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Archive for January, 2012

REMEMBER BICYCLE MAYHEM

The Free Times, back in the day

note: This appeared originally in the Cleveland Free Times in 2006. The two-wheeled adventure rides known as “Bicycle Mayhem” are a part of history, though we know there’s plenty more mayhem rolling around out there. Don’t hesitate to let me know who you are. I’d love to go on your ride. 

SPOKE AND WORD

Nighttime rides were equal parts socializing and adventuring

by Michael Gill

Cyclists tend to talk about injuries and hardware. No matter their day jobs or the cost of their machines, no matter whether they come from the Lycra clad, sport riding school or dress in the beat-cotton chic of the messengers downtown, they’ve all got stories of balance or skidding, of cars in the wrong place, of punctures or broken brake cables. They know what you’re talking about if you use the phrase “down tube shifter” or if you speak of “old school Italian steel.”

The Wednesday night ride known as Bicycle Mayhem has all that. But there’s also an appetite for the city—the quest to ride bikes into the forgotten corners of Cleveland and get into them.

Dan Dominic sits on a stone ledge in the evening shadow of the Terminal Tower, waiting for the week’s ride to gather. The rain has taken a break in a biblical way. After a week of steady soakage, the clouded Erie sky broke to let in a few hours of sun. Just enough sun for optimism, even if the weathermen say the chance for an overnight downpour is 100 percent.

Dan and his brothers Greg and Tom started Bicycle Mayhem a few years ago as a late night romp through empty downtown, with an ad lib itinerary that would detour as needed for beer or to appreciate the gritty attractions. They might go with four people, or they might go with twenty. Back in those days they’d start at 10 p.m. There were visits to empty buildings and dark viaducts, to the tops and underbellies of bridges, to loading docks and court yards.

But these days the Mayhem rollers have to get to day jobs. Dan is a courier, one of those guys you see threading through cross traffic, pissing you off as he sets his own rules with peripheral vision as the supreme judge of who has the right of way. But even he has to wake up in the morning. So now the ride starts at 7:30 p.m. And having toured the city for a couple of years, the event has morphed in another way, too. Usually it starts with a bike polo game in a parking lot, with modified croquet mallets and softballs, followed by a longer ride starting at 9 p.m.

But tonight, for reasons unexplained, it’s old school Bicycle Mayhem, cutting right to the beer chase—first the Barking Spider bar, and then a clandestine visit to a rich man’s grave.

The clock on the Terminal Tower says 8 p.m. When two others roll up—Dan’s brother Greg, and another dude, David Trolio. It seems like everyone is related. Conversation moves right to the accident du jour, which didn’t happen to Dan the courier, but to David’s brother, John, who met a car head-on in Little Italy, opening up a second mouth and breaking a tooth in the process. But that was two weeks ago. The stitches are already out. We’ll meet him later.

All heads turn and the ride gets underway when a guy in a Curious George lycra racing jersey rolls down Superior for the third time on what is estimated to be $10,000 worth of a carbon fiber, time trial bike. Hardware like that is all a cyclist needs to start up a conversation with a stranger, and soon the crew has picked up Alex on the carbon fiver machine, which he says is a brand new toy, just two rides old.

They all head off together, weaving through the city, rolling up Rock and Roll Boulevard and heading east on the North Marginal—the Shoreway and I-90 on the right, Burke Lakefront Airport and the lake itself on the left. They flow around each other in a way that keeps conversation going. On Martin Luther King Boulevard keep to the street because the Harrison Dillard bike way, which runs along next to the road like a sidewalk, is typically glittered with glass. There’s talk of wild dogs in Rockefeller Park, and David has seen a few of them, including the big black shepherd, which he knows he can out sprint. No stray canines show themselves this trip.

