Category Archives: Fine Arts

A Trio of Cleveland Art Events MIXing It Up

The CMA exhibit ”Half the air…” is one way Cleveland’s art institutions are mixing it up right now (Credit: David A. Brichford)

A bit of blogkeeping: You have until 11:59pm on Thursday, 10/4 to enter my giveaway for two tickets to the CCFA Movie Gala at the Capitol Theatre. Also, check out WhyCLE’s giveaway for a second chance to win. Good luck!

When you think of classical or traditional art, it can be easy to think stuffy and boring. Wrong! Many of Cleveland’s traditional arts institutions are mixing it up with new events designed for younger audiences (or young in spirit).

Here’s a trio of upcoming events, in particular, that I’m looking forward to enlivening my week with:

CMA’s first MIX – this Friday, Oct. 5

MIX at Cleveland Museum of Art

Starting this Friday, Oct. 5, the Cleveland Museum of Art is unveiling a new monthly series for the first Friday of each month.  Like last year’s Buyers’ Remorse party, the MIX First Friday Happy Hours will feature after-work drinks, live music, and a look at a different part of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection from 5-9pm.

The first MIX celebrates the re-introduction of CMA’s contemporary art galleries. Toast the end of the work week with a cocktail, music and more (a little bird tweeted me that @ClevelandPoet may be reading some poetry during it).

Plus, meet the artists from the DIY: Photographers & Books exhibit and the museum’s new acquisition Martin Creed’s Half the air in a given space.  

I’ve been excited by Half the air‘s concept since reading about it earlier last month. At the museum now through November 25, Creed’s work is comprised of thousands of purple balloons filling the East Wing’s glass box gallery. You can walk through the space and let your inner kid out as you interact with the balloons in this breathtaking glass bubble.

If you can’t make it this week, save the date for next month’s MIX on November 2 – more details to follow but what I’ve heard so far sounds very cool.

Each MIX event is free or discounted for members and only $12 for non-members. Reservations are recommended at

After-party at Cleveland Orchestra’s Fridays@7

Cleveland Orchestra’s Fridays@7

The Cleveland Orchestra’s Fridays@7 series is also back with its first performance of the 2012-2013 season this Friday, Oct. 5. I attended my first Fridays@7 concert a couple years ago and it ranks high on my list of favorite events at the Cleveland Orchestra.

Since 2009, the Fridays@7 series has turned the Orchestra’s traditional concert hall experience on its head. Each performance includes a one-hour Cleveland Orchestra concert, followed by world music parties in the lobby of Severance Hall.

It always ends up being an electric evening of music – ideal for first-timers to the Orchestra or frequent guests who want to spice up their concert experience.

This Friday’s concert starts at 7pm – so you could make it a night of art by visiting the Museum at 5, and following it up with the Orchestra after.

The concert will feature a variety of sounds such as a poetic ballet piece by Ravel and some of Mendelssohn’s best-loved orchestral melodies juxtaposed with the Cleveland premiere of a work by Stewart Copeland (drummer and founder of The Police) and a large procession of world percussion.

You can purchase tickets for this Friday’s concert here. A subscription for the full series (December 7, January 18, and May 24) is also available.

Ballet in Cleveland wants to bring this classical art form back to the city – you can help on 10/11

Ballet in Cleveland @ Alex Bistro

While Ballet in Cleveland is an organization fairly new to the Cleveland arts scene, its focus is on returning classical ballet to the city. Founded by Jessica Wallis, a local dancer and teacher of dance, Ballet in Cleveland organizes performances and ballet-centered programming to introduce new audiences to the art.

Their next event is Oct. 11 at Alex Bistro in PlayhouseSquare from 5:30 to 8:30pm. The evening will feature free food, a delicious ballet-themed dessert and a cash bar with bartender Danny Murray creating ballet-inspired cocktails.  A pair of specially designed decorator pointe shoes and other prizes will be raffled off that evening to raise money for Ballet in Cleveland’s mission.

Guests at the event will also get to see the Cleveland premiere of Ballet in Cleveland’s new video “Mah City,” presented by Wallis and featuring choreographer Maria Puglisi and the University of Akron’s Terpsichore Dance Club. Members of  the dance company will be on hand for a meet and greet at the premiere.

You can learn more about Ballet in Cleveland in this recent article on Cool Cleveland and keep up-to-date at


Just because it’s traditional or classical doesn’t mean art needs to be boring, and this trio of organizations proves it through a range of fun programming designed to inspire. How do you like to “MIX it up”?

Pandemonium Celebrates Cleveland Public Theatre Season

Blogkeeping Note: You have until 11:59 pm on Sept. 4 to enter the Taste of the Browns giveaway – good luck!

Celebrate the start of the 2012-2013 theatre season with Cleveland Public Theatre on Sept. 8

Cleveland theatre fans, rejoice! The summer break is over and many of our local theatres are ready to premiere their new seasons. A few quick bits of note:

  • Football and theatre enthusiasts alike will love Cleveland Playhouse‘s Lombardi.
  • The thought-provoking, but comedic Milk Milk Lemonade is currently playing through Sept. 8 at the often-off-the-wall, boundary-pushing convergence continuum.
  • Beck Center for the Arts mounts the first locally produced run of Xanadu.
  • And community auditions for Near West Theatre‘s November production of Children of Eden just wrapped (they’re still seeking volunteers for backstage crew and front-of-house work — call 216-961-9750 if interested).

