Cleveland art museum: Black Artists in Focus

The Cleveland Museum of Art has always been generally regarded as a bastion of contemporary art conservatism. These days however it has bravely dived into the escalating culture wars over America’s race past; by presenting significant works by Black artists entrenched in that history.

“Currents and Constellations: Black Art in Focus,” the museum’s exhibition, opened earlier this year. It highlights the diverse ways in which some of the country’s Black artists have responded to America’s racial divide.

Following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020, the show might have been seen as part of a trend of exhibitions focusing on race and diversity in art museums around the country. In fact, the Cleveland Museum of Art began increasing the number of exhibitions dedicated to African-American artists in 2013.

The exhibition also focused on works by women, minorities, and artists who transcend those categories.

The show is especially pertinent since it took place during a heated national discussion about how to teach the history of slavery and racism.

The racial politics that led to the recall of left-leaning school board members in San Francisco are an example of conflicts over the teaching of that history. Meanwhile, despite their criticism of left-wing cancel culture, conservatives want to restrict books from school libraries. They are seeking to empower residents to sue school districts. They claim that youngsters are forced to learn university-level critical race theory.

Key Jo Lee organized the exhibition. He has suggested that Clevelanders are open to discussing how African-American artists have approached themes that continue to permeate the country.

Prints by Elizabeth Catlett and Darius Steward, both of Cleveland, explore representations of the Black family. There are also works by photographer Dawoud Bey and painter Torkwase Dyson which evoke journeys from slavery to freedom. There are paintings by Norman Lewis and Jack Whitten, as well as a sculpture by Richard Hunt.

Other works reflect upon the cultural responses to police aggression. There are also reflections on the survival of oral traditions as a means of coping with cultural erasure.

The exhibition focuses on 17 works in the museum’s Focus Gallery.

But it also contains nine additional works exhibited around the museum’s four permanent collection galleries. They seek to demonstrate how works by Black artists can reveal new perspectives on the museum as a whole.

The majority of the paintings on display are from the museum’s increasing collection of works by black artists, which now numbers over 700 pieces. Artists and collectors have also loaned important pieces.

The show features a wide range of artistic perspectives, from Social Realism through Abstract Expressionism, Conceptualism, and beyond. Almost every major work on display reflects a school of thought or a method that could be the focus of a separate show. 

“Shadows of Liberty,” is a 2016 painting by MacArthur “genius award” winner Titus Kaphar. He also featured in the museum’s current “Motherhood” show, in Gallery 204. This area covvers art from the colonial and revolutionary periods.

The newly installed Kaphar picture is a reimagining of a clichéd equestrian portrait of George Washington by John Faed. This painting is now housed in Alabama’s Tuscaloosa Museum of Art.

While aesthetically mimicking the hero-worshipping Faed image, Kaphar subverts its message. In it he conceals Washington’s face and upper torso with tea-stained strips of canvas. Each bearing the names of the over 300 enslaved individuals he possessed.

The canvas ribbons are linked to the painting with rusty nails. This mimics a traditional African figure of power, or nkisi nkondi, which is on show in a glass cabinet nearby.

A 1779 portrait by Charles Willson Peale and his workshop representing Washington at the Battle of Princeton, standing boldly in an elegant hipshot position with his left hand on the barrel of a canon, is also on display close to the Kaphar painting.

Slavery’s injustice is literally “pinned” to the face of a Founding Father in the Kaphar picture.

The museum is not identifying itself with protestors calling for the renaming of buildings and institutions named after enslavers.

Nor the removal of Confederate monuments from Southern communities.

Instead, by placing the Kaphar alongside the Peale picture and the African power figure, the museum asserts that it can be a location where the complexities of America’s history may be explored.

This free-wheeling discussion continues in the Focus Gallery. Here Lee has divided two groups of pictures of Black women based on whether they face or turn away from the viewer.

White enslavers once sanctioned the right to rape Black women as a way to increase their human “capital,”. Portrayals of Black women facing away from the observer represent an assertion of autonomy and personal liberation.

