Creative Patterns

In my last post, I encouraged readers to increase their observation skills by looking closely as a tool to enhance creative thinking. I even described my own experience with this new way of looking at the world. I continued that exercise on my recent trip to Washington, DC – a city in which I lived for many years.

So you might assume that I had already seen everything there. But with my camera in hand, I learned there was a lot that I had missed. Mainly they were small details that I had overlooked in the past.

For example, above, I captured textiles at the National Museum of African Art. The textiles have similar colors and patterns and blend together to create a new pattern in my cropped image of them.

It made me stop and think how patterns can inspire creativity. Creativity is really about connecting existing patterns or objects and creating something new much like the textiles above.

  • What can you combine to create something new?

Akron Recap

I finally made┬áthe short trek down to Akron to check out the new art museum. Although I was eagerly anticipating seeing the building, I left with a sense of indifference about the architecture and visitor accessibility. From the exterior, the structure reminded me of a combination of the Wexner Center in Columbus, where I was a tour guide and graduate intern and the Peter B. Lewis building in Cleveland. But unlike those buildings, I don’t think it makes a grand statement, possibly because of it’s tonal appearance. There’s an over abundance of metal and glass.

That leads me to the interior, which comes across as stark and difficult to navigate. The design is meant to foster community spirit but for me it came off as cold and impersonal. It further frustrated me that there was a lack of signage for locating the actual gallery space. Once inside the galleries, there were signs next to nearly every painting discouraging touching the works and explaining why. As someone, who worked in museums, specifically managing visitor services, I felt they were condescending, considering museums with much better collections don’t even have to reinforce this at every turn.

My final grievance with visitor services was their overzealous staff. I had never been followed so aggressively in an art museum, even at the National Gallery of Art, where I’ve wandered through gallery after gallery without being followed like a shoplifter.

On a much lighter note, my visit to Stan Hywet was delightful. Some of my favorite highlights were the scarecrows (see above image). Unlike traditional scarecrows, these were colorful and whimsical often incorporating architectural and decorative arts elements. It was an interesting contrast between the old and the new and very refreshing.

  • What can you create that is a new take on something old?

Image KAR

Wild New Museums

(Akron Art Museum)

As museum budgets and staffs get smaller, their buildings surprisingly expand. Usually designed by cutting edge architects, they are an to attempt to lure visitors through unique design. Unfortunately, it seems like they are all looking the same; glass and steel structures twisted in contorted shapes. Where is the creativity?

Later this month, I’ll be visiting the new Akron Art Museum. Stay tuned for my review.

  • Check out more new museums here.

Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution

Ok, to say that I am a bit obsessed with the feminist art movement is an understatement. I spent over 6 years in undergrad and grad school doing research on it. So when this exhibition debuted earlier this year, I was ecstatic.

The feminist art movement transformed the landscape of the art world in the latter half of the 20th C. It opened up new dialogues about what it means to be a woman artist and has paved the way for the artists of today.

  • If you’ve seen the exhibition in LA, please let me know what you thought, since I won’t be making it out there.


Summer Season Opens at MOCA

MOCA Cleveland opens their summer season with 3 widely diverse exhibitions:

OPEN: New Designs for Public Space and Expanding the Circle / Uptown Launch Pad explores innovative architecture and planning for the 21st century, including the ideas for MOCA’s expansion and the newly branded Uptown District in University Circle.

I’d already seen OPEN at the National Building Museum, when it was there a couple of years ago. Although I am big fan of reinventing contemporary public space, the exhibition reads like a textbook slapped up on a wall. If you have the patience and time, it’s really a worthwhile exhibition though.

Olga Ziemska: Mirror Matter promises a feast for the eyes. Her installation combines little pieces to create large intallations that echo one another while trying to make what is unseen seen in an inter-connected world. Truly a treat!

Anthony Caro: Wending Back is another installation by the Cleveland Museum of Art, as a way to keep their presence in the community, while construction on their building continues.

Revolution Rock: The Story of the Clash

As pioneers of the British punk movement in the late 70s, the Clash are the ultimate creative artists. Their musical influences range from jazz to hip hop and reggae. Combining these influences they were able to evolve as artists and transform themselves from angry punk rockers all in black to funky ska artists and finally the militant performers of combat rock.

Recently, I had the opportunity to learn more about these versatile performers at an exhibition that covered their ambitious career. Featuring performance clips, handwritten lyrics, stage costumes and guitars displaying their creativity.

Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting

In the last several years, traditional arts have made a resurgence. I’ve been pleased that knitting and crocheting have been at the forefront of this movement.

Therefore, it was only a matter of time till artists started incorporating these materials and techniques into works that are innovative and thought provoking.

It allows us to look at these art forms with new eyes and question our old assumptions.

To Docent or Not To Docent

I swore off working in museums 6 months ago, but I soon realized I couldn’t let go completely. So, I took stock of what I liked about art and museums and realized that my heart lay in contemporary art and giving tours. This prompted me to sign up to be a docent at Cleveland’s Museum of Contemporary Art, because it fit into both of my passions.

Well, I just completed my first day of Docent Education, which is funny, because I am so old school that I actually still call it Docent Training. It brought me back to my grad school days of studying art and theory. All I could think when I left was wow, this is what I have been craving – intellectual stimulation, which only contemporary art can give you. Theories layered and displayed in visual form; is there anything that brings you closer to creativity than art?

  • To get yourself closer to creativity and to get a behind the scenes view of the art world, volunteer at your favorite cultural organization.