Photo illustration of Judy's Hand Pavilion sculpture.

Judy’s Hand Pavilion, a sculpture by celebrated artist Tony Tasset, planned for Toby’s Plaza

Among several featured projects of FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art’s first citywide exhibition

This summer, FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art will unveil its first exhibition of artist commissions and programming in community spaces citywide—including on Toby’s Plaza at Case Western Reserve University.

Case Western Reserve has partnered with FRONT International to bring Chicago-based artist Tony Tasset’s Judy’s Hand Pavilion to Toby’s Plaza in University Circle’s Uptown district. The university is a presenting sponsor, along with the region’s museums.

FRONT International’s exhibition, titled “An American City,” runs July 14-Sept. 30. Tasset’s sculpture, a project jointly developed by FRONT and the Putnam Collection of Case Western Reserve, is one of seven highlighted projects planned for various city locations.

“The Putnam Committee had been working on an idea for a temporary, cutting-edge structure for Toby’s Plaza—one that would function as a focal point, with striking design to attract people to the area,” said Kathy Barrie, a veteran museum consultant and public-art administrator who directs the Putnam Collection. “We realized the opportunity to join forces with FRONT and together selected Tony Tasset to design the pavilion. He gave us more than we ever could have imagined: A unique work of art, unexpected and yet familiar, thought-provoking, and functional for a wide range of events that will occur during the summer and beyond. Judy’s Hand Pavilion celebrates the making of this American city—the work of many hands.”

Judy’s Hand Pavilion, 25 feet tall, about 10 feet wide at the wrist and 7 1/2 feet from the heel of the hand to the ground, will double as a dramatic public shelter and gathering spot on Toby’s Plaza, an open space made possible by the support of alumna Toby Devan Lewis, a local author, art curator and philanthropist. The hand’s exterior will be fiberglass; its fingers filled with concrete. The public art will be connected to footers below ground.

The sculpture is a large representation of the hand of Tasset’s wife, Judy Ledgerwood, who is a celebrated contemporary abstract painter. Tasset is best known for his brightly colored, large-scale sculptures that draw from the visual language of American roadside advertising.

Photo of artists Tony Tasset
Tony Tasset

Tasset’s work is included in notable private and public collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and Museum für Moderne Kunste in Frankfurt, Germany.

The large, open hand, fingers extended downward, creates a natural arch. Moveable seating will be installed around it to create Toby’s Lounge, a place to relax within the 34,000-square-foot plaza.

Ian Charnas, manager of the Larry Sears and Sally Zlotnick Sears think[box], is working with students from Case Western Reserve and the Cleveland Institute of Art to produce the seating and eating surfaces made from recycled corrugated fiberboard. The furniture will be prototyped at Sears think[box] and manufactured at Midwest Box Co. in Northeast Ohio.

Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is a citywide arts exhibition intended to be presented every three years, the goal of which is to delight and entertain Northeast Ohio residents, but also attract visitors as a form of tourism-based economic development.

“These FRONT projects seek to address the ethics of civic engagement, perpetuates pride of place, and delineate the intersection and overlapping potential of communities,” FRONT Artistic Director Michelle Grabner said.

Among the special dates to note for Case Western Reserve’s participation in the 2018 FRONT International triennial:

  • Monday, March 26, 6 p.m. Linsalata Alumni Center. FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial comes to Case Western Reserve to discuss its activities and relationship with the university; co-sponsored by the Putnam Collection and Department of Art History and Art;
  • Wednesday, April 11, 6 p.m., Kelvin Smith Library; co-sponsored by the Department of Art History and Art, Kelvin Smith Library and Putnam Collection. Tasset will discuss the design process, fabrication and installation of Judy’s Hand Pavilion;
  • Saturday, July 14, 7 p.m.: FRONT public-opening celebration and concert at Uptown;
  • Friday, Sept. 7: FRONT concert on the Nord Family Greenway.

For more information, contact Bill Lubinger at