Sunday, July 1, 2012

Cleveland Museum of Art: Summer Solstice 2012

The Cleveland Museum of Art's  Summer Solstice is the hottest party of the year. Now in the fouth year it is perhaps the most inclusive as well with people ranging in age from late teens to earily centenarians and clothing ranging from T-shirts and jeans to the height of formal wear.

Unfourtunately, this year didn't have the same level of excitement and verve as the last three, and almost had the freeling that the event had gone coroprate. The first two Solstices were clear celebrations: The first celebrating the opening of the East Wing galleries,  the second celebrating the opening of gelleries in the lower level 1916 Building. The 2011 Solstice didn't have a clear celebratory focus but was nontheless a fun celebration of art with artists performing and working the crowd creating a cool energy, and light food scattered around. I didn't get that fun vibe from tonight's solstice -- the only food was by way of food trucks, I don't recall seeing any artists on the museum's grounds. Nor were there other activities, such as the variations on a "scavenger hunt" theme that provided a interesting way to occupy time for Solstices 2 and 3.

For the first time my expectations were not met, and not met by a large margin. It seems like the singular focus of this solstice was music, and that just doesn't captivate me without some visual connection.

That's not to say that it wasn't enjoyable, it just wasn't as enjoyable as the first three. Rachel and I scoped out the grounds and chateed with coworkers and friends spanning a good 40 years in age. The highlight, for me, of the evening was seeing the atrium now that the "shed" enclosing the escalators in the East Wing and protecting visitors from the atrium construction has been removed, for the first time allowing a view of the full atrium.

The Youth and Beauty exhibition, which officially opens tomorrow and celebrates art of the 1920s was also quite attractive, and a period I particularly like. It was interesting -- if slightly irreverant -- to tour the exhibition with a group of four friends all in varying degrees of "slightly buzed" and attempting to interpert both artists motives and models expressions. I know this is an exhibition that I'll be visiting frequently through it's run.

And of course, tonight's Solstice was the long-awaited official launch of Column and Stripe, the new friends of the Cleveland Museum of Art. At about 11:30 we took over the walls of the 1916 for a short but very cool video piece (I'm told it will be posted on the website on Monday

The party contined late into the morning, but with Rachel's feet killing her and mine threatening suicide, after 5 hours we bid adieu to our friends and headed for home.

It seems that Solstice has unfourtunately evolved from a multi-dimensional art-and-museum celebration into an event with a singular focus on music and a side of "see and be seen", which is sad and particularly baffling in the context of the Cleveland Museum of Art. While in previous years the event has tied into the museum's collections and galleries and provided inspiration for the kind of excitement art can foster, this year's Solstice seemingly had no tie-ins whatsoever; it might as well have been at an annonymous fairgrounds; I'm not sure anyone would have noticed the difference. And they probably would have served Red wines.


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