Cleveland Christmas History

A Christmas Story, directed by Bob Clark, was released a week before Thanksgiving in1983 with no great expectations, but has slowly grown into a Christmas cult classic. In fact, the movie would have never been made had Bob Clark’s 1982 raunchy teen comedy Porky’s not done so well. A Christmas Story’s success, however, is due in equal parts to the plot’s nostalgia (sometimes sickeningly sweet) and dark holiday humor making it feel both real and hyperbole simultaneously. Though set in the late 30’s or early 40’s the film so well captures the tropes of an American Christmas the film continues to age well.

Heavily based on the short fiction of Jean Shepard, many of the famous scenes come from anecdotes in Shepard’s collections In God We Trust, All Others Must Pay Cash and Wanda Hicky’s Night of Golden Memories. Shepard worked with Bob Clark and Leigh Brown to create the screen play. Shepard stars as the films narrator “adult Ralphie”.

After ending scouts to many cities, Bob Clark settled on Cleveland Ohio as the primary shooting location for the film. Clevelanders were so excited about the film many of them donated the use of their antique cars for the film.

Higbee’s Department Store, located in Downtown Cleveland until 1992, was one famous location for three important scenes. The opening scene were Ralphie first sees the BB gun in an elaborate window display of toys. The parade scene was shot outside Higbee’s in Public Square. Finally , the famous “visting Santa” scene inside Higbee’s were Ralphie and his little brother have a misadventure visiting Santa. Highbee’s was known for its elaborate Christmas decorating that catered to children, with a live Santa centerpiece, and actually kept some of the set, including the slide and used them for many years.

The exterior shots and some interior shots of the family’s home were done at a house in Tremont on Cleveland’s West Side. This house has been restored and turned into a museum honoring the film’s cult status and is open regularly for touring. The Chinese Restaurant where the family has duck for Christmas because the neighbor’s hound dogs ruined their turkey also still exists, in a more modern form, not far from the home.

Whether you have or have not seen this now classic film, its worth an annual rewatch cuddled up with the family on a cold night sometime before Christmas.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern, Cleveland Museum of Art

The Brooklyn Museum and guest curator Wanda M. Corn organized this special collection of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work. Living Modern gives visitors a one of a kind look into the interesting crossover between O’Keeffe’s paintings, public persona and personal style. This exhibition is not to be missed for serious art lovers as it focuses on one of America’s most well-known artists. O’Keeffe’s 70 year career demonstrates her fiery independence, which was integral to her art and identity.

This exhibition features some of O’Keeffe’s garments along with photographic portraits that demonstrate resolve to live modern.

O’Keeffe’s whole career is represented by key pieces of her artwork from different segments of her development. Additionally, it demonstrates the role photography played in O’Keeffe becoming an icon.

Cleveland Museum of Art Presents: Allen Ruppersberg

Allen Ruppersberg (b. 1944) is a first-generation American Conceptual artist. His work runs the gamut from painting and photography, prints, installations and sculptures. He was born in Cleveland and graduated from the now California Institute of the Arts with a BFA in 1967.

He is most well-known for his installations titled Al’s Cafe (1969), Al’s Grand Hotel (1971) and The Novel that Writes Itself (1978)

The Cleveland Museum of Art is proud to present Ruppersberg’s homage to the town of his birth. The series features illuminated photographs taken from an unusual vantage point, from the point of view of billboards across Cleveland. These billboards do no commercial work any longer, but rather offer the audience a very different perspective on the city. That being, what the billboard sees from above. The structures holding up the billboards in real life are featured through the backdrop behind the photos of each of the installations.

Kerry James Marshall Exhibit, Cleveland Museum of Art

For over three decades Kerry James Marshall’s widely lauded work has given the world increased access into the narratives strongly tied to African American identity. Marshall often inserts black protagonists into traditional Western art styles. By this work, Marshall has stood out as one of the most applauded and influential artists of the modern era.
While Marshall is most well-known for his paintings, he also makes a practice of creating works on paper—and these works are the focus of the current exhibition.

The breathtaking exhibition stars a 12-panel woodcut print from 1999, that unfolds like the scenes from a movie. The scenes take the viewer on an overhead perspective of a city grid and slowly into a home. Additionally, other, smaller drawings accompany the centerpiece.

The FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art helped the CMA organize the exhibition.

Open until March 19th, 2019.

Photographs of Urban Decay and Renewal at Cleveland Art Museum

The Cleveland Art Museum will be featuring a new photography exhibit of 52 photos by photographer Danny Lyon. These photos are a recent gift from George Stephanopoulos and is a part of FRONT (a regional contemporary exhibition). FRONT’s first theme is “An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises.”

Lyon’s series of documentary photos has set the standard for photographers chronicling America’s aging infrastructure and explores the 1960’s “urban renewal through demolition” style policies.

Lyon was already a respected photographer at the age of 25 when he returned to his home, New York, in 1966 where he settled in Lower Manhattan. He learned that the many boarded up buildings around him—in a 60 some acre area—were all scheduled for demolition. This would mean a total erasure of one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city. He knew then his next project should focus on the transformation that was about to take place.

The 52 photographs in this new collection will demonstrate this transition in stark black and white. The exhibit runs until October 7th.