Sharing life and art

Some would caution couples against working together – but if two people share a passion for something, it can make sense to share a career.

Local artists Luana Cleveland and Craig Kaufman, married for more than 30 years, likely would agree. The duo’s artwork will be on display in an exhibit titled “34 Trips Around The Sun” – a nod to their 34 years of marriage – at Converge Gallery, 140 W. Fourth St., that will open with a reception from 6-9 p.m. Sept. 2 during September First Friday activities.

“The most rewarding thing about having a spouse with a passion for art is that we share the passion,” Kaufman said. “We have been using visual art as a form of communication for so long that it has become a verbal shorthand.”

“Sharing the same interest in art makes planning trips easier,” Cleveland added. “The most challenging part in the past was trying to find time to work while raising small children.”

A graduate of Penn State University and the Art Students’ League in New York City, Cleveland also attended the New School for Social Research and the Brooklyn Museum School. She worked in arts administration and as a gallery director as well as making art. Kaufman is a graduate of the York Academy of Arts and Kutztown State University who also studied at Penn State, Wilkes and Marywood universities. He was a public school art teacher for many years, as well as an adjunct professor at Pennsylvania School of Technology and Lycoming College.

Having been together for 45 years and married for a majority of them – all while creating, discussing and learning more about art – Cleveland said that the two had plenty to choose from when deciding on works for the upcoming Converge Gallery exhibit.

“I chose paintings that were created over the past 34 years The older ones are some of my favorites from the past,” Cleveland said. “I also have some painted expressly for this show.”

For his part, Kaufman’s work “isn’t made for a particular exhibit, but is ongoing.”

“All of my recent work is related to Luana’s and my travels to faraway places,” he said. “In addition to travel, my work is influenced by my previous paintings, life experiences and the work of other painters including my wife’s.”

The show is one that gallery director John Yogodzinski is looking forward to, not only for another chance to work with Cleveland and Kaufman, who exhibited together early in Converge Gallery’s history – when the space still was known as Grey Gallery – but also to have another joint exhibit.

“Since we condensed the gallery down to its current size, I’ve been doing a good amount of solo shows, but that’s not to say we are not opposed to group or duo shows,” Yogodzinski said. “I think if we can make the work play off of one another, our space has enough segmentation of the walls to make the work speak to one another.”

“I think joint or group exhibits offer something for everyone,” he continued. “Craig’s work is more abstract but Luana’s quirky animals are more realistic. I think no matter what your taste in art is, you’ll find something to enjoy.”

Cleveland noted that joint exhibits between partners or couples has an added unique element.

“People seem interested in the theme of artist spouses and how they influence each other’s work,” she said.

The couple has had “many exhibits together,” Kaufman said, and they always look forward to the possibility of another, for more reasons than simply getting their work out into the world.

“Seeing the actual work is very different than looking at a reproduction. It is always exciting to hear other’s comments and criticism,” he said.

Cleveland agreed, although since her contributions to the exhibit will feature older pieces, she also is eager to re-examine her previous works.

“It gives me an opportunity to look at work I haven’t seen in a while and look at it as a whole,” she said.

For more information, visit www.convergegallery.com.


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