Fresh Start: Week of April 12

Home & Style , Food & Drink , Arts , Health & Education , Region

Fresh Start: Week of April 12

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with art, artist, benefit, Cleveland, cocktails, concert, culture, dance, Detroit Shoreway, gallery, Gordon Square Arts District , jazz, media, party, technology, workshop; 12:00am, April 12th 2010

If there’s one thing binding this week’s Fresh Starts together, it is imagination and exceptional creativity. Maybe you’re the kind of “end user” who wants an insider’s understanding of the technology and innovations that alternately abet and upset. Or perhaps you’re wondering how to combat the human toll from a devastating virus. Want to lessen your own toll on the planet, but have no idea where to start? We’ve got that, too. Even if all you want to do is “blow the winter stink off” with some hot jazz stylings, Cleveland’s got your dance card covered.

Hack the Planet!
“Hacking the subconscious mind,” is a social engineering catchphrase describing peoples’ vulnerability to subliminal, external influence. We don’t pretend to know all of the ins and outs of Dale Carnegie-esque Jedi mind tricks, but we all know something about computers and the similarly-attuned missions of their hackers. The weekend-long Notacon Computer Hacker Convention delves into that shadowy world, pairing creativity and community with technology and counterculture starts Friday, April 16 at the Wyndham Cleveland at Playhouse Square. The largest of its kind in the Midwest, Notacon spends equal time covering tech innovations, nerdcore hacker culture and “black hat” system cracking. It’s a spellbinding, Trojan horse of a learning experience, aimed at all levels of interest and experience. Not sure it’s for you? Check out their Freeview on Thursday, April 15 at 7 pm and score a handful of rapid fire presentations previewing Notacon’s topics and talkers.

Beyond Haring and Mapplethorpe
Launched by the Cleveland Institute of Art seven years ago, the ArtCares partnership between the CIA, the AIDS Taskforce of Greater Cleveland, and MOCA Cleveland has been simply outstanding. Back in 2003, CIA student Tony Bowden wondered aloud what he could do to help conquer HIV/AIDS and bring about awareness through art. Today, ArtCares trains focus on the toll that the human immunodeficiency virus has taken on the art world. Their stylish, annual reception and auction ArtCares 2010 hits Saigon Plaza in the Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood this Saturday, April 17. The event features original, contemporary art works created and donated by local and regional artists – not to mention resplendent vino and nosh –with all proceeds benefiting the Taskforce and their fight against HIV/AIDS. Call 216-621-0766 ext. 270 for tix/info.

It’s Not That Easy Being Green…?
Apologies to Kermit the Frog for the pun, but as EarthFest celebrates the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day this week, being green has never been easier. The Earth Day Coalition proves it every year with their fest; the 2010 edition runs this Sunday, April 18 from 10 am to 5pm at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. More than 160 different environmental exhibits offer “climate change solutions” ranging from green home improvement and local/organic food, to clean transportation and more. Live music and plenty of family fun rounds out the day; regular zoo admission scores access to everything that Ohio’s largest environmental education event offers. You’ll have fun and come away with a ton of ideas on lessening your carbon footprint. And that spring in your step? Better than ol’ Kermit’s. Just sayin’.

And All That Jazz… Literally
You’re enlightened, we know. Telling you the Tri-C JazzFest that starts Friday is worth experiencing is like preaching to the choir, right? This year’s lineup is particularly intriguing, with luminaries like Ramsey Lewis, Patty Austin, Charlie Haden, Brenda Russell, Cleveland’s own Joe Lovano, the Shaw High Marching Band and an Allen Theatre concert presentation by The Roots making this year’s A-list. Now really, who couldn’t use a little bit o’ ?uestlove’s drumming? It’s like butter. It makes everything bettah.

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Fresh Start: Week of April 5


Fresh Start: Week of April 5

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with art, artist, band, benefit, concert, culture, designer, exhibit, gallery, independent, jazz, music, party, theater; 12:00am, April 5th 2010

Spring is a feast for the senses. Our cloud-adjusted eyes recalibrate with regular sunshine, wiping brushstrokes of color across everything in our path. Ears perk up with songs of morning birds in threadbare trees and kids walking home from school. We smell-touch-taste the world around us, as it awakens and blooms from wintersleep. Do your plans for this week celebrate the new? The exciting? Do they shake the cobwebs free? Complement your sun-peaked awareness? Maybe you need one (or more) of the OA Fresh Starts this week.

