…around University Circle in Cleveland. We decided to be real empty nesters and go do a day of “site seeing” in familiar territory. The Botanical Garden opened its orchid show on Saturday, unbeknownst to us. Getting to the garden was made interesting by a restructuring of the traffic circle by the new VA facility. Us older drivers don’t adapt as quickly to five lane traffic reroutes but we made it around the circle and into the underground parking…which is also “new” to us. The interior portions of the Botanical Garden facility are small compared to the rainforest at the zoo and the conservatories in Columbus and Pittsburgh, but for a warm walk in the greenery and lots of pretty flowers, it can’t be beat in January. However, being hardy Ohioans at a facility known for its outdoor gardens, what’s a little snow? Judging by the footprints, some security guard had to be watching the video and calling over his buddies to decide what was wrong this those people. Missing were any signs that the trail was sponsored by the UH Orthopedic Department, but it would have been appropriate.
Next we ventured over to see the new student center on the CWRU campus. Thwing Hall still stands (good thing) to shield this rather ugly architectural monolith. Thwing is the Cincinnati test for incoming freshmen. At UC, if you can spell Cincinnati correctly without looking up how many N’s, C’s, I’s or T’s are needed, you are a true Bearcat. At Case, if you can pronounce Thwing correctly, you are a Spartan. Case gets brownie points for clearing their sidewalks, but once you move a millimeter off campus territory, it is back to figure skating 101. Literally, there is a sharp line between the bare sidewalk and the “oh no not our turf” surface.
Stop number three was the MOCA, or Museum of Crappy Architecture (okay, contemporary art). Why do designers feel that a building has to be like its contents? Euclid Ave used to be called Millionaires Row for its large and lovely mansions. Very few still stand, but would it not have been wonderful to recreate one of those architectural marvels on the outside to house the art on the inside? A little creative liberty could have been taken, like making the wood and plaster columns out of decorative ironwork and replace stone with glass, something “modern” like that, but no. What stands on the corner looks to me like a giant dirty kneaded eraser was squished a bit and plopped down on the cement. Sometimes I think we just try too hard. Inside is cavernous and stark. The main gallery was closed for installation but we got to see an exhibit on the second floor, in the only gallery on the second floor. “Truth and Visions” by Joyce J. Scott from Baltimore who combines found objects, beads, glass, and African sculptures into figurative works that express her range of emotions about African-American history.
Our circular route continued up to Little Italy along some dicey icy sidewalks but without mishap. Our goal was to wander the galleries and studios of Murray Hill. For some reason, they are mostly gone. Granted the spaces are filled with retail shops of gifts and flowers and crafts and stuff, but the real “studios” and galleries have disappeared. Disappointed as well with the old School House facility that used to house all sorts of artists and creative spaces, now occupied by architectural firms, photo studios and businesses. I suppose the rents got too high and the artists moved on to other places. The new CIA dorms are pretty funky however! Again, the new are plopped on top of the old and all hope for the best.
We followed a couple pulling suitcases almost the full length of Murray Hill back towards campus. The mother in me wanted to know why they were not wearing gloves or appropriate footwear in the snowy conditions…this is Cleveland in January people. Same thought about the group of female track team runners going by in spandex and tiny track shoes…..are there cleats on those things? How come you don’t fall down and aren’t even cold? Life is not fair…. Thank goodness for the campus border and clear sidewalks…all the way across Euclid Ave (past the idiot who stopped his car dead center of the cross walk), and on to the campus coffee shop to warm up. Eavesdropped on a mock interview between a girl from Shanghai and a professor. Her family raises rabbits in China and everybody was in medicine…not sure how those two professions connected nor do I want to know.
With a few hours left we made it to the Crawford Auto Museum and Historical Society, more buildings since redone and quite well this time. Your entry fee gets you some tokens for a couple of rides on the restored Euclid Beach carousel installed in a glass window area. Been a long time but we joined other hearty middle agers and seniors with the grandkids and climbed onto a revolving pony. Always check overhead to be sure your horse is one that rotates. Otherwise you are stuck on one that just stands there while you spin. If one is going to get a bit spin sick, might as well go for the full feeling and add some ups and downs to the mix. The large building well laid out and has airplanes too. Did you know that there were only 14 stainless steel cars ever made, only 10 still exist and four of them are in this museum? Neither did I but the DeLorean is still ugly (sorry Andy). A private party was setting up so the not so subtle message of “it’s time for you all to leave” was heard loud and clear.
One can park at the Botanical Gardens until 11pm for one price and it is underground so keep that in mind if you happen to venture to the Circle. A wonderful Mexican restaurant in Akron completed the evening and a chat with the owner about the idea of opening one up in our area was a great way to end the day. No slips, no sprains, no broken bones, not bad for a winter adventure. We wanted to get home before Linus hit (which has since turned out to be a Charlie Brown)….how appropriate for a football weekend, Lucy pulled it away again.