The “facing away” theme includes Charles Sallee’s 1940 painting “Bedtime,” a and Lorna Simpson’s 1992 photographic screenprint “Cure/Heal”. 

Lee has chosen Mario Moore’s seminude portrait of the artist’s wife to represent the “facing toward” theme. She is shown in panties while standing boldly within a pastoral landscape. The picture is a rebellious statement of racial and sexual dominance.

Felandus Thames’s 2021 piece “African King of Dubious Origin” is a reflection on police violence against Blacks as a type of martyrdom.

As a result, it’s eerily relevant to the outcry that followed the cancellation in 2020 by the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland of an exhibition of drawings by New York artist Shaun Leonardo. The exhibition showed police shootings of unarmed Black men and boys, notably Tamir Rice of Cleveland.

MOCA said it canceled the show to avoid re-traumatizing Cleveland residents who had been victims of police violence. This raised the question of when and under what conditions it’s permissible to present art; no matter how well-intentioned which might reopen emotional wounds.

That question is answered in Felandus Thames’ work. It transforms a close-up photo of Rodney King taken after his savage beating by Los Angeles police in 1992. Made of girl’s hair beads fixed to wires it calls to mind violence without fixating on macabre specifics. 

The exhibition depicts the misery brought on by racism in American society. But also the beauty, pride, perseverance, and some extremely powerful visual thought. It creates a colorful and captivating package that demonstrates how a better grasp of American history should inspire inquiry, admiration, and understanding rather than fear and division.

Cleveland Casino celebrates tenth year anniversary

Every Saturday in May JACK Cleveland Casino gave away $1,000 every 10 minutes, with a grand prize winner winning $10,000.

JACK has attracted more than 21 million guests since opening its doors in Cleveland’s famous Public Square back in May 2012. Since then it has become one of the city’s most popular entertainment venues.

JACK launched as Ohio’s first full-service casino within the historic Higbee Building in downtown Cleveland.

it was orginally called Horseshoe Casino Cleveland only later changing its name to what it is known as now. JACK Cleveland Casino attracted more than one million visitors in its first year of operation; adding to the city’s strong sports, entertainment, and cultural offerings.

The $350 million gambling complex has 1,600 employees and includes 1,600 slot machines, 89 table games, and a big poker area. It also features lounges, a buffet restaurant and a three-outlet food court. A dozen local eateries and three downtown hotels have partnered with JACK Cleveland. And approximately 2,000 construction jobs were created during the project’s construction.

Not just an entertainment destination for the wider public; the casino has also been a big boost to the economy of Northeast Ohio.

According to one of their press statements the casino has paid over $700 million in gaming taxes to Cleveland and its schools. JACK has also given over $17 million to local charities. These include University Hospitals, the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, the American Cancer Society and the Greater Cleveland Food Bank.

They knew from the beginning that a casino would provide a missing aspect and excitement to Northeast Ohio. It wasn’t easy though and they had to fight hard to make it a reality.  From the start though the community welcomed them with open arms. They themselves were very happy to have become such an important part of the community.
As well as the cash prize giveaways the firm also intends to honor 244 employees who have been with the casino since it opened. 

The casino has also introduced betJACK, a mobile and internet betting platform. They intend to use the software to get ready for Ohio’s upcoming legalized sports betting. Daily free tokens are part of the app’s offers, allowing users to make “risk-free” wagers. If you are interested in Online slots machine, blackjack, roulette or video poker, you can check out Casinos Jungle. This platform is online casino industry reference in US and Canada .

The Cleveland School Artists

It doesn’t take long in the Northeast Ohio art scene to hear about the “Cleveland School”. In some ways, it’s a straightforward classification: The Cleveland School artists were students or faculty members of the Cleveland School of Art in the first part of the twentieth century, which later became the Cleveland Institute of Art. Beyond that, the label encompasses a wide range of artistic endeavors at a period when Cleveland and the rest of the country were buzzing with activity and change. While there’s a slew of area contemporary art on display all around the city every week, chances to learn about Cleveland’s artistic output a century ago are few and far between.

