Fresh Start: Week of March 8

Arts , Region

Fresh Start: Week of March 8

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with art, artist, benefit, books, Cleveland, gallery; 12:00am, March 8th 2010

It’s all about character in this week’s installment of Fresh Start: A cultural observer from Shaker Heights tries to find the essence of the Perfect Man in his new book. A modest local organization feeds the needs of a city’s residents (in part) by feeding its donors. The heart and soul of the Cleveland Heights’ arts scene supports its present tense with the help of one of the region’s oldest galleries. This region’s got soul and continues to make history. These three events carry a torch that says the area’s best and brightest are here to stay.  

Training Day

Award-winning Shaker Heights journalist, author and cultural observer Jimi Izrael is not one to pull punches. It’s what makes his work moderating “The Barbershop” for National Public Radio’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin and his blog “The Hardline” for the Washington Post site The positively crucial. Izrael spins the a narrative of love, African American experience, episodic pop culture and opinion in his new book, The Denzel Principle: Why Black Women Can't Find Good Black Men (St. Martin’s Press). The book introduces the theory that The Perfect Man – in the form of Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington – actually exists off-screen and that all African American women “can snag a Denzel of their very own.” He signs and discusses the book at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lyndhurst this Tuesday, March 9 at 7PM. And if you’ve heard him on NPR, you know you’re in for a real treat. 

Chicken Soup for the Clevelander’s Soul

St. Malachi Center has long been a champion of Cleveland’s less fortunate children and families, nourishing the minds and lives that lean on it during particularly trying times. The Superior Viaduct organization offers no-cost showers, afterschool programs, adult education, health clinics and much more to those who arrive there. But none of it happens in a vacuum. Generous support of donors and attendees of their annual Soup for the Soul Benefit help St. Malachi’s mission financially. On Saturday, March 13 at 6PM, hit the center’s largest fundraising effort at St. Ignatius High School. Angelo Petitti (Petitti Garden Centers) receives honors, while celebrity servers offer up scrumptious, gourmet soups prepared by area restaurants. Appetizers, desserts, a silent auction, raffle, and live entertainment round out the evening, and all for one of Cleveland’s greatest causes: the community it serves.

Such Great Heights

Another Plumtown institution, Heights Arts, is in the midst of their own annual benefit: a sale of antique prints from the Vixseboxse Art Gallery. A painter and avid art collector, William Vixseboxse established Cleveland’s oldest art gallery three generations ago; his spirit is still carried on at the namesake gallery on Cedar Road. Prints by Nast and Homer from Harper’s Weekly, botanicals, chromolithographs, mezzotints, Civil War-era art and more are a part of the saleable stash. The sale launched over the weekend – and continues through mid-April during regular Heights Arts hours – but there’s still plenty to take in. Admit it, your pad needs a little sprucing up; your score helps one of the region’s art institutions thrive.


And hey, don’t forget that the Burning River Roller Girls season starts this Saturday, March 13 at 6PM at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University. Read my interview with some of those skatin’, cross-checkin’ ladies in OA this month.


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It's a Gas


It's a Gas

Posted by Ivan Sheehan and tagged with automobile, car show, Cleveland, family; 12:00am, March 6th 2010

I love cars. It's silly, but it's true. I enjoy talking with others about cars, ogling cars and occasionally even driving cars. With all the money I spend on car magazines and books, I likely could have bought a 60s MG MGB by now, but that's another story. My father tells me stories of walking by my grandparent's neighbors in Dublin, and stopping to admire the Aston Martin DB5 in their driveway. I was barely able to walk, but I would insist on stopping to look at the quintessential British gentleman's tourer. It's a deep-seated problem. 

I have a particular fondness for the great grand tourers and sports cars of the 1960s - and the accompanying stories: The Ferrari 250GTE that made its debut as the 1960 pace car of Le Mans and was Enzo's personal ride of choice as he could comfortably take his dog with him in it; or tractor-cum-automaker Ferruccio Lamborghini's gorgeous and technically superior 400GT 2+2, only the young company's second car, and the response to a disagreement Ferruccio had with Enzo over his Maranello-made mechanicals. The sultry Malcom Sayer-designed Jaguar E-type, a car Enzo is reported to have called "the most beautiful car ever made," essentially came to symbolize the Swingin' Sixties. There's the story of another tractor manufacturer turned automotive impresario, David Brown, who bought a fledgling young car company named Aston Martin in 1947. Under his direction, the company produced some of the world's most iconic autos (Sean Connery made Aston a household name with the release of Goldfinger in 1964) and fabled racers (the 1959 DBR1 co-piloted by a young Carroll Shelby won the 24 hours of Le Mans that year). Don't even get me started on vintage cars of the 1920s and 1930s, or the 50s-era William Lyons' XKs and the sporting ACs of Britain, or America's chromed behemoths of the 1950s or the muscle wars of the late-60s and early-70s. You get the point. 

I firmly believe that every car carries a story, some good, some bad. How many memories do you have associated with cars - a first car? A first date in a car? A first ticket? Family trips? Epic breakdowns?

