Ingenuityfest: A Study in Contrasts

After almost 5 years of trying, I finally made it to the Ingenuity Festival, a three-day long extravaganza of technology and art held each year here in Cleveland.

I say, “trying,” because I really have had good intentions of going to the fest the last several years.  Arriving back in Cleveland, shortly before the second year of Ingenuity, I signed up to be a volunteer, thinking it would be a cool and easy way to get a free ticket. Of course, I never actually ended up volunteering and for the next several years life seemed to get in the way during the annual weekend of Ingenuity.

This year seemed to be no different, with a planned trip to Pittsburgh falling on the same weekend as Ingenuity. When one of my instructors mentioned that we could receive 5 extra credit points for going and writing about what we saw, I knew that was the motivation I needed!

I arrived early on Sunday, the third and final day, and was instantly greeted with the contrast of the location: a bridge. Yes, that’s right, a bridge. Actually, the fesitval is located on the obsolete trolley level of the bridge, while cars sped along the upper span. The bridge connects the east and west sides of the city above the Cuyahoga River. Yet, more contrast.

Entering into the cavernous space created such a different experience than if the event had been held in an open lot or even in an enclosed area. I started walking toward the span of the bridge, where there were a hodge podge of displays, everything from local political endorsements to non-profits to the odd assortment of vendors selling taffy, jewelry, etc. Interspersed among this were small exhibitions and random musical performers.

Passing by the man-made waterfall, I approached the east side of the bridge and headed  toward the blaring sounds of a youthful rock band. Bypassing that in favor of the Art Gallery area, I began to be slightly impressed with the installation art pieces that thoroughly used the bridge’s architecture as inspiration.

Walking back to the other side of the bridge, I contemplated how much better the curation of the art could have been. Several mixed media pieces were interesting but didn’t really fit into the scope of the festival and/ or use the space that well.

On the west side of the bridge, in another cavernous space, more art installations filled the area. Some were fascinating and others just trite and almost art-schoolish. The entire puppet show concept was overdone on the East Coast 10 years ago. Finally, the soothing sounds of Angelin Chang, a local professor and Grammy-award winning musician made the my time there worth it.

In my opinion, if the Ingenuity festival could bring in more quality artists like her, then then maybe it would have been a worthwhile experience for me. As it is it appears, it is currently a very amateurish Spoletto Festival. With better curation and more “real” artists, Ingenuityfest could really be a noteworthy arts festival. Sadly, now the best thing it has going is the space and the location.

  • Did you go? What did you think?

Are You the Office Flake?

This is the question posed in an article about creatives in the workplace. But are all creative people flaky? The article assumes that if you excelled in the arts as a student then you must not be able to prioritize or meet deadlines as an adult, ultimately hurting your career and future success.

On the flip side, this post from Applied Imagination points to research that those who studied music while growing up were more likely to pursue advanced degrees and even succeed as college presidents and CEOs. That doesn’t sound flaky to me.

  • What do you think?

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.