If you want to keep up-to-date on what’s onstage,’s theatre page and BroadwayWorld Cleveland are my favorite sites to bookmark.

CPT’s Pandemonium features dozens of local theatre, dance, visual and performance artists

Cleveland Public Theatre, in particular, knows this time of year is one to celebrate. So before they roll out their 2012-2013 shows in October, they’re throwing their 10th annual Pandemonium bash on September 8.

At Pandemonium: House of Dreams, CPT invites you to “choose your own adventure” with an extravaganza that features dozens of local theatre, dance, visual and performance artists and fabulous food and drink.

At Pandemonium, performances will pop up (or drop in) in the most-unexpected places

Check-in starts at 7pm, where guests will receive a performance schedule for the night. From there the evening is up to you as innovative performances will be popping up in surprise spots throughout CPT’s campus:

  • Dance performances will feature Verb ballets, Inlet Dance Theatre, Wind and Sand Dance Company, Double-Edge Dance, Kevin Marr, Antaeus Dance and MorrisonDance.
  • Live music by We the People, Queue Up, Last Call Cleveland, and Bobby Williams.
  • Stand-up comedy by Ramon Rivas’ Accidental Comedy Feast.
  • Original work by CPT’s The Dark Room, Eric Schmiedl, Holly Holsinger, Greg Vovos, Opera Per Tutti, Theater Ninjas and dozens more.
  • Wandering performances by Talespinners Children’s Theatre, Ray McNeice, Robin VanLear, and Mark Zust.
  • Cabaret Acts featuring Paul Hoffman and Alison Garrigan.
  • Original performances by Raymond Bobgan.
  • And installations by Jeon Francis and mother/daughter team Faye & Joan Hargate.

Meanwhile, chefs from BonBon Bake Shop, Latitude 41 N, Luxe Kitchen and Lounge, Root Café, Touch Food Truck and XYZ Grill and Tavern will be cooking up an outdoor feast. Treats from Sweet Moses and tastings from AMP 150, Players, Light Bistro, Fat Cats, Vento La Trattoria and Tartine will also be available.

The evening culminates with music and dancing til midnight.

Pandemonium supports CPT’s mission of developing new, adventurous works and education programs that speak to contemporary issues and empower positive change in the community

Tickets can be purchased in advance for $135 ($75 of which is tax-deductible) and valet parking, unlimited food, drinks and entertainment are included – so indulge yourself as much as you’d like with no regrets (at least til the next morning ;) )!

Purchase Pandemonium tickets online or call 216.631.2727 x 212.

Still need convincing? Catch a glimpse of last year’s Pandemonium experience then go get your tickets:


Pandemonium 2011 from Ted Sikora on Vimeo.

Photo Credits and Disclosure: Photos credited to Steve Wagner. Graphic provided by Cleveland Public Theatre.  A guest and I were invited to attend Pandemonium in exchange for sharing about it on my blog.

This Weekend – Cleveland Fests from East to West!

Another week is almost done – what are you doing this weekend?

If you don’t have plans, a slate of festivals have you covered from the east to westsides.  Get out this weekend (bring a water bottle – it’s going to be hot) and experience the unique art and entertainment our community has to offer:

23rd Annual Parade the Circle takes place this Saturday in University Circle

Parade the Circle and Party in the Square

Parade the Circle returns this Saturday, June 9th from 11am-4pm (the parade itself starts at noon).  For more than 20 years, the Cleveland Museum of Art has been bringing this free signature summer event to Greater Cleveland – it’s one of my favorite things about June in Cleveland.

At the start of each summer, University Circle fills with color, music, and art for all ages. International and national guest artists join Greater Cleveland artists, families, schools, and community groups in a spectacular display of bright costumes, giant puppets, stilt-dancers, handmade masks, and colorful floats.

The 2012 parade route – themed around Branches Become Roots – will begin and end at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, moving in a clockwise direction along Wade Oval Drive and East Blvd. The parade will end by turning onto Wade Oval.  In addition to the Parade, University Circle Inc. hosts Circle Village, filling Wade Oval with activities, entertainment, and food.

Download the Parade Program here.  A parking map is also available and free valet bicycle parking will be provided by the Ohio City Bicycle Co-op in front of the Cleveland Institute of Art from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Parade the Circle guests can take a free shuttle back and forth to Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day

For the third year, Parade the Circle guests can also hop over to the westside for Discover Gordon Square Arts District Day.  University Circle and Gordon Square Arts District will provide a FREE shuttle service to and from Parade the Circle and Gordon Square.