The Cleveland History Center’s exhibition, Golden Age of Cleveland Art, 1900–1945, ran from December 4, 2021 to April 3, 2022.

It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see a large collection of art created during what Clevelanders still regard as the city’s golden age. The show was the result of a collaboration between the Western Reserve Historical Society and the Department of Art History and Art at Case Western Reserve University. 

It also linked to the Cleveland Past Masters project. This acknowledges some of Cleveland’s most well-known artists who never won the medal because their lives and careers transpired before the prize was established in 1960. When the city needs a boost, people are more likely to become civic boosters. The Cleveland Arts Prize began decades after the city’s cultural and economic apex. However the show provided some evidence that the city’s struggle to connect with, relate to, and impact culture has a long history.

The exhibition explored regional cultural identity at a time when Cleveland was the sixth-largest city in the United States.

It covered a wide range of subjects, from fine art to commercial art and design; demonstring how Cleveland fitted into the national story. It aimed to show what was going on here and across the country as conservative nineteenth-century tastes persisted. Art practice developed from impressionism to modernism. Meanwhile jobs and money were drawing people away from rural areas and into cities. Many African Americans at this time migrated north during the Great Migration. Cleveland’s role as an industrial, commercial, and printing hub supported 6,000 professional artists.

Autumn Glory, a vibrant, floral impressionist landscape by Abel Warshawsky, is one of the first paintings a visitor encounters. It was far from innovative when painted in 1911 and couldn’t be more different from the remainder of the exhibit. Most features deeper colours, more drama and an exaltation of the city. But it does illustrates Warshawsky’s color theories, which he supposedly taught to a large number of eager and accomplished students. These included William Sommer and Henry Keller. However, based on the remainder of the show, they rejected his ideas.

Two years later the Armory Show debuted cubism and modernism to the American public. Henry Keller’s 1913 Portrait of Henry Gottwald seemed to mock its subject. Keller’s more conservative friend at the Cleveland School, Gottwald, had strongly rejected cubism as a new creative trend.

The Cleveland School of Art’s fine art faculty appeared to be torn between emerging movements for artists.

The city’s commercial artists were not, however. They appeared to have fully embraced the art deco aesthetic. This is evidenced by the large collection of lithographs created as posters for the Kokoon Arts Klub. Particularly by Joseph Jicha, who included words by Cleveland modernist poet Hart Crane in one poster. The painters of the Kokoon Klub were at the core of commercial art in the 1920s. It’s those art deco lithographs, with their bold lines and stylized characters, which are prominently featured in the show.

The art deco style demonstrated Cleveland’s awareness of the time’s more commercial art. However, the content of some of the other works reflected national trends. People, particularly African Americans, moved away from rural living in the early twentieth century. They moved into cities like Cleveland which offered work. A group of African American men unloading a river boat is depicted in Frank Nelson Wilcox’s 1920 watercolor Stevedores, Ohio River. Although it is a rural landscape, it recognises the mobility of people at this time. The Scarlet Creeper by Elmer Ladislaw Novotny created just fourteen years later, depicts something completely different. African-Americans moved from a rural to an urban environment within a decade. Novotny’s metropolitan ‘flaneur’ is a strikingly different type of person than the stevedores depicted in Frank Wilcox’s painting.

Art by African American artists from that period are scarce.

However the exhibition included pieces by Hughie Lee Smith and Beni Kosh, as well as two prints by Charles Sallee. Smith was arguably Cleveland’s most well-known Black artist at the time. He has pieces at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the National Museum of American Art, among others. He was also a Karamu House teacher.

