Charles Kleibacker and the exhibitions of haute couture and ready-to-wear clothing that he has organized have been a consistent and welcome presence in the Columbus arts community for more than 20 years. During a time when developments in clothing design have often been in the forefront of culture and when fashion exhibitions have drawn crowds to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and other venues internationally, Kleibacker introduced fashion exhibitions to Columbus. He has helped make historical and contemporary clothing part of what audiences here value seeing, and even expect to see, in our arts institutions. But what was Kleibacker doing before he began making exhibitions? And how did his work then shape and guide the exhibitions for which he would eventually serve as curator?
Kleibacker: New York Designer to Ohio Curator begins to answer those questions. One section of the exhibition presents a selection of garments designed by Kleibacker himself along with selected archival materials about his career as a designer. The second, and larger, section brings together pieces selected to represent each of the 11 exhibitions he has organized in Ohio since 1986. Photographs relating to or documenting those exhibitions in situ capture creative and often unexpected aspects of the displays, and show additional facets of Kleibacker’s work as a curator.
By looking at these two aspects of Kleibacker’s work with fine clothing, the exhibition demonstrates the common principles that have guided him in both design and curating. In addition, it shows how Kleibacker’s background as a designer has informed and enriched the exhibitions he has developed. This exhibition is produced by the Ohio Arts Council in partnership with the Columbus Museum of Art; the Historic Costume and Textiles Collection, Geraldine Schottenstein Wing at The Ohio State University; and Cordelia Robinson.