Time flies when you’re riding in a pack, and soon they roll around University Circle and reach the destination: pitchers of Great Lakes Brewing Company Holy Moses. Behind the bar at the Barking Spider, the Cavs are winning their playoff game against the Pistons—a three-point lead with two minutes left, and they could pull ahead three games to two in the series. Bicycle Mayhem sits outside. John Trolio meets us at a picnic table. His tooth is missing a jagged triangle, and he’s taking pain killers while a dentist tries to figure out how to proceed. John won’t be drinking.

A pack of cyclists in a bar at night is a curiosity that seems to attract women, and several come to talk while Bicycle Mayhem drinks. One points to a mountain of black clouds rolling in. Another identifies herself as a TV talent scout for something meant to compete with American Idol. She tries to get Bicycle Mayhem to sing. The attempt fails. Four pitchers later, the clouds are still holding their water, and it’s time for the trip to that grave at Lakeview Cemetery.

It’s all locked up at this hour, but there’s a science to slipping through fences or getting over them, to scaling walls and leaving no bike behind. These are secrets you might learn if you’ve got it in you to log a dozen miles in the dark of a Cleveland Wednesday. To anyone who doesn’t, such feats of skill and cooperation will remain a mystery. The breach does not take long.

Inside the cemetery, the trees blot out the city. Asphalt winds around the landscape, past obelisks and statues and granite knock-offs of the Parthenon. Back in a corner, Al Lerner rests, presumably in peace, surrounded by the evidence of the wealth he had in life. You can’t find this in the dark unless you know where you’re going. Somebody says its like Lerner’s own suburban development, landscaped with shrubbery and a walkway.

Bicycle Mayhem never stops talking, and soon everything that surrounds the riders finds itself in their conversation—the extremes of wealth and poverty, the beauty of meticulously cut and symmetrically arranged stone, the fate of the city down below, and the rain which has begun to fall steadily. It’s coming up on midnight, which feels early to the Bicycle Mayhem Crew, and they’re happy to be wrapping it up at such a reasonable hour. Back through the tangled paths, back over the wall, back to civilization they go.

The beauty of rain-slicked blacktop at midnight in Cleveland is that it is nearly empty of cars. Bikes can roll undisturbed, and if the wind is not blowing, and the temperature is high enough, the rain doesn’t matter very much. You’ll get soaked, to be sure. It’s just another reminder that you’re alive. Bicycle Mayhem pairs off according to each rider’s destination, and they begin to pedal home.


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SHORTCUT TO TREMONT

The way it was.

Remember when bicycle and neighborhood advocates weren’t just talking about whether or not the Shoreway and Innerbelt bridge projects would be completed, but about whether they would include bike lanes?

Here’s a slice of that optimism–a story that appeared in the Free Times (RIP) almost exactly 5 years ago, Jan. 17-23, 2007.

To everyone who believes neighborhoods and transportation in Cleveland can be improved and that bikes can be a big part of the picture, keep the faith.  You’re not crazy. You’re right. And every time accommodating bikes gets into the public discussion, the cause advances.

SHORTCUT TO TREMONT

Innerbelt plans ignore 25 percent of Clevelanders

by Michael Gill

One Saturday evening in the Summer of 2005, bartender and bicycle courier Daniel Clemens was in second place in an alley cat bike race, contending for the lead. In alley cats, the racers hit the streets, traffic and all, with a list of destinations. They can take any route and hit the stops in any order, but he who makes all the stops first wins. So Clemens–known among couriers as Dizi–was out to prove his skills. He and the race leader were near the Jake and pedaling furiously, destination Tremont, when Dizi made a strategic move: Instead of crossing the Lorain-Carnegie bridge, he pedaled up the Innerbelt entrance ramp and rode across the I-90 bridge with the cars. Illegal but not against the race rules, the move shaved more than half a mile off his trip. He won the race, and the ride was instantly legendary.

“I was laughing the whole way,” Dizy says, even though it was dusk, and raining a little bit, and the cars and trucks were rushing at highway speed past his left shoulder.

