Beneke (UA) and Kristina Paabus (Oberlin).The one-day Open Portfolio event opens in the gallery from 1 to 4 p.m. Work is available for sale and this provides students with a chance to show their work and get other art regional professionals, gallerists and curators to see the next wave of talent coming out of our local universities. Faculty participants will also bring portfolios of work that will be available for browsing. The artists will also be on hand to discuss their work and compare notes.
In addition to giving young Ohio printmakers an opportunity to show their work at Zygote Press, the 4U Exhibition serves as a warm-up for student and faculty print makers attending the annual Southern Graphics Conference in Atlanta, Georgia this March. Zygote will also showcase scholarship, intern and residency opportunities for student-printmakers.
Love Library: Let’s Talk About Love, Baby
Zygote Press Gallery. January 13-25, 2017.
Opening Reception: January 13, 6-8pm.
Let’s Make, With Love Thursday, February 9, 6:30-9:30pm
Soup & Share Potluck: February 25, 1-3pm.
We have invited the participating artists to share their stories of love in this closing potluck of Let’s Talk About Love, Baby. Sarah Kabot, Co-Love Librarian Cleveland Chapter hosts this gathering to speak more intimately about their own works in the Love Library. Join us and bring a comfort food favorite to break bread and hear about the wonderful contributions that will continue to travel the world. This is a great opportunity to browse through the books one last time and hear more from the curator Chido Johnson about some of the other books in the collection.
Curated by Zimbabwean-born artist Chido Johnson, the traveling Love Library is artist created books inspired by Harlequin Romance novels.Johnson was born and raised in Zimbabwe, but spent his youth reading whatever he could get his hands on. As fate would have it, the rural mission small library had an abundance of romance novels. At the time the project was conceived Johnson was living and teaching in Sweden, he came to the US at a time when love was not in the air. Politics du jour were focused on the tense situation in the Gaza Strip. Johnson responded strongly to how society diminished the individuals affected by the violence by referring to them as “these people.”
Thinking about our innate ability to homogenize individuals, Johnson turned to art, and the book project specifically, to root us back into experiencing love, life and humanity directly by living rather than being fed information off a computer screen. Chido has recruited artists from all over the world to create altered books using the Harlequin Romance Novel as a template. He has traveled to various cities, which he calls “Chapters”, where a LOVE LIBRARIAN is selected, to recruit 20 loved ones to create new books for the collection that will continue the travel.
Participating artists: Rian Brown, Kristen Cliffel, Hadley Conner, Dana Depew, Amber Esner, Evan Fusco, John G, Val Grossman, Jake Hatmaker, James Klein & David Reid, Sarah Rose Lejeune, Dave Lucas, Anthony Mastromatteo, Liz Maugans, Loren Naji, Sarah Paul, Jessica Pinsky, Matt Rowe, Corrie Slawson & Ira Lefkowitz, Breanne Trammell, Nanette Yannuzzi, Justin Will, Nikki Woods