Celebrating the legacy of artist Clarence Van Duzer - one of Cleveland's better kept secrets
Posted July 16, 2013 in Articles
Author: Steven Litt
In the annals of Cleveland art history, the name of Clarence Van Duzer isn’t usually grouped with those of industrial designer Viktor Schreckengost, the Op Artist Julian Stanczak and other widely admired giants of the field.
If anything, Van Duzer is remembered as a loner artist with a goatee and a mane of hair who built a bunker-like concrete home and studio near Settler’s Landing on the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland in the 1970s.
He sold the building in 1989, but it is still associated with him thanks to recorded patter on river tours by the Goodtime III that has mentioned his name for many years.
Van Duzer also created the spiky stainless steel “Global Flight” sculpture at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport in 1976, a piece with a touch of Buck Rogers – and not one of the city’s more beloved monuments.
Kathy Lynn, Van Duzer’s widow, wants to revamp her late husband’s reputation through a foundation the couple formed shortly before his death in 2009 at age 89.
Her goals include documenting Van Duzer’s work, creating exhibits and scholarly publications and funding a permanent scholarship in his memory at the Cleveland Institute of Art, where he taught for 33 years between 1947 and 1989, with stints at the Flint Institute of Art in Flint, Mich., and the University of Denver.
“He’s really been in the dark in the art world,” she said Monday while giving visitors a tour of the rented loft space over Spaces Gallery on Superior Viaduct, where she moved the bulk of Van Duzer’s work after his death.
The interior is a virtual one-man museum, packed so tightly with objects that visitors have to walk single file around stacks of canvases leaning against walls and worktables piled high with art books and small studies for abstract sculptures.
“Every day here is like Christmas,” she said. “I’m still opening things.”
Lynn, who lives in Strongsville, and who has maintained a studio in Cleveland’s Little Italy neighborhood, is an accomplished artist herself; one of her works was featured in the 2005 NEO Show at the Cleveland Museum of Art. She took her husband's last name after their marriage, but uses Lynn as her professional name.
She has reserved a corner of the loft space for her own work, but the bulk of the interior is devoted to Van Duzer.
Over the years, Lynn has invited museum curators, collectors and art historians up to the loft over Spaces for a quiet look at Van Duzer’s legacy.