“People were beeping like crazy,” he says. “Whatever. I wasn’t in the middle of the lane. I was snug to the corner and going as fast as I could. It wasn’t that bumpy. I wouldn’t make it a daily thing, but if I had to, I’d do it again. ”

Dangerous and lunatic as Dizi’s shortcut may have been, the terrain he claimed that day has become yet another thread of discord between local interests and ODOT’s Innerbelt agenda.

First came County Planning Director Paul Alsenas’ battle over what the bridge would look like, and how it would be aligned. Then came the midtown businesses, who fear that ODOT’s plan to eliminate exits would halt the flow of customers to their doors and drive through windows. And now there’s the matter of the bike lane.

Dizi is not in any way involved in the effort, and it was not inspired by his ride, but a handful of bicycle advocates are hioping ODOTR will make walking or pedaling acros the innterbelt safe and legal by integrating bike and pedestrian lanes into the planning of the bridge.

BY THE TIME Innerbelt reconstruction is finished, about 20 years in the future, the transportation agency will have spent approximately 1.5 billion on the stretch of highway between Tremont and Dead Man’s Curve. Bike and pedestrian advocates think that the taxpayers who don’t own cars–and in Cleveland that’s one household out of four–ought to benefit, too.

The idea came out of public meetings, and was pushed by EcoCity Cleveland director David Beach. Such a trail would make a highly visible connection between downtown and one of its trendiest neighborhoods. It would serve a real transportation purpose for commuters, but also could be a tourist attraction, as similar highwway-plus-bike-bridge s have in dozens of locations aross the country.

Last fall, Beach proposed the lane in writing to ODOT. A local bridge design committee included it in recommendations, but ODOT publicly struck it from the plan in October. The correspondence that ensued had Beach and Howard Wood, ODOT’s deputy director of planning, taking turns citing federal law as it relates to accommodating bikes on freeway bridges. Beach documented the exchange and lobbies for teh bike lane at the Green City Blue Lake Web site, GCLB . org.

“ODOT needs to think more about routine accommodations for all modes of transport,” Beach said.

The rule for federally funded highway bridge projects is that the transportation agency has to consider including a bike and pedestrian lane if the roads on either side of the bridge are accessible by pedestrians and cyclists, and if it doesn’t cost too much. Costing too much, in this case, means about 20 percent of the project cost. If the bridge component of the Innerbelt project is $300 million, then ODOT should consider spending as much as $60 million on the bike and pedestrian lane.

But the numbers in play are actually much less than that. ODOT, assuming that a theoretical bike lane would be part of plans for a new westbound bridge, figured it would cost $21 to $23 million. Even at that rate–just over one-third of what federal guidelines say is acceptable–Innerbelt project manager Craig Hebabrand told members of City Council last week that the agency “Does not feel that bike lanes are warranted.”

But what Beach has proposedd is actually less expensive still. ODOT’s plan to build a signature bridge to handle westbound innerbelt traffic and reconfigure the existing bridge as five lanes of inbound traffic leaves three full lanes on the existing bridge unused. That’s enough for generous shoulders on both sides of the highway, plus a full highway lane’s worth of bike path. It could be separated from the interstate by a barrier. It could be wide enough for emergency vehicle access and snow removal. In his most recent rebuttal to ODOT, Beach argued these points and estimated that the total cost of the idea would be a mere $4.5 million. ODOT has not yet responded.

Martin Cader of the city’s planning department also supports the idea, and contends that the distance saved by the Innerbelt’s nearly straight bike lane might make the difference in whether Tremont residents are willing to walk or bike downtown. He says according to the American Association of State Highway Transportation Officials, the most someone can reasonably be expected to commute on foot these days is about a mile. The trip from Tremont to the Jake on the Innerbelt is just under a mile. Adding more than half a mile to that by taking an alternate route –Abbe road to the Lorain Carnegie bridge–puts the trip beyond the reach of most pedestrians.

Councilman Brian Cummins and Joe Santiago both pressed Hebabrand on the issue last week, but were met with Hebabrand’s terse response, that ODOT thought the idea “imprudent” because there are alternate routes.

“It’s not just about getting from point A to Point B,” Cummins said. “It’s also about the process. And it’s about access to a billion-and-a-half dollar project.”