Several outstanding cityscapes loaned from the Union Club collection highlight Cleveland’s urbanization. The Terminal Tower was the highest skyscraper in the country outside of New York City at that time. It looms in the distance in George Gustav Adomeit’s 1928 image from the standpoint of the Erie Street Cemetery. The 1946 Tremont Cityscape by Paul Joseph Ockert depicts the pre-highway skyline of church steeples and residential rooftops. Set against a backdrop of industrial smokestacks – the majority of these structures are still standing.

Carl Gaertner’s paintings depict a gritty city, but via more intimate views. The exuberance of the subjects radiates light. This can be seen in The Popcorn Man, where a crowd is drawn to a luminous cart pushed by a vendor. It’s a bright spot in the urban landscape, similar to Gaertner’s The Pie Wagon, which is in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection.

The Cleveland History Center is definitely not on many people’s radar when it comes to Cleveland art.

There’s a high possibility many missed this show. However, if you want to be considered knowledgeable about the region’s art, or if you want a crash course in the Cleveland School and its artists, the museum itself is well worth a visit. 

The Cleveland Museum of Art Visitor’s Guide

Are you planning a visit to Cleveland? Here’s how to get the most out of your visit to the Cleveland Museum of Art. It’s my favorite Cleveland attraction. The museum is a must-see in this underappreciated city.

You wouldn’t expect to discover the Cleveland Museum of Art in northeast Ohio. It is one of the best museums in the country. And the best part is that it’s completely free (except for special exhibitions).

In this Cleveland Museum of Art guide, we cover the basics of the museum as well as 20 must-see treasures.

From ancient times to the present, these masterpieces span 6,000 years. In this diverse collection, there’s something for everyone. 

Overview of Cleveland Museum of Art

The museum has a well-organized layout. From Roman artefacts to current art, the museum has it all. Here’s a basic rundown of the design. 

The first floor transports you to the times of the Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and the early Islamic period.  The Cleveland Apollo and the Marcus Aurelius statue are among the most impressive sculptures.

A magnificent collection of Greek vases is also on display. And be sure to check out the beautiful tapestries that were once stored in the Chateau Chaumont.

A great set of Medieval and early Renaissance paintings are also on display. In the United States, you won’t come across those items very regularly. Artists represented include Botticelli, Fra Angelico and Filippo Lippi.

On the second level, you’ll find an extraordinary exhibit of 16th to 18th century French, British, and American art and furnishings.  There are paintings by Jacque-Louis David, John Singer Sargent, Thomas Eakin and a spectacular Tiffany stained glass collection.

The museum’s modern art collections are in the East Wing. This area features artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, Matisse, Monet, Degas, and Dali.

Auguste Rodin, the famous French sculptor, is represented by a number of works, including one of his stunning Age of Bronze.

The Cleveland Museum of Art has a lot to offer. Here are some of the most important works of art at the Cleveland Museum of Art:

The Atrium

The Ames Atrium, designed by Rafael Winoly, is the museum’s magnificent centerpiece. It was given the name Ames in honor of the Ames family. They donated $20 million to the museum to assist in the construction of the $350 million facility.

It’s a three-story space with lots of plants. The atrium is completely encased in glass and the ceiling has a dazzling perforated pattern.

Cleveland Apollo

The Cleveland Apollo is the Cleveland Museum of Art’s most famous and priceless piece. It was purchased by the museum in 2004 and according to Cleveland Museum Director David Franklin it is probably the greatest antiquity in the US.

Instead of the more common Roman replica, the Cleveland Apollo is most likely an authentic Greek bronze from 350 B.C. The Louvre Museum in Paris has an exact Roman replica of the Cleveland Apollo.

Original Greek sculptures are incredibly difficult to come by. The majority of them were destroyed or robbed and, as a result, lost to history.

Praxiteles, one of Ancient Greece’s greatest sculptors, most likely designed the Cleveland Apollo. The sculpture was initially called the Lizard Slayer, according to scholars. While reclining on a tree trunk, Apollo was most likely stabbing a lizard with an arrow.

Marcus Aurelius Statue

This is a magnificent, nicely carved monument. Marcus Aurelius, the Roman emperor, is most likely the figure. Aurelius was a follower of Stoicism, a popular philosophy in Rome at the time.

