Tag Archives: Cleveland

Giveaway: Win 2 Tickets to Cleveland’s Tri-C JazzFest


In its heyday, PlayhouseSquare played host to crooners, jazz and big bands musicians like Bing Crosby and ol’ Blue Eyes, Frank Sinatra.

Now, as PlayhouseSquare’s revitalization hits a dazzling high, Cleveland’s own jazz festival, the Tri-C JazzFest has unveiled a new format celebrating the district.

It’s the 35th anniversary of the Tri-C JazzFest and they’re making a big move – closing down Euclid Ave. between 13th and 14th St with three days of concerts.

From June 26-28, music lovers can take in twelve ticketed shows throughout PlayhouseSquare’s theatres, plus a host of free outdoor music, food trucks and Great Lakes brews on Star Plaza.

Concerts include trumpeter Sean Jones and the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra opening the festival on June 26; Eddie Palmieri, whose career as bandleader spans 50 years, with a night of salsa and Latin jazz on June 27; and pianist/vocalist Eliane Elias performing her tribute to Chet Baker at the Hanna on June 28. Check out the full schedule below:

JazzFest lineup

The free Star Plaza concerts, which are the latest centennial gifts from the Cleveland Foundation, will take place outside on Friday, June 27 and Saturday, June 28 starting at 3pm.

You can learn more about the musicians and purchase tickets on the JazzFest website.

You can also win two tickets right here to the Raul Midón concert on June 28!

Blind since infancy, Midón grew up listening to his father’s collection of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis records, as well as the pop music of the time: Stevie Wonder, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Paul Simon.

He writes on the JazzFest’s website: “The way I play today is an amalgam of those styles, mixed with my fascination with the great rock and blues guitarists like Eric Clapton and B.B. King. I’m constantly trying to integrate everything I know musically into the guitar.”

The New York Times describes Midón as “a one-man band who turns a guitar into an orchestra and his voice into a chorus.” And now you can enjoy his concert at the Hanna Theatre by entering my giveaway.

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway
**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) Leave a comment telling me who your favorite jazz, blues or swing musician is.

2) If you’re a fan of Tri-C JazzFest Cleveland and Clue Into Cleveland on Facebook, leave a comment on this blog post letting me know. If you’re not yet a fan, you can become one here and here.

3) Follow @ADHicken and @TriCJazzFest on Twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

4) Tweet the following and leave one comment letting me know you tweeted:

I want to see @RaulMidon at @PlayhouseSquare on 6/28. Enter @ADHicken’s giveaway for #TriCJazzFest tickets: http://wp.me/p2Ukr0-2w3

You can tweet once per day for additional entries. Just leave a separate comment each time you tweet.

5) Subscribe to Clue Into Cleveland via a feed tracker like Bloglovin’ or Feedly and leave one comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “Subscribe” section of this page.

You have until Tuesday, June 17 at 11:59PM to enter.  On Wednesday, June 18, Random.org will select a winner and I’ll announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was invited to attend the Tri-C JazzFest with a guest in exchange for previewing the event. My choice to blog about the festival is based on how much Scott and I have enjoyed these concerts in years past. Opinions are my own.

Giveaway: CCFA Movie Gala with Luxe at Capitol Theatre

Capitol Theatre and Luxe partner to help the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America

Call me old-fashioned, but there is nothing like dinner and a movie when it comes to date night. And in Cleveland, the Capitol Theatre and surrounding restaurants in Gordon Square are Scott’s and my go-to.

Luxe Kitchen & Lounge, XYZ, and Stone Mad are all great dinner and drink options right around the historic Capitol, while Happy Dog, Spice, Reddstone, and Battery Park Wine Bar are just a walk away. If you’re in the mood for a well-crafted coffee, there’s Gypsy Beans. And Sweet Moses Soda Fountain is perfect to satisfy your sweet tooth.

On October 25th, one of Gordon Square’s finest – Luxe – is teaming up with the Capitol Theatre to present a night full of culinary and cinematic treats, raising dinner and a movie to new heights.

At the second annual Cleveland Movie Gala to benefit the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, guests will enjoy gourmet food from Luxe, cocktails and staggered film screenings from 7 to 11pm.

I love the Capitol’s 1920s-era decor and architecture and think it’ll be a fantastic backdrop for the event. And with Chef Brian Okin’s creativity and skill in the kitchen, the food is sure to match (here’s my review of the CLE Dinner Club visit to Luxe if you want a glimpse at his talent).

CCFA Movie Gala: Oct. 25, 7-11pm

All of this will go to support the work of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America.  CCFA continually works to find a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis while improving the quality of life for children and adults affected by these diseases.

From clinical research to educational programs and supportive services for those with chronic intestinal diseases, CCFA is there to help the 1.4 million Americans who are currently diagnosed (in Northeast Ohio alone, there is an estimated 20,000 people diagnosed).  This video from a young boy who just had surgery for UC really helped demonstrate the importance of CCFA’s work for me.

I hope you’ll join me at the CCFA Movie Gala and support the Northeast Ohio chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation. Purchase general admission tickets for only $50 for an evening of food, two drink tickets and a movie ticket (VIP tickets include all of this + an open bar for $100).

You can also enter my giveaway to win a pair of tickets!

There are 5 Easy Ways to Enter the Giveaway

**You must leave a separate comment on this post for each entry**

1) My favorite excuse to visit Capitol is for their Sunday Classics series. Watching Charade surrounded by the Capitol’s vintage aesthetic is a great way to spend a Sunday morning. What’s your favorite classic film? Leave a comment on this post for one entry.