Round-trip shuttles will be available all day with the Eastside shuttle picking up at East Blvd. and Bellflower every hour between 10:30 a.m. and 8:30 p.m. and the Westside shuttle picking up at the corner of West 65th and Detroit every half-hour between 10:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

At Gordon Square Day, you can enjoy free classic cartoons at Capitol Theatre, live performances at CPT’s and Near West Theatre’s outdoor stages, art galleries, pop-up shops and food and drinks.  For more information, visit

WMC Fest runs all weekend long – starting Friday with an evening of bands

Weapons of Mass Creation Fest

If you can’t wait for Saturday, the Weapons of Mass Creation Fest starts tomorrow (Friday, June 8) and runs through Sunday.

The Weapons of Mass Creation Fest is heralded as the premier art, design, and music event in the Midwest. Now in its third year, 1,000+ attendees will descend on Cleveland to enjoy 20 inspiring speakers, 20 artists and designers, and almost 30 bands.

Part conference, part concert, part art show, and part festival, WMC Fest’s grassroots movement strives to educate, inspire, create and celebrate.

Get inspired by 20 speakers, 20 artists, almost 30 bands and the rest of the Weapons of Mass Creation community

Friday’s schedule revolves around a pre-fest mixer with music at Saigon Plaza.

Bands will continue to play there on Saturday and Sunday, while speakers take the stage noon to 7 both days at Reinberger Auditorium.

The speakers include a fantastic mix of Cleveland talent like Julia Kuo and CLE Clothing Co’s Mike Kubinski, as well as creative professionals and designers from across the country and our neighbor to the north.

WMC Fest’s Art & Design Show will take place at the iLTHY Workshop. Admission is free for the art show, while one-day tickets and weekend passes are available to purchase for the bands and presentations.

You can purchase single-day or weekend passes for the speakers and music. The art show at iLTHY Workshop is free.

So what are you waiting for? Cleveland is opening its doors this weekend to our neighborhoods, shops, and galleries and celebrating our thriving creative community. Whether it’s east, west, or both sides, hope to see you out and about!

Note: Graphics/photos of WMC Fest from; Discover GSAD Day image from Parade the Circle photos are mine from a couple of years ago.

Cleveland, Assemble and Clue Into CLE Comic Book Creators!

Avengers Assemble this Friday! (from

Only a few days remain until a movie opens that I’ve been anticipating for years: this Friday, the Avengers assemble!

As a longtime Marvel fan, I’ve been looking forward to this blockbuster since it was first officially announced after the success of Iron Man.

And as if I needed another reason to see the movie, downtown Cleveland was transformed last summer into one of the film’s urban battlefields. As much as I love Cleveland, the idea of seeing E9th Street getting blown up on screen really excites me.

Needless to say, I’ll be heading out to a midnight showing on Thursday night near my local comic book shop in Sheffield Village. I plan on seeing it at least twice – once so I can revel in my Marvel fangirldom, and a second so I can enjoy the glimpses of Cleveland besieged by explosions and bad guys.

Action Comics #1 (from

This isn’t the first time, though, that the world of caped crusaders has collided with Cleveland.

As the birthplace of Superman (created by Clevelanders Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster), Cleveland boasts an amazing heritage when it comes to writing and drawing comic book heroes.  Even today, current and former Clevelanders continue this legacy – writing, drawing and inking for both indie publishers and powerhouses like Marvel and DC.

Awhile back I did a post on some of the ways Cleveland and comics connect – from Harvey Pekar to Calvin and Hobbes’ Bill Watterson. In honor of the Avengers opening, this time around I want to share a few crimefighting and sci-fi comics with a Cleveland connection:

Brian Michael Bendis, who grew up in Cleveland and is the architect of many Marvel books including Avengers, at C2E2 2011

Brian Michael Bendis: It’s fitting that one of Marvel’s heavyweights and the architect of a number of current Avengers titles is originally from Cleveland’s eastside. In 2000, Brian Michael Bendis helmed the debut of Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man and continues writing it today with over 100 issues under his belt.

Having also written House of M and Daredevil, among many other books for Marvel, he’s currently writing for my favorite Avengers team: the New Avengers. In addition to traditional superheroes, Bendis created and writes the gritty Powers as well as the Jinx line of crime comics.

Taskmaster #1 (from

Fred Van Lente: Called one of the more idiosyncratic and insightful voices in comics, NYT-bestselling author Fred Van Lente shared in a 2008 interview that he grew up in the Cleveland area after moving here.

When I pick up a Van Lente book I have high expectations for a seamless combination of action, humor and really relatable characters — even if those characters are the Incredible Hercules or Taskmaster, which was one of the most simulataneously touching and action-packed Marvel miniseries I’ve read in the last few years.

Van Lente also created Cowboys and Aliens (the basis for last summer’s movie) with Andrew Foley, as well as one of the first comics Scott introduced me to – Action Philosophers! with his Evil Twin Comics cohort Ryan Dunlavey.  This August, he’ll be participating in Valiant Entertainment’s relaunch with Archer & Armstrong.

Wonder Woman #8 (from

Brian Azzarello: Although he may now call Chicago home, DC’s Brian Azzarello was born and raised in the Cleveland area. He became most well-known for writing 100 Bullets. Published through DC’s Vertigo line, the dark, hard-boiled crime series was honored with both the Harvey and Eisner Awards.

