Friday, October 1, 2010

Ingenuity Falls - Festival Views 2010

© Stuart Pearl 2010 - (Click on Images to Enlarge)

A 60' wide curtain of flame seemed to envelope the riverbank. The red torrent poured from grand old steel that had marked the heyday of Cleveland industry. Rock music and crowd sounds drifted from the source of the falls. This was the Detroit Superior Bridge, site of Cleveland's 2010 Ingenuity Festival.

Nautica Queen on the Cuyahoga

I'm always looking for new photo projects in Cleveland. I search for interesting light. It is the type which combines with our everyday skyline shapes and textures in a way that creates unique and interesting perspectives of these commonplace scenes.

I try to celebrate the mundane in ways that are visually unique and memorable. My friend Don Nikolai and I spent last Saturday night walking the length of the Veterans Memorial Bridge as well as the West Bank of the Cuyahoga. It was quite a spectacle. We wanted to check out this year's Ingenuity Festival.

Don Nikolai on the West Bank

Musical sounds, strobing lights and the aroma of food enveloped us we strolled the lower level of the bridge. Sometimes we walked on concrete. Other times a metal grate was the only thing separating us from the river. You could see the water splashing into the Cuyahoga ten stories below.

The old Cleveland Subway system once travelled this lower bridge level, providing transit from Superior Aveneue on the East bank to riders at the W. 25th and W. 9th Street stations. The rails were torn out though in the mid 1950's when the stations were closed.

Ingenuity Fest tried to present something for everybody. A very diverse crowd of visitors seemed to enjoy what was offered. Everything from performance art to gallery hangings, stage production and light shows were available to view. Old utility rooms and power closets were turned into display areas for sculpture and other creative efforts.

Sculpture could even be fabricated from common plastic cups and then artistically illuminated. Moving the festival to the lower level (old Cleveland Subway) of the Detroit Superior bridge was an innovative decision. The venue provided an exhibit stage nearly 3/4 of a mile in length while providing stunning views of the Flats and Cleveland skyline. