Derek Hess Brings Portraits of Addiction and Mental Illness to His Gallery

by , Cleveland Scene Magazine

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Walking into the Derek Hess Gallery, we are privy to the unpacking of artwork for the Acting Out! exhibition comprising more than 30 local and national artists who have been diagnosed with or have been affected by mental illness and addiction. Derek Hess, who opened up to the world about his struggles with addiction and bipolar disorder through his autobiographic film, Forced Perspective, is on the front lines of bringing awareness and resources to Cleveland during his four-day Acting Out! festival. Along with long-time business partner Marty Geramita and marketing and events promotion powerhouse Angie Hetrick, he has pulled together a compelling lineup of emerging and established artists.

While the artwork in this exhibition is thematically heavy, its duty, as with all art, is to open up a dialogue between the work and the viewer. Here's a preview of some of the pieces.

...Angela Oster, who is known for her whimsical works and her joyful smile, tells a dark tale of her struggle with alcoholism. In a nine-panel series within her illustration "Battle with Bottle," Oster states, "This series of images is a cartoon narrative of my struggle with alcoholism — kind of a circular trap that I found myself in and a reminder that I don't want to be stuck in that cycle anymore."

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