2) Like the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation – Northeast Ohio Chapter and Clue Into Cleveland on Facebook and leave a comment letting me know you did both.

3) Post a link to this page (http://wp.me/pPIgG-1wW) on your Facebook wall and leave a comment letting me know you did.

4) Twitter users can get an extra entry each day for tweeting: “I want to win tickets to @CCFA_NEOhio’s Movie Gala. Enter @ADHicken’s #CCFAneo giveaway for your chance to win: http://wp.me/pPIgG-1wW”  (Each day you do this, you must leave a new comment.)

5) Subscribe to receive Clue Into Cleveland blog posts in your inbox or blog reader like Google Reader and leave a comment letting me know you did. This can also include signing up to receive email notifications in the top-right “You’ve Got Mail” section of this page.

You have until Thursday, Oct. 4 at 11:59PM to enter. On Friday, Oct. 5, I will select a winner using Random.org and will announce the winner’s name on my blog.  Remember to leave a separate comment for each entry – good luck!

Disclosure: I was provided 2 general admission tickets to give away to the CCFA Movie Gala and a pair for myself in exchange for this post. As always, though, my thoughts and the final choice of events I share are my own.

Clue Into Cleveland, One Year Later

One year later and I'm still here with Clue Into Cleveland! (Photo of Scott and I at Parade the Circle, one of our Cleveland adventures this past year)

One year ago yesterday I started Clue Into Cleveland.  I’m both a little surprised and proud of myself for keeping this up for twelve months.  Before this blog, I had had Livejournal and Blogger sites, but they were personal blogs and after a few months my interest in them would wane. 

I had partially given up on blogging because I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile that I wanted to write about. However, early last year on a long car ride between Philadelphia and Cleveland, Scott and I were discussing the notorious Forbes article and I found myself getting really worked up.  

This outburst had been building up for a while – a culmination of other little moments where I’d have to defend Cleveland to people we know or listen to jeers about the city.  But it was the miserable Forbes article that tipped my frustration over the edge. I couldn’t understand why Cleveland had such a negative reputation — I had lived in the city for only three years but was in love with it. There was so much to do, I could afford to do it, and the people here were friendly and passionate about the community (two attributes in people that are really important to me). 

At some point in the conversation, Scott asked (probably a little tired of listening to me go on about the subject) ‘Why don’t you do something about it?’ I replied that I didn’t think there was much I could do. However, knowing that I used to enjoy writing, he suggested starting a blog and seeing where that took me.  An hour later, we even had a name – Clue Into Cleveland. It seemed appropriate enough since we thought people needed to get a clue about what this city has to offer.

So, here I am one year later and still “#HappyinCLE” to be writing about this city.  Looking back, I was never sure where the blog would take me and I’ve ended up in some (pleasantly) surprising places. 

I think that I’ve been most surprised by how much I personally clued into the city by blogging about it.  Although I may have started Clue Into Cleveland because I wanted to tell friends and family back in Philly and Virginia about the places I love here, I discovered so many new things along the way.  From the Cleveland Sketch Crawls, Hidden Cleveland Tours and various festivals, it’s been a whirlwind year exploring Cleveland more than any other city I’ve lived in before.

By opening myself up to these new experiences, I’ve found organizations and businesses that have given me my truly favorite moments of the last twelve months (and some of the best turnout on my blog):

  • Burning River Roller Girls: In a year when Cleveland saw the nasty side of pro sports, our city’s roller derby league provided a welcome alternative and demonstrated true athleticism and sportsmanship. Their new season opens up this Saturday. I’ve already purchased my season tickets so you know I’ll be there!
  • Great Lakes Theater Festival: One of the best designed theaters I’ve ever been in with a fantastic company of actors and crew. I’m looking forward to Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged on Sunday and Two Gentlemen of Verona in April.
  • The Happy Dog: Not just a great and unique dining experience, but also a fantastic bar with events like DJ Kishka’s Polka Happy Hour and Orchestral Manouvres at the Dog. Whenever I have visitors in town, this is usually our first stop.
  • The Cleveland Play House: I’m amazed by the variety and frequency of shows the Cleveland Play House produces — and how well they do it. I’m looking forward to the rest of the season, Fusion Fest and the beginning of their next chapter as they move to PlayhouseSquare this Fall.
  • The Cleveland Orchestra: With world-class musicians playing in the breathtaking Severance Hall, it’s easy to lose yourself in a night of music with the Cleveland Orchestra. They also do an excellent job promoting the community not only at home with music education programs, but also throughout the country and abroad when they go on tour.  

In addition to affording me the opportunity to observe Cleveland, writing this blog has also pushed me to get involved. Without it, I would not have been introduced to organizations like PlayhouseSquare’s Partners and Twestival. It’s been a very rewarding year being able to help with Jump Back Ball and Partners’ other initiatives and I’m really looking forward to how Twestival Cleveland comes together on March 24th.

Most of all, though, I’ve enjoyed meeting other members of Cleveland’s community who are as passionate and proud of this city as I am.  I mentioned earlier how amazed I’ve been over the last twelve months to learn about what Cleveland has to offer. However, none of it would be possible if we didn’t have community members who strive to make it all work – from the Downtown Cleveland Alliance to groups like Emerging Chefs (and all of the restaurants in our thriving food scene!) and the Gordon Square Arts District. These are just a few of the organizations working to continue Cleveland’s revitalization.

I’m also happy to be a part of a network for Ohio bloggers.  The Ohio Blogging Association has been a fantastic introduction to a vocal group of individuals throughout the state. From personal and fitness blogs to blogs about food, motherhood and Cleveland, it’s been a great experience getting to meet other people who feel strongly about their community and want to share this commitment.  I’m looking forward to our next event on March 23rd when we head to the Cleveland Food Bank to volunteer for two hours.

