Columbus – December 2018 – Ohio’s Attic

The Ohio History Center in Columbus is sort of Ohio’s attic, if an attic is a brutalist style concrete building with a number of galleries with extremely diverse displays.

Still, a good way to spend a few hours on a cold, rainy Saturday.

First up – African American Art

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A long time Columbus TV legend, Flippo (or more appropriately Flippo’s outfit)

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A small engine.

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Silver Bracelet from the 1800s.

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Ohio has always been known for it’s many glass makers.

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Coverlets

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A display on World War I had a gas mask. Interestingly the precursor to the gas mask was invented by Garrett Morgan in Cleveland. An African American, Garrett had a long and distinguished life as an inventor.

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An exhibit on Ohio artists. This display honors Paul Henri Bourguignon, a Belgian born artist who settled in Columbus in 1950 after his wife joined the faculty of Ohio State University.

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Flywheel for a steam engine. I just like the symmetry and color.

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Early fire engine.

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Horse drawn streetcar.

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Model Train set.

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Miss America 1953’s gown and portrait.

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Etch a Sketch – from ‘Ohio Art’

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A 1957 Chevy and an Airstream Trailer. The camper has been built in Ohio for a long time.

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The Soap Box derby is synonymous with Ohio.

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Lustron Homes were prefabricated, metal houses made in the 1940s and 1950s.

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This display is all set for Christmas 1955.

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Native American pipe.

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And effigy.

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Flints.

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A display of Civil War era Ohio Companies flags.

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Dinosaur skull.

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Fossils.

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Taxidermy of animals that once, or still, are present in Ohio.

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An airplane, because we need an airplane.

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And cars. We need cars to. And the state has long produced both.

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An early tire mold from Firestone.

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Finally we are hungry, so we stopped by White Castle (at least the exhibit – we found better food for lunch afterwards).

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Cleveland – September 2018 – IngenuityFest

Each September IngenuityFest occurs in Cleveland. It is tough to explain exactly what IngenuityFest is, but their website describes it as ‘sparking creativity among artists, entrepreneurs and innovators of all types, through job and collaboration, in service to civic progress.

What that means is you will find music, lots of music….

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Interesting art….

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Unique performances like a belly dancer will lit candles on her head….

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A lampshade that looks like a cloud….

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A lamp made out of an old drill….

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Really cool art….

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More music….

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A room that you stand in front of a projector and it turns you into a stick person that moves as you move….(a selfie)

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More music….

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The musicians we heard were all quite good.

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The octopus that ate the Terminal Tower.

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These guys were demonstrating their robot that can paint lines on roads, but for this they were making a large painting on the parking lot.

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Held in a hundred year old former factory (where Fuel Cleveland was held a few months ago), even the venue was re-purposed.

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IngenuityFest is one unique event.

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Swissvale, PA – July 2018 – Rust Belt History and Art

The Monongahela Valley of Pennsylvania was once the center of steel production for not only the U.S., but the entire world. At one point 25% of all steel production in the world came from the Pittsburgh area. For a number of reasons though that industry has all but left the area.

Today many of them have been completely torn down and converted into a variety of uses including office parks and shopping areas.

A portion of one remains: The Carrie Furnaces. The first blast furnaces were built in this area in 1884, closing down in 1982.

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Today it serves as a National Historic Site, open for tours of the remaining furnaces (#6 and #7). Interestingly it is also used for weddings, as evidenced by the left over high heel shoe (left side of the sign).

It should be noted the facility is not restored at all, so whomever is wearing these heels to a wedding held here clearly planned poorly.

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The tallest of the furnaces rise to a height of 92′.

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The shop building is used to check people in to the tour, as well as the aforementioned weddings.

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The site is also used for various metal based artists. The pile of automobile rotors have nothing to do with the mill, although it is likely the steel for the rotors was produced in the Mon Valley.

The rotors are used to teach high school students how to weld and make metal based art.

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As we progressed through we found a number of pieces of ‘Rust Belt Art’.

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One of the first buildings we went in is the railroad car offloading facility. The large arms in the photo would pick up railroad cars full of coal or coke and tip them over the side into the holding bin.

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Deer were a recurring themes in the artwork. This painting is on the bottom of the railroad car offloading building.

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A large steam shovel bucket was brought in to add to the atmosphere.