Among a long line of DC characters, he has written for both Batman and Superman, as well as Doc Savage.  And although we’re not even halfway through, 2012 has been a powerhouse year for Azzarello:

  • His post-apocalyptic Spaceman miniseries rockets to its conclusion this summer.
  • On his ongoing run of Wonder Woman, the character has undergone a number of fascinating changes and risen to be a Top 20 title for the first time in years.
  • And he’s collaborating on not just one – but two – of the books in DC’s highly anticipated Before Watchmen series – taking on my two favorite Watchmen characters Comedian and Rorschach.

On a personal note, meeting him and briefly chatting about favorite dishes at Greenhouse Tavern was one of my highlights from this year’s C2E2.

All-Ghouls School Tradepaperback (from

Marc Sumerak: After spending time in NYC where he worked on Marvel’s editorial staff after college, editor and writer Marc Sumerak moved back to his hometown of Cleveland in 2003 to continue his career.

In addition to titles like Power Pack and Franklin Richards: Boy Genius, Sumerak’s most recent work includes his first original graphic novel All-Ghouls School and Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four: Hard Choices, a free comic in Marvel’s substance abuse prevention campaign.

Sumerak gives back to the Cleveland comic book community as well by hosting POP! The Comic Culture Club. Open to all Cleveland-area comic book fans, retailers and professionals who want to share their love of the medium, the group meets twice a month at the Cuyahoga County Public Library’s Parma Heights Branch.

Marc Sumerak’s Pop! Comic Culture Club is open and free to all Clevelanders interested in the medium

Other Cleveland-grown authors and artists to clue into (and by no means is this an exhaustive list):

  • Brian K. Vaughn, who wrote the critically acclaimed Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina and Marvel’s Runaways and recently returned to comics with his newest book SagaI’ve torn through the first two issues of this St. Ignatius alum’s fantasy “space opera” and highly recommend picking them up along with issue #3 when it comes out in a couple weeks.
  • Michael Sangiacomo, a longtime reporter at the Plain Dealer on the breaking news and crime beat. In addition to sharing his love of comics through his PD column on pop culture, he is the author of several graphic novels including Tales of the Starlight Drive-In and Phantom Jack, the story of a newspaper reporter who can turn invisible.
  • P. Craig Russell, whose artwork is such a thing of wonder that I’d be remiss if I didn’t include him in this list though he’s from south of the Cleveland-area.  Included within his vast body of work is a comic-adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Coraline  and a story in issue 113 of my favorite ongoing series Bill Willingham’s Fables.

Michael Sangiacomo’s Tales of the Starlight Drive-In (from

While you can order many of these creators’ books online, Cleveland is blessed with many independent comic book stores scattered throughout the region.

I’m a huge proponent of heading to these brick-and-mortar stores instead because you’ll not only be able to get many of these books there, but also explore an entire world of comics worth your time.

And this Saturday, comic book stores nationwide are making it easy for newcomers to discover new reading material.  Free Comic Book Day takes place every year on the first Saturday of May and it’s the one day during the year when participating comic book shops give away free comics to anyone who visits their stores.

Search for a participating comic book store near you at

From the east to westside, Clevelanders have a number of shops to choose from to pick up their free comic books. has put together a rundown of the different stores’ festivities and Cleveland Scene’s The Dork Side features 5 of the 40+ free books you need to pick up.

Come Saturday morning (after catching up on my post-Avengers zzz’s), I’ll be at Comics Are Go! in Sheffield Village.

Formerly Astound Comics, Comics Are Go! recently moved their store from Westlake to Sheffield Village (5188 Detroit Rd., Exit 148 off I-90) and on Free Comic Book Day they’ll be introducing new and longtime customers to the new location starting at noon.

Hopefully I’ll even see a few new comic book readers there!

Fashion Week Cleveland's Forward Momentum

May 4-12

When I attended my first Cleveland International Film Festival last month to see Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, I was mesmerized by her story – a woman whose fearless personality and unconventional views on beauty transformed fashion during her time at Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue and the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

This May, Cleveland will showcase our next generation of fashion innovators during the 9th annual Fashion Week Cleveland (May 4-12).

Fashion Week Cleveland has been called the third largest fashion week after New York and LA by Women’s Wear Daily and offers a week of runway shows and parties, as well as exhibits, workshops and educational events.

The press conference for Fashion Week Cleveland 2012 not just gave a peek at some of the fashions, but also at this year's lineup of events

Drawing upon its mission of being the nation’s “Educational Fashion Week,” the week’s events will both entertain and provide insightful perspectives on the topics of fashion, design, and merchandising.

With the theme of Fashion Forward, this year’s Fashion Week focuses on showing the public and retailers the future of Cleveland’s downtown consumer and fashion district.

By educating audiences about Cleveland’s potential as a fashion and design star, Fashion Week Cleveland hopes to inspire those in retail to consider bringing their business ventures here and join those like Dredgers Union and CLE Clothing Co. who are building a vibrant shopping experience downtown.