Now that I’ve made it through my first year, what’s next for Clue Into Cleveland? Right now I’m focused on working with @KaseyCrabtree and @KimiKay on Twestival Cleveland. We hope you can join us on March 24th at AMP 150 from 5-9pm. Be sure to keep an eye on cleveland.twestival.com and @TwestivalCLE for today’s announcement about which local charity was selected to benefit from the event! 

I’m also always on the lookout for new ways to get involved with the city and new experiences to write about.  So, if you have any suggestions, let me know at clueintocleveland (at) gmail (dot) com or on Twitter @ADHicken.

When Scott and I were visiting Philly a couple months ago, we ran into some friends we hadn’t seen in a while.  After a night at an old Irish bar we used to frequent, my friend Lou commented that I seemed really happy. Like honestly, truly happy.  This made me pause for a moment because it’s not something I think about that often. However, as I was sitting there, I realized I had to agree with him. 

I am happy – happy that Scott and I have found a home as rewarding as Cleveland and that I get to share it with all of you reading this. So thank you for accompanying me on this adventure so far and I hope you stick around as I find out what happens next!

Cleveland Orchestra: East Meets West with Bartok, Hosokawa and Takemitsu


This past weekend's Cleveland Orchestra concert was an artfully chosen pairing of pieces by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok and Japanese composers Toru Takemitsu and Toshio Hosokawa. (photo of Severance Hall from flickr.com/photos/clevelandorchestra)

Lately I’ve been trying to discover more about the Cleveland blogging community. One of the blogs I’ve enjoyed reading is Cleveland Food and Brews, which focuses on how it’s not just wine that can complement a good meal, but also a nice well-crafted beer.  When there’s a particularly complementary pairing of food and drink, it raises the meal to another level.

Now you’re probably asking yourself what this has to do with the Cleveland Orchestra. Like the similarities and differences of fine food and drink playing off one another, this weekend’s concert at the Cleveland Orchestra expertly paired the styles of three composers for a musically enlightened program. With two pieces by Hungarian composer Bela Bartok and a piece each by Japanese composers Toru Takemitsu and Toshio Hosokawa, Conductor Franz Welser-Most and the Orchestra contrasted the influences of Eastern and Western styles against one another. However, as musicologist Peter Laki wrote in the program notes, there has been a long speculation about the similarities and kinship between the Hungarian and Japanese languages – making for an interesting evening.

The evening started with Woven Dreams, a composition by Hosokawa. Hosokawa is actually the first currently living composer I’ve seen performed at Severance, and the performance of Woven Dreams over the weekend was its U.S. premiere (with the world premiere happening over the summer at the Lucerne Festival by the Cleveland Orchestra). This piece actually surprised me as both Scott’s and my favorite of the evening.  Inspired by a dream Hosokawa once had about being a child in his mother’s womb, it had an almost imperceptible  beginning – very quietly building from a long B-flat tone. The waves of gradual, dissonant sound were mysterious – almost subtlely ominous at moments. The other thing I enjoyed was how the percussionists contributed so many sounds that filled in the background of the piece – jumping throughout between a wide assortment of instruments.

The other piece written by a Japanese composer was Garden Rain by Takemitsu. Scott and I had last seen a piece by Takemitsu at the October Fridays@7 concert when the Orchestra performed Dream/Window. That composition was inspired by the Buddhist garden Saiho-ji. Hailing from a country where gardens had been developed as a supreme artform, Takemitsu often focused on them in his work. Garden Rain was a short piece – running just under 10 minutes – for two brass quintets. Interestingly, Takemitsu was often influenced by Western literature and philosophy such as Finnegan’s Wake and Water and Dreams, influences which can be seen in Garden Rain. While I typically don’t think of exclusively brass pieces as serene, there was something very soft to it.  The staging of the musicians was also interesting – with the two quintets seated far upstage and a large void between them and Welser-Most.

Acclaimed French pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard performed Bartok's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Cleveland Orchestra this weekend. (photo from harrisonparrott.com, credit Felix Broede and DG)

These pieces were alternated with two pieces by Bela Bartok – his Piano Concerto No. 2 and Music for Stringed Instruments, Percussion and Celesta. Bartok was a Hungarian composer in the early-to-mid 1900s, deeply inspired by the folk music of his culture and his Russian contemporary Igor Stravinsky. Both of these inspirations were evident in the two pieces performed at this weekend’s concerts.

Although Scott found he had a problem with the cohesion of the overall Piano Concerto No. 2, I enjoyed its three movements and how the piano solo played into the other instruments. I particularly liked the third movement – which had sections structured like Hungarian folksongs and a finale that ended in a decisive and abrupt moment.

The first time the piece was performed by the Cleveland Orchestra, Bartok himself was the piano soloist. At this weekend’s concert, Piano Concerto No. 2 was performed by Pierre-Laurent Aimard. Aimard is a French pianist, acclaimed as one of today’s most important, skilled in both contemporary and classic music. He first performed with the Cleveland Orchestra in 1996 and has frequently returned to play in Severance as an artist-in-residence and going on tour throughout Europe and the U.S.  As someone who had not seen Aimard perform before, I realized moments into the piece why he is revered. He was clearly skilled but notably gracious and modest even during the audience’s applause – sharing the praise with Welser-Most and the rest of the Orchestra. It’s a welcome trait in a soloist.