EVEN IF COURIER Dizi Clemens hasn’t been involved in the lobbying effort, he immediately grasped the potentional regional value. “If you want young people to come here and stay here to life, you’ve got to build things that will interest them,” he said.

Councilman Joe Cimperman, whose Innerbelt thoughts are dominated by midtown business concerns over the plan to eliminate their exit ramps, still calls the bike-pedestrian connection “important.”

Beach hopes that the Strickland administration’s recent house-cleaning of top officials at ODOT will reframe the entire project. He also hopes the debate will help change the way the transportation agency thinks about transportation, beyond cars.

“I don’t like to be in this sort of tit-for-tat exchange because that’s not fruitful,” he said. “But this is important because ODOT needs to enlarge its view about making routine accommodations for other modes of transport. We’re not asking for anything grandiose.”

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Speaking of his list of infrastructure projects the state can’t afford–including the 2nd phase of Cleveland’s Innerbelt Bridge–Governor Kasich said the other day in the Plain Dealer, “We’re not raising taxes in Ohio,” he said. “We want to be competitive.”

Which can be translated as, “keeping taxes low is more important to Ohio than being able to move people, goods and services safely in and out of Cleveland on the region’s major interstate highway.”

Or, alternatively, “keeping the status quo gas tax is more important to a competitive Ohio than making sure businesses in Cleveland can continue to do business.”

Is this a pro business governor? One who subjugates the needs of business to his stand on the gas tax?

I am not typically a big fan of new highway projects, but when a major interstate bridge is at the end of its lifespan, and when bridges of similar design have collapsed, and when commerce –especially in Northeast Ohio, the state;s most economically important region–depends on a safe, functioning bridge into the city, it seems to me that completing both phases of that bridge plan is a perfectly sensible, capitalist priority for the State–even if it means those of us who burn gas have to pay a little more to make it happen.

But the anti tax zealotry that enables an allegedly pro business governor to proclaim his tax stance more important than the state’s ability to maintain safe infrastructure and serve the needs of business simply boggles the mind. It changes the game. It makes Ohio feel like the Third World.

Remember when we were arguing–in fact arguing for a decade–not about whether the bridge would be built, but about its design? About how it would look, and whether it would support transportation for bicycles (and indeed any other mode of transport other than cars)?

In memory of all the research and energy Northeast Ohio transportation advocates put into lobbying for an attractive bridge design that would include a lane for bicycles, my next post will be a transcript of an article I wrote for the Free Times (RIP) almost exactly five years ago.

A governor who says “No, we can’t”  makes all the optimism and logic in “Shortcut to Tremont” seem quaint.

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Debra Sue Solecki and Mark Moskovitz at Cleveland West Art League in the 78th Street Studios complex Third Fridays

Forces of nature are at work in the Cleveland Art Scene this January. On the North Coast we’re accustomed to a gallery scene that hibernates after the holiday blitz, to reawaken only with the approach of Valentine’s Day. But January 2012 has been different. Already a multitude of exhibits have had us racing all over town—from John Martin’s terrific human figure monoprints at Loganberry Books, to Michael Loderstedt’s structured screen prints and photographs at William Busta Gallery, to Christopher Smith’s charcoal drawings of fauna at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes . . . Say nothing of the Tremont Art Walk, or the release of the Collective Arts Network Journal at Tom Balbo Galleries, or the fact that CAN Journal Mama and spiritual leader Liz Maugans has a solo show this Sunday: Her UpLIFT is a collection of new work that also happens to be the the inaugural exhibition of a partnership between Dragonfly Lounge and the Maria Neil Art Project.

That already seems like a lot for a North Coastal January, and I can tell you after years of editing Cleveland arts calendars, that in fact it is. But in January 2012– I’m surprised and happy to say—that’s just the beginning.

This Friday night, the dedicated followers of Cleveland art will have to go on tour as worthwhile events open on both sides of town.