Brighten the Corners
Outside, things are looking better and brighter by the week. But what are you doing to bring that spirit indoors? The 100+ artists from Northeast Ohio showcasing at the three-day ArtMart at Spaces Gallery have the answer. This exhibition-sale features everything from paintings, photography, prints, to sculpture, jewelry, handbags and more, with all participating artists and attendees supporting the Superior Viaduct organization. Several hundred people are expected at Spaces’ ArtMart this weekend, most frontloading a “meet-and-mingle” Opening Reception this Friday, April 9 from 6 to 9 pm. Enjoy art of all varieties, great music, and delicious food from nearby restaurants while perusing cool art, accessories and home creations. It’s been said before but bears repeating: Spaces is Cleveland’s single most adaptable visual art location; the folks behind it are dedicated to locally-produced, quality art and creative exploration. This event is a great entrée for newcomers to the gallery.

Fusion Energy, Minus the $10 Billion
You don’t need a Large Hadron Collider or an air ticket to Geneva to get closer to a Big Bang. The Cleveland Play House’s venerable FusionFest offers an explosion of staged works (theatre, music, dance) starting this Friday, April 9 and running late into the month. The drama Bill W. & Dr. Bob opens the fest, offering insight on the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous in Akron. A Soldier’s Tale/Catch and Release promises to be a highlight, offering the dizzying collaboration of CPH, the Cleveland Orchestra and GroundWorks DanceTheater, all inspired by a Vonnegut libretto. For the ultimate geek-out, there’s the return of Charles Ross’ One-Man Lord of the Rings Trilogy, which boils down Frodo, Gandalf, Rivendell, the Black Gate, Aragorn and Mordor “in 3600 seconds.” This will be the last FusionFest at the current location at East 85th and Euclid, so don’t miss it.

Once in a Lifetime*
Opportunities like this one don’t come along very often: 81-year-old composer, conductor and pianist André Previn performs at the Cleveland Institute of Music’s Mixon Hall for their Mixon Masters season finale this Friday, April 9 at 8 pm. Superfluous gushing really isn’t necessary here – Previn’s half-century of creativity and impact on classical music, opera, jazz and film scoring is axiomatic. A Knight of the British Empire, Previn composed for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studios during its halcyon days. He has received honors from the Kennedy Center, the Royal Academy of Music and won the Gramophone’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Previn’s An Evening of Jazz features long-time collaborator, bassist David Finck. The New York Times called him a “stylistic chameleon whose language is conservative and eclectic, he writes to the technical strengths and musical personalities of the soloists who commission him.” To wit, we probably won’t see the likes of Previn – or a performance like this one – again. Maybe ever.

*Editor's note: Unfortunately, the Previn concert for April 9 has been cancelled. OhioAuthority will provide information about a rescheduled concert as soon as details become available from Cleveland Institute of Music. Tickets will be honored for the rescheduled date.

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Fresh Start: Week of March 29

Food & Drink , Arts , Region

Fresh Start: Week of March 29

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with band, Beachland Ballroom, books, Cleveland, Cleveland Orchestra, concert, dance, Gordon Square Arts District , party, theater; 12:00am, March 29th 2010

One of the national media’s ongoing criticisms of Cleveland is that it’s a provincial place – unsophisticated, suffering, longing and not at all forward-looking. That black-or-white, no-multiple-truths-allowed philosophy comes from our largest metropolises; the media cognoscente from these places might claim to manage attending every hip thing in their markets. But they’d be lying. Meanwhile, back on Lake Erie, our options are not only clever and urbane… they’re also accessible. While you probably could attend all of our Fresh Start picks in some larger market, we’re guessing you wouldn’t know the majority of the people around you. Bite that, Big Apple. ¡Viva la Cleveland!

Sketchy Characters

OK, so it’s a phenomenon that started in NYC and spread across the country like wildfire. It’s what happens “when cabaret meets art school.” It’s Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School and the latest Cleveland installment hits the Beachland Ballroom on Waterloo this Tuesday, March 30 at 8 pm. The words “art school” denote a certain level of expertise, but pay no mind: this is a drinking club with a drawing problem. Catering to all levels of artistic experience, Sketchy’s monthly soiree features scandalous performers (drag queens, burlesque performers) as drawing models. Along the way, preposterous art contests, comedy skits, and fantastic music – live and otherwise –decorate an evening of imbibing and illustration. Dr. Sketchy’s is unpretentious and mirthful, and if you come out of the Beachland with some new friends, a few deftly scribbled stick figures on a notepad and a smile, well, Sketchy’s mission is accomplished.