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The area sat vacant for many years so the park has adopted a ‘controlled’ urban art approach, since much of it had been covered in graffiti anyway.

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A large retaining wall was covered in various paintings, including this one as a tribute to the steel workers.

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Another way back in the corner of the property was very impressive with the integration of the deer with images of the mill.

I was warned of significant poison ivy in the grass and weeds that went to this far corner, but came home no worse for wear, and with a great shot.

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This far corner also provided a nice overview of the remaining furnaces. The buildings that are left are just a fraction of what would’ve been there when the mill was running.

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The tour continued underneath where the coal and coke would moved into the mill from the holding building seen previously. On this day it was quiet and comfortable. For the mill workers this was a loud, dusty, dangerous place.

Our tour guide Doug pointed out that the average steel worker in the early 1900s lived only to their mid 40s, dying of accidents, black lung, or just over worked.

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The tours final stops were in the furnace itself (or rather the buildings that house the main blast furnaces).  Outside is another large sculpture.

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While inside is an amazing collection of massive old steel components that kept the blast furnaces running.

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For the workers this again was a hot, dirty, dangerous place to work. In the early 1900s most were recent immigrants from Italy, Slovakia, Poland and elsewhere in eastern Europe.

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To me the remains provide an awesome setting for photography.

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While virtually the entire place is as it was left, for some reason this crank is recently painted yellow.

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The tour ended in front of Carrie herself. An impressive structure, she was a critical component in the building of America and the World. The steel that came out of her built such impressive structures as the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge.

Our tour guide Doug did a great job mixing history, steel making process and personal anecdotes making the 2 hour tour quickly pass by.

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Worthington, Ohio – June 2018 – Come for the Produce, Stay for the Art

The town of Worthington, Ohio was settled in 1803 by settlers from Connecticut. As a result the center of town resembles a New England town, complete with the village green. Long an affluent Columbus suburb, Worthington has a year round farmers market, with the summer season held in the village green area.

This farmers market is nice, with an interesting selection of produce (when in season), meats and a collection of hipster booths like artistic chocolate and little bags of pasta from Cleveland. Still we enjoy going down to buy local honey and other items.

This week though we had a surprise in that the annual Worthington Arts Festival was being held.

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Over 100 artists had booths set up offer a variety of mediums including ceramics, paintings, photography, fiber, glass, jewelry, metalwork, leather work, and sculptures.

A local art teacher makes Bruce the Garden Shark – whose role is in theory to be like a scarecrow. We brought one home to ward off the groundhogs and skunks.

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While the much larger Columbus Arts Festival attracts artists from all over the country this one was mostly local artists, including this one who did a mixed media sculpture.

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There were a number of wood carvers making sure we know we are in Ohio.

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A clay ceramics artist had great skill in his use of paints and approaches to his firings to make interesting pieces.

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Interested in the steam punk look?

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A husband and wife team had a wood/glass mix.

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Finally a basket of funky little characters.

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North Adams, MA – May 2018 – Mass MOCA

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is located in the small far northwestern Massachusetts town of North Adams. With a name like that it has been abbreviated to Mass MOCA.

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Located in an old factory complex it is now home to 19 galleries and 100,000 square feet of space. As we arrived we stopped by the cafe for lunch and had the opportunity to listen to some musicians.

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The galleries are scattered throughout the buildings – mixing new construction with the existing buildings.

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As with many contemporary art pieces, they are sometimes subjective to interpretation.

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A fencing mask with feathers.

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Pallet art with a record player (that was stuck on the same part of the same song).

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You have to hand it to them – they are creative.

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At first this seemed like a re-used satellite dish.

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But upon closer inspection it had hundreds of small reflective panels at different angles. All the little red spots are actually reflections of a nearby exit sign.

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The building itself is interesting with it’s high ceilings.

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My favorite gallery was by an artist named Gunnar Schonbeck – who specializes in making giant music instruments.

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A guitar from a large wooden box.

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Xylophones – they encouraged you to ‘play’

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Which many did – to the amusement of their friends.

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Another gallery had commentary on the American involvement in foreign affairs – complete with walls of (somewhat redacted) U.S. intelligence memos displayed in giant form.

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Many of the pieces are huge.

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As well as the statements.

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Mass MOCA is not an easy place to get to – a 3 hour drive from Boston – but it is a very popular artist town and museum.

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