The incredibly well-dressed figure is obviously an important person. The statue’s rich detail further indicates that it is an imperial portrait.

The emperor stands with his left leg forward. He raises his right arm to his chest. This was a popular stance among Greek artists.

Greek Vases 

The Column-Krater Vase in particular is one of the most important.

It is the most significant of a group of twelve vases painted by an unknown Greek artist. The museum refers to the artist as “The Cleveland Artist.” 

On the main side of the ship, there is a magnificent chariot scene. You can see Apollo, who carries a lyre and wears a laurel wreath.

Artemis, Hera, and Hebe are most likely the three goddesses who accompany him.

The Royal Persian Tent of Muhammad Shah

This is an American art museum’s only imperial Iranian tent. The tent is a relic of the Qajar Dynasty of the 19th century. It has the inscription “Muhammad Shah,” who ruled Iran from 1834 to 1848.

These imperial tents served as more than just a place to sleep. They were also emblems of wealth and power.

The circular tent is approximately 12 feet tall and 13 feet wide and made of wool with silk embroidered flowers, vines, and exotic birds.

The embroidered panels give the impression of being wrapped in a warm and peaceful paradise garden when viewed from within the tent.

Armor Court

The Joseph & Morton Mandel Armor Court is the official name of the Armor Court.

Located on the second floor it is a very popular attraction for the museum, especiallly for anyone interested in military history

A superb collection of weaponry, armor, swords, flags, and tapestries can be found here. The Rider and Horse, created by Linda Buck, is at its heart.

Jacque Louis-David’s Cupid and Psyche

David was a modern painter from France who was very much against much of the Rococo period’s excesses. His elegant linear paintings are typical of the newer style he embraced.

David incorporated the Cupid and Psyche tale in this painting. He investigates the conflict between idealized love and love’s physical realities.

Cupid was the mortal girl Psyche’s lover. He paid her nightly visits. But only on the condition that she not find out who he was.

Cupid is frequently a God-like figure in art. David, on the other hand, presents himself as a smirking teen.

David based his view on old literature. Cupid, for example, is described as bratty and mean-spirited in poetry by Moschus.

Egyptian Artifacts

The Egyptian Collection at the Cleveland Museum is a real highlight. It houses one of the best Egyptian collections in the country. Bakenmut and Neskhonsu’s magnificent coffins are the showpieces.

The coffins are among the finest painted wooden coffins from the pharaohs’ 21st and 22nd dynasties.  The pharaohs usually had unornamented and unmarked graves to discourage looting. Instead, they spent fortunes on ornately painted coffins.

Images of gods and goddesses, as well as religious settings, adorn the coffins. Magical symbols and protection spells are other features.

Filippino Lippi Tondo 

Filippino Lippi was the brilliantly talented son of artist Fra Filippo Lippi. The majority of both their work can usually be seen in Florence’s famed Uffizi Gallery.

Lippi used the tondo format in many of his paintings. This is a painting in a circular frame.

During the early Renaissance, when art from Florence was in high demand, the tondo was very popular. 

The painting’s composition is exquisite. Mary seems smitten with the infant Jesus whilst from the left God watches.

The painting uses high-end materials and would have demonstrated the patron’s wealth and influence.

Fra Angelico’s Annunciation

Fra Angelico, together with Giotto and Donatello, helped to herald the arrival of the High Renaissance by transforming the art world. 

His works earned him the moniker “The Angelic Painter” or “Il Beato” (the Blessed). Fra Angelico was a “unique and flawless genius,” according to Giorgio Vasari, a Florentine artist and art historian. He was certainly one of the early Renaissance’s most fascinating individuals.
The Annunciation is a work by Fra Angelico from his early years and  was most likely part of an altar.

Chateau Chaumont Tapestries

Pierre Sala most likely commissioned the Chaumont tapestries. Dwellings, churches, and palaces used tapestries as murals in the 1500s. The tapestries in the museum are from the Loire Valley’s Chateau Chaumont.