The second Bartok piece, Music for Stringed Instruments, Percussion and Celesta, was an interesting four movements that alternated between slow-fast-slow-fast rhythms. My favorite part – similar to Concerto No. 2 – was the last movement. It was lively at moments coupled with a certain precision and crispness to the notes. Because of this, there was an almost animated dance to Welser-Most’s conducting as he led two choirs of musicians seated in opposition of one another. The contrasts of the two sets of musicians, as well as the alternation between the first, second, third and fourth movements’ tempos, struck me as reminiscent of the evening’s pairings – different yet connected to one another. As it worked for the entire concert, these alternating musical personalities worked in Music for Strings.

After this weekend’s performances, the Orchestra is off to Indiana for its Indiana University Residency, then Miami for its residency at the Adrienne Arsht Center. With additional stops in Chicago, Michigan, and Carnegie Hall, the Orchestra returns to its home in Severance Hall on February 11th.  Whether it’s here or there, the Orchestra is bringing artfully chosen concerts like Bartok, Takemitsu and Hosokawa to its all of its audiences.

Cleveland Orchestra 411:

Happy New Years Cleve from Clue Into Cleveland


The entire New Years Cleve gang after our visit to The Christmas Story House.

New Years Cleve started last year in Manny Brown’s, a bar on Philly’s South Street. It was New Years Eve; Scott and I were in Philly visiting family and friends. We had recently moved into our house and were telling our friends from college about it.  This was months before I started Clue Into Cleveland.

While we were huddled around the table, we talked about having people out to Cleveland to stay at the house. When we realized the next New Years Day fell on a Saturday and would be recognized by our various employers on the Friday, we discussed celebrating the extra long weekend in Cleveland – jokingly calling it New Years Cleve. Flashforward a year (give or take a few days) and we had four houseguests pull into our driveway after an 8-hour drive ready to take on Cleveland for a few days.

When I have guests in town, I usually like to put a few ideas together based on their interests. If they like art, we have a number of larger museums and smaller galleries to take them to; food, there are plenty of restaurants; theater and film, the Cleveland Cinemas, PlayhouseSquare, and a myriad of other theater companies.

Matt's sketch of himself enjoying a Happy Dog hot dog. (photo by Matt and Lish)

However, our first stop was a no brainer.  I took them to the one place I typically take all visitors: the Happy Dog. It has excellent choices for food and drink, prices that don’t hurt your wallet, vegan options, music, and most importantly a laidback atmosphere (especially if you’ve just driven 8+ hours and want to relax).  When we got there last Thursday, we ordered a round of PBRs and our hot dog creations. I had my usual favorite: marcella’s grape jelly and chile sauce, baked beans, garlicky escarole, and brie. However, I also branched out a bit, trying garlic-tomato-basil jam and “alien” pickle relish with my fries. So that they could get a taste of polka, Scott played a few songs from DJ Kishka’s album in the jukebox. Not surprisingly, a few new fans were won over.

After a night of playing Clue, we woke up early the next morning and ventured over to The Christmas Story House in Tremont. My friend Angie is a fan of the film, and considering the tickets are only $8, we couldn’t really pass up the pop culture/kitsch appeal. This was all of our first times visiting the house, including mine. And there’s another post that needs to be written about it at some point.  However, it was a very interesting look behind the scenes of the classic holiday movie. Also, Ian Petrella (the actor who played Randy) is wrapping up his stay at the Christmas Story House and was there meeting fans and signing autographs for anyone who wanted to pick up a unique souvenir.

Our final stop in our New Years Cleve tour before heading home was the West Side Market. Instead of going out for the night, we stayed in and made a dinner featuring food from the Market.  Thanks to everyone on Facebook and Twitter who suggested their favorite West Side Market stands.  We had a number of options of where to go when we got there. Being New Years Eve, the parking lot was the craziest I’ve ever seen it. However, we got in and out with what we needed thanks to the efficiency of everyone working there that day.

Meeting Ian Petrella (Randy from Christmas Story) at the Christmas Story House.

With all of the great options at West Side Market, it was no surprise that dinner was delicious. We started out with some cheese, sausage and olives, as well as two kinds of dip thanks to Lish and Matt. Our main courses consisted of sweet potatoes and pork garnished with apple, onion and spices, as well as parmesan tilapia (thanks, Angie and Jess). We finished with Theresa’s cannolis for dessert.  The meal was topped off with wine and – what else – some Great Lakes beer.

While it was the first New Years Eve in a long time that I spent at home, those two days were a most fitting end to 2010. Since starting Clue Into Cleveland last March, I’ve explored Cleveland more than any other city I’ve lived in in the past.  And although I loved living here before I started blogging, I’ve enjoyed learning how much more there is in Cleveland than I ever expected.  Getting to share my favorite places and discovering new ones with my friends was a delightful way to start 2011.  At midnight, we even got in a little ‘mumming’ in our front yard – in honor of the one Philly New Years tradition that can never be replaced: the Mummer’s Day Parade.

Happy New Years Cleve — I hope you had a great end to 2010!  I’m looking forward to the new year and everything it’ll bring for Cleveland.

We ended the evening by sharing a little 'mumming' with Cleveland - a tip of the umbrella to a great Philly tradition. (photo by Lish and Matt)

The Cleveland Museum of Art's Armor Court

My most recent trip to the Cleveland Museum of Art was for October's Sketch Crawl in the Armor Court. (photo by ADHicken)

It would be impossible for me to write just one post about the Cleveland Museum of Art and successfully cover all of its exhibitions and collections.  Sure, there are volumes of books dedicated to this city treasure which are capable of doing it justice.  However, if I tried fitting the entirety of the internationally celebrated museum in one entry, it’d be too long for even me to read. 