Zygote Press opens a show reaching into the flat files and household treasuries of its members for Collected Gems II. This is worth a look because artists associated with Zygote are showing prints that they have collected over the years, including a few works commissioned by the Print Club of Cleveland, among other great finds. The show itself is complemented by a panel discussion and lecture-demonstration February 4. The panel discussion features the print collecting expertise of Bill Busta, Susan Trilling, Paula Mindes, Tom Calhoun, and Jack Lissauer, in a discussion about why they collect prints and what makes a given print noteworthy. Noel Reifel moderates. That’s from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Next, master printer Karen Beckwith will talk and show what sets very fine prints above the rest, and talk about the ins and outs of print editions.

But getting back to Friday night, the second leg of the evening tour will take you over to the West side, where the forces of nature continue to rage. West 78th Street Studios has its monthly, massive Third Friday opening, which means a dozen or so galleries and studios will open their doors and show new work.

Among them is my friend Debra Sue Solecki, who for years has been painting detailed, observant scenes and still lifes from the natural world –but in the relative isolation of her home studio. That’s because, in addition to being a parent, Solecki spent long hours in the halls of high school academe as an art teacher. Lately, though, she’s making up for lost time, with a recent show in the Beck Center for the Arts Galleries, and this one coming up in the Cleveland West Art League’s galleries at 78th Street Studios. She’s paired with the versatile sculptor / designer / installation artist Mark Moskovitz–whose four-drawer cabinet that looks like a stack of firewood was featured last spring in the New York Times. 

Meanwhile, William G. Scheele’s Kokoon Arts Gallery greets the new year with Nature Revealed, which features varied takes on the natural landscape by a whole bunch of historically significant Northeast Ohio artists. Among them are: Cleveland School painter Paul Travis; Scheele’s father, the painter of imagined scenes from prehistoric times W.E. Scheele; sculptor William McVey; art deco painter of butterflies and their flora E.A. Seguy, and several others.

Meanwhile, also in the 78th Street Studios complex, Legation, A Gallery presents works by sculptor and installation artist Derek Gelvin along with works of emerging artist Jim Leach.

Judith Brandon's "Storm Clouds." Image courtesy of Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery.

And of course Judith Brandon’s storms continue to rage at Kenneth Paul Lesko Gallery. Rarely will you see a better marriage of media, technique, and content than in her portraits of weather in dye and charcoal. If you like to see how materials behave, and how that physical behavior can complement subject matter, then go see this show. 

So whatever the weather is doing outside, get thee to the Cleveland galleries. I’ll be there. Be sure to say hello.

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RARE BIRDS

MENAGERIE: Works of Michael Loderstedt at William Busta Gallery

A black bird--constructed screenprint by Michael Loderstedt

We were looking at the three-dimensional, screenprinted blackbirds in Michael Loderstedt’s “Menagerie,” when I had this conversation with my twelve year-old son:

“Imagine if you took a sheet of paper and draped it over a basketball, and folded it down to try to make it fit the sphere. You know how it would wrinkle and fold to go around the curves?” I asked him.

“Yeah, you’d have to cut it like slices of an orange to make it fit right,” he said. He was familiar with the concept, having seen it in maps that lay flat the shape of the spherical earth.

So imagine how much more complicated those lines become when the shape isn’t consistent, but instead has multiple parts, and curves that vary from one end to the other, and even change directions. Because, of course the shape of a blackbird is much more complicated than a uniform sphere.

I’ve long marveled at the precision engineering Loderstedt brings to his work., and the birds in his “Menagerie” take that to the proverbial next level. Printed flat, the paper is cut, folded, bent, and put together so that the finished piece makes the three-dimensional form of a big black bird.

a black bird laid flat and framed--screenprint by Michael Loderstedt

I first took note of Loderstedt’s precision paper management years ago in a little accordion folded book he’d made, which accounted for the thickness of the paper so that the folded pages wouldn’t wander out of line as the folds piled up, and so that the spine would fold square with the rest. It’s an easy concept to grasp and describe this way, but a bit more of a challenge for an artist to implement in the real world with a ruler and knife.