Fashion Week Cleveland's runway shows on May 12 will highlight the innovative work of a number of area designers

So this May head downtown for two weekends of educational, entertaining and breathtaking fashion events:

Friday, May 4

Retail’s Night Out! (8-10 pm; Free)

Saturday, May 5

GlamJam Fashion and Music in the Rock City (8-11 pm; $10)

Fashion Rocks After-party (11 pm-2 am; Free)

Friday, May 11

Dressed documentary showing at the Cleveland Museum of Art, Q&A with designer Nary Manivong and director David Swajeski (6:45 pm; $9 General Admission, $7 CMA members and students)

The Artists’ Salon After-party at L’Albatros (9 pm – midnight; Free)

Saturday, May 12

Runway Shows  and Black Tie Gala (8 – 11 pm; $40 Special Guest Admission, $100 VIP)

Mad About Fashion After-Party (11 pm – 2 am; Free)

Fashion Week Cleveland features a number of educational events such as the documentary Dressed at CMA

Updates and more information about the events schedule can be found on Fashion Week Cleveland’s website, Facebook and @CLE_FashionWeek.

Plus, come back next week for a very special Clue Into Cleveland Fashion Week treat!

(Note: Photos and logo courtesy of Fashion Week Cleveland)

Embracing Winter: Brite Winter Fest and Cleveland's First Urban Iditarod

Looking to get outside and enjoy this Cleveland winter? The Brite Winter Festival returns this Saturday 2/18. (photo from

After the last week of snow, I think we are able to say that winter is finally here.  And just in time for two events that aim to celebrate Cleveland’s snowy season:

This Saturday from 5-10pm, Brite Winter Festival returns for its third year.  The event originally started as the creators’ proactive, grassroots approach to stave off the brain drain they were seeing in Cleveland among their fellow college graduates.

With Brite Winter, they wanted to give Clevelanders a chance to get outside and discover that our winters don’t just need to be tolerated – they can actually be a lot of fun.

For their third annual fest, they’re changing locations and bringing Brite Winter to Bridge Ave. and W.26th in Ohio City.

My favorite game from last year's Brite Winter Festival: Giant Skeeball!

The festival will feature art and games — and sometimes a combination of the two.

Artists from the Cleveland Institute of Art, Cleveland Museum of Art’s Community Arts Department, IngenuityFest and local companies like cyancdesign will take over the main festival grounds as well as some of Ohio City businesses to present their art installations.

One of my favorite games from last year – giant skee-ball – is back, along with other games like a Climbing Race Game, Light Fight and a Catapult Smashdown.

This year's Brite Winter moves to Ohio City. Pictured is last year's festival lighting up The Flats. (photo from

And for festival-goers’ listening pleasure, Brite Winter has eight venues and over 35 bands performing when I last counted.

Something that’s different this year: the festival will feature one outdoor stage and seven indoor venues like Bon Bon Cafe, Great Lakes Brewery and Joy Machines Bike Shop. So if you do need to take a break and warm up from the cold, you’ll have a lot of options for music.

The festival and all music performances are free and open to the public, though donations are always welcome. You can read my recap of last year’s Brite Winter here.

The Cleveland Urban Iditarod descends on Ohio City in March - part relay race/part street theatre to raise money for Harvest for Hunger.

In March, Ohio City will play host to another unique event when Cleveland’s Yo-Yo Syndicate demonstrates that being out in the cold can be enjoyable and help raise money for a local cause.

The Yo-Yo Syndicate, creators of IngenuityFest’s Doodle Bar as well as Cleveland’s branch of Dr. Sketchy, are helming the first-ever Cleveland Urban Iditarod on March 4th.

What is an urban iditarod?

While the real Iditarod is the famous long-distance race where a team of dogs tow a sled across Alaska’s frozen tundra, the Cleveland Urban Iditarod is almost the same thing. Except that instead of dogs, it’s people; instead of sleds, it’s shopping carts; and instead of Alaska, it’s Cleveland.

Have fun with your Urban Iditarod team -- dress yourselves and your cart up like this team from the Chicago Iditarod did. (photo from

Teams of 5 (4 to pull the cart, 1 “musher” who’s behind steering) must fill their cart with 40 pounds of canned food and race it through the course. The carts can be decorated (it’s even encouraged as long as the decorations don’t violate the guidelines) and racers can wear the craziest costumes they can pull together. All of this will help raise food and money for the Cleveland Foodbank’s Harvest for Hunger.

Urban Iditarods have been held in places such as Portland, Boston, Cincinnati and Chicago (where over $18,000 was raised for their local food bank), but this is the first time Cleveland will be hosting one.   With themed teams and contests at each stop, the Iditarod is part relay race/part street theater and will bring Cleveland’s creative community to the Ohio City neighborhood.

The race starts at 11:30 a.m. and the entire route is about 5.5 miles with 20 minute stops at each local west side location. The Market Garden Brewery, who’s also planning the first Ohio City Ice Carving contest that day, will be hosting the Urban Iditarod after party.

If you register online by Feb. 24th, the team fee is only $45 (it goes up to $65 through March 2nd; $100 the day of). The cart deposit is $35, which each team will get back once they demonstrate the cart has been taken home with them after the race.