Similarly, it’s just as difficult to see all of the Art Museum in only one visit. While I’ve been there a few times since moving to Cleveland, I still haven’t explored everything. My most recent visit was in October when the monthly Cleveland Sketch Crawl met in the Museum’s Armor Court

This section of the Museum has always been one of my favorite parts of the recently reopened 1916 gallery. When we came to the city in 2008, the Museum was about halfway through its massive ongoing renovation. The first time we visited the Museum was to see the temporary exhibit Arms and Armor from Imperial Austria. It was an excellent teaser for the re-unveiling of the Museum’s renowned Armor Court which happened later that year.  

The Armor Court features European arms and armor from 1400 – 1700 and includes helmets, weaponry of the blade, arrow and gun variety, and even full body armor for man and horse. Many of the pieces were acquired in 1916, when the Museum’s first director Frederic Allen Whiting persuaded John Long Severance to buy and donate a collection of armor from a collector in Boston. 

Sketch of a helmet and detailing from the State Guard of Elector Christian I of Saxony, 1560-1591 (sketch by ADHicken)

Since then it’s been a hit among visitors — especially children and those who typically have to be dragged to see art — for its glimpse into an exciting (and violent) part of history. In recent decades, curators discovered that some of the pieces original to the exhibit were fakes made of mismatched parts. These have since been replaced with authentic armor. The now fully genuine collection is housed in a beautiful, light-filled, enclosed courtyard.  With the 2008 reopening, the Armor Court was returned to how it looked in 1998, when it last underwent a top-to-bottom renovation.

When I visited for the Cleveland Sketch Crawl, I spent some time walking around the gallery trying to figure out what I wanted to draw during my short stay. While I was there, I enjoyed tracing the evolution of armor from Medieval to Renaissance times.

In the Middle Ages, there were mail tunics, or hauberks, that provided lighter-weight, more-flexible protection than their iron predecessors. Made of thousands of metal rings linked together, mail armor was coupled with helmets and shields for additional security.

Because of the challenges presented by longbows, crossbows and eventually firearms, plate armor became the new necessity in the Renaissance. These full suits of armor were made of hundreds of steel plates joined together to fit their owner specifically. This allowed for full protection, but also continued to offer the flexibility needed to fight. Other aspects of the body armor made shields unnecessary by deflecting attacks with angled surfaces. These surfaces also became a blank canvas for detailed designs and etchings such as a family’s coat of arms or illustrations of a warrior’s skill and style.  

A trip to the Armor Court allows you to view this evolution, as well as the weapons that inspired them.  For Medieval armor, there are examples of mail shirts from the 1400s in Europe and helmets from places like Italy. Likewise, there are full-body and partial suits of plated armor from the Renaissance, such as the centerpiece of the Museum’s Armor Court: the Field Armor for Man and Horse. One of the most memorable sights of the room, it’s a life-size model of a man and horse both decked out in full gear. The suit is from North Italy with gilding, leather and velvet etched with the Arms of the Vols-Colonna Family. It’s a magnificent site that can stop first-time visitors in their tracks.

Sketch of Armor for Man and Horse with the Arms of the Vols-Colonna Family, about 1575 (sketch by ADHicken)

Hung on the walls of the Court is my other favorite highlight of the room – the Dido and Aeneas tapestries. These 8 tapestries tell the tragic love story of Dido and Aeneas in The Aeneid, Virgil’s ancient Roman epic poem and the subject of my Latin studies in my junior year of high school. In addition to having a soft spot in my heart for the story (I loved translating Latin), it’s also portrayed on a beautiful, dynamic and very large scale.   

The tapestries were designed and woven in the 1600s by the Roman painter Giovanni Francesco Romanelli and Michel Wauters’ tapestry workshop, respectively.  They were donated in 1915 and are a permanent installation to the Museum. However, their constant exposure to light has caused the original colors to irreversibly fade, something that has prompted the Museum’s rotation of textiles to improve preservation.

The Sketch Crawl group spent over two hours in just this one room.  Fortunately, because admission to the Cleveland Museum of Arts‘ collections is free, you can take as many trips as you’d like to explore it — something I’m a long way from finishing on my list of Cleveland places I’d like to fully ‘clue into.’  Recognized as one of a few institutions still allowing no-cost access to 40,000+ objects spanning 6,000 years of achievement in the arts, the Museum fulfills its mission of being not just one of the world’s most distinguished comprehensive art museums but also one of Northeast Ohio’s principal civic and cultural institutions.

For a student of the arts, the Museum is also an excellent muse as you can freely explore the architecture and non-special-collection works up close and personal. As the building project continues through 2013, there will be even more sources of inspiration. However, if you plan on sketching at the Cleveland Art Museum, there are a few guidelines to protect the works there. The museum only allows pencil for sketching. You are not permitted to bring in pens, ink of any kind, paints, pastels or charcoal for obvious reasons.  Read the full gallery policies before you go.

The next Cleveland Sketch Crawl will be Jan. 8 at the Mounted Police station. (photo of mounted police from coolhistoryofcleveland.blog.com)

Numerous other options for sketching abound in Cleveland, as I continue to experience via the Cleveland Sketch Crawl. The next Crawl is this coming Saturday, Jan.  8th, 10am – noon. We’ll be venturing to the Cleveland Mounted Police station on the near eastside of Downtown. Check out the Cleveland Sketch Crawl blog for more information, including a link to where the station is located (since Google Maps will give you the wrong location if you try looking for it).