With the summer car show and concours circuit a few months shy of Mother Nature's blessing in Ohio, there are few places for car guys to go kick tires. Yes, there is the Crawford Auto-Aviation Museum in Cleveland and the National Packard Museum in Warren, and they are wonderful. If you haven't visited either in a while, you should. You'll learn something. There is also the Cleveland Auto Show

When I was a younger, I'd eagerly look forward to attending the auto show with my father. I still do, and so I went this week. There are less cars this year, to be sure, and "nobody is buying new cars", but it's an exciting time, if you think about it. With Toyota moving full steam ahead and showing no signs of stopping, and all the German purveyors of luxurious banker cars engaged in an insular battle of monotony, the US automakers have seemingly got a bit of sense, looking toward quality not quantity. In all the years I've been going to car shows, I've never spent so much time in the Ford display area. More important, though, was the meeting of generations. Climbing in and out of cars, exchanging stories and opinions were kids and their parents, middle-aged folks with grandfathers. Strangers exchanged thoughts – and laughs – on automotive styling, inviting conversation that would normally seem awkward. People were having fun. People were comfortable. Whether you are interested in cars or not, it's about the times you share around them and the people you meet and get to know. 

So, grab a few friends or the family, and go to the auto show. It's $12 per person, and the parking is free. 

Hot or Not?


Hot or Not?

Posted by Sarah Sphar and tagged with Cleveland, media, video; 12:00am, March 4th 2010

If you like seeing your hometown on the small screen, you won't have to rely on those Drew Carey Show reruns much longer: TV Land recently picked up 10 episodes of Hot in Cleveland, slated to star Jane Leeves (Frasier), Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time, Touched by an Angel, Eddie van Halen), Wendie Malick (Just Shoot Me) and Betty White, who at 88 is enjoying a bit of a second (or third?) heyday. The show is scheduled to premier in June.

Rumors of a Cleveland-based sitcom began circulating in January, when Entertainment Weekly's Popwatch blog ran a hilariously Photoshopped preview of what some have called a retread of Golden Girls. The premise for Hot in Cleveland is that three eccentric best friends from Los Angeles get trapped in Cleveland and decide to put down roots because the locals think they're hot. (White plays the "sassy caretaker" - oy - of the friends' rented property.) Clevelanders - with our legendary craving for attention and corresponding sensitivity regarding how that attention is delivered - may have some mixed feelings about the show. After all, we've been trained to expect the worst.

The premise feels insulting on a couple of levels. First of all...trapped in Cleveland? Is this a Donner Party situation, or do these women just not know how to get to the airport? And is Cleveland so deprived of attractive people (or the means - such as, you know, television - to even know what attractive people might look like) that three wacky gals from the Left Coast present a unique opportunity to gawk and gander?

It's too soon to tell if the show will use its setting as an excuse to take cheap shots at the city's expense. One hopes they will at least get the in-jokes right, and not try to put the Rock Hall in Rocky River or give the Cleveland Museum of Art a lakefront view. Drew Carey even painted Cleveland as a kind of paradise, where good friends and the neighborhood bar provide salve for whatever wounds life may deal out. But Carey is a Cleveland native, and he knows where the sore spots are. We're happy to make fun of ourselves... to a point.

I always wonder if there is a glut of television writers born and bred in northeast Ohio, otherwise why not Hot in Detroit? Or Hot in Gary? (Or for that matter...Smart in LA.) Naturally, the show isn't filmed in Cleveland - much like Drew Carey, we will have to be satisfied with stock skyline footage and perhaps some hastily-shot exteriors of a well-tended house on a quiet street in Parma or Willowick. What we won't see, because this is a sitcom on TV Land, and not a Ken Burns documentary, is the Cleveland we know and love (or tolerate), the real Cleveland we live with every day. Because while those tidy suburban houses in Parma and Willowick - and the burning river jokes, and the seemingly eternal heartbreak of the Browns - are part of the fabric of the city, there's so much more to us.

So regardless of how Hot in Cleveland treats us, we'll have to rest assured that we're the ones who really know what's happening here on the homefront. If the show gets it right, great. If it's not so hot - well, at least we know who our friends are.

Fresh Start: Week of March 1

Arts , Region , Home & Style

Fresh Start: Week of March 1

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with album, art, band, Beachland Ballroom, Cleveland Botanical Garden, Cleveland Museum of Art, concert, culture, date, gallery, garden, museum, music, punk, rock; 12:00am, March 1st 2010

Spring is right around the corner, and if that isn’t welcome news for your frost-addled soul, then this week’s Fresh Start is sure to thaw you out and warm you up. Some of our personal defrosters kicked into high gear with last month’s Forbes magazine critique of Northeast Ohio; we can’t help but think if perennial Forbes lemonface Kurt Badenhausen experienced a real weekend here, he’d have to can those sour grapes. Assuming he would agree to such a weekend, we’d get Badenhausen to some great food and nightlife, the requisite tourist traps and some of the region’s best kept secrets. Along the way, stops at a rockin’ anniversary party, an exclusive Native American art exhibition and an annual horticultural reverie would be mandatory. You’re right, why waste the effort. We’re guessing it wouldn’t change Badenhausen’s mind, but it would confirm who the real #1 on the “most miserable” list should be.

