Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Spring Art Show

Spring events are happening in Greater Cleveland even though spring hasn’t quite committed to staying here yet.

Some outdoor events have had to be altered because of bad weather, but one show that will go on is this weekend in Lakewood. The Spring Art Show & Open Studios at Screw Factory Artists Lofts will take place from 6 to 10 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Two things fit CLE on the Cheap’s criteria: free admission and free parking. Apparently, someone is running a scam selling tickets to the show. Organizers have put the word out that there is no charge to attend or park on site and no tickets are needed for admission.

Here you can get idea of the goods that will be for sale. Often the people who made those goods are selling them at the show and are happy to answer your questions. I’m often stunned by the amount of talent in our region and I find it a real treat to talk with the artists about what they have made.

I have attended a similar event at the Screw Factory in December the past few years and found several gifts for Christmas. I imagine the offerings will be different for a spring-themed show, but I’ll bet it won’t be hard to find gifts to buy — for someone else or yourself.

A few pointers:
  • Wear comfortable shoes. You’ll do a fair amount of walking if you want to see everything that’s for sale on multiple floors. There are stairs, but I don’t believe there are elevators, and there aren’t many places to sit down.
  • Bring cash, preferably small bills. Most vendors accept credit cards, but occasionally you’ll find one who doesn’t.
  • Bring a reusable shopping bag. It’s easier to carry all your purchases in one big bag. See item above about walking.
  • Be patient. The parking lot is large, but it can fill up quickly, especially on Saturdays. People come and go throughout the show, though, and I’ve found they’re good about signaling other drivers when they’re vacating a parking spot.



Thursday, April 25, 2019

Arbor Day

Sorry for the short notice, but if you’re free tomorrow, so is admission to the Cleveland Botanical Garden and the Holden Arboretum. The University Circle institution and the Kirtland arboretum are celebrating Arbor Day by waiving their admission fees and giving away tree seedlings while supplies last) from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Interact with butterflies indoors and outdoors tomorrow.
Some schools are closed for spring break this week, so here’s something to do with the kids. If you go to the Cleveland Botanical Garden, you can catch one of the last days of the Amazing Butterflies exhibit, which ends Sunday. From the photos on CBG’s website and Facebook page, the butterflies are a big hit with kids.

At the arboretum, there is no shortage of activities to keep people of all ages occupied. You can walk or hike on several trails, visit a variety of gardens or, for a fee, meet the challenge of the Murch Canopy Walk and Kalberer Family Emergent Tower. This video from CoolCleveland offers a preview of that adventure.

It’s said that on a clear day you can see Lake Erie from the tower, which is 120 feet up. Friday’s forecast calls for rain, but you know how often the weather changes in Northeast Ohio. You might get a lake view tomorrow after all.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Independent Bookstore Day

The steps at Appletree Books
As if having books for sale weren’t enough, Northeast Ohio’s  independent bookstores are expanding their offerings Saturday in honor of Independent Bookstore Day.

The nationwide celebration will have a decidedly Cleveland tone on the East Side, where three indie bookstores are sharing a promotion. A bicycle tour with Heights Bicycle Coalition will start at noon at Appletree Books in the Cedar-Fairmount neighborhood of Cleveland Heights. Cyclists will tour sites from local author Celeste Ng’s best-selling novel, “Little Fires Everywhere,” and make stops at Mac’s Backs on Coventry Road and Loganberry Books on Cleveland’s Larchmere Boulevard near the Shaker Heights border before returning to Appletree. “Little Fires Everywhere,” which is so good I read it in one day, takes place in Shaker Heights.

The bike tour is just one of many free events the East Side stores are holding Saturday. You’re also invited to enjoy mimosas, meet some authors, go on a scavenger hunt, listen to music, pick up special tchotchkes and get discounts on books and other merchandise. There’s more, so click the links above for details.

On the other side of town, Visible Voice Books in Tremont is offering shoppers who spend at least $25 Saturday a chance to win a $25 store gift card. There also will be a performance from Conor Standish and Front Porch Lights Saturday night.

All of our local indie bookstores have unique features that make them worth visiting any day. Visible Voice sells coffee, beer, wine and baked goods and is upstairs from Crust pizza. Loganberry offers an extensive collection of used and new books and has a resident cat, Otis. Mac’s Backs fits a lot of books and other merchandise into a small space and it’s next door to Tommy’s restaurant, a Coventry institution.

If you usually buy your books from Amazon, consider supporting your local booksellers. They might even match the prices you find on Amazon. Ask them.

