I have never seen anything like it before. I am talking about Cleveland’s Ingenuity Fest. Scattered over several blocks and incorporating an assortment of venues was this premier arts event. Not really knowing what to expect, we arrived on Friday evening. After getting our wristbands and entering onto the main thoroughfare, we were greeted with the mandatory food stalls. Not surprisingly, they featured a huge assortment of fried foods and the obligatory funnel cakes. You cannot go to any event in this region without seeing a food stall, and makes me wonder how we moved up the rankings to #15 in Men’s Health magazine’s list of America’s Fittest Cities. (I suspect me friends over at Crossfit Cleveland are part of the answer.) After passing the smell of grease and cotton candy, we hit the main stage. Over the 3 days there were a variety of acts that preformed here.
While the rock bands were a bit too raucous for me, I loved the performance by the North Coast Men’s Chorus. They always put on such a great show, so if you haven’t seen them, plan on it!
After turning down an alley, we ran into another stage. It was an interactive game show. This stage also saw a variety of performers. Farther down was a weird alien creature hanging on the wall that was “laying eggs” or some such thing. One of the empty buildings was a makeshift gallery showing a variety of artists. The work was mostly painting and some were delightful, while others more whimsical in nature. In the Halle Building, we watched a surreal dance piece done in the waterfall fountain. The Danse Agua was intriguing and exotic! We saw a variety of NASA booths. 3-D games, painters, and watched as some participants had themselves digitally inserted into photographs of astronauts in space. We even watched an Eco Fashion Show. On the street again, there were more booths which changed throughout the festival. There was healthier food, used books, Whole Foods, and various arts and entertainment. Another stage had more stuff, my favorite of which was the Hip Hop dancers. In the Idea Center you could see more modern dance by groups like Morrison Dance Studios, watch shorts, even make your own robots. There was a performance at the Hanna by Tim Miller-a highlight of the weekend for me. Asterisk Gallery got together an enormous show of their artists and put them in the now defunct Christian Science Reading Room building. Truly avant-garde, this was a fantastic collection.
On the street you never knew what you might see-jugglers, minstrels, magicians. My favorite was by Melissa Daubert. She created an “Urban Trotter,” which was a nearly life sized kinetic sculpture of a horse being ridden by a monkey. Complete with the recorded clip clop of hooves, attendees were invited to participate by taking a turn pushing the sculpture around the festival. Much of the festival was interactive. We all participated in the “Hands Across” experiment. Photography, painting, robots, virtual gaming, and many others were interactive. There will be another experience in September on the lower level of the Detroit bridge!
On of the other events that we attended was the Cain Park Arts Festival. An annual event in Cleveland Heights, this was our first year we attended. I was shocked at just how large this festival has become and how high the quality of the vendors. The art ran the gamut, too. Photography, sculpture, painting, jewelry, just to name a few. One of my favorites was an artist named Lewis Tardy. His futuristic designs came to life in the form of sculptures that were created from gears, metal and parts. Graceful and fluid, yet cold and robotic. Sometimes you see art in your lifetime that years later you will recall with the same feeling of fascination, and Lewis has created this type of work. His card stays in my files for future reference! Be sure to visit his website for a real treat! If you love art, be sure to include this on your calendar for next year.
We also stopped by the 78th Street Experience. Located at the 78th Street Studios, I was treated to huge works by Matt Dibble. I have been to his studio and seen a lot of his more surrealist work, but this show had a wonderful selection of his larger pieces that were more abstract in style. I was delighted by the texture and the colors of his pieces. In addition to the great work of Matt Dibble at Tregoning and Co, the artists work spaces were also opened and turned into a fantastic gallery space upstairs. A great addition to the Gordon Square Arts District, it is worth a trip. Be sure to check out the next big event in October-just in time for the holidays!
Cleveland is really a great place for the arts! Besides our world class museums and symphony orchestra, the local artist here are fantastic. And just in case there aren’t enough galleries or locals, we have so many festivals that draw both vendors and crowds from around the country. What a great place to be!