Cleveland 20/20: A Snapshot of Our City Now

People in the entrance of a church and a sign that reads "Collection for the Homeless Today"

On Monday, January 20, 2020, Cleveland Public Library and Cleveland Print Room will unveil a photography exhibition documenting diversity and life in the city.

How do you describe Cleveland? Cleveland 20/20: A Photographic Exploration of Cleveland, an exhibition partnership project of the Cleveland Public Library and the Cleveland Print Room, explores our diverse city–full of life, culture and history. Cleveland Public Library welcomes the public to the opening on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Monday, January 20 at 4:30 p.m. in Brett Hall, on the first floor of Main Library in downtown Cleveland. “The exhibition is a celebration of Cleveland. The culmination of a community effort to document our city’s story through words and images, it’s a larger than life thank you card to the community for supporting the Library for 150 years,” said Aaron Mason, Director of Outreach and Programming Services of Cleveland Public Library.

Cleveland 20/20 consists of nearly 200 photographs with four central themes: water, leisure, intimate moments and geography. The exhibition presents 25 points of view of Cleveland, interwoven in groupings that evoke the texture of urban life at various intersections, monuments, and neighborhoods—some familiar, others not,” said exhibition curator Lisa Kurzner. Kurzner’s portfolio as an independent curator includes the Cleveland Museum of Art, moCa Cleveland and FRONT International in 2018. “The project turns an historical archive into a curatorial time capsule. The photographs show the realness of Cleveland that is often taken for granted,” explains Shari Wilkins, Executive Director of the Cleveland Print Room.

There are 25 amateur and professional photographers who spent nine months chronicling the people, the places, and the true grit of the city in color and in black and white: Tim Arai, Enahjae Beasley, Stephen Bivens, Bridget Caswell, Matthew Chasney, Hadley K. Conner, Destanee Cruz, Billy Delfs, Shelly Duncan, Maria Fallon, Aja Grant, Diana Hlywiak, Da’Shaunae Jackson, Adam Jaenke, Jef Janis, Felix Latimer, Daniel Levin, Greg Martin, Christopher Mason, Gabrielle Murray, Owen Rodemann, Ruddy Roye, Michael Tsegaye, and Shari Wilkins.

In addition to the wealth of work by local photographers, Cleveland 20/20 features extended contributions by Ruddy Roye, a nationally recognized photographer based in New York, whose Cleveland visits yielded a group of impassioned images of street life made in several city neighborhoods. Robert Banks, a Cleveland filmmaker, presents a new film of Roye working; catching the photographer interacting with his subjects.

“The photographers captured Cleveland as we know it. We invite people to visit the Main Library to see the exhibition and experience the raw truth and emotion of the subjects. It is history in still form,” Mason remarks.

Cleveland Public Library will preserve the images compiled for Cleveland 20/20 in its Photographs Collection, which currently holds 1.3 million photographs, most from the mid-1800s to the 1990s.

In addition to the Cleveland 20/20 photography project in Brett Hall, 90.3 WCPN ideastream will display its CPL150 Storytelling Project, a collection of audio and video stories highlighting the diversity, passions and hopes of those who call Cleveland home.

For more information about Cleveland 20/20, visit For images and photos, click here.