Project Highlights



The Gibans had a 60th anniversary in 2015. Celebrating in our favorite form – discussion – we had Gibans gatherings once a month (about 4-6) at the Gibans home, a coming together of 4-8 people who started by identifying ONE THING (book, work of art, or experience) that influenced the way they saw things, looked at the world, related to others, or allowed them to grow. The result will be a publication called “Celebrating the Soul of Cleveland” being published by ATBOSH Media Ltd. These folks are not all in the arts but everyone will know someone in the group.

At meetings in January through June 2015, we shared a non-tangible “essence,” a time when all elements had come together and made sense. We had some discussion about what resonated with everyone. The result was a bibliography, a survey distributed to about 1000 people, and an event September 21 at the Happy Dog on 5801 Detroit Avenue under the aegis of the Baker Nord Center for the Humanities at CWRU. In one word, it was a “blast” with a full house. (See attachments for the survey and event program.) The surveys have been a way to involve audiences and will continue to be used.

ORIGINAL GROUP: Suzanne DeGaetano, Michael Gill, Nancy King Smith, Sabine Kretzschmar, Don Harvey, Rick Ortmeyer, Christopher Diehl, Terry Schwarz, Nancy Myrnyack, Jack Bialosky Jr., Ann Klotz and Dan Moulthrop.

COMPONENTS: Bibliography and list of CD and DVDs under ongoing development. SURVEY FOR EVERYONE. Podcast and visuals from the event available. The event used readings and visuals around the stories. People especially liked the inclusion of ethnicity.

THE SOUL OF CLEVELAND – September 21, 2015

Sponsored by The Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, Case Western Reserve University and The City Club of Cleveland.

Peter Knox, Director of the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities, Case Western Reserve University and Moderator Dan Moulthrop, CEO of The City Club of Cleveland.

Nina Gibans, Coordinator. “Setting the Stage; Connecting the Dots.” VISUAL: “Refuge” by Amy Casey (2015). Issue 8 handouts and surveys, bibliography and cards for notes and messages.

THE SOUL = “Wild Geese” by Mary Oliver
Oliver lived here and taught at CWRU. Reader: David Hassler (suggested by Rick Ortmeyer).

THE SOUL = “Digging History”
Art historian and Breadsmith owner Sabine Kretzschmar

THE SOUL = “Examining our city from many perspectives since 2000 through urban design research and practice in Cleveland neighborhoods”
Director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative Terry Schwarz

THE SOUL = “Water, Water Everywhere – Save it, Save the City”
Victoria Mills, Director, Doan Brook Partnership

VISUALS: Caydie Heller, Susan Klarreich, Don Harvey, Lori Kella, Michael Loderstedt, Chris Pekoc, Randall Tiedman. Short comments read by David Hassler.

THE SOUL = “The Lake Effect”
From The Hard Way on Purpose author David Giffels

VISUALS: “The City” by Laila Voss, Douglas Max Utter and Michelangelo Lovelace. Short Comments read by David Hassler.

THE SOUL = “People: Edwin Mieczkowski”
Art historian and former assistant of the Putnam Sculpture Collection Evelyn Kiefer-Roulet

VISUALS : CPL Tondo Sommer Sun and Blue/White Ford, Idea Garage; “Daniel Thompson” – Cleveland City Councilman Ward 3 Joe Cimperman.

VISUALS: Street sign, plaque, invitation, Daniel. POETRY read by David Hassler.

THE SOUL = “The Physical Soul of Cleveland”
Architect Jim Gibans

VISUALS: Severance Hall, Schweinfurth bridge, Rockefeller Park, and Lakeview Terrace
“The Old Arcade” architect and Senior Program Officer for the Gund FoundationJennifer Coleman

VISUALS: Exterior, the Arcade, Interior, Republican Convention 1896.

THE SOUL = “By Hand – Our Ethnic Roots”
Sabine Kretzschmar on breadmaking

VISUALS: Breadsmith

THE SOUL = “The Future”
Collectors John Farina and Adam Tully

VISUALS: Casey Akerstrom


CONCLUSIONS: “It was a blast! More, more!”

