with Gloria Plevin
Q: What caused you to become an artist?
A: As a child growing up in West Virginia, I loved coloring books, drawing and painting, looking at the illustrations in books, later
making clothes for paper dolls. I always seemed to be the best in drawing and painting in grade school. I thought I had a special gift.
When the time came to decide about my future, I needed to support myself, and I went into department store merchandising. Not
until the age of thirty, living in Cleveland, married to an attorney, Leon Plevin, and with children, did I take an art class with Thelma
Winter at the Jewish Community Center. No longer concerned about making a living, I allowed myself to consider becoming an
artist. It changed my life. For the next several years, I studied part-time at the now defunct Cooper School of Art, the Cleveland
Institute of Art, and Chautauqua Summer Schools. I was determined to become a fine painter.
Q: What challenges do you face as an artist in the Cleveland area?
A: The number one challenge for me, and for nearly every artist living here, is to be noticed and taken seriously. This means that one
might hope to be reviewed in a local paper, hopefully The Plain Dealer, or possibly The Free Times or Scene. It is a dismal situation
but recently shows signs of improving.
Q: What are the benefits to being an artist in this area?
A: The proximity to the Cleveland Museum of Art, which has a world-class permanent collection and impressive travelling shows, is
a bonanza for artists. Opportunities to study, to be challenged and to improve one’s skills and techniques by attending classes taught
by highly qualified artists at the Museum, at the Cleveland Institute of Art, the Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State, Oberlin,
and other venues, even on a part-time basis, cannot be underestimated. There are opportunities to exhibit at every level. Many of the
libraries and private schools and clubs have dedicated galleries which are good places to start, and then there are commercial galleries
and artists co-ops. Non-profits like Spaces, the Cleveland Artists Foundation, the Center for Contemporary Art, and the Artists
Archives of the Western Reserve are other possibilities.
Q: How would you describe your work?
A: My paintings and prints are about life, and I use people, plants, fields, whatever, in compositions where shapes and colors help
create a certain mood. They are about paint, and not about politics.
Q: What artists influenced your work?
A: Actually, I was influenced by artists in two movements: the impressionists and then the Post-Impressionists. I have always been
interested in people in still-lifes, and in landscapes. In other word, in “life.” And I came into my own as an artist when museums
were interested in exhibiting these dead artists, but the so-called art world was fascinated with new ideas which mean for me that
abstract expressionism, color field, op art, and other non objective art styles superceded any art involving the real world.
Q: Who is your audience? What constituency buys your work?
A: Friends, and others who collect artists of this region. Prospective buyers at my gallery in Chautauqua, New York, who come from
all over the United States and Canada.
Q: What factions have helped you most to get your work out and seen?
A: When NOVA still existed, its slide-file occasionally brought an unsolicited exhibition opportunity. Currently, the Artists Archives of
the Western Reserve in which I am an archived artist, helps by organizing shows for its artists and also taking the work out to other
galleries. The Cleveland Artists Foundation at the Beck Center sometimes has a curated theme show in which my work has been
selected. The Ohio Print Biennial sponsored by Zygote is another great opportunity. One of the best places for being seen has been
the Playhouse Gallery, but I do not know whether that is going to continue.
Q: What is your favorite work at the Cleveland Museum of Art? Why?
A: Bonnard’s painting “At the Table.” It is an intimate scene in which a woman sits at a table after a meal, and her dog’s head is
raised up for a treat. The colors glow with painterly warmth and the artist’s affection for this most natural human situation.
Q: What advice would you give an artist just getting established in the area?
A: Get a studio, then get out and meet other artists, dealers, critics. join an artist’s organization. If you don’t already have bachelor’s
and master’s degrees, better get them, from the best school that will have you. The art world is now global, and if you are able to get
a residency at an artist’s colony and attend workshops, do so. Exhibiting in New York still matters. The young artists whom the
Print Clubbers met in Scotland are paid by the government to go to Australia to paint and exhibit. They all want to exhibit in London.
Q: What question do you yourself have for the art community here in the Cleveland area?
A: a.) What, if any, is the responsibility of the Cleveland Museum of Art to the artists of this region, now that there is no longer a
May Show? No venue here can come close to comparing to the prestige of being in the May Show, or showcasing the artists of this
region. I myself was never in the May Show, so I personally do not miss it in my own career. b.) Would the Zygote Board and
members support a Zygote booth at the Cleveland Print Fair? This would bring Zygote artworks to the largest, discerning, buying
audience, and introduce us to other art dealers on a national basis. What is your connection to Zygote Press? I am an artist member.
A few years ago, after seeing some small etchings by Lawrence Channing, he told me about Zygote and suggested that I call Bellamy
Printz, which I did. While I had done nearly every print process at the Cleveland Institute of Art, I can no longer work with acids and
solvents due to a bronchial weakness. Fortunately, Bellamy was willing to work with me and that began a three-year relationship with
Bellamy helping me develop the plates, and sometimes other artists generously helping with the editioning. It has been my pleasure to
work with several talented printmakers, giving me yet another means of expression and helping me to continue to grow as an artist.
|Interview © Zygote Press, Gloria Plevin, and Christian-Albrecht Gollub
|The following interview with artist GLORIA PLEVIN first appeared
in the fall/winter 2002 issue of Fresh Ink, the Zygote Press newsletter.
Born in Pittsburgh as one of two children of Elizabeth and Sidney Rosenthal, Gloria Plevin
grew up in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Ohio University, A.A. Married attorney Leon Plevin,
1956, four children, five grandchildren. Permanent collection: Butler Institute of American Art.
Who’s Who in American Art 1995-present. Ohio Artists Now, The Art of Gloria Plevin,
Herbert Ascherman, The Artists Project.