Shaken and Stirred

When two great ensembles come together for a rare night of music, we’re gonna make sure you know about it. Such is the case with Portland, Oregon’s Pink Martini and the Cleveland Orchestra, which perform together as a part of the orchestra’s ongoing “Celebrity Series” this Tuesday, March 30 at 8 pm. Martini is the self-proclaimed “little orchestra” known for marrying Afro-Cuban jazz, Italian film scores and French cabaret with pop-sensibility and chamber music. Their wildly-popular 1997 debut effort Sympathique was a million-seller almost entirely due to word-of-mouth buzz, indie film festival exposure and inclusion on lifestyle music comps. Pairing them with the world renowned Cleveland Orchestra is a move of sheer, artistic genius (PM’s latest recording, Splendor in the Grass, matches them up with members of Harvey Rosencrantz Orchestra to great effect). An auditory banquet will most certainly ensue. Tickets are available at

Fleet of Foot Originals

If the first two events aren’t cutting-edge enough, try Gordon Square. Cleveland Public Theatre launches their tenth annual CPT DanceWorks Festival on Thursday, April 1 at 7 pm, running several weekend-long dance expositions thereto. Artistic Director Raymond Bobgan does a fantastic job with this series, which gives local dance companies and choreographers the opportunity to present new and repertory works alongside peer companies. DanceWorks features new works every year (it’s the calling card of the series) and all troupes who participate must offer a minimum of one major premiere during their evening. Cleveland’s dance enthusiasts will tell you that there aren’t enough quality venues for smaller dance companies, and that’s but one of many reasons why DanceWorks has been going 10 years strong. See for yourself. Schedule and lineups are available at

Last Bite

If you’re not already hip to the Edible Book Festival at Loganberry Books on Larchmere, then head over to the store's website, and then join in the fun Saturday, April 3 at noon. It’s a perfect way for Cleveland bookworms to have their “cake” and eat it, too.

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Fresh Start: Week of March 22

Health & Education , Arts , Home & Style , Region

Fresh Start: Week of March 22

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with art, artist, band, business, Cleveland, decor, designer, exhibit, fashion, gallery, hip-hop, Karamu House, rap, theater, women, writing; 12:00am, March 22nd 2010

If there’s a unifying thread behind this week’s Fresh Start on Ohio Authority, it’s how we process the information and make it work in our sphere of influence. Two venerable, cutting-edge organizations meet in the middle to help the area’s women find healing and strength through the arts. One of the region’s great young writing talents contemplates (and then stages) one of pop culture’s defining moments for African Americans during the 1990s. And a 111-year-old building opens its doors to artistic/creative types and the public at large, bringing the surrounding community a new tradition to curate and look after. One thing’s certain: all three of these Fresh Starts are sure to change you and your perception. What you do with the messages and experiences? That’s up to you.    

The Voice of Experience

Established more than a decade ago, the Women’s Voices Project pairs the Elyria YWCA Women’s Campus Project with the august Cleveland Public Theatre. Every year, they combine forces for an evening of original written works and poetry performance based on life experiences related to substance abuse, domestic violence and adversity. The inspiring results are then “toured” at Northeast Ohio’s women’s shelters, recovery centers and prisons. Think living well and recovering through empowerment and artistic expression and then you’re about halfway there. This year’s Women’s Voices Project debuts at Cleveland Public Theatre Wednesday, March 24 and will make the rounds at alternative performance spaces through late April. But my words here don’t even begin to sum up the words of the participants. If last year’s staging is any indication, this will rock you to your core. 

Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems

Karamu House playwright-in-residence Michael Oatman is about as regional as they come. The Cleveland native holds a master’s degree from Kent State (creative writing), and his tour of collegiate duty includes Cleveland State, Youngstown State and the University of Akron. After a critically-acclaimed staging of his play Before I Die: The War Against Tupac Shakur, Oatman has followed up with Eclipse: The War Between Pac and B.I.G. In it, he examines what precipitated (and cultural waves set off by) the drive-by shootings of feuding rap superstars Tupac Shakur and his rival Christopher George Latore Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls, the Notorious B.I.G.). The setting may be the East Coast–West Coast hip hop of the 1990s, but the bigger picture is far more intriguing. Oatman’s new work raises Karamu’s curtain Friday, March 26 at 8 pm and will run through mid-April.