Second Round – Series of 4 sessions – Moreland Courts- Spring 2016

Fridays in April from 2-3:30 p.m.

Dubbed “the youngest hippies’ and community faculty,” Nina Gibans has taught in the community formally and informally for over 50 years. Nina’s website is the quickest way to learn out the expertise behind this project.

The Laura and Alvin Siegal Lifelong Learning Program

Session IFriday, April 1 – The Soul of Laukhuff, Publix, Loganberry, Coventry Books and Mac’s Backs. Bookstores are the backbone of community learning. Anecdotes, focus, variations and visuals, readings.

Session IIFriday, April 8 – The Soul of the High-Rises – Lakeview Terrace, Moreland Courts and Shaker Towers. Distinguished buildings with important stories. Storytellers, visuals of McVey sculptures and film. [Nina and Jim Gibans are 30-year residents of Shaker Towers and in charge of renovations at Lakeview Terrace, honored early public housing in Cleveland with lifelong residents of Moreland Courts.]

Session IIIFriday, April 15 – The Soul of Our Arcades: Shaker Square and the Old Arcade. Visuals, histories, film. [Gibans have both worked at the old Arcade and both have been on the SHAD board.] The Old Arcade is noted for its structure–one of three in the 1890s worldwide. Shaker Square is the second oldest outdoor shopping mall in the country.

Session IVFriday, April 22 – The Soul of Creation with Paper and Book-Preservation. Samples, discussion of Cleveland and focus on paper-making and the importance of publications and preservation. Morgan Conservancy and Strong Bindery.


Third Round – Greening the City -Happy Dog at Euclid Tavern- Fall 2016

Coming from different perspectives but similar values, the panelists discussed their green “passions”, how they have sustained them and us. Henry Doll gardens at his Van Aken Blvd home and delivers zucchinis by bike. His dahlias adorn the tables at FIRE. He heads the Master Garden group at the City Greenhouse. Donita Anderson has awed us all with the growth of the North Union Farmers Markets all over the region including downtown Public Square. Thousands of Clevelanders make it their weekly ritual to shop local and eat healthy from the produce. Noelle Celeste put it all in context out of her experience editing a delicious publication EDIBLE CLEVELAND magazine. David Young, Cleveland Arts Prize poet read from his book, Seasoning: A Poet’s Year: With Seasonal Recipes.

moderator, Nina Freedlander Gibans



PLEASE NOTE: Sessions like this have been held at area libraries, Nighttown, The Happy Dog, the College Club, Churches, and in residences.





Project Director and Executive Producer: Nina Freedlander Gibans
With Videographer Jesse Epstein
Fiscal Agent: University Circle Inc.

WVIZ ideastream – Programmed in January and July 2014


  • The video production places in accessible form the history, art and architecture at University Circle for use by the community.
  • The video is based on personal interviews and discussions among peers, archival maps and photographs.
  • The designated website,, makes it possible for the community to see the additional package of materials and to add stories. New material includes interviews with Ellen Stirn Mavec, Robert Gries, Peter Lewis, John Nottingham and John Spirk and audio interviews with Judson residents.


Project Coordinator/Director: Nina Freedlander Gibans

The goal of the Shaker Towers project was to secure the important place of Shaker Towers and its place in Cleveland’s history. Built specifically to give people not allowed to live in buildings owned by the Van Sweringens opportunities to live at Shaker Square, it is also the last high-rise with windows in the kitchens and bathrooms.  Capturing the stories in film was seen as an important vehicle for framing it.  Long-time resident stories are taped and available on disc in their entirety.  The history was gathered from every possible source. The impressive lists of residents*, the historic photographs, interviews with former families or pieces of information about early ownership, conversion from apartment to condominium, came from libraries, friends and relatives of former residents.  This material will be available at the Shaker Heights Public library.  *Resident lists include Carl Stokes, Mayor of Cleveland, Zelma George, Ambassador to the UN, Rabbi Arthur Lelyveld, civil rights activist and Stuart Wallace, Fair Housing leader and many other luminaries.




