Columbus – April 2018 – Gallery Day

The Riffe State Office Tower in downtown Columbus is the home of a gallery that rotates exhibits every few months. Since January the display has been the 2017 Quilt Nationals, featuring artists from across the country.

Expecting the usual symmetrical circles and patterns of ‘country quilts’, we were pleased to see a totally different approach – more like art in the form of a quilt.

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Many had no patterns at all – rather they resembled paintings as they dealt with the artists emotions at the time of creation. But they are indeed quilts.

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Those that did have patterns were more free form.

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Even the symmetrical ones had a modern feel.

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Not your grandma’s quilt.

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Meanwhile just around the corner is the Ohio State University Urban Arts Center, located on the lower level of an old department store.

This exhibit featured the works of the senior art students.

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While the exhibit wasn’t officially open yet, they let us wander around.

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George Romero would be proud.

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Cleveland – March 2018 – A Revisit to the Piston Powered Show

Since we have ran out of things to do in Ohio, we are now revisiting some of the better events, including the Piston Powered Show in Cleveland.

Held at the million square foot IX Center, this event features ‘anything with a piston’ including cars, boats, planes, motorcycles, snowmobiles and others.

 

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A custom bike

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Surf’s up on Lake Erie!

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A chopped Beetle.

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As noted, the place is huge – with the airplane being dwarfed by the indoor ferris wheel.

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Some artists were customizing on the spot.

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Lanterns on an antique fire truck.

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The Cleveland Corvette Club.

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Customized 1950s Ford pickup truck.

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Clearly a winner.

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Hey Scoobie…

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Cleveland – March 2018 – Playhouse Square Theaters

The Playhouse Square Theater District on Euclid Avenue in downtown Cleveland is known as the 2nd largest by number of seats in the United States, behind Lincoln Center in Manhattan. The 4 major theaters once could seat nearly 10,000 people, although that number has diminished a bit with remodeling.

On the first Saturday of each month a small army of volunteers offer free behind the scenes tours. Lead by our amazing tour guide Lil, we were fortunate in that we chose a day that they were between shows in the theaters, so we were able to go on the stages and in the dressing rooms for all the theaters.

First up is the largest, the State Theater.  Opened, along with all the other theaters, in a 19 month period between 1921-1922, the State originally seated 3,400.

Built in an Italian Renaissance style for vaudeville shows and movies, it has what was the worlds longest lobby at 320′ as it was built at the back of the lot so the theater next door, the Ohio Theater, could also have frontage on Euclid Avenue.

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As the tour took us backstage you got a feel for how massive the stage and the rigging are to support the theater. This theater’s rigging have been modernized, we would later get a sense for how much compared to the non-updated ones.

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Next door is the Palace Theater (recently renamed Connor Palace to honor a major donor). This theater was built in the French Renaissance style, and features beautiful entry doors.

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The main lobby is known as the Great Hall. Amazingly in the early 1970s all the theaters we close to being torn down to make parking lots, but fortunately the local arts community was persistent and saved all of them. It  has taken the community many years and millions of dollars but all have been restored, and in some cases reconfigured for smaller theaters.

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Front the balcony of the Palace we were treated to a performance from one of the resident organists.

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Later we were able to visit up close for a demonstration of the amazing capabilities of the organ, as well as some behind the scenes history of the recovery and restoration of the organ.

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The entryway to the Ohio Theater features an amazing ceiling. (all of the ceilings are stunning, this is the best).

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From the stage the lighting, seating and ceiling make an impressive photo.

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Backstage gets a view of the un-restored rigging (the massive collection of ropes on the right), as well as all of the lighting riggings.

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Another amazing ceiling and light, the entrance to the Allen Theater.

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The columns of the Allen Theater entrance have intricate carvings.

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The Allen has been downsized and modernized, although the original balconies and boxes are hidden behind the fabrics on the sides in case they want to return it to it’s original state. The second half of this theater has been transformed into a ‘Theater in the Round’ format.

Playhouse Square is one of the best features of Cleveland, and the Saturday morning tours are amazing (and free).

