CLEVELAND — Tanya Kaiser saw much of the world as an Army brat, but when she was ready to fulfill her dream of opening an art gallery, she chose Cleveland.
And she wasn’t interested in a run-of-the-mill gallery, but a gallery and lounge that welcomes everyone, and serves cocktails that complement the art.
What You Need To Know
- Kaiser Gallery is a new “hybrid” art gallery with a lounge that’s opening in Tremont and designed to be welcoming for visitors and artists through inclusive practices
- Kaiser Gallery, owned by Tanya Kaiser, will offer public programming in addition to exhibits, and serve craft cocktails that complement the exhibits
- Both emerging artists and established artists can submit their work without charge through an online submission process
- Kaiser Gallery is now hosting private showings and expects to open to the public by the end of January
Kaiser moved to the area for her job with the Social Justice Institute in 2019. When the world went into lockdown, she looked into opening her gallery in New York, but was priced out.
Years before, she had interacted with Cleveland organizations as media director for a Long Island museum, so she started looking around.
“Tremont just seemed like the perfect spot,” she said. “Cleveland is actually way more approachable because of the scale and just the people in general, more friendly. And I just really flourished here.”
Kaiser Gallery is already open for private viewings while final inspections for the physical space are under way. Kaiser is hoping that red tape moves quickly and the gallery can open its doors to the public by the end of January.
“It’s been painful, but we’ve been having a great response,” she said. “The artwork is up and it looks wonderful.”
And true to Kaiser’s vision, her gallery is in no way traditional.
As a sculptor interacting with art galleries in New York over the years, she knew what she didn’t want for her own gallery.
She did want everyone to feel welcome, visitors and artists alike, to introduce art to new audiences.
“I feel like sometimes those galleries can be a little elitist,” she said. “And as brilliant as they are in their programming, and the artists that they have on display are just so brilliant, it feels like there's an unseen barrier. And people who have never set foot in a gallery just seem intimidated. I just want to have that same quality, but make it more approachable.
One way she is doing that is accepting art submissions from both established artists and emerging artists.
“We actually showcase local artists next to international artists,” she said. “That's a big deal. We're looking to bring in that Chelsea quality art and make it super accessible to anyone who's coming off the street.”
The gallery accepts artists’ submissions via online images, without charging fees, rather than expecting artists to package up their submission and pay to ship it to the gallery.
“A common practice in the art field is to have a fee -- anywhere from $25 to I've seen up to $90 -- to submit artwork,” she said. “And so, by removing those fees, right away, you're making it more inclusive, because now people who are priced out of applying with their artwork can now afford to do it.”
She’s also looking to support neighboring small businesses in Tremont, with a focus on women-owned businesses.
Meat and cheese platters are being provided by Saucisson, the Lady Butchers, in Slavic Village.
Destiny Burns’ CLE Urban Winery is providing Kaiser Gallery’s wine selections.
To offer craft cocktails, Kaiser hired experienced mixologist and illustrator Katelyn Ritchie, who recently moved to Cleveland from Bloomington, Illinois.
“As an artist, and as a foodie raised by a California wine lady, I just knew it was going to be a great fit,” Ritchie said. “So I rolled the dice, and even from our first conversation I knew we were going to get along really well. Tanya is really wonderful person. And I think what she's doing is very important.”
Ritchie says it was clear the job was right after reading the Kaiser Gallery mission statement on the website.
The Kaiser Gallery “statement of accountability” explains that the gallery will collect general data on exhibiting artists, such as gender identity and ethnicity, which will be posted at the end of each season.
“We hope that our collected data will provide us agency to act on the issues of inequality within and around us while keeping our community and our staff aware of disparities,” the statement reads. “We strongly believe and encourage all galleries to maintain public statistics regarding their exhibiting artists. These records and statistics also motivate us to continually strive for inclusion and diversity while representing a wide variety of voices.
Aligning adult beverages with art also sets Kaiser Gallery apart.
Ritchie employs a creative process that includes sketching out ideas when creating the cocktail recipes that dovetail with the exhibits. The current show, “Switch,” runs through Feb. 7.
“The current show is based around lights and electricity and technology, so I was thinking about what kind of flavors I would use to accompany that,” Ritchie said. “What does electricity tastes like? Is it is it fizzy, is it warm? And how can I relate those tastes to what I'm seeing in the pieces of art?”
The results are one recipe that features candy pop rocks, and another that introduces extra carbonation to the cocktail.
Up next is “Coveted,” an artistic response to the “male gaze,” which embodies how women are depicted as sexual objects for the pleasure of the male viewer.
The exhibit will feature “perspectives not easily accessible in mainstream culture.” Ritchie will create a cocktail recipe for each of the seven artists featured.
“I'm really excited about our next show because it's feminist and very sensual,” Ritchie said. “So I think I'm going to be playing with a lot of textures and very traditionally feminine colors and kind of flipping everything on its head.”
The gallery is also a “hybrid” gallery, which is both for profit and nonprofit. In addition to art exhibits, Kaiser plans to offer public programming that includes lectures, performances and demonstrations.
To schedule a private showing, call 216-282-3826 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The exhibit schedule can also be viewed on the Kaiser Gallery website.