In the Time tapestry the opulently dressed Sala is the central figure. He is giving his pregnant daughter a bouquet, which is a symbol of knowledge.

There is an old man with a staff who represents time. A shallow space, an unusual scale and exaggerated figures characterize the tapestry giving it  the appearance of an early Renaissance artwork.

48 hours in the Cleveland art scene

Cleveland is a city built around art, from indie galleries filled with homemade items to gigantic historic institutions curating the classics. If you’re interested in seeing Claude Monet’s impressionist paintings or Mark Mothersbaugh’s experimental style, we’ve put together a two-day schedule just for you.

Day 1


Make sure to eat your most important meal at Playhouse Square’s Yours Truly.  Wake yourself up with a handcrafted Nitro cold brew and try the signature Notso fries and Killit Skillet. 


The Cleveland Museum of Art (CMA) is a short bike ride or Uber ride away, with over 45,000 works of art spanning 6,000 years. One of the last Rodin-supervised casts of “The Thinker” is here, as well as Monet’s “Water Lilies.” And you know what’s the nicest thing about the CMA? Its permanent collection is always open to the public for free.


There’s no need to travel far for lunch. The Cleveland Museum of Art has its own restaurant Provenance which is located within the museum. The acclaimed chef Douglas Katz’s upmarket food options frequently reflect the art on show at the museum. For example, during a traveling exhibition showcasing Monet, the restaurant created a special menu. It included a lemon lavender cake and delicious flowers and herbs which acknowledged the artist’s love of painting gardens.

Early afternoon

The beautiful onyx architecture of the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland (MOCA) anchors the Uptown section of University Circle. It’s a non-collecting museum, so there’s always something new in the realm of contemporary art on display. Andy Warhol, Jim Hodges, and Claes Oldenburg have all had exhibits at the museum in the past. Admission is always free on a daily basis.

Late afternoon

The Cleveland Institute of Art’s Reinberger Gallery promotes professional artists while also serving as an educational resource for students and teachers. You’ll find inspiration from newer voices in the art world here. There is multi-media, multi-sensory work that really breaks norms and challenges reality inside these galleries.


Tommy’s is a neighborhood favorite in Cleveland Heights’ fashionable Coventry neighborhood. Its delicious food and excellent milkshakes are the things to go for here. With a variety of options ranging from falafel to wraps to meat pies, the menu attempts to suit both carnivores and vegans/vegetarians.


Add a little pizzazz to your night with a visit to the Waterloo Arts Gallery and Waterloo 7 Studio/Gallery. Both are located along Waterloo in Cleveland’s up-and-coming Waterloo Arts District on the east side. This distinctive part of town is an artsy hotspot, with a renowned music club, vinyl record buying, vintage clothing, and cool little cafés all along the road.

Day 2


Breakfast Grumpy’s Cafe in Tremont serves a hearty platter of corned beef hash or a giant stack of pancakes to start the day off correctly. If any of the artwork on the walls appeals to you, feel free to inquire about purchasing it.


Calicchia Studio and Doubting Thomas Gallery are just two of the scores of small galleries springing up between restaurants and houses in this area; known as the epicenter of Cleveland’s indie arts scene. Walkabout Tremont, an art walk occurring the second Friday of each month, is one of the best times to visit.


Drive five minutes to Hingetown in Ohio City for lunch at Saucy Brew Works. Lunch should include a New Haven- or Saucy-style pizza and a flight of their brewed-on-site artisan beers.


Take a short walk to Transformer Station, an art and photography gallery with ever-changing exhibitions. Go inside and you’ll find thought-provoking photographic exhibits as well as modern art curated by the Cleveland Museum of Art. The building, which used to be an electrical substation, was converted into an exciting venue for modern art. And, even better, entry is completely free.