The "Epic Epicness" of an urban iditarod! The Chicago Iditarod (pictured here) helped raise over $18,000 for their local food bank. (photo from

Although there’s officially only a month left of winter, with Brite Winter and the Urban Iditarod there are a lot of opportunities left to get out and enjoy it.

What do you have planned for your end-of-winter festivities?


All I Want for Cleve-Mas, Part 4: Fighting Cabin Fever

Have you entered the Clue Into Cleveland giveaway for a Dolce Gusto Piccolo coffee machine? Only a few days left to enter here!

From ice skating in University Circle, to the Zoo, Metroparks and Progressive Field, there are plenty of ways to get outside and fight cabin fever this holiday season.

Cleveland winters get a bum rap. Although I know I’ll complain about it when we’re in the throws of February dealing with endless snow, during this time of year I’m not quite ready to hunker down indoors.

In fact, with my holiday shopping and errands nearly done, it’s time to enjoy the season, throw on my coat and head outside in the brisk December winds for some of these festivities:

The Frozen Diamond FaceOff is just one of the new features at this year's Indians Snow Days.

Cleveland Indians Snow Days

Cleveland Indians Snow Days was one of my favorite parts about last year’s winter (here’s last year’s recap). So as soon as tickets went on sale for this year’s return of Snow Days to Progressive Field, I bought mine.

I think it’s a perfect example of Cleveland’s ingenuity — transforming Progressive Field, which would sit mostly empty during the off-season, into a unique and fun wonderland.

Back again this year are The Batterhorn Snow Tubing hill (loved launching down the slick hills last year!) and the Frozen Mile ice skating track (the first non-symmetrical ice skating path in the U.S.).

The Cleveland Indians also added The Frozen Diamond, a regulation-sized ice skating rink covering home plate and stretching down the first base line. On January 15, The Frozen Diamond will host Ohio’s first-ever outdoor college hockey match when Ohio State and the University of Michigan play each other in The Frozen Diamond FaceOff.

I grew up watching the Philadelphia Flyers and hearing stories of the legendary Broad Street Bullies, so hockey’s been in my blood since I was a kid. I’ve never been to an outdoor game, so I bought the Snow Days Bundle Package, which gets you tickets to the January 15 game and a good-any-day combo pass for snow tubing and ice skating fun between now and the end of Snow Days on Jan. 16.

Thrillseekers can shoot down the Cleveland Metroparks' Tobogganing Chutes throughout the winter.

Take a Hike in the Cleveland Metroparks

Cleveland’s “Emerald Necklace” glimmers even more brightly this time of year with plenty of winter recreation opportunities.

Top of my list to try this season is tobogganing at the Chalet in Strongsville’s Mill Stream Run Reservation. If I thought snow tubing down the Indians’ Batterhorn was fast, I don’t know what to expect from the Chalet’s 1,000-foot ice chutes. And when the thrills get too much, I can head indoors and enjoy the warmth of their fireplaces.

For those who like to get some exercise while enjoying the great outdoors, the Cleveland Metroparks are also hosting a series of Holiday Hikes. The next two will explore CanalWay Center on Dec. 22 and Bacci Park on Dec. 29, both in the Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation starting at 1pm.

Other upcoming hikes include this Saturday’s Candlelit Hike and Caroling through South Chagrin’s Look About Lodge, as well as this Sunday’s Winter Blues Hike with Naturalist Kelly McGinnis along Deer Lick Cave Trail.

The Cleveland Metroparks Calendar of Events lists the dates and locations for all of their programs.  And before you take a hike, check out these two Metroparks articles to learn a bit about winter birdwatching and the animals living under winter’s blanket.

During December Days, the Cleveland Zoo is offering discounted admission and plenty of holiday activities.

Cleveland Zoo December Days

I love visting the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, and after October I love it even more because I can save $3 when I want to visit my favorite exhibit: the tigers, bears and wolves in the Northern Trek.

Starting this coming Monday, Dec. 19 and running until Dec. 30, the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is hosting December Days at the Zoo. Admission is discounted even further to $7 for adults, $4 for children 2-11.

In addition to all of the exhibits, the Zoo is hosting a number of festive activities during December Days. From cookie decorating and holiday crafts in the Welcome Plaza’s Exhibit Hall to live music and visits from Santa and Mrs. Claus, it’s another low-cost way to spend the holidays with your family, especially if you have children.

Wade Oval lights up with lanterns from the Cleveland Museum of Art and festive trees and gingerbread houses at the Cleveland Botanical Garden.

Find Yourself (and the Holidays) in University Circle

My final favorite winter spot is the eastside’s University Circle. From more ice skating to winter lights and holiday treats, there are plenty of things to enjoy in the museum neighborhood.

The Cleveland Botanical Garden WinterShow boasts gingerbread houses made by professionals, amateurs and local families. Other festival highlights include the beautiful WinterShow Tree, holiday plants, trees decorated in the themes of children’s tales and fables, and Christmas cacti. It runs through Dec. 31st.