Two other indies that don’t seem to have anything special planned for Independent Bookstore Day are Fireside Book Shop in Chagrin Falls and The Bookshop in Lakewood. But you can still visit them on Saturday or any other day they’re open. I haven’t been to either yet, but I plan to go. I hear The Bookshop has its own resident cat, Hobbes.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Soldiers, Sailors and Tunnels

Artifacts in a tunnel.
Next weekend you can see parts of Cleveland’s Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument that are usually closed to the public.

The tunnels beneath the Civil War monument on Public Square will be open to visitors from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 27. No reservations are needed. Anyone in line by 4 p.m. will be able to go through the tunnels on a guided tour.

My friend Carmen and I did this in October 2017 and it was worthwhile. The tunnel tour was brief, but our guide was entertaining and there were plenty of opportunities to take photos. I’m generally not fond of close spaces, but I had no problem going through the tunnels. They were roomier than I expected.

After touring the tunnels, Carmen and I went through the street-level portion of the monument, where guides shared information and answered visitors’ questions. There are lots of photo opps on that level as well. Don’t forget to sign the guestbook.

The monument people say the tunnels are open to the public just once a year, so next Saturday is your only chance to explore them until sometime in 2020. The guided tunnel tour and the self-guided tour upstairs are both free, but donations are accepted and appreciated. The street-level part of the monument is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday through Memorial Day.

Visitors tip: The Terminal Tower Observation Deck is open on weekends through May 26. You could go up there next Saturday and take photos of the monument (among other things) before or after you take photos inside the monument. Tickets are $5 per person and reservations must be made online.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Cherry Blossoms in the CLE

The cherry blossoms are out in University Circle.
You don't have to travel to Washington, D.C., to celebrate the return of the cherry blossoms this spring. You can do it right here in Cleveland.

The Cleveland Museum of Art held a free event Sunday called Cherry Blossom Picnics. This was supposed to be an indoor-outdoor event, but rain and cold turned it into strictly an indoor event.

The weather wasn't ideal, but my friend Chris and I still enjoyed a few hours at the museum. Visitors wearing pink or white were admitted free to the exhibit "Shinto: Discovery of the Divine in Japanese Art," which has a regular admission charge of as much as $10. Many of the pieces are beautiful and rich in detail and others are intentionally the stuff of nightmares. Chris and I toured the exhibit on our own, but there was a guided tour as well.

We also went through "Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950," an exhibit of works from groundbreaking African American photographer Gordon Parks. The black-and-white images are thought provoking and sometimes mesmerizing. One that will stick with me is "The Doll Experiment." No spoilers here, but let me know what you think of it if you see it.

The final exhibit we visited was Charles Burchfield: The Ohio Landscapes, 1915-1920. Burchfield was from Salem, Ohio, which is mostly in Columbiana County, and attended the Cleveland School of Art, now the Cleveland Institute of Art. The drawings in this exhibit reflect life in Northeast Ohio with an abstract bent.

While the weather limited our time outdoors, we didn't leave without seeing some cherry blossoms. They really are beautiful and a welcome sign during this season that hasn't quite decided it wants to be spring.

The Cherry Blossom Picnics, such as it was, ended at 2 p.m., which was about the time the sun came out Sunday. That might explain why so many cars were coming into the parking garage as I was leaving. Even though the organized activities were over by then, visitors still had a few hours to enjoy the museum and the cherry blossoms on the grounds and around University Circle.

The museum is holding this event again from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 28. I'm hoping the weather will be better that day so visitors can get the full Cherry Blossom Picnics experience, including the outdoor picnic. Don't forget to wear your pink or white.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Sunflowers and Prayers

This piece is by Bill Naiman.
A small but meaningful art exhibit at a local library is shining a spotlight on childhood cancer. Avon Lake Public Library visitors can view a couple dozen works of art, mostly paintings, that incorporate sunflowers, the symbol of the local nonprofit Prayers from Maria – Children’s Glioma Cancer Foundation.

The foundation was established by Ed and Megan McNamara in memory of their daughter Maria, who died in July 14, 2007, at age 7 after being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. It raises money for research into gliomas, including finding their causes and better treatments.

Here are a few of the paintings in the exhibit.
Each year, thousands of Greater Clevelanders, as well as people from other cities and states, visit the Prayers from Maria Field of Hope. The field in Avon, Ohio, is where sunflowers usually bloom in September, Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

If you’re a local resident with a Facebook or Instagram account, you’ve almost certainly seen photos of the field on your feed. You can follow Maria's Field of Hope on Facebook to keep abreast of when the sunflowers will bloom this year.