Cleveland Museum of Art 411:

Kudos to Cleveland's Burning River Roller Girls on the success of their APL fundraiser

BRRG's Black and Blue event ended up raising over $5,500 for the Cleveland Animal Protective League. (logos from burningriverrollergirls.com and clevelandapl.org)

The holidays are often a time to spotlight how organizations have given back to the community, so I wanted to post a quick kudos to the Burning River Roller Girls for the success of November’s Black and Blue Charity event. The BRRG recently announced that the final numbers are in and they were able to raise more than $5,500 that went directly to the Cleveland Animal Protective League.

As a fan who was in the Wolstein Center stands for Black and Blue 5: Fur Brawl, the mashup of the entire league into Team Black vs Team Blue was a lot of fun.  It was definitely a different vibe than the regular season bouts as we watched players who normally compete against one another lace up their skates on the same team. And the halftime Full Contact Musical Chairs — my first time watching this Fresh Meat tradition — was fierce (though I was a little bummed that Girl Gone Wilder, a coworker of mine, was knocked out after they re-did the first round due to an extra chair on the floor).  Check out this video of the event from WEWS/ABC Channel 5.

Despite all of the derby action, the best part about Black and Blue was that we were there to not just celebrate the Burning River Roller Girls’ 5th anniversary, but also to support the Cleveland APL via ticket and raffle sales.  To find out the BRRG were able to raise over $5,500 in support of animals was really great.  Northeast Ohio has a fantastic philanthropic culture — one that often helps the region weather economic storms as noted in a recent Plain Dealer article.  And although that article may have focused on the signficantly large donations made to area organizations in recent years, donating over $5000 from just one event is nothing to sneeze at.

If you want to support the work BRRG is doing in Cleveland to further the cause of roller derby, the 2011 Season Pass is now on sale which includes tickets to all five double-header bouts for only $48. Full ticket and schedule info for ‘Let The Good Times Roll': BRRG Season 5 is below.

2011 Season Schedule
All bouts at Cleveland State University’s Wolstein Center (2000 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio)
Doors open at 5 PM / Bouts begin at 6 PM
Bout 1:    Saturday, March 12 (Season 5 Opener)
Bout 2:    Saturday, April 2
Bout 3:    Saturday, April 30
Bout 4:    Saturday, June 11   (Semi-Finals)
Bout 5:    Saturday, July 16     (Championship)
Ticket Information
2011 Season Passes:       Season Pass package includes five bout tickets for $48
Regular Admission:           $12 Advance / $17 day of event / $6 for kids age 12 and under
Groups of 10 or more:      $10 per ticket
Available at the Wolstein Center Box Office, online or by phone.
Online:   www.wolsteincenter.com
Phone:  1-877-468-4946 
*Fees apply to ticket purchases by phone or online. A service charge applies to each group order.


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Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant at Cleveland Public Theatre

Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant may be a delicious mix of fine dining and theatrical insanity; however, as Conni's rule no. 7 instructs it is not dinner theatre. (photo from cptonline.org)

My friends know me well — or they at least read my blog — because they surprised me with an early Christmas present this past Saturday: 2 tickets to Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant at Cleveland Public Theatre. Regardless of whether they took a hint from ‘All I Want for Cleve-mas,’ they stumped me and found a show that wasn’t on my radar yet.

What is Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant?  Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect. I very briefly looked at Cleveland Public Theatre‘s site before I went, but all I knew was that it was going to be experimental theatre at its most ridiculous and I’d get a meal.  Beyond that, I planned on being surprised. 

As soon as we walked into the Cleveland Public Theatre, the fun began with us selecting a holiday persona from a tray of nametags. I chose to undertake the mantle of Ms. Mannheim Steamroller, while Scott – who loves a good pun – went with Mince ∏. The doors had opened a half hour before the show to allow guests to mingle in the lobby’s bar and sample a delicious roasted chestnuts and mushroom tartine appetizer. Hunter, one of the members of the ensemble, was our barkeep for the night, slinging beers and wine from behind the bar and sharing his opinions on the world.  Miss Goodi Two Shoes was also flitting about the pre-show party welcoming guests as would be expected of the gracious ballerina. A few moments before 7, we were greeted by a parade of all of our evening’s hosts, who laid out the rules for the night:

  1. Inside the Restaurant you are not a customer, but an invited guest of Miss Conni Convergence.
  2. There is absolutely no ordering, but you can ask for seconds.
  3. Referring to the performers as “waiters” is insulting, don’t do it.
  4. Everything in the world of the Restaurant is a set piece, backdrop, or prop.
  5. Share.
  6. What happens in the Restaurant stays in the Restaurant.
  7. And most importantly, this is not dinner theatre.

We walked into the Gordon Square Theatre where tables had been set up throughout, along with a kitchen and stage decked with the sign from Conni’s Restaurant. Although it’s nothing like your traditional dinner theatre, Conni’s Avant Garde has been hailed as a unique theatrical-culinary event mixing the ingredients of fine food, wine, and ensemble theatre that results in a loving send-up of avant-garde pomposity.

The plot of the show is fairly loose with the performers wandering throughout and a lot of improv mixed in:  It’s the holidays at Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, which isn’t a place but instead a troupe of avantgardists inspired by the legendary Miss Conni Convergence, a revolutionary teacher of the culinary performance arts. Miss Goodi Two Shoes, who aspires to be Clara in this year’s Nutcracker, is suddenly pregnant. And Mrs. Robinson, a washed-up, seemingly overconfident rocker who likes to switch pants with his dinner guests, has received what he thinks is an invitation to be inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, in Miss Conni’s absence, General Manager Sue James tries to keep Goodi, Mrs. Robinson and the rest of the wild crew in line with limited success.