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Cleveland – March 2018 – Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

It has been over 10 years since the last visit to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, but having recently read that they now allow photography in most places it seemed like a good time to make a return visit.

I had forgotten how many artifacts they have from many genres, not just Rock. Since blues had such an influence, there was an extensive exhibit honoring those who contributed, such as Bo Diddley.

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In my opinion Ruth Brown is the best blues singer of all time…

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And Muddy Waters was one of the best as well. Note the partial view of the album in the upper right corner. It is ‘Hard Again’, featuring Muddy, Bob Margolin on Guitar, Pinetop Perkins on piano, James Cotton on harmonica, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith on drums, Charles Calmese on bass and produced, as well as playing guitar, Johnny Winter.  The Best Blues Album Ever!

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The sign from Elvis’ famed 1968 comeback TV special

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Another cool Bo Diddley guitar.

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Mixing blues and rock makes another of my favorites, the Allman Brothers Band.

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Beyond the instruments and outfits there is an excellent collection of paraphernalia, including the original lyrics – such as Riders on the Storm by the Doors.

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The upper floors had a tribute to 50 years of Rolling Stone magazine.

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David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust outfit

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Long Live Rock!

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Dayton – January 2018 – Airplanes as Abstract Art

With another exceptionally cold day greeting us, but wanting to keep up with the goal of 13,000 steps per day it was decided to make the hour trip back to Dayton to the US Air Force Museum. It is huge, it is inside and heated, and it is free.

Having been there a couple of times recently and taken photos, with a blog posting, I decided to focus on different views, which ended up what I am calling ‘Airplanes as Abstract Art’.

Rather than try to come up with profiles of each plane, I tried to combine angles, views and perspectives to come up with different views. With the very dark lighting throughout  it made it challenging, but also added an interesting effect.

First up, a Fairchild C119J Right Propeller and the vertical stabilizer for the Space Shuttle mock up (for some reason the USAF Museum did not get one of the original shuttles).

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A North American Twin Mustang ‘Betty Jo’ and a collection of other tails and wings in the ‘Cold War’ section.

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A General Dynamics F111 Aardvark nose backed by an Lockheed AC130A transport plane.

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A Lockheed F117A Nighthawk ‘stealth’

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Douglas C124C Globemaster cargo plane with the cargo loading door open, coupled with the very symmetric ceiling of the hangar. The cold kept most people away, this is one of very few photos from the day that ended up with people in them (barely visible in the interior of the plane).

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Douglas B18 Bolo

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Fokker DR1 Triplane from the early days of flight. This one is hanging upside down from the ceiling.

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A Hawker XV6A.

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Finally a Lockheed XR71 Blakbird. For many years it held records as the fastest airplane (well over 2000 miles per hour) and altitude, at over 80,000 feet. With our walking steps goal complete we headed back out into the cold.

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Chicago – December 2017 – Architecture Biennial

The Chicago Architecture Biennial purpose is to “provides a platform for groundbreaking architectural projects and spatial experiments that demonstrate how creativity and innovation can radically transform our lived experience.”

As part of that this years exhibit includes an exhibit called “Make New History”. This exhibit features a number of architectural interpretations of a redesign of the iconic Tribune Tower.

Interestingly the venue for this very modern exhibit is the classic Chicago Cultural Center, including the stunning stained glass dome in the Grand Army of the Republic rotunda.

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Before arriving at the main exhibit room we visited some displays of miniatures.

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The details on most were amazing, although some of the more abstract ones looked like a discarded toy box. This model was an Asian interpretation of the Tribune Tower.

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Full view of the Serie Architects ‘Far Eastern Headquarters’ model.

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The Tribune Tower is a Neo Gothic building completed in 1925. The various interpretations varied greatly from that design.

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6a architects view was meant to resemble a totem pole of stacked artifacts.

 

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Architect and ‘urbanist’ Charles Waldheiim went even further with a number of interpretations of famous Chicago buildings including the John Hancock Center, Willis Tower, Marina City and the Thompson Center.

Called Heliomorphic Chicago it is set up in the classic Chicago grid street system.

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