Just a few feet over the street is SPACES, a modern art gallery housed in what used to be the Van Rooy Coffee Building. Each season, SPACES hosts three different exhibit programs, all of which feature new work by artists. Expect to see some truly mind-blowing work at this gallery, which focuses on artists that explore and experiment.

Travel west to ARTneo, a facility dedicated to preserving, researching, collecting, and exhibiting outstanding visual art from the Northeast Ohio region. Inside, you might find everything from a single artist’s painting collection to a rotating show of paintings, prints, and sculptures by a number of different artists.


78th Street Studios, a four-story building with art galleries, creative spaces, and even recording studios, is just a short walk up the street. This isn’t some posh art gallery – it’s housed in a former automobile production facility. The facility is a  fantastic place to learn about the indie art community. Each month on the third Friday, there is a special art festival with food, beverages, and over 60 small businesses.


Relax after a long day with one of Market Garden Brewery & Distillery’s many superb beers, such as the famous Prosperity Wheat or Citramax IPA. The food, which is produced with locally sourced ingredients, is just as popular as the beer selection. One of their famous Scotch Eggs is a good way to start, then move on to the rest of the menu.

Who is William Busta?

William Busta, like most kids, didn’t know what he wanted to be when he was in third grade. He did however have a strong interest in museums. At home he would display small exhibits along with labels he constructed on shelves at his house.  

Early life

When he was in sixth grade he needed to see his orthodontist on a regular basis. His mother taught him how to take the bus from Brecksville to downtown Cleveland. There he would walk around and observe the beautifully crafted displays in the early 1960s retail store windows. During the summers when his mother was at Case Western Reserve University for graduate school, he would explore the the museums while she was in class.

Higher Education

He took an Arts and Humanities course in his final year of high school. This introduced him to the evolution of culture throughout history. He studied how the relationship worked between arts disciplines and their functions in society. That class made him realize that culture was very important.  That all of the many arts were responding to what was going on in those civilizations; and that they were sometimes furthering an argument or a discourse about those events.

He then used his undergraduate education to expand his understanding of all of the arts. Baldwin-Wallace College awarded him a bachelor’s degree in English, and Case Western Reserve University awarded him a master’s degree in history and museum studies in 1976. William then used his professional expertise to further his understanding of art and how it should be displayed.

Work in Galleries

He worked for two years as the director of the Dacotah Prairie Museum in Aberdeen, SD. After that he spent a year as the assistant director of the Plains Art Museum in Moorhead, MN. Here he developed his philosophy that the most articulate things people create are our arts. He believed that we are create a dialogue with the past and use our voice for the future. 

He returned to Cleveland in 1980 to take over as director of the New Organization for the Visual Arts, which he held until 1982. While at NOVA, he saw what artists required from galleries. He also felt compelled to have a purpose in his life that was both social and moral.

His philosophy

He founded the William Busta gallery because he believed that one of the things that could benefit Cleveland was for it to have a stronger cultural identity as a center for the arts.

Bill knew that when an artist was represented by a gallery they could be more productive. They knew when their next show would open, and they could connect more with an audience if they knew where their work was over time.

The William Busta Gallery was founded in this way, with the goal of representing artists who live and work in Northeast Ohio. Bill moved the gallery from Murray Hill Road in Little Italy to Detroit Avenue in the Detroit-Shoreway district, and then to Prospect Avenue near Cleveland State University, where he moved in 2007.

Bill likes to point out that his gallery hosted the first Cleveland shows for a long list of artists who have gone on to tremendous success; many of whom have won Cleveland Arts Prizes.

“I love Bill’s basic honesty and his genuine appreciation for the artists he showcases,” one of those artists, Don Harvey, adds. His ability to not let his own viewpoint get in the way of the creative process and his readiness to support artists as their work evolves over time without placing pressure on them to develop things that sell are exceptional.”

Bill also acknowledges his wife’s contribution to the gallery’s success. “Though Joan’s name wasn’t on the window, she was an integral part of what the gallery was. Without her backing, everything would have been very, very different, or it might not have occurred at all.