The Modern Dance

This weekend, the Beachland Ballroom in Collinwood celebrates its 10th anniversary weekend, with a rundown of rare melodic treats sure to rock your gypsy soul. Cleveland’s legendary Pere Ubu, post-punkers This Moment in Black History, and psych-rock iconoclast Roky Erickson headline the affair, with deftly dizzying support from Sun God, Short Rabbits, The Alarm Clocks, JJ Magazine, Living Stereo and more. Ubu, fronted by the ever-compelling David Thomas, will perform their album The Modern Dance in its entirety Friday, March 5 at 9PM, while conjuring cogent woe and cinematic psychosis. Texas native Erickson performs Saturday, March 6 at 9PM, and will tap his 13th Floor Elevators catalog and work from his Okkervil River co-piloted album, True Love Cast Out All Evil. It’s his first album of new work in 14 years. The weekend also launches the new This Moment in Black History record.

In Bloom

Every year, the Cleveland Botanical Garden finds the art and meaning found in one of the world’s most exotic plants: the seductive orchid. The Garden’s Orchid Mania celebration ushers in spring with a bevy of programming, displays and a plant sale that can’t be missed. This weekend, the Garden honors the enchanting plant and its flowers by bringing in the region’s best orchid growers for their Vendor Weekend Saturday, March 6 and Sunday, March 7. A vast array of orchids and growing supplies available will be available for purchase, along with access to the Garden’s resplendent celebration of said floral species. Orchids are symbols of love and beauty, elegance and luxury, virility and perseverance. In Cleveland, they symbolize a change of seasons and a lift in mood for residents.

Native Tongue

Native American art enthusiasts are sure to thrill at the exhibition objects arriving at the Cleveland Museum of Art starting this Sunday, March 7. Cleveland is just one of three cities offered a rare glimpse at The Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection from the Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, New York. It’s one of the art world’s most elusive collections of treasures and has been raved about by The New York Times as an indispensible document of Native American art achievements before (and after) our country’s colonization. At its heart, Thaw triangulates cerebral, spiritual and cultural significance behind the works with stunning clarity. The CMA exhibition runs through the end of May.


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Fresh Start: Week of February 22

Arts , Food & Drink , Home & Style , Region

Fresh Start: Week of February 22

Posted by Peter Chakerian and tagged with art, benefit, Cleveland, concert, culture, home, music, school, shopping, theater; 12:00am, February 22nd 2010


Although largely a social media construct, the idea that “value is a perception and perception is a value” applies to our everyday lives. Everything around us is a patchwork of considerations, competing for our attention and resources, and in Cleveland, there’s a lot vying for both. OhioAuthority’s Fresh Start helps you, the reader, sort through those options. This week, our attentions turn to the nouveau historical – something old wrapped up in something new – from the amazing music and student-musicians coming from the world-renowned Cleveland Institute of Music, to the buzz drawn by a proletariat auction house on the Lakewood-Cleveland border. Throw in the annual fundraising/awareness shindig by PlayhouseSquare Partners, the young professionals group tasked with “succession planning” for the vital arts organization and theater district, and you’ve scored yourself a week full of value and perception.

Dirty Composition

Ariadne auf Naxos showcases late Romantic-era composer Richard Strauss at his most quick-and-dirty. This romantic comedy is a spin on Molière’s play Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, offering insight into what might happen when a “serious opera” company and comedy troupe are plunged into working together. There’s plenty of Bacchus, burlesque and nymphs in this behind-the-scenes, opera-within-an-opera, which is brought to life through the fine musical craftsmanship of CIM students. You need not be an opera fan to enjoy this. It starts Wednesday, February 24 and runs through the weekend at the institute’s Kulas Hall. Call 216-791-5000 for tickets.

Get Back to Where the Art Belongs

There’s little doubt that the generation studying at CIM will go on to participate in (and patronize) the fine arts. That’s what makes PlayhouseSquare Partners, and what they do, so vitally important to the community. This group of young professionals works tirelessly to insure that future generations of northeast Ohio residents will have their venerable arts district to enjoy. The Partners’ Jump Back Ball 2010 is a top-shelf benefit, a formal evening with panache, cocktails, live music, an epicurean buffet, gambling, and much more. The Ball benefits the theatre district, and it definitely brings out the crowds. Nearly 1,000 people are expected Saturday, February 27, so we suggest getting on the horn and snagging some tickets for yourself and friends. This is real social networking, and for a worthy cause.

Throw the Gavel Down

With an amazing array of fine art, antiques, home furnishings and decorations in their auctions the folks at Gray’s Auctioneers pride themselves on providing a second life for antiquities. This Saturday, February 27 at 1PM, your life and living quarters will be poised for a little lift. Previews of the current auction start on Thursday at noon. Think you’ve got something that might be “Antiques Roadshow”-worthy for the next auction? The website has all your details on getting an appraisal. We think Gray’s Auctions are beyond price. But you should judge for yourself.


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