I met with Nicole McGee and her studio mate Harvey at Plenty Underfoot to find out how she has so far enhanced the urban fabric through social work, community planning, recycling (or her term, Upcycling) and hand made craft. I asked about her upcycle pop-up shop experience and plans for the coming St. Clair Superior neighborhood project-- more to follow in issue one!
Last week Alan Brooks played a free show of fresh soulful jazz on MoCA's outdoor patio. The event was advertised on MoCA's website and in Scene a week prior, so I was surprised to find only a handful of people in attendance. The speakers were directed outward towards the large promenade where people walked by eating ice cream, played ping-pong and hula-hooped. Free summer shows are important in creating a sense of community on the street while encouraging people to take an interest in unfamiliar music and performance. I'm excited to see as many as I can before the summer ends!
I hadn't heard of North Collinwood until a few weeks ago- ever since then news of it keeps popping up. Artsits are receiving grants to implement design solutions that operate on the community scale, with hopes of gathering creative types into a centralized location for increasing Cleveland's revitalization.
The theme seems to correlate with this new surrealist mural in the area regarding means of production, making me wonder about the realized democratization of product creation and community development. This grant system seems to prove that the tools are with smart individuals on the ground.
Vacancy. Its one of the most interesting terms used when discussing Cleveland. In its 77 square miles live 390,928 people, making the area seem like a large dispersed urban town rather than city. If you've been paying attention you know that this has lead to a crime rating of 2 (out of 100, 100 being safest), rivaled only by Detroit.*
Residents of Cleveland are 53% Black, 37% White, the rest Hispanic, Latino or Asian. 32% of Cleveland's population live below the poverty line. 13% have a bachelors degree or higher. 8% of the population will be involved in a violent crime.*
A woman recently told me "In Brooklyn someone might think about raping you until they get distracted by a hamburger stand. Be careful here- there are way less hamburger stands".
Other cities have crime, but they also have more distractions, more diverse street life, more eyes on the street, more people tending to their individual affairs. The vast dark spaces, abandoned nooks and shadowy corners of Cleveland are perfect for crime, but they also hold opportunities for interesting design proposals.
There will always be crime but through awareness, education and banishment of fear it may be possible to find ways to create a safer city that is appealing to everyone.
I am looking forward to spending the next year investigating these tough dynamics, and the progress that comes out of creative design solutions!
*statistics from city-data.com and neighborhoodscout.com
Last month I butted my way in as substitute drummer for then three-piece band the Erienauts while their regular drummer was away. As they started developing songs for their first record I continued to play the part of band-aid, drinking boxes of wine by the lake and creating a photo story of the studio process. I've been impressed by their commitment to being in the studio every evening after working long days at physically intensive jobs- the hard work just might pay off.
The Erienauts consist of Bassist Brendan, Guitarists Pat and Ryan and Drummer Dylan. Their first show is July 23rd and below are some words from Brendan.
Rust Magazine: You have been in bands before in Cleveland. What were your previous experiences?
Brendan Provenzale: Yeah, aside from Dylan and my last project Gypsydaze I hadn't really played shows after my high school band of four years, which was good experience but yeah we were still young and didn't really care much. Recently things have been cool though- networking has made everything pretty simple.
RM: What drives you to make music? Is it something you can explain?
BP: I just love it, I dunno... everything about it. It's always been a part of my life and I can't really imagine things without it.
RM: What bands are you excited about right now in general? Is there anyone in Cleveland you think has incredible potential and the the drive to become successful?
BP: Oh totally, theres always different scenes going on and I'm definitely not aware of all the bands and artists... I love The Teddy Boys, Wooly Bullies, The Moxies, Simpler Times.. .the list could go on but I'll stop there.
RM: What are your favorite venues around here? Do you think they do a good job of getting notable acts from around the country?
BP: I mean, Beachland and Grog Shop are definitely my favorite. I love the smaller places too like Now That's Class, Happy Dog, Spitfire, Mahalls.