After the Botanical Garden, head over to the Cleveland Museum of Art for their Winter Lights Lantern Displays. Even though I missed the Procession of Lights during Holiday CircleFest, the Environment of Lights installation in Wade Oval is on view through this Sunday, Dec. 18.  The 5 indoor lantern displays will continue inside of the Museum of Art until January 16.

And for those who haven’t gotten their fill of ice skating at Progressive Field or in the Metroparks, there’s always the Rink at Wade Oval Circle. It’s free if you bring your own skates, $3 for skate rentals.


As the season wraps up, I have to remind myself to relax and go out and enjoy these seasonal festivities. I hope you also find some free time this holiday – whether it’s enjoying the outdoors at one of these events or inside with a warming hot chocolate or glass of wine.

Check out Parts 1-3 of All I Want for Cleve-Mas 2011:

Pictures from,,, and

Buyer's Remorse Party at Cleveland Museum of Art

Granger, IN (detail), 2003. Brian Ulrich -- part of the Copia-Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores exhibit at Cleveland Museum of Art

How many times have you gone shopping, then gotten home, put your purchase in a closet and used it once or never again? Personally, I’m ashamed I’ve done this more times than I’d like to admit.

For the last decade, contemporary photographer Brian Ulrich has documented this habit of American consumers. He traveled throughout the United States and took photos of shoppers overwhelmed by the wall-to-wall goods found in malls and big-box stores.

To complement this, Ulrich then photographed thrift stores as they tried to catalogue the vast amounts of donated, discarded and unwanted consumer products. And from 2008 to 2011, his Dark Stores photographs highlighted the abandoned buildings and empty parking lots of the 2008 financial crisis — some of them in Cleveland.

This three-part collection, which was recently featured on, is currently on exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

Copia: Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores is in the East Wing’s Photography Galleries.

On November 18 – one week before Black Friday, the Museum is hosting Buyer’s Remorse, a young professionals’ reception to celebrate the exhibit.

Have something in your closet that you bought on a whim and never wore again or a vintage outfit you’ve been wanting the perfect opportunity to premiere? Wear it to the party, where you’ll have the opportunity to meet the artist Brian Ulrich and enjoy high-energy rock and roll from DJ Reena Samaan and the cash bar. 

I’m actually considering a two-fer: a vintage dress I bought last year I still haven’t worn (I know — horrible).  I’m looking forward to the event because it’s an excellent reminder to be a more thoughtful consumer when the holiday shopping season starts the following week.

Buyer’s Remorse starts at 7pm and goes until 10. Tickets are $8; $6 for students and museum members.  They can be purchased here or by calling 216.421.7350.

Copia: Retail, Thrift, and Dark Stores can be seen at the Cleveland Museum of Art until January 16, 2012 and the entire Copia series can be found in the book Is This Place Great or What.

Cleveland Museum of Art / Brian Ulrich 411:

Disclosure: I was offered a pass to this event. However, the choice of which events I blog about and my opinions on them are 100% my own.

Fu Baoshi Retrospective Premieres at the Cleveland Museum of Art

Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965) is at the Cleveland Museum of Art until January 8th.

A couple of weeks ago I got to check out the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new special exhibit when they hosted a Young Professionals Night to kick off the exhibit’s opening.

Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965) is the first retrospective of Fu Baoshi’s work in the Western Hemisphere.  It’s at the Museum until January 8th.

To bring the exhibit to Cleveland, the Cleveland Museum of Art partnered with the Nanjing Museum, one of the oldest and most comprehensive museums in China, and the Musashino Art University in Tokyo. After the artist’s death in 1965, the Nanjing Museum worked with his family to store and preserve his works — saving them from destruction during China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

At the Bamboo Grove Young Professionals Night, we were guided through the exhibit by curator Anita Chung.  As we started, she shared how the exhibit traces Fu Baoshi life — demonstrating how his personal self-discovery and struggles over time were reflected in his evolution as an artist.  

While each room in the exhibit chronologically covers a different stage in Fu Baoshi’s development, they also trace the revolutions in art and politics that were happening in Republican and Communist China at the time.

During the Bamboo Grove Happy Hour, guests enjoyed food and drinks while trying their hand at the painting technique Fu Baoshi used in his work

In the first few rooms, we enjoyed seeing Fu Baoshi’s earlier works, which exhibited his traditional landscape and figure paintings. My familiarity with Asian art is lacking, so to see the complexity of emotions that can be expressed in ink brushwork was revealing.  

As we continued to explore the exhibit, we learned how being an art history scholar in addition to an artist influenced a lot of Fu Baoshi’s style — even later in life when others were turning away from traditional styles. 

After the Communist victories in 1949, Fu Baoshi shifted his focus to producing ink and brush work that would speak to China’s people. And then later in the 1950s and 1960s, his landscapes of China’s beautiful natural wonders were used to express the patriotic values of the revolution – even incorporating Chairman Mao Zedong’s poetry. However, although his subject matter changed to fit modern China’s times, he continued to express himself with the beautiful, traditional ink painting he used earlier in life.

As much as I enjoyed his paintings, some of my favorite items in the exhibit were the seals Fu Baoshi created.  When he was younger, Fu had been a sealmaker. And throughout his life, he would continue to carve seals to imprint writing on his artwork. 