Chief Curator DON HISAKA: THE CLEVELAND YEARS produced by Cleveland Artists Foundation. The exhibit was shown at the Beck Center for the Arts, Cleveland Clinic and Mansfield Art Center March 2011 – Spring 2012. The houses from the exhibition have also been shown at the Shaker Historical Society celebrating Shaker Hts’ 100th anniversary.

In 2014, an exhibition of those architects in Cleveland Goes Modern: Design for the Home 1930-1970 who were Cleveland Arts Prize winners was shown at the Point1618 Gallery. The Hisaka residence is the only home in Cleveland to have won a national honor award from the American Institute of Architects.
Note: publication with James D. Gibans, FAIA

Cleveland Goes Modern: Design for the Home: 1930-1970, Kent State University Press, 2014. Received the 2014 award from the Western Reserve Architecture Historians.


2014 projects on behalf of ARTneo: the Northeast Ohio Museum of art and architecture

On and Off the Wall: The visual arts since 2000 – Sept 13 2014. At the Cleveland Public Library, co-sponsored with the City Club of Cleveland, CAN the visual arts journal. Coordiated with Sabine Kretzschmar (ARTneo) and Pam Eyerdam (CPL). See YOUTube on ARTneo website.

Designed to codify, document and celebrate the tremendous energy and changes in the local visual arts scene in the decade, this event is a follow-up to the Cleveland Artists Foundation’s (today ARTneo) six-part community discussion in 2000 reviewing the first 100 years of this region’s visual arts, resulting in a book and film. On its 30th anniversary in 2014, ARTneo is taking a look at the last fifteen years.

Keynotes and Beginnings: Felton Thomas, Barbara Robinson, Kathleen Cerveny, Dan Moulthrop.

Panels and participants:

Street-Smart Studios: Laboratories For Ideas And Concepts
Moderator: Robert Maschke FAIA (Robert maschke ARCHITECTS); Panelists: Donald Black, Jr. (Artist), Brian Friedman (Northeast Shores), Tiffany Graham (LAND Studio), Tom Schorgl (Community Partnership for Arts and Culture), Olga Ziemska (Artist) and Matt Zone (City of Cleveland)

Facing Local Artists, Collectors and Art Lovers Today
Moderator: Dan Moulthrop (The City Club of Cleveland); Panelists: Lane Cooper (CIA), Michael Gill (CAN Journal), Jill Snyder (MOCA Cleveland) and Christina Vassallo (SPACES)


Other Sample Projects

Silver Apples of the Moon

Art and poetry resulted from a project that partnered works of fine art with poetry describing the project co-directed by Nina Freedlander Gibans and Sollace Hotze. The book is co-produced by the Shaker Heights Public Library and Cleveland State University.

This was a complex project that included poetry readings and presentations by nationally known as well as Ohio poets and artists who both read and explicated the ways in which a specific work of art relates to a particular poem; and inter-related poetry and art workshops presented by local artists and poets who jointly modeled the overarching concept of the project.

The project title Silver Apples of the Moon is a line from William Butler Yeats’ poem “The Song of the Wandering Aengus.” The line and the poem express the spirit of the project by combining powerful visual imagery with equally compelling language wherein the poet’s connection to a concrete, present-time world gradually expands into a less definable, less time-bound realm and perception. The primary mission was to foster a community-wide appreciation of poetry and fine art by emphasizing their symbiotic relationship. The participants were poets, homemakers, senior center residents, delivery truck drivers, videographers, teachers, book store managers, caregivers, community relations staff, artists. The project involved all age groups and all segments of the Greater Cleveland community in selecting and combining art works on permanent public display in Cleveland with a variety of published poems. Each participant juxtaposed a favorite poem with a piece of visual art and then explained the personal appeal of these works and the ways in which they seemed related. The process encouraged participants to become more aware of the nature of art and poetry and of the aesthetic principals at work in them. We hoped that all participants would come to recognize both that and why art and poetry enrich their lives and touch them in personal, powerful ways.

