Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland’

Image from Thurbersthoughts.blogspot.com.

It’s good news that Ohio Secretary of State John Husted has to accept the petition seeking a referendum on the Republicans’ new map of Ohio congressional districts. That’s not the kind of thing that usually makes it into this blog, but I can’t let it go.

My issue isn’t about partisanship. It’s about water.

There are very few people in Ohio, I think, who do not believe that our waterways—in particular Lake Erie—are significant assets.

Whether you are a business person who believes anyone ought to be able to suck out millions of gallons of water for packaging and resale in little plastic bottles, or whether your business is charter fishing, or whether your conviction is that the lake needs to be defended against polluters and invasive species, our fresh water is an asset.

It deserves significant representation. It deserves a congressional delegation broad enough to stand up for the interests of the people who depend on it.

But the re-drawn map doesn’t just solidify some Republican districts and isolate some Democratic ones. It means just a tiny number of congressional representatives have constituents who live in communities located on our Great Lake and our biggest waterways. In fact, the way this new map is drawn, those assets gets just about as little representation as possible. That’s not in the state’s best interest. It’s certainly not in the best interest of our waterways—particularly our Lake.

We need more districts touching Lake Erie, more representatives of communities on its shores, a bigger delegation directly affected by and concerned for our biggest asset. We’ve got the Asian Carp knocking at our door. We’ve got communities in the Southwestern US running out of water and trying to figure out how to get ours. Lake Erie needs defense. And in the interest of shoring up partisan political control, this map gives our lake and our state short shrift.

The sparsely populated southeastern Ohio district 6 has been this way for a while. It’s easy to say that what all those people, stretching hundreds of miles from Mahoning County to Scioto County have in common is the river.

But the more significant truth is that those hundreds of miles of Ohio River frontage are represented by just one congressperson. Just one representative will have constituents who live in communities directly affected by the river—by the water quality, by the wildlife, by the recreational opportunities.

Likewise, the stretch from Cleveland all the way to Toledo—all that lake frontage and water will be represented by just one congressperson. Defined by the direct interests of the constituent voters, that whole stretch of the lake becomes a priority for just one congressional representative.

Doesn’t Lake Erie deserve better?

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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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