Conni's Avant Garde Restaurant answers the question “What would happen if a group of experimental theatre artists took over a roadside restaurant?” (photo from cptonline.org)

In addition to the crazy cabaret, improv comedy, nudity, death and violence, guests are treated to a five-course home-cooked meal and bottles of wine.  Using local ingredients (most of which came from West Side Market’s The Basketeria), the performers originate, cook and serve the meal.  Every course is prepared and served via a musical number (Goodi’s mysterious impregnation during the soup course was very entertaining). Because of this, the food becomes part of the source material for the evening’s performance.

Besides being thoroughly entertaining, the meal was delicious. In addition to the roasted chestnuts and mushroom tartine, we were treated to a curried butternut squash soup; herbed apple and fennel salad; maple-glazed ham with cranberry compote, brown-buttered radishes and sage-roasted sweet potatoes; and drunken chocolate bundt cake.  My favorite dishes were the soup and the radishes that accompanied the ham. I’m a sucker for butternut squash but the extra kick from the curry elevated this soup and the freshly baked bread they served was an excellent complement.  Also, prior to Conni’s, my radish experience had been limited to raw in a salad, so the tender radishes surprised me — I need to have them more often.

After seeing Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant, I was curious about the backstory behind the concept and did some browsing through their website. While in residence for a production of As You Like It in coastal Maine, a group of actors fantasized about moving into an abandoned area diner called “Conni’s Restaurant.” With this, a running joke of “What would happen if a group of experimental theatre artists took over a roadside restaurant?” was born. For the last few years they’ve been finetuning and expanding the concept in New York – being awarded a grant in 2009 to build a theatre company on the model of a food business. Although the majority of Conni’s performers hail from NY, the Cleveland production ‘Feast of Miracles‘ also featured local talent including four actresses who played the Nurses and Chef Chef Bon Bon who oversaw the meal and provided the delicious bread and Bundt Cake via her Gordon Square Bonbon Bake Shop.

This was the first time I had a seen a production at Cleveland Public Theatre, though I knew about them as one of three organizations at the heart of the Gordon Square Arts District revitalization.  Known for producing adventurous and experimental theatre, CPT was the perfect place to hold the Midwest premiere of Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant. CPT’s emphasis on supporting new artists and non-mainstream works is what Conni’s is about — both in the content of the performance as well as the origination of the concept. 

Sadly, Conni’s closed its sold-out Cleveland run on Sunday so that they could return to New York to continue serving their delicious mix of insanity and fine food.  However, Clevelanders don’t need to fear for a lack of challenging, new theatre since CPT’s 2010-2011 season picks back up with the Big [BOX] ’11 Series on January 14. With 10 more pieces on this year’s schedule, CPT will be busy until June when they end the season with their original production Cut to Pieces, a solo show that blends live video feed, film, and animation. 


Cleveland Public Theatre / Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant 411:

Conni’s Avant Garde Restaurant

Cleveland Public Theatre

Guest Blog Post: Cleveland and its many craft fairs

The concept of shopping locally for hand made items has always been something Clevelanders can get behind.  I have several (or at least one) memories of my own mom making eucalyptus wreaths and taking us all to a big church hall to run around and meet other women who were selling their wreaths and scarves.  So is it any surprise that I’m drawn to today’s craft fairs, with their wreaths from antique christmas lights and scarves of brightly dyed felt?

Shoppers at Bazaar Bizarre 2010

This past weekend, Dec. 11 and 12, I hit up the Bazaar Bizarre, my annual “Oh, i’ve always wanted a thing just like that!” shopping trip.  The Bazaar Bizarre has been held in Cleveland for six years now, organized by Shannon Okey.  For the past two years, the bazaar has been held at 78th Street Studios, a collection of art studios and galleries and a big empty space.  The neighborhood is starting to pickup on the massive foot traffic that Bazaar Bizarre brings with it, with galleries in the 78th Street Studio and 1300/Third buildings showcasing art and objects.  Bazaar Bizarre is a great place to see our local variations on national trends – looking for interesting food trucks? Den and dim sum and Umami Moto were parked outside, and sold quickly.  What about burlesque and personalized makeup?  What about stiltdancers?  Shannon Okey, busy as usual, was happy to chat with me on Saturday and say how excited she was that the community was really starting to come out and support all the local craft shows being held in the Gordon Square Arts District and Cleveland. 

Michael Hudecek models one of his Forest City Portage bags.


Let me say here a big great job to all the vendors, and a big “well, it was really crowded and we did the best we could do to walk past one another” to all the other shoppers that thronged through the studios to see them.  Some personal favorites were Melissa Venneri-McCabe and Lew McCabe of Whimsical Wonders, creators of spoon and fork magic!; Michael Hudecek of Forest City Portage (and sometimes Melt West), making messenger bags, pouches, belts and wallets out of cordura and the desire to just have a really sweet-ass bag;  Cosette Cornelius-Bates, cosy makes fiber artist, who had the such prettily dyed wool that I had to buy a skein, even though all I can do is the world’s most basic scarf; and Puppycat, a collection of dog and kitty and people treats, where I found the annual christmas present for the kitties (this year, a catnip taco!).  I was excited to meet local Valerie Mayen (Project Runway), there to both sell some really interesting clothing from her shop Yellow Cake, and to talk about the fashion co-operative Buzz & Growl that she is the process of growing.   

Valerie Mayen and Courtney at Bazaar Bizarre 2010

It’s bad writing form to say “I can’t quite describe” but in this case, it is hard to describe all the intriguing items for sale from all the excited and friendly vendors at this year’s Bazaar Bizarre!  It’s always great to go and find something new and really cool (this year, enormous black flower earrings from mandrizzle), and to be part of a great event.