From epilogue…

“I went out to the hazel wood
Because a fire was in my head
And cut and peeled a hazel wand
And hooked a berry to a thread….”

The thread took this project in many directions:

At the Cleveland Museum of Art, Silver Apples was the theme for the Chalk Festival, the Family Festival of African Drum and Dance and the Parade the Circle Celebration. There were other workshops. During a visit, an attorney felt that his disassociation from the world of poetry had somehow left a void in his life. He had never been comfortable with poetry and wanted to rectify that loss by taking the time to search out poetry and immerse himself in it until he, too, could feel its beauty and power.

At 12 branches of the Cleveland Public Library and at the Shaker Heights libraries there were Poetry Corners to entice readers to look at poetry that resonated with a work of art. There were workshops with poets, and people wrote their own poetry. At the Langston Hughes Branch, Juan, fresh from a stint in prison, gave us his reasons for being transfixed by the Jackson Pollock painting at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Victoria at the Carnegie-West Branch went from the workshop to find all of Mary Oliver’s poetry because she had heard “The Journey.” The Security Guard about to take his shift at the Harvard Branch came into the workshop and laid his handkerchief on the table with his favorite Langston Hughes poem, “This Bitter River,” on it.

At the Cleveland Museum of Art, two Distance Learning Sessions were based on the poetry that twelve people in the community thought connected them to the painting Lot’s Wife by Anselm Kiefer and on the process that the residents of Homestead Community used to select their poem and painting. At the Shaker Heights Public Library, grandmothers, students, and teachers performed words and ideas at two experiential workshop sessions. A high school student from Nordonia High School, in a small town miles east of the Shaker library, did his own poem, then performed Yeats’ entire “Song of the Wandering Aengus”. That Robert Pinsky got here was almost a miracle. His message of reflection as he thought about the meaning of “Silver Apples of the Moon” just five days after the tragedy of September 11, 2001 seemed totally fitting. Naomi Shihab Nye, whose presentations completing the project were warm and beautiful, told us family stories and left us all intending to read a poem to our families daily.

As leverage for discussion of the Silver Apples project, five bookstores used POETRY SPEAKS, a book plus audio cassettes of 40 poets from Walt Whitman to Sylvia Plath reading their own works. Open mikes followed; people made requests to hear specific poems. 75 people came to Borders; a man sat and read the entire book as he listened at Appletree Books. WVIZ Ideastream’s Applause program focused on the poems and stories around the Anselm Kiefer painting. The thread stretched as the entries came in. From accountants, PhDs, teachers, dispatchers, caregivers, bookstore managers, students, data administrators, film editors, Seniors in Assisted Living, traffic engineers, security guards, house workers, and more. They lived in Cleveland, Parma, Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights, South Russell, Willoughby, Chagrin Falls, Euclid, East Cleveland, Garfield Heights, Fairview Park, Akron, Sagamore Hills, Euclid and everywhere.

“And pluck till time and times are done
The silver apples of the moon
The golden apples of the sun”


Cleveland Goes Modern Exhibit Project 

Coordinating ideas, institutions and people around big ideas has been the characteristic of Nina Freedlander Gibans’ projects. They include Forums sponsored by the City and Cleveland State University into the early 80s, discussions on children and prejudice emanating from the Children’s Museum to 11 colleges using WVIZ and participation on the curatorial team for developing an exhibit on BRIDGES. Experience in the staff, academic and consulting the role is small organizational arenas has been her career. As a cultural consultant, it has been unusual and has had many spurs. Architecture is one. She coordinated a project for the AIA pulling together the four Ohio schools of architecture in a charrette for designing areas of Cleveland. She has been a consultant to Kent State School of Architecture working with the student projects. There is a full chapter on our architectural (Man-Made Environment) history in her book: Creative Essence: Cleveland’s Sense of Place (Kent State University 2005). Most recently she interviewed two-dozen Cleveland architects for Cleveland State University’s Euclid Avenue Corridor oral history project. Under a grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation, she developed a website for use by the schools and community, completed for the Cleveland Goes Modern exhibit.

