Imagining the civic self: architecture and public art in Cleveland

Mirror panels reflecting Cleveland Public Auditorium

The interplay between Cleveland’s architecture and public art serves as a striking and ever adapting chronicle of the city’s history and ambitions. Like many great American cities, Cleveland was an industrial titan, experienced White flight, and is now being “rediscovered” by the children and grandchildren of those who abandoned the city for a suburban ideal.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

As more people are drawn back to the city center, they will finally experience its deep beauty. Downtown Cleveland’s distinctive cityscape is defined by a cornucopia of styles: Beaux Arts buildings, corporate glass palaces of late 20th century vintage, and the wacky modernist architecture of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“Free Stamp” by Coosje van Bruggen and Claes Oldenburg

The city’s public art is an inventive and dynamic compliment to its downtown architecture. “Free Stamp” at Willard Park anchors Cleveland’s public art as both historically resonant and forward thinking. The piece references Ohio’s status as a Union state in the Civil War by way of giant pop art sculpture. Newer works like the mirror panels at the Huntington Convention Center literally reflect the Cleveland Public Auditorium, a significant city landmark.

View of downtown Cleveland

A city’s architecture and public art help shape a community’s understanding of itself and the image it seeks to portray to the world. Downtown Cleveland is rich ground for exploration and scholarship.

Women of Portland

Photo source: Jeffrey Horvitz

Name: Roey T.
Neighborhood: Hollywood
Profession: Political strategist for the LGBTQ movement

1. How long have you lived in Portland and where are you from originally? 15 years, grew up in South Carolina and Ohio.

2. What do you like most about Portland? I love so much about this city! Two things stand out: the free spirit that lets us have legal poker, nude dancing, and weed, and the progressive politics that make this a great place to come home to after my work takes me to places where hate for queer and trans people dominates.

3. How do you think Portland could improve/ be a better place to live? By making it possible to live here. I’m so sad about the changes I’ve seen in Portland lately–so many homeless people, rampant gentrification, way too many smug hipsters with expensive taste. Portland used to be much more affordable, and much more down to earth. I miss that, especially since the people being pushed out are the most interesting people.

4. What is your life motto or what words do you live by? Mine comes courtesy of a homeless man whose sign read “Everything will be appreciated.” That’s how I try to live every day, in spite of being outraged at widespread assholery.

*Interview reprinted from womenpdx tumblr.

The Passionate Listener

Sturgill Simpson. Source:

Sturgill Simpson is a seductive storyteller. He captivates the listener from the first line of a song. Simpson uses his baritone deftly; crafting phrasing that creates a shared sense of comfort and intimacy with the listener. Whether he sings about the vagaries of love, the pain of being broke, or the existential crisis of human existence, Simpson is entrancing.

His music is the 21st century nexus of Country, Rock, Blues – large parts B.B. King, Waylon Jennings, Clarence Carter, The Allman Brothers- and uniquely Sturgill Simpson.

Links for the Voracious

The Grill on The Alley, Chicago

Deborah Daniel’s HOW is a powerful example of what can happen when we really see people.

Ofelia Esparza– altarista, artist, and 2018 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) National Heritage Fellow– on the three deaths we all experience.

Read NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza’s powerful words on segregation and opportunity.

Falling in love with “Brooklyn 99’s” Amy Santiago.

Nation of Newcomers documents first-person stories of immigrants to the United States.