Sometimes the seal just had his signature; other times, though, they had poetry or phrases that expressed his mood. 

One of Scott’s and my favorites was the seal he used to imprint any works he made while drinking which expressed “often while being drunk.”  He said of himself that he could only touch the paper with the brush in the right hand if there was a glass of liquor in the left — a trait that was visible in the fluidity of some of his works.

My other personal favorite was the ironic, double-sided seal that said “Obsessed with seals.” 

One of my favorites from the exhibit: Fu Baoshi's Crossing the Dadu River, 1951

Another element that made it one of the more different exhibits I’ve experienced at the Cleveland Museum of Art was the beautiful fabric that each scroll was mounted on.  As I mentioned earlier – I’m not terribly well-versed in Asian Art. I’ve never really attended an exhibit in person so I wasn’t accustomed to seeing how a scrolled painting is mounted. However, after the Fu Baoshi exhibit, I was intrigued by that part of the process.

Much like a frame, selecting a fabric’s pattern and color for a hanging scroll’s mounting is a careful decision — chosen to complement the painting without distracting from it.  However, unlike changing a frame on a Western-style painting, once a scroll is backed with layers of paper and surrounded by a silk fabric, it will remain like that due to the extremely labor-intensive process to change the mounting.

If you go to the Fu Baoshi exhibit, take a look at how the aesthetic of the mountings change from piece to piece. For instance, the hanging scrolls from the early part of his career are surrounded by different kinds of fabric than the ones in the rest of the exhibition.

Those early paintings were created and mounted while he was in Japan and are on loan from the Fu Boashi collection at the Musashino Art University in Tokyo.  They have a Japanese aesthetic, while most of the rest of the artworks, from the Nanjing Museum, have Chinese-style mounting.

Chinese Art in an Age of Revolution: Fu Baoshi (1904-1965) is yet another extremely well-presented exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  Tickets for the special exhibit are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and college students and $4 for children ages 6 to 17 (free for museum members).  

For only $8, there’s no excuse to miss this exhibit.  If you’re new to Eastern art like I am, Fu Baoshi’s brushwork, seal carvings and mountings are breathtaking examples of the traditional art he was so talented in. And if you are familiar with the style, it’s still worth a visit to see the first-ever Western retrospective of his work.  After it leaves Cleveland in January, you’ll have to travel to the Met in New York to enjoy it.

Cleveland Museum of Art 411:

Happy First Birthday, Yelp Cleveland

When I’m thinking of checking out a new store or need help making a decision between two restaurants, one of my first stops is Yelp.   I even used it this past weekend when I was out of town and needed the address of a diner in Philly. 

I’ll admit, though, it’s a love affair from afar.  Although I’ve never found the time to jump in and start reviewing things, I’ve always enjoyed the honest, helpful and even humorous reviews from the Yelp Community.

About a year ago, the already-active Cleveland Yelpers took another jump forward under their new community manager Cara L.  One of the new community features that she rolled out: a Weekly Yelp newsletter I still enjoy reading 12 months later. Each week, it spotlights a different topic — from Cleveland’s best sandwiches to the best deals on vintage clothing.  

To celebrate the community’s 1-year anniversary, Yelp CLE is throwing a First Burstday Party on Thursday, Nov. 10 from 7-9pm. 

The event is open to everyone 21+ and it’s free. It’ll be taking place at 78th Street Studios’ smARTspace, which is reason enough for me to go. 

1300 West 78th St., Cleveland

I’ve been wanting to check out this sprawling arts and entertainment community for a while. Located in the former American Greetings Creative Studios, 78th Street Studios now houses 2 blocks of galleries, art and recording studios, a clothing line, and an architectural design firm among its many art-centric businesses.

The “arts mecca for Cleveland’s West Side” is not surprisingly located in one of my favorite neighborhoods – the Gordon Square Arts District (at 1300 West 78th Street). Plus, there’s ample free parking in its lot. After the Yelp CLE party, I’ll need to stop by their year-round Third Friday indoor artwalk.

Touch Supper Club, Umami Moto, Zydeco Cajun Bistro, The Nosh Box, JiBARO Gourmet Food Truck, StrEAT Mobile Bistro, Campbell’s Sweets Factory, and Cleveland Cupcake Company will be serving up light bites and sweet treats during the Yelp Cleveland party. And to wet guests’ whistles, Goose Island and Harpersfield Winery will bring the beer and vino, respectively, and Honest Tea and Ade will have some tasty non-alcohol alternatives.

Entertainment will inclue DJ MisterBradleyP, Amanda’s Elaborate Eyes face painting and cyancdesign’s digital graffiti wall.  When I’m there, I also plan on hopping in the photo booth, getting a 60-second drawing of myself from Adam Pate The Caricature Guy and browsing locally made selections from one of my Ohio City favorites Salty Not Sweet.

Although the event is free, the Cleveland Foodbank will be collecting nonperishable food and monetary donations — so bring your wallet and help them prepare for the busy holiday season.

Congrats, Yelp Cleveland, on your first birthday and here’s to many more years helping me navigate the city!

Yelp Cleveland 411: