Archive for the ‘Ingenuity’ Category

The Water Moose at Lakewood Streetwalk, 2011

The swallows come back to Capistrano. The Monarchs go back to their trees in Mexico. And ever year at the same time, the Water Moose Portable Sprinkler Park returns to Detroit Avenue in Lakewood, Ohio. Like so many animals that make an annual pilgrimage, the water moose returns with just one thing on its mind: Total soakage of anyone who passes near its vast spray.

In case you don’t remember last year, here’s a little refresher: the Water Moose uses the full force of a municipal fire hydrant to convert a piece of Detroit Avenue to a sprinkler park. With the support of Lakewood Alive and the City of Lakewood, and with assistance beyond measure from Glenn Palmer at Lakewood Hardware, and with further support from the guys behind the counter at Summers Rubber Company the Water Moose is back Saturday, July 21 from 4 p.m. until the Summer Meltdown ends.

Check out this video, shot last year by the incomparable Dan Morgan. 

I like the way the whole scene sounds. The white noise of the traffic is gone because Detroit Avenue is closed to cars. Without that you can hear the steady rhythm of the sprinklers like brushes on a snare drum. You can hear kids feet slapping wet pavement as they run from one gushing sprinkler to the next. You can hear the kids voices and laughter peeling out.

The weather looks promising.

I’m just about at a loss for words to explain what joy it gives me to put a sprinkler park on Detroit Avenue. To all the dads out there, come on down and say hello. Bring the kids. Bring your mom and Dad. Heck, bring the entire family. And wear your swimsuit.

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Ingenuity grooved on re-invention this year. That’s heartening for a city with so much in the way of abandoned and obsolete raw material.

Figuring out new ways to use our old stuff is a kind of ingenuity Clevelanders get, deep in our souls. We garbage pick. We shop thrift. We rig stuff up.

Not to short change  cutting edge technology. Cleveland has that, and so did Ingenuity, 2011. How could you not love Kasumi’s mind blowing video, projected on the white gloss of a glazed tile subway platform? The Guggenheim Award-winning artist-and Cleveland-Institute-of Art-prof’s use of video is a psychedelic exploration of the medium as raw paint. It’s also cultural documentary, twisted with humor, a disturbingly fun look at where we’ve been and what we’re becoming.

Her collages combine video sources, from her own original material to public domain footage, and re-mix them. We’re accustomed to the rhythmic, satiric, irresistible effects made possible in sound by hip hop artists. Kasumi does that with video. Can we pause for a moment, just to marvel at the bandwidth?

 Remarkable as the tech installations may have been, the festival itself has re-invented the forgotten basement of a half-mile long bridge. Ingenuity gives big, new life to an obsolete structure in a city plagued by thousands of “obsolete” homes. Maybe we should  consider those houses a resource? This kind of ingenuity speaks to us on a completely different level.

What other city holds an art and music festival  along a half mile span that soars more than 100 feet above a river valley, while thousands of cars a day still roll overhead? Is there any cooler festival venue in the United States? Drip some of that mojo on our abandoned factories, would you please?

Beyond the venue, re-invention –or, as the developers would say, “adaptive re-use” –made its way into the festival’s programming this year in a big way.

Consider Chair and Tell, an exhibit of seating put together by artists using supplies from  industrial resale shop, HGR.

Dana Depew made a chair out of old conveyor rollers.

For the unfamiliar, HGR sells old machines, shop fixtures, and other used supplies from Cleveland’s manufacturing plants.  Sometimes the equipment is just old. Sometimes the company that once owned it went out of business. You want to buy an old fork lift? This is the place. You want a metal lathe, or an arbor press, or a drill bit to bore big holes in concrete? Come browse the aisles.

For Chair and Tell, artists including Kevin Busta, Dana DePew, Stephen Yusko, and Grant Smrekar took parts from old industrial equipment, cut, welded, and re-arranged it into chairs.  DePew made one out of rollers from an old conveyer system.  Busta’s used drive shafts with universal joints as legs. Yusko cut up, re-arranged, and re-welded a pallet jack.

On the other side of the bridge, Zygote Press brought a new kind of fun to the medieval technology that is relief printing—by adding a rocking horse. The

The Print Pony

printing plates were carved plywood. They’d ink it up with a hand roller, lay over it a sheet of paper and some felt blankets, then lay it all on the floor beneath the rocking horse. Then a kid would climb on board and rock on the horsey’s one, wide rocking panel. A few times back and forth, and they had rocked out a woodcut print.

Sunday afternoon, about 3 p.m.

Loads of local, original bands kept the place kicking. Even Sunday afternoon at 3 p.m. the place was full of people and energy.

Ingenuity’s  leadership has gone through some re-invention this year: With founder James Levin no longer at the helm, the festival is at a critical point in its evolution.  For organizations run by their founders, the transition to a new director is always a tough time. And whether Ingenuity will continue to thrive remains to be seen. But this festival–including the bridge as its venue–deserves to outlive the tenure of the person who had the idea.

If this year’s event was any indication,  executive director Paula Grooms and director of programming James Krouse  have it off to a good start.

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