In “Menagerie,” Loderstedt applies that kind of engineering to complex shapes, including birds, an ocean liner, and some human skulls. The show presents both the finished objects, and the almost flat prints, framed and floating behind glass—almost flat because even in this format, the shapes are partially cut out so that the prints jump free of the page. I actually prefer these to the fully constructed birds because they show print as a flat design, which to my eye implies the 3-D potential and better flaunts the skill of mapping it out. It’s like a map of a bird, laid flat in the way that you’ve seen maps of the earth.

One of the most intriguing of the structured screen prints is an ocean liner with connections to Loderstedt’s family history. It’s built like the birds—printed on a single, flat sheet in such a way that—cut, folded, bent, and stuck together, it makes a 3D model. As the artist said in an article on the Printeresting blog, his mother told him a story of crossing the Atlantic from Germany to the US by ship while she was pregnant with him. The piece is printed on both sides so that the finished structure has details inside and out, and also tells the story in words printed in both German and English.

“Menagerie” also includes detailed, structured screen prints of several houses, as well as some large photographic prints. It’s on view through February 5 at William Busta Gallery.

FAUNA: Works of Christopher Smith at Shaker Lakes Nature Center

Ruddy Duck, charcoal drawing by Christopher Smith

Another guy whose craftsmanship I’ve long admired recently unveiled new work in an exhibit setting for the first time in about a decade. I first met Christopher Smith when he was living on the West side and showing art with Abe Olvido, back in the ‘nineties. Smith then showed me some fine ceramic pieces in graceful forms that emphasized finesse and craftsmanship.

Recently—at least to me –he has turned his attention toward nature, via a series of images made with stencils. His Wild Pulp greeting cards use the cut-out sillhouettes of animals as a window on color and texture from their habitats–the bark of trees or grains of woods, or the soft patina of stones, captured in photos.

In his show “Fauna” at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes, he’s used stencils to make shaded charcoal drawings of various birds, ducks, and bees. The nature of the drawings is not forgiving. Unlike painting with acrylic or oil, which might allow for correction by piling on more medium, these drawings are like a high wire act, wherein a stray mark would almost certainly mean starting from scratch. I asked if he threw any away during the two weeks or so he took to make the approximately 15 drawings. Just one, he told me.

The fauna in these pictures seem to have been caught in positions and from angles that a photographer might catch: in motion, not posed, casual, natural. They’re deceptively simple, exceedingly graceful. And they’re on exhibit through March 30, 2012 at the Nature Center at Shaker Lakes. So go check them out.

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Promoting art in Cleveland is a challenge. That’s the context for the launch this week of the Collective Arts Network Journal, which is at the moment a one-time, promotional publication created by Zygote Press and a collective of 28 visual arts organizations, with support from the Ohio Arts Council.

CAN Journal is their response to the fact that media coverage of the visual arts in Cleveland has dwindled significantly–even as Cuyahoga County has seen arts activity revitalize neighborhoods, and despite the fact that the voters decided it mattered enough to create a public fund to support artists. Despite all that, Cleveland artists have a devil of a time getting much press–at least in print. It’s edited by yours truly.

I wrote this observation in an essay for CAN Journal:

“Consider what the NEO arts scene has lost just in roughly the last decade: Dialog Arts Midwest, Northern Ohio Live, Angle, ARTefakt, Urban Dialect, The Free Times, and Avenues–all of which dug deep into the local arts scene–are gone. For a while, all those existed in addition to what we have now. Shows and performances—even in small galleries—got covered. Previews were written. Personalities were explored.” It’s not like that anymore.

The Plain Dealer–the biggest local fish– typically ignores Cleveland’s visual artists and small galleries. They did recently start running reviews by Douglas Max Utter once a week, and they deserve some credit for that. But it wasn’t long ago that they had an Arts section every day, with interviews, features, and plenty more reviews–especially of the visual arts. They’re now down to the Sunday arts section and the Friday magazine.  When I was promoting Common Household Rhymes for the Modern Child, I was only able to score a listing.  I do have to complement PD Friday listings editor Mark Rapp for following up with a question as he put my listing together. Thanks, Mark. Mad props.

