Big City Tales

The Power of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

October 24, 2018
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With its sprawling 65,000 square-foot plaza, soaring 162-foot tower, and striking glass-enclosed double pyramid main entrance, the power of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame (Rock Hall) building is palpable. Add in its prime lakefront location along Cleveland’s North Coast Harbor and its photo-opp LONG LIVE ROCK anthem sign, the exterior impression is nothing short of pulsating! Rest assured, the energy continues to surge from the moment you head inside and begin exploring the Rock Hall from the ground up.

Main Galleries

Named for the Rock Hall’s founder and former chairman of Atlantic Records, the Ahmet Ertegun Main Exhibit Hall sets the stage for a truly rockin’ experience ahead. The spirit of rock and roll is alive and well as you stroll through the galleries and admire vivid imagery, colorful anecdotes and priceless memorabilia.

By the way, it should be noted here that three of the primary reasons why the Rock Hall is based in Cleveland is because of the city’s history with rock music. Firstly, a local disc jockey, Alan Freed, coined the term “rock and roll” back in the early 1950s. Secondly, the first rock concert was staged at the Cleveland Arena in 1952 as part of a live dance event called the Moondog Coronation Ball. Thirdly, “The Buzzard” radio station (WMMS) launched the careers of David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Roxy Music, Rush and many others in the 1970s and 1980s.

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The evolution of the rock genre is the focus of the Stewart Gallery: The Roots of Rock that explores the influence of blues, gospel, R&B, country, bluegrass and folk music on emerging artists in the late 1940s/early 1950s.

In the Cities and Sounds gallery, cities such as Memphis, Detroit, Liverpool, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, London, and Seattle are showcased for their contributions to the ongoing development of rock music over the decades. The exhibits feature major musical eras such as Motown, the British Invasion, Punk and Grunge; provide an overview of key dates and historical facts; and display time-period specific instruments, stage costumes, album covers, promotional materials and a host of other noteworthy artifacts.

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Fittingly, the indisputable “King of Rock and Roll” is honored in the Elvis gallery that details his full life story. Fans of the The King will appreciate the breadth of paraphernalia on display such as a custom jukebox, guitar and automobile. From his early days as an unknown artist in Memphis, to his stint in the US Army, to his Hollywood B Movie fame, to his Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite concert that aired around the world in 1973, the gallery definitely captures the highs and lows of The King’s all too short existence.

In the Legends of Rock and Roll gallery, personal items belonging to Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Steven Tyler and Aerosmith, Debbie Harry and Blondie, among other famous acts are front and center. The gallery’s purpose is to highlight everything from the visual spectacle of concerts to the behind the scenes song-writing process.

Special Exhibits

The Rock Hall is known for its care and attention to special exhibits that regularly change out such as the 50 year anniversary of Rolling Stone magazine that was the subject matter in 2017. Along with a re-creation of its physical office space in New York City, the exhibit included a collage of the magazine’s covers and snippets from famous articles.

Iconic Landmark ‘Rocks Around the Clock’

While the Rock Hall typically closes it doors at 5pm, the building lights up at night and pulses with the energy of the rock and roll rhythms that inspired I.M. Pei’s bold and eye-catching design. The internationally-acclaimed architect definitely struck the right creative chord and gifted the city of Cleveland with an iconic landmark on Rock and Roll Boulevard that visitors can enjoy as they ‘rock, rock, rock ’till broad daylight’ when the Rock Hall opens its doors again.

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The Forever Benefits of the Cleveland Museum of Art

October 17, 2018
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When the Cleveland Museum of Arts opened in 1916, the lofty vision of its founders was that it would be a place that would forever benefit the people who passed through its doors. Over 100 years later, the founders can rest easy knowing that not only is the museum one of the city’s most cherished landmarks, it is also one of Ohio’s most beloved cultural institutions, and is one of America’s most valuable art collections. Internationally, the museum is renowned for its holdings of Ancient Near Eastern, Greek and Roman art, as well as an array of eclectic modern sculptures, including a cast of Rodin’s The Thinker that is situated outside at the top of the main staircase.

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Wade Park Charm

Along with its gorgeous interior space, the Cleveland Museum of Art’s exterior landscape is sumptuous and pretty as a postcard. Located in the historic Wade Park district in East Cleveland, the sprawling grounds feature a peaceful lagoon and the Fine Arts Garden where many statues are displayed. Two well-known works that can be admired in this area are Night Passing the Earth to Day by Frank Jirouch and Fountain of the Waters by Chester Beach.

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European Elegance

Heading back indoors, the beauty of the Beaux-Arts building continues to dazzle with its white marble floors and walls, and neoclassical stylistic elements. The galleries are elegant and the rotunda corridors are spacious allowing for prime viewing of central displays such as Antonio Canova’s Muse of Lyric Poetry, which the Italian master carved in 1816 and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in London.

