Year of the Cleveland Snake

Artists’ creativity has children dancing through the streets with the “Lake Erie Monster”
Creative Fusion artists Mely Barragan and Daniel Ruanova live in Tijuana, Mexico, but spend a lot of time in Beijing, China, where they maintain a studio for Chinese artists to create temporary exhibits. So it was a natural placement for them, as Creative Fusion artists, to be hosted by Zygote Press, whose studio is in the Asia town section of Cleveland’s Midtown Corridor – a mix of light industry, Asian businesses, and residences.

As part of the outreach activities of their Creative Fusion residencies, Mely and Daniel have been working with the students at the Campus International School.  Recognizing this was the Year of the Snake in Chinese mythological cosmology, they began looking for parallels in American mythology. They were delighted to learn of the legend of the Lake Erie Monster. Using that as the basis for study and art-making, Mely and Daniel developed a project with the students to create a giant snake – reminiscent of the colorful dragons that are always part of Chinese New Year celebrations – and construct it for entry into the Cleveland Museum of Art’s Parade the Circle celebration held a week ago.

Over the past six weeks, Mely and Daniel designed the amazing creature that snaked and danced its way through the capacity Parade crowd.  It was a wonder of engineering.  Light – so the children could carry it; flexible – so they could move and the snake could slither; and portable.  The whole 40 foot snake collapsed into the size of a suitcase so it could be easily transported.

Many rehearsals in the school’s auditorium helped the children learn a simple choreography they performed at the parade. With colorfully painted “scales” on their cheeks, the smiling children were a vision of herpetological delight as they slithered and flicked their long red tongue through the cheering crowd.

This wonderful community project aside, Mely and Daniel have been doing their own artistic work here during their three-month residency. They will have an exhibition and lecture at Zygote Press on June 26. at 6:30 p.m.  Titled “Bipolar Order: a Thought Process from Tijuana to Beijing to Cleveland and Backagain,” the installation and discussion will offer insight into how artists with a high level of comfort moving across cultures have found meaning in their residencies here in Cleveland. 

In fact, the final week of the spring Creative Fusion residency will see activities by many of the artists. Here is the schedule:

JUNE 19, 7 p.m. Vietnamese musician Hue Pham Thi, hosted by Young Audiences, will perform ancient Vietnamese catru music and jam with local musicians at the First Unitarian Church in Shaker Heights.

JUNE 25, 6 p.m. South Korean artist Yun Sabi, hosted by the Ingenuity Festival, will present an installation and discussion on the 4th floor of the Stokes Wing of the Cleveland Public Library.

JUNE 26, 6:30 p.m. Mely and Daniel’s exhibit at Zygote Press.

JUNE 27, 6 p.m. Indian artist Alka Mathur, hosted by Art House, will present “New Delhi to Cleveland: Tea Bags Measure Time” at 6604 Detroit Avenue. 

JUNE 28 and 29, 7:30 p.m. Ana Paula Jones, from Brazil, offers a one-woman show at Cleveland Public Theatre.