By PEGGY TURBETT
That northeast Ohio holds a trove of fine art collections is news to almost no one, given our world-famous Cleveland Museum of Art and a host of other museums, contemporary galleries and active studios. Nor is the Cleveland Arts Prize a newcomer to celebrating the creative process, with its six decades of support and awards for the regional arts community.
But now CAP is offering a key to the hidden treasures of the realm. Instead of a traditional fundraising benefit, the foundation is sponsoring a series of Tuesday tours of the exceptional corporate
collections, highlighting regional work and the creations of several CAP award winners.
The monthly events include six collections in Cleveland and Akron, featuring artwork at Progressive Insurance, Cleveland Clinic, MetroHealth Glick Center, The Union Club of Cleveland, Summa Health, and University Hospitals Ahuja Medical Center.
The series began on March 28 with an insider’s knowledge of the Progressive Art Collection. Curator H. Scott Westover highlighted key pieces, such as the Petah Coyne installation of dripped wax chandeliers and Andy Warhol’s “Mao Tse Tung” serigraph. Along the way, he noted the philosophy of former Progressive CEO Peter B. Lewis and the company’s founding curator Toby Devan Lewis, who saw art as a way to provoke passionate discussion and learning.
Stopping at Robert Rauschenberg’s “Unity,” Westover encouraged the viewers to first, identify the art: a framed iris print of an American flag and a shovel. Then, collect the facts: the shiny metal shovel’s translucent handle is tethered to the crumpled flag. The third step, said Westover, is to come up with a plausible interpretation of the facts. That led to several personal analyses of the artwork’s theme, such as “distressed but resilient.”
“We use these pieces for leadership classes,” said Westover. “The collection is meant to create meaningful conversation for people at work. It’s not just here to be seen.”
Progressive’s initial collection of 30 prints, photographs and drawings has now grown to over 10,000 artworks in 400 offices nationwide, featuring more than 2,000 contemporary artists from 70 different countries.
One of those artists is Amber Kempthorn, a 2022 Cleveland Arts Prize honoree who joined Westover on the Progressive Art Collection tour. In the dining area, she decoded Andy Yoder’s porcelain “Rebus,” a whimsical display of blue and white ceramic kitchenware. The tour then led to her own piece, “Push the Sky Away,” where she described the symbolism of melancholy, loss, and the “unstoppable forward push of time,” conveyed in acrylic, gouache, graphite, and ink on paper.
Each year, Westover works with the corporate executives to commission new work for the Progressive Corporation Annual Report. So the collection continues to grow and be accessible, to shareholders and the 55,000 employees as well as to the general public, through the Progressive Art App.
Funds raised from the tours go directly to the CAP Artist Prize fund, which distributes $50,000 annually to regional artists in visual arts, literature, theatre, dance, music, and design. The remaining CAP Arts Collection Tours of CLE continue through August:
Cleveland Clinic Art Collection, Tuesday, April 18, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
The MetroHealth Glick Center Art Collection, Tuesday May 30, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
Union Club Art Collection, Tuesday, June 20, 6:30pm – 9:00 pm
Summa Health, Tuesday, July 25, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The UH Ahuja Medical Center, Tuesday, August 29, 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm
For more details, go to clevelandartsprize.org
For details on the Progressive Art Collection, go to