The Unbearable Banishment: my city was gone

Sunday, November 30, 2008

my city was gone

I had free morning in Cleveland so I borrowed my sister’s car and drove to the Cleveland Art Museum. It has a world-class collection but, unfortunately, most of it was in storage because of a massive renovation project. They’re building a new wing and most of the museum is still closed off. There was a special exhibit of artistic luxury goods from Fabergé, Tiffany and Lalique that I didn’t really care about. Just a handful of galleries from the permanent collection were open.

Most of the paintings I wanted to see were all packed away. I began visiting the Clevo Art Museum decades ago—soon after I got my driver’s license—and seeing those paintings feels like visiting old friends again.

None of the modernist paintings were on display, but I did see Stag at Sharkey’s by George Bellows, which is one of my favorites in their collection. I think he mixed testosterone into the pigment for this one.

Also on display was one of J.M.W. Turner’s The Burning of the Houses of Lords and Commons, a nightmare drawn from the event he witnessed.

I left the museum and drove down Euclid Avenue into downtown Cleveland. Euclid is the main artery into the city and many of the businesses were closed and boarded up. I have a strange tendency to become emotionally attached to a city (see any of my posts about NYC) and it made me sad to see the city of my youth in such dire straits.

I had meant to take I-71 back to the hotel but the freeway entrance was closed and I somehow wound up heading down W. 25th street. It was such a mess. I passed a building with a sign out front that read Plasma Services and there was a long queue of people waiting to get in that stretched out the door.


OpenID daisyfae said...

very sad... media-wise, there's a sense that Cleveland is a renaissance city. But i suspect there's simply a wider gap between 'wealth' and 'poverty', and you're seeing some of that...

when i go home, all i see are new strip malls and chain restaurants. very, very sad, but in a different way...

November 30, 2008 at 5:21 PM  
OpenID anniegirl1138 said...

My hometown is like a foreign place. Even my mom's neighborhood has changed quite a bit.

You can go home but it might not be there.

November 30, 2008 at 6:25 PM  
OpenID nursemyra said...

Plasma Services?

December 1, 2008 at 3:29 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

daisy: I think the “renaissance city” campaign was played out a few years ago.

annie: Do you think it ever occurs that someone goes home after an extended absence and they find it BETTER than when they left? Surely, this has happened.

nurse: If you are completely broke, you go to a plasma service center and sell your blood/plasma. If you are lucky enough to have one of the more rare blood types, you can actually be paid quite a bit of money.

December 1, 2008 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger Digital Fortress said...

I shudder to think what the area I grew up in looks like now. I suppose I would rather keep my memories intact then go back and see something like that.

December 1, 2008 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger A Free Man said...

Every time I'm up in the Rust Belt it looks more and more desolate. The town I was born in (Niagara Falls, NY) is pretty much dead with the exception of the tourist draw that is the Falls themselves.

December 2, 2008 at 11:12 PM  
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