Fred and Laura Bidwell
Transformer Station, Cleveland, OH, USA
Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell began collecting photography in 1991, the year that they were married. Since then, they have amassed a highly personal catalog of contemporary art by European and North American artists using photography in their work.
Laura began her career as an artist with a painting major from the University of Akron and, after a career as a graphic designer, now works on photography, video and on-demand book projects. After graduating from Oberlin College with an art history major, Fred worked as a commercial photographer before moving into advertising. In May of 2012, Fred retired as Executive Chairman of JWT/Ogilvy Action to devote his time entirely to his interests in the arts.
Both Fred and Laura have been highly involved in supporting the work of artists and arts organizations. Laura was the founding curator of Summit ArtSpace Gallery in Akron, OH and Fred has been Board President of the Akron Art Museum twice and is a Trustee of the Cleveland Museum of Art. In 2011, Fred and Laura established the Fred and Laura Ruth Bidwell Foundation to support creativity and innovation through the arts. In January of 2013, the Bidwell Foundation will open the Transformer Station, a new arts and exhibition space in the Ohio City neighborhood of Cleveland. In a unique public-private partnership, the Bidwell Foundation will operate the facility and will lend the space for half of each year to the Cleveland Museum of Art to stage contemporary art exhibitions and projects.
During the six months of the year that the Bidwell Foundation operates the Transformer Station space, they will stage two shows based on their collection of photo-based art. The Bidwells are activist collectors who are interested in collecting and funding and sharing new work through exhibitions and publications. The current show at the Transformer Station, Excerpts from Silver Meadows by Todd Hido is the product of a grant made two years ago that allowed the artist to complete this body of work as an exhibition and a monograph published by Nazraeli Press. The Bidwells have planned future exhibitions around similar grants to artists such as Tim Davis, Jordan Tate and Christian Patterson with objective of encouraging the artists to take risks with their work.
The Bidwells are interested in seeing new work that stretches the boundaries of the photographic medium. Although they collect work produced through a wide range of processes from analog to digital, they are more interested in the stories and concepts behind the work than any particular technical approach. Generally, the Bidwells are not interested in celebrities, typological studies, commercial or fashion work.