Not everyone is so thorough. As most of the region’s visual artists know, the local so-called “alternative weekly” might run a listing of your show. Or they might skip it. In the case of my show at William Busta Gallery, they skipped it. They also skipped Barbara Polster’s video projection, which opened in the same gallery, on the same night.

Fortunately, there’s a collection of other media outlets that does what it can to pick up the slack. And on that front, Common Household Rhymes dominated Cleveland’s fragmented media landscape.  My little blitz began with a Cool Cleveland video, which I made myself:

As you can tell by my hair, making children’s books is a very serious subject.

Next, and on the same day, came a segment on Around Noon, WCPN 90.3FM’s daily, noon-hour arts magazine. Hosted by the positively musical Dee Perry, and produced by the understated Dave DeOreo, it is beyond question the last great

Dee Perry, host of WCPN's Around Noon

stronghold for Cleveland area arts coverage: almost an hour each weekday featuring guests in live interviews and performances.   That gives them enough air time to have real conversations with as many as 15 artists and performers each week–conversations long enough to actually tell a story.  Those of you who love me enough will click this link over and over, listening to this for as long as they see fit to keep me in their archives. Go to about the 19th minute. That’s where I start talking.

Of course I can’t forget the hyper local media. My friend Francis Killea –a prodigious cyclist who blogs at vagrantasacloud.blogspot.com  wrote this feature for the Lakewood Observer. It’s packed with thought and information, rolled out with great care.

Locking in type with quoins and furniture. Photo by Francis Killea.

The Observer papers, it must be said, can be a great resource for visual artists–if you use them. Jim O’Bryan’s citizen journalism empire has expanded far beyond its Lakewood birthplace and now has franchises in Cleveland Heights, Collinwood, Euclid, Bay Village, and elsewhere. If you are trying to promote your local art show and fail to submit an article to the Observer paper that serves your community you have missed a what has become a rare opportunity in Cleveland–the chance to tell your story in print.  All you have to do is meet the deadline. If you don’t have a friend like Francis to do the writing and photography for you, just do it yourself.

Back in the digital world,  reporter Cory Shaffer wrote this piece for Lakewood Patch, AOL’s venture into hyper-local, online news. Patch is delivered every morning by e-mail in several communities around Cleveland. Like Cool Cleveland, the delivery right to the audience’s  in-box is a big plus. So don’t forget to pitch your stuff to Patch.

But the biggest arts media coup in Cleveland might be scoring time on the local PBS affiliate, WVIZ’s weekly arts magazine, Applause. I’m grateful they found my story worth telling in video, especially because they did a fine job.

Applause is a very rare thing these days–a locally produced, weekly TV show that focuses not on car crashes, sex crimes, and weather, but on people making and doing things around Northeast Ohio. It’s an arts magazine exploring some of what makes this a great place to live.

Dennis Knowles, the producer for my Applause segment, invested a lot of time and care in putting together the piece. After spending about 3 hours shooting video and talking in December, he came back after Christmas to follow up. Clearly he cares about the details that will help him tell a good story.

For some reason, the “embed” function on the Applause website will not actually embed the clickable video. So we’ll just have to be content with this link.

For the moment, if you’re promoting an arts show in Northeast Ohio, that’s all there is. But things could improve. I get to go back on WCPN’s Around Noon tomorrow, along with Zygote Press director Liz Maugans and artist/critic Douglas Max Utter to talk about the launch of CAN Journal–which all of us involved hope will eventually become a quarterly platform to let people know what’s coming up on the Northeast Ohio visual art scene.  So if you’re reading this before noon on Tuesday, tune in to 90.3 FM.

And then on Thursday, when CAN Journal actually hits the streets, be sure you run right out to your favorite local gallery and pick up a copy.

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