Thankfully, even though Bazaar Bizarre is over, there is still one shopping weekend and several shopping weekdays left in this busy holiday season.  And there are still some local shopping events to help you find that perfect baby onesie that says “My dad made my mom a mix tape and all they got was me.”  (Credit must go to Leigh Kelsey of Rhymes With Tree, who will be at Last Minute Market!)

  • Made in the 216 is an ongoing holiday shop at 2078 W. 25 Street, Cleveland, open until Dec. 24 and organized by Room Service‘s Danielle DeBoe.  Another yearly event, this fair showcases some 50 Cleveland artists.
  • The Last Minute Market & Screw Factory Open Studio will be held this Saturday, Dec. 18 at 13000 Athens Avenue, Lakewood.  This market will host 85 vendors from around the Midwest, as well as showcasing the visiting and resident artists of the Screw Factory.  There is always a blank wall somewhere – shouldn’t you look for some amazing, local paintings or photograph to fill it up?
  • The Pop Up Gift Shop, currently going on at Trinity Commons, 2242 Euclid, Cleveland, is open Thursday and Friday, 10-7 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 10-5 pm.  If you’re going to “consume, consume locally,” says one of the artists, which encompasses the feeling behind handmade local gifts that emphasize their reused/recycled quality.  A clock made out of a motherboard?  Mosaics from flooring samples?  Check!

 I know I’m (again!) not fully sharing the many local options available to us here in Cleveland, and that’s because we’re totally spoiled for choice.  More ideas and suggestions are available from Thomas Mulready Cool Cleveland’s Holiday Gift Guide, or by checking various local print publications.  As Cool Cleveland says, it’ll be a shopping experience that doesn’t suck.  Which is true!  Absolutely none of these events will suck.  In fact, all of them will be amazing and interesting, and you’ll be able to witness people creating and sharing and selling their art.  And you’ll be a part of it!  Provided you buy something, which I highly suggest you do.  

Melissa and Lew McCabe at Bazaar Bizarre

About the Guest Author: Kate Galo
Long long ago, Kate Galo was a professional blogger at the now-defunct BloggingOhio.com.  Her writing style has vastly improved over the years, and she’s excited to sharing her thoughts about this city with the loyal readers at Clue Into Cleveland!

Celebrating Jewish Culture and Chanukah by visiting the Maltz Museum

I have had the good intentions of visiting the Maltz Musuem of Jewish Heritage for a few years now but have just never made it a point to carve out time to do it. Amanda’s trip to Disney coincides with Chanukah and I thought it would be the perfect way to spend a dreary, winter Cleveland afternoon. As a non-Jewish gal I got to learn a lot about Jewish culture and history.

There is a temporary exhibit that’s about the 1936 Berlin Olympics and it is there until January 23rd, 2011. I would never consider myself a history buff; I found most of what I studied in High School History mind-numbingly boring. One of the few things that always interested me was World War II because I grew up having many Jewish friends. I cannot recall ever having learned much of anything about the Berlin Olympics and I was quite shocked by what I learned at the Maltz Museum. There are propaganda posters (translated for those of us who do not speak German) videos, photographs and the Olympic torch is on loan to us from the Holocaust Museum in D.C. The saddest part of the display was a wall where there was a small biography about the Jewish people who participated in the Olympics, all of whom were killed during the Holocaust. I spent the bulk of my time reading every inch of information made available to me which left less time for the other two parts of the museum.

The first permanent exhibit I explored was the Temple-Tifereth Israel. It contains artifacts from modern and historic Jewish life. Upon entering, I saw a beautiful and enormous menorah. I was also captivated by a wedding canopy and a marriage contract from the 1500s. There is modern art by Jewish artists about life as a Jewish person and stories from the Torah. According to the website, it is the fourth oldest museum of Judaica in the United States and the collection is quite lovely.

The second permanent exhibit is entitled “An American Story” and talked about famous Jewish people and their contributions to society. I couldn’t help but smile to see that the late, great, Cleveland native Harvey Pekar was featured. The exhibit elaborates on different issues faced by Jewish immigrants from a historical perspective. It shows the struggles faced by Jewish people who have just arrived in the United States, how they have built a community within Cleveland. The Great Depression is then covered but I didn’t spend too much time on that section of the exhibit. In part it was because I wanted to check out the next portion, that talked about World War II and the rebuilding afterwards.

That part of the museum was particularly difficult part for me to view. Featured are quotes from Cleveland holocaust survivors, memorabilia, photos and looping video. I have never been to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. but I picture this to be a smaller and less intense version of that. As a one of German heritage I have always felt vicarious shame for what Hitler did. It was difficult for me to look at pictures and read what the survivors had to say about their experiences. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would’ve liked on this section because I was reminded by a kind but firm short woman that they were closing in 5 minutes.

There is also a gift shop but because I ran out of time, I can’t comment on it. Other than that it was well-lit and appeared to be quite clean.

I found the museum to be an excellent balance of history and culture. It is intimate and information. I would highly recommend it to Jews and gentiles alike!

About the Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Grepp
Elizabeth is a native Clevelander who has been an avid reader and writer for as long as she can remember.  Pursuing a degree in Public Relations and as a staff writer for her college’s award-winning newspaper, she was able to continue her long-standing love affair with comma splices.  A resident of Cleveland Heights for nearly 4 years, Elizabeth’s obsession with the area is driven by the good food, music and fascinating characters who visit or live there. You can follow her on twitter under the clever pseudonym @egrepp or @cleyogi where she shares her journey becoming certified to teach yoga.