Curator of Film
In 1986, John Ewing became the first person hired by the Cleveland Museum of Art to do nothing but program films. More than 1,900 films later, he's still at it.
Ewing came to the museum after having run various film series in Granville, Ohio; Canton, Ohio; and Cleveland. He programmed his first films as director of the 1973 January Term film program at his alma mater, Denison University, in Granville. He was also an officer of the Denison Film Society. Between 1975 and 1983, Ewing was the director of the Canton Film Society, a program of the Stark County District Library that presented free international films every week. From 1984 to 1986, he ran the weekly Monday Cinema series at the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library—a program he founded. The mid-eighties also saw Ewing booking films for the Canton Palace Theatre and working as a freelance film presenter at such venues as the New Mayfield Repertory Cinema, the Cleveland Institute of Art, and the Allen Memorial Medical Library.
Ewing co-founded the Cleveland Cinematheque in 1984, and started showing films under the auspices of the Cinematheque at Case Western Reserve University in 1985. In 1986, Ewing moved the Cinematheque to the Cleveland Institute of Art, where it continues to this day, screening 250+ different films annually. In addition to working two days a week at the art museum, Ewing is also the full-time director of the Cleveland Institute of Art Cinematheque.
At the museum, Ewing has increased the number of film screenings to two per week. He oversaw the acquisition and installation of a pair of new 35mm projectors in Gartner Auditorium in 1988, and—11 years later—installed a second set of 35mm projectors in the museum's Lecture Hall, making the Cleveland Museum of Art one of the few art museums in the country with two fully functional film projection booths.
He received the prestigious Order of the Chevalier (Knight) of Arts and Letters in 2010 from the Republic of France. Sir John was recognized for his significant contributions to French culture through the museum’s film program and the Cleveland Institute of Art’s Cinematheque. He’s in good company. Robert Redford, Uma Thurman, David Bowie, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jackson Pollock have all received the award in previous years.