The free art exhibit, in which most of the pieces are for sale, will be at the library through the end of April. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the photos above offer a sample of what you’ll see there.

A large sign near the library’s front entrance invites visitors to fill out prayer cards that will be taken to the sunflower field near Chester and Jaycox roads. The Waugaman Gallery, site of the exhibit, also has a guest book.

A public artists reception for the exhibit will be held from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the library.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Bird Walks

The cardinal is Ohio's state bird.
Spring has been teasing us in Northeast Ohio. A bird sighting here, a daffodil thinking of popping up there, temperatures in the 60s, or even the 50s, that have us airing out our homes after being closed up for months.

Look no further than the Greater Clevelanders you see wearing shorts and flip flops at the first sign winter is over. We’re optimistic, or hopeful, or maybe just delusional. Regardless, we’re ready for warmer weather and everything that goes with it.

We all have our unofficial signs of spring. For me, it’s when I see the first chipmunk has come out of hibernation and is scampering across my back deck. I’m not always the first in my household to notice, but my two cats make sure I’m aware. They also are optimistic, or hopeful, or maybe just delusional. For years, they have been trying to kill those chipmunks from inside.

This Sunday, a Cleveland Metroparks program will serve as perhaps a more official sign of spring. Nine Metroparks reservations are holding the season’s first Spring Bird Walks from 7:30 to 10:30 a.m. No matter where you live in Northeast Ohio, you won’t have far to go to find one of these free walks led by experienced birders. The six-week series continues through May 19.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Not a Half-Baked Idea

Happy hour closes out the day at Blackbird Baking Company.
When I think of happy hour, I think of discounted appetizers and adult-drink prices reduced by a buck or two in the early evening. I have no quarrel with those options, but there’s a different kind of happy hour I recently discovered.

This happy hour is at Blackbird Baking Company. in Lakewood. The last hour of business each day is the independent bakery and coffee shop’s happy hour, when all its baked goods are half price. The breads and sweets are baked fresh here every day, so you won’t get day-old anything.

Blackbird offers a variety of breads, most in large and small sizes. It also sells cookies, brownies, scones, croissants, tarts, muffins, biscuits and macaroons. Even its cookies for dogs are half price during happy hour.

The bakery at Detroit and Sloane avenues doesn’t publicize its happy hour, but somehow people know about it. Five days a week, a line forms on the steps leading to the front counter at 5 p.m., when happy hour begins. On Saturdays and Sundays, the line forms at 4 p.m. because Blackbird closes at 5 on weekends. Sometimes the line extends out the front door, but it moves fairly quickly.

You can get some good bargains. On a recent happy hour visit, I bought two (big) cookies, a scone and a small loaf of rye bread for a total of $5.22. Of course if you wait until happy hour, you might find that something you planned to buy has sold out.

Blackbird opens at 6 a.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. on weekends. Friday is the only day it sells challah bread and Saturday is the only day it sells chocolate cherry bread. Plan to arrive well before happy hour if you want either of those items.

Blackbird Baking Co. also is a nice place to enjoy a coffee — it serves local brew Rising Star — or tea while you work on your laptop or tablet or maybe visit with friends. There are several tables and lots of outlets. There’s also a small play area for kids that keeps the little ones within their parents’ or caregivers’ sights but out of their hair.


Tuesday, April 2, 2019

In The 216

In The 216's closing sale is in its final days.

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is one of my favorite local shops is closing. In The 216, 11512 Clifton Blvd., plans to close this weekend. Its Coventry Road store has closed already.

The good news is you can find a lot of bargains while In The 216 remains open. Clothing, glassware, jewelry, photographs, food items and greeting cards, all Cleveland-related and many Cleveland made, are among the items marked down as much as 50 percent.  

Sunday will be the shop’s last day, said owner Jenny Goe, who has a store full of merchandise plus inventory from the Coventry shop. The prices, which might be reduced even more before the shop’s final day, make a visit worthwhile. I’ve gone in twice since the closing sale began and I’ll try to make one more trip this weekend. I can’t tell you what I bought because I might have bought something for you.

After the closing, you’ll still be able to shop In the 216 online. Jenny also plans to sell at pop-up locations, including the old Coventry site, after she takes a break to tend to her health. She recommends following In The 216 on Facebook or Instagram to find out when and where she’ll be.   

It’s barely April, but you could do some early Christmas shopping this week. You also could find gifts for birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, housewarmings and any other special occasions on your calendar. While you're there, pick up a few things for yourself, too.