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Arts & Culture

Photo Exhibit Shares Snapshots of Cleveland

photo of Cleveland library photo exhibit
The Cleveland Public Library's '20/20' exhibit includes work from (clockwise from top right) Shari Wilkins, Billy Delfs, Ruddy Roye, and Greg Martin. It opens at 4:30 p.m. Monday.

From Lake Erie to Little Italy -- and from Public Square to the public schools -- daily life in Cleveland is the subject of an exhibit opening Monday at the main library downtown.

The library’s outreach director, Aaron Mason, says there’s a gap in the archives that they don’t want to repeat.

“Around 1980 or 1990 is when most of our photographs stop. There isn’t much past that point.”

So last year, as part of its 150th anniversary, the library commissioned 25 photographers and gave them a mission: document everyday life in the city. Around 200 images were chosen for the new exhibit, titled “Cleveland 20/20: A Snapshot of Our City Now.”

“Everything from architecture [to] nature to people [and] the different populations in the city that we wanted

photo of Brett Hall
As part of its 150th anniversary, the Cleveland Public Library commissioned 25 photographers to capture images of city life. The exhibit opens Monday at 4:30 p.m. in Brett Hall, at the main library downtown.

to focus on. Originally, we intended for it to be neighborhood based. But now, we went in a different direction and it’s more thematic.

“There’s a casual interaction of a family on the lawn at Severance Hall. By itself, you may not pay attention. But juxtaposed with, let’s say, children from the Central neighborhood -- or churchgoers from the Fleet neighborhood -- it really shows the diversity of our city and the diversity of life in general.”

The Cleveland Public Library holds about 1.3 million photos in its archive, but Mason says they were mostly taken by city officials or newspapers. He adds that he hopes to add to the archive with more images of the city and everyday life annually.

The exhibit runs through November 30.

Contributing photographers -- working both on film and digitally -- include Tim Arai, Enahjae Beasley, Stephen Bivens, Bridget Caswell, Matthew Chasney, Hadley K. Conner, Destanee Cruz, Billy Delfs, Shelly Duncan, Maria Fallon, Aja Grant, Diana Hlywiak, Da’Shaunae Jackson, Adam Jaenke, Jef Janis, Felix Latimer, Daniel Levin, Greg Martin, Christopher Mason, Gabrielle Murray, Owen Rodemann, Ruddy Roye, Michael Tsegaye, and Shari Wilkins.

Cleveland filmmaker Robert Banks also created a documentary following New York-based photographer Ruddy Roye, who made several trips here for the exhibit.