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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Lose Yourself in the Loveliness of the Louvre

May 17, 2018
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Whether it’s the mysterious Mona Lisa, the colossal Coronation of Napoleon, the passionate Psyche Revived by Cupid’s Kiss, the wondrous Winged Victory of Samothrace, or any of its other monumental masterpieces, there are countless ways to lose yourself in the loveliness of the Louvre.

Classical Meets Contemporary

For me, the love fest with the world’s largest and most-visited museum actually starts with the building’s expansive grounds that border the Right Bank of the Seine River and run along the charming Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

From the glorious Tuileries Gardens to the grand Carrousel Triumphal Arch that lead into the museum’s main courtyard, Cour Napoleon, classical architecture and sculptures abound and are then strikingly juxtaposed against I.M. Pei’s contemporary glass and metal pyramids that mark the central entrance into all wings of the Louvre.

While there are numerous sculptures carved into the Louvre’s facade, there is only one statue that stands in the Cour Napoleon and it is Bernini’s brilliant equestrian statue of Louis XIV (The Sun King), which is a lead cast of the original Carrara marble version. Bernini was a sculptural genius and this statue showcases his talents in being able to manipulate stone and create a sense of flowing garments and natural movement.

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Grand Louvre Pyramids

Although highly controversial due to their sleek, modern looks, the Louvre Pyramid (exterior) and The Inverted Pyramid (interior) are undoubtedly two of the Louvre’s star attractions and certainly succeed in creating a sense of intrigue (or repulsion) for visitors depending on their artistic preferences.

Despite the initial outcry of purists who felt the pyramid designs were inconsistent with the classical French Renaissance style of the original buildings, there has been no negligible impact to attendance figures. On any given day, crowds continue to throng to the Louvre to take in its many marvels.

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Four Fabulous Levels of Loveliness

With 38,000 objects on display at any given time, the Louvre collection spreads over four levels starting from the basement entrance and continuing up for three floors.

Basement

The galleries in the basement include works of Islamic art; French, Italian, Spanish and Northern European sculpture; Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities; and  sections dedicated to the history of the Louvre and remnants of medieval vaults dating back to King Louis IX.

One of the highlights from the Egyptian gallery is The Crypt of the Sphinx, which is a half man (pharaoh’s head) and half animal (lion’s body) rose-coloured granite sculpture.

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First Floor

Venus de Milo is on full display in her resplendent glory in the Greek antiquities gallery on the first floor. Other galleries on this level include Oriental, Egyptian, Etruscan and Roman antiquities; French, Italian, Spanish and Northern European sculpture; and African, Asian, Oceanic and Native American art.

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Second Floor

Decorative arts such as floor to ceiling tapestries, table-top statuettes and ceramic vases take up half of the second floor; the other half is divided between Egyptian, Greek, Etruscan and Roman antiquities; French, Italian and Spanish painting; and Italian drawings.

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is located on the second floor, as well as the museum’s largest painting, The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paolo Veronese, which famously depicts the Biblical story when Jesus turns water into wine. (Note: Expect to feel like a crammed in sardine when viewing the Mona Lisa and hold your camera steady as there will be plenty of jostling about and jockeying for position to get a picture of da Vinci’s famous lady.)

Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People is an outstanding historical piece on display in the French Painting gallery. Many works by Jacques-Louis David are also found in this gallery, including The Coronation of Napoleon, Oath of the Horatii, and The Intervention of the Sabine Women.

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Third Floor

Drawings and paintings from French, German, Flemish and Dutch artists are featured on the third floor.

Some of the works from early German and Dutch masters include Erasmus of Rotterdam by Hans Holbein the Younger, Self-Portrait with Thistle by Albrecht Durer, and The Virgin of Chancellor Rolin by Jan van Eyck.

Flemish and Dutch Baroque paintings from the likes of Peter Paul Rubens, Rembrandt van Rijn, Anthony van Dyck, and Jan Vermeer also adorn the third floor gallery walls. Among their well-known works are The Medicis Cycle by Rubens, Charles I at the Hunt by van Dyck, and The Lacemaker by Vermeer.

Planning and Pace Pays Off

Just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, seeing all of the Louvre is going to take more than one visit. The key to conquering the Louvre is to have a strategy in place. With a little bit of pre-planning and commitment to sticking to a steady pace once inside the museum’s hallowed hallows, your efforts will be rewarded in seeing a dizzying array of some of the world’s best art.