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Greek and Roman Treasures

From the torsos of Greek and Roman gods to the heads of political and military leaders, the museum’s collection of bronzes may not be large but what it lacks in quantity, it makes up with high quality pieces. Two of its masterworks are The Emperor as Philosopher (likely an imperial portrait of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius) and the figure of Apollo the Python-Slayer credited to Praxiteles, the 4th Century BC Greek sculptor who was the first to produce a life-size female nude.

Armor Court Glamour

One of the grandest installments in the Cleveland Museum of Art is the Arms and Armor room that contains tapestries, portraits, weaponry and full battle armor. Armor for Man and Horse with Vols-Colonna Arms is from Northern Italy and dates to the late 1500s. Some of its distinctive features are etched animals and other figures, and a family coat of arms that appears in seven different spots. With hundreds of medieval artifacts on display, the armor court offers a glimpse back in time to the glory days of knights and their mounts waging battle on behalf of their kingdoms and fair maidens.

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Modern Sculpture Whimsy

One of the museum’s most popular works is Standing Mitt with Ball sculpted by Claes Oldenburg that features a massive steel and lead glove holding a ball made of wooden planks. Considering Cleveland is a baseball crazy town, this playful take on America’s favorite pastime is a fitting part of the museum’s permanent collection and proudly sits in the atrium courtyard in front of the main entrance into the galleries.

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A Lasting Gift

In its first century of existence, the Cleveland Museum of Art has definitely made a lasting impression on art patrons and it appears good things are in store for the museum’s next hundred years. Following a successful capital campaign to raise funds for a major renovation and expansion, the museum is poised to continue its vision of existing for the benefit of all the people forever…and ever…and ever….

 


Culture with a Capital ‘C’ in Cleveland

April 4, 2018
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When it comes to words associated with the city of Cleveland, Ohio “culture” may not immediately jump to mind for non-residents but tried and true Clevelanders know otherwise. Yes, culture with a capital ‘C’ is alive and well in Cleveland and can be experienced around the city in many different ways.

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University Circle

Home to the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Cleveland Institute of Music, the Cleveland Botanical Garden and other attractions, University Circle (also known as ‘The Circle’) has the distinction of being the densest concentration of cultural sites and performing arts venues in the United States. Located on the city’s east side, the region also includes thousands of students attending Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland School of the Arts, and Montessori High School/Elementary among other educational institutions. The Circle encompasses 550 acres and features abundant green space that makes for a peaceful and picturesque drive between venues. Other notable landmarks in the area include the community of Little Italy and historic Lake View Cemetery, which contains the James A. Garfield Memorial built to honor the 20th President of the United States who was assassinated in 1881.

Downtown

Eclectic architecture and a vibrant arts and entertainment scene reigns supreme in downtown Cleveland. The city skyline can be admired from many vantage points, one of the best being from the Lake Erie waterfront. The view from The Flats located on the western banks of the Cuyahoga River also offers an interesting perspective. Downtown Cleveland consists of a number of distinct districts such as Public Square, Historic Gateway and North Harbour.

Public Square

As the city’s historic center, Public Square dates back to 1796 and includes notable structures such as Terminal Tower, once the world’s second-tallest skyscraper when it was completed in 1930, and Key Tower, currently the tallest building in Ohio. The square also contains some important historical monuments including statues of city founder, Moses Cleaveland, and former city mayor, Tom L. Johnson.

Historic Gateway District

Thanks to a major revitalization project during the 1990s, the Historic Gateway District has become a popular spot for sports, entertainment, restaurant and shopping outings. The area is home to Progressive Field where the Cleveland Indians play and Quicken Loans Arena where the Cleveland Cavaliers play. Music lovers flock to Cleveland’s House of Blues and foodies enjoy the many eateries along East 4th Street. The Cleveland Arcade, one of the first indoor shopping malls in the United States, is located along the ritzy Euclid Avenue and was financed by wealthy Clevelanders such as John D. Rockefeller when it was constructed in 1890.

North Coast Harbor District

The major landmarks in the North Coast Harbor area along the Lake Erie shoreline include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Great Lakes Science Center, Cleveland Browns Stadium, and the Steamship William G. Mather Maritime Museum. It is the primary tourist hub of the city and there are many terrific photo opportunities be it during the day or at night when many of the buildings light up.

Go Browns! / Go Indians! / Go Cavaliers!

Okay, sports isn’t typically considered to be a ‘high-brow’ activity but cheering on the home team is very much ingrained into Cleveland’s cultural identity. The city’s world-class stadiums are filled with die-hard fans, even when the teams aren’t doing well (sorry, Dawg Pound lovers of the Browns!), and especially so when the teams make the play-offs. Both the Indians and Cavaliers have won their respective league championships in recent history, and back in the day the Browns have been close so there is a strong and proud tradition of winning franchises.

Go Cleveland!

With so many ways to appreciate amazing art, be in awe of incredible buildings and cheer on talented athletes, Cleveland is a definite go-to destination for culture seekers, architectural buffs and sports enthusiasts alike.