Cirque du Bazaar

Arts festivals are plentiful during the summertime in C-town, but where does that leave creative types and their devotees during the colder months? They all head indoors for smashingly quirky fêtes like Cirque Imaginaire, which features all things wearable, presentable and edible at the Sachsenheim, the century-old Saxon home on Denison Avenue. Check out the day-long festivities, beginning at 4 pm on Saturday, March 27, as this traveling showcase of local artists take over the ballroom/dance hall/solarium. Everything from jewelry, pottery and murals, to chocolates, textile works and robot pals are up for grabs. Local bands, including Safari, will perform live. As for the building itself, it’s a treasure that, until five years ago, wasn’t even open to the public. Sachsenheim hosts everything from performance art and concerts to shindigs like this art gallery/bazaar; if you haven’t been there yet, you’re missing a real treat. Fancy antediluvian digs and inspired artistry? Then Cirque Imaginaire is a twofer. Be sure to also check out


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Fresh Start: Week of March 15

Arts , Food & Drink , Region

Fresh Start: Week of March 15

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with automobile, car show, Cleveland, culture, farmers market, film, filmmaker, food, theater; 12:00am, March 15th 2010

The words “Full Cleveland” are most certainly loaded ones. Considered a sartorial slam in the fashion world, the term summons the hideous vision of white patent leather belts and shoes. But the Full Cleveland, to our way of thinking, means the full-on Cleveland experience, including established and adored traditions. In this week’s OA Fresh Start, we remind our faithful readers that a bountiful independent film festival, custom vehicle menagerie and off-peak farmers’ market are not mutually exclusive. Don't be surprised to find some of your fellow Clevelanders at all three of this week’s event picks.   

Ready for Our Close-Up

Last year’s Cleveland International Film Festival launched with a “thinking man’s sci-fi flick” called Moon, a film about a lone spaceman losing his mind as he toils on a lunar mining base. Directed by Duncan Jones (David Bowie’s son, a Wooster College alum) and starring Sam Rockwell and the voice of Kevin Spacey, Moon went on to win elite film awards and ended up on dozens of critics’ “best of” lists. So, what’s the point? You never know what kind of Cannes/Sundance/Toronto-like cinema you’re going to see during the venerable, 11-day event at Tower City Cinemas. Last year, festival organizers set all kinds of records, including single-day attendance. This year’s slate of contemporary American and international indie filmmaking offers more than 150 features and 150 short subjects from more than 80 countries, including Australian director Sarah Watt’s riotous My Year Without Sex (pictured). The “Local Heroes” regional filmmaker component returns as well. It all starts Thursday, March 18 and runs late into the month.

Greasy Kids’ Stuff

The CIFF gets two thumbs up as being among Cleveland’s high culture, but where does that leave an event like the Cleveland Auto-Rama? Roll your eyes if you will, but how can this so-called lowbrow, low-culture car festival get a bum rap for being too cheeky when it’s been formidable since the late 1970s? It’s about as Full Cleveland an experience as there is in town– think Barrett-Jackson Auto Auction meets the long-cancelled hot-rod reality show, Monster Garage. There’s even a “Happy Days/Laverne & Shirley” reunion with appearances by actresses Cindy Williams and Erin Moran. It starts Friday, March 19 and runs through the weekend at the I-X Center, and it’s as true to Cleveland as a trip to the St. Patrick’s Day parade, a slathered n’ smothered Polish Boy and those last bottles of Great Lakes Christmas Ale you’re hoarding. I’ll be the guy ogling the 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, if you need me. 

A Balanced (Local) Diet

You might consider offsetting such a Full Cleveland experience with Countryside Conservancy Winter Farmers Markets, including their installment this Saturday, March 20 at 9 am. It’s not peak veg season, you say? Bah. Even in the winter and early spring, you can still purchase local foods from farmers and artisan producers in a beautiful indoor setting. The Conservancy offers these indoor markets on the third Saturday of every month from November through April, tiding all of us regular farm market visitors over until the summer. Eating fresh, local food is a sustainable practice with amazing ripple effects for the community and the environment. To wit, the meats, cheeses, jams, syrups and more at your fingertips aren’t just good for you, they’re good for others around you, too. It all happens at the Happy Days Lodge, 500 W. Streetsboro Rd. (Rt. 303), Peninsula.

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