She has headed the curatorial team for the Cleveland Artists Foundation 2007 exhibit Cleveland Goes Modern.


The Cleveland Artists Foundation (CAF) in collaboration with the Cleveland Chapter of the American Institute of Architects organized an exhibit and programs on mid-century modern residential architecture of northeast Ohio from 1930-1970. The exhibit and programming for Cleveland Goes Modern: Mid-century residential architecture celebrated both the 150th anniversary of American Institute of Architects and the modern architectural pioneers of this area.

“Mid-century modern” architecture, especially homes, has become a hot topic nationwide. In this exhibit and programs, we discovered the little-known examples of the movement in the Cleveland area, and explored their development and relationship to the furnishings, fine and decorative arts of the period.

The architects, living and dead, whose residential work was considered, have all been honored widely during their careers. They included J. Byers Hays, winner of national competitions in 1935 and 1955, Don Hisaka whose residence is the only regional winner of a national AIA Honor Award in the area, John Terence Kelly, whose first house was recognized in a 1959 Architectural Record, Robert A. Little, visionary architect of the modern community of Pepper Ridge Rd., Robert Madison who worked with him and mentored so many young architects, William Morris whose home was the only residence included in the 1964 Cleveland Museum of Art exhibit, Ernst Payer, whose more than two dozen modern residential designs transformed the landscape of modern architecture, as well as Fred Toguchi, William Koster, Phil Hart and Jerry Weiss whose owners treasure their homes. The architects’ own homes were important starting points for a young Stephen Bucchieri, Richard Fleischman and Carl Droppers. Most of these homes have not been seen before but they are all around you.

The exhibit ran from September to November 2007. Programming included house tours, forums in the galleries, and an interactive website featuring educational curricula about architecture in Northeast Ohio made possible through a grant from the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation. Interviews of 26 architects and their perspective of Euclid Avenue were made possible with the assistance of the Euclid Corridor Oral History project under the supervision of the History Department of Cleveland State University.

The exhibit was honored in four ways over 2008: An award from the AIA Cleveland-Historic Resources Committee and the Cleveland Restoration Society; an invitation by national AIA to be an exemplar of projects honoring the 150th anniversary of AIA; and an award by the Preservation Office of the Ohio Historical Society. The AIA Ohio Convention in Akron remounted the Cleveland Goes Modern exhibition in full to allow discussion with the attending architects. A catalog, take-home essay, resource booklet, bibliography, video program examining the life and vision of Robert Little, and website developed under a MH Jennings grant specifically so that teachers would have the resources they need to teach from this material have accompanied this exhibit. The exhibit has spawned two publications: a monograph written by several authors on Don Hisaka and a book by Gibans that the Kent State University Press has published on this subject. Architects and individuals, corporations and foundations funded this exhibit.

We interviewed our city’s talent, asked them for their genealogies, education and career materials and in some cases received memoirs and in almost all cases original plans, drawings and photographs –literally the last moment we could do that from the original architects and homeowners. Some of those people have passed away and some houses have been demolished just in the past year. These documents appear in the images and in the resource materials that accompany the exhibit.

A Task Force of the AIA explored the future travel of the exhibit under a grant from the Ohio Humanities Council. They designed units for traveling the exhibit to community venues (museums, galleries, colleges) and to schools. Initial discussions find enthusiasm in Columbus, Akron, Cincinnati, Oberlin, Toledo and Dayton for bringing an extended Going Modern exhibit to those cities. Leadership is likely to come from AIA members, preservation offices, and university faculty in those cities.

Curatorial Team: Nina Gibans (Chair) James D. Gibans, FAIA Anthony Hiti, AIA William Busta (Curator of Exhibitions, Cleveland Artists Foundation). Advisory Team: Robert Blatchford, George Dalton, AIA, Professor Christopher Diehl, Richard Fleischman, FAIA, Robert Gaede, FAIA, Professor John Harwood, Gerald Herschman, AIA, Judson Kline, AIA, Robert Madison, FAIA, Norman Perttula, FAIA, Theodore A Sande, AIA, Peter vanDijk, FAIA, family of Robert A. Little.