RM: You've mentioned your sound is like a Stokes/Nirvana/Beach Boys fusion. Do you want to elaborate on your influences? What about these sounds intrigue you?
BP: Oh man, well that kinda stuff has just been engrained in me. The first two cd's I got as a kid were The Beach Boys- Absolute Best Vol. 1 and Nirvana- Nevermind. I was like 5 or 6. I used to listen to Motown, Led Zeppelin, and the oldies station non-stop. I would fall asleep to it every night from practically birth 'til I was a teenager- it's like whatever those habit stopping cassettes are or whatever. I dunno, we all work well together as a band and like similar stuff, so we make what we know and want.
RM: Do you have an opinion on the way music is distributed and listened to today? I've heard many musicians lament about how image based everything has become and how much you need to market yourself. I've seen many good bands flounder because they don't hone their brand. Thoughts?
BP: I mean it's true, I'm ok with the whole image deal for the most part and it really depends on your scene. We wear what we always do, but our friends The Moxies just got a shoe deal or something... it works with their 50's image. But yeah I hate how the industry works as a whole but what can you do, good music still exists.
RM: Do you plan on releasing a record and setting up a tour?
BP: Yeah, both. Working on recordings now and booking.... so no dates yet but it'll come in time.
Loren's studio and gallery in Ohio City is one of those spaces that makes me feel good. Covered with white fabric most days, the street front windows conceal the interior on-goings which, aside from gallery openings and events, nurture the quiet artistic process of inquiry and execution. His space exudes memories of creative rigor and extends an invitation to understand art without pretension.
Having been here before I knew what to expect- Loren was hospitable as always and thorough in his answers to my questions. We drank pomegranate martinis while discussing the ideas he's been exploring-- manifested in various pieces hanging around the studio.
I came away from our talk with increased knowledge of what it takes to live as a full time artist, while decidedly dispelling the notion of artist with a capital A.
Our full conversation and behind the scenes peeks will be available in the August issue!
Peeking in on Central Root's intensive farm in Ohio City this morning I found Sarah hard at work weeding the beds after days of torrential thunderstorms. "We're getting ready for our first big harvest- things are growing like crazy"! Her recent transition from traditional office work into full time farming seems to be paying off as we talk about the success of their growing CSA program, which has 35 members receiving a bounty of vegetables each week.
Central Roots is located on W 25th and Franklin, with their farm stand operating Fridays and Saturdays on West 24th. You can volunteer to exercise your gardening skills while becoming part of the local food movement in Cleveland!
"Don't you know you can't go home again?"
-Ella Winter to Thomas Wolfe.
It can be difficult returning home after consciousness expanding experiences from the wide world. What will everyone think of you, now that your back, with your strange manner of speech, the cut of your clothes, your desire to expel the ordinary? Can you return to the confines of your previous life? Can you infuse a familiar place with the mystery and intrigue you've found among your travels?
Models Hillary and Bella act as beings a bit out of place in where they've landed, outfitted by Donald Hayes' otherworldly structural garments. Rust magazine collaborates with Design Lab Cleveland to create a photo story rich with ferocity and we're excited about how it turned out. Check behind the scenes footage below, with more to follow in our August issue premiere.
I got on my bike yesterday at East 25th and Superior determined to find a waterfront route to my home in Lakewood. The weather was perfect, it was Saturday afternoon, yet I encountered no more than 15 people during the eight mile stretch. What I did encounter was sprawling asphalt, fenced out areas, construction zones, and terrible smells at the northern most tips. The best human interaction came from eavesdropping on a strolling couple as the girl said: "Ahh, it actually doesn't smell so bad here. I think I can even smell the salt water".
"We are committed to improving the quality of life in the City of Cleveland by strengthening our neighborhoods, delivering superior services, embracing the diversity of our citizens, and making Cleveland a desirable, safe city ni which to live, work, raise a family, shop........and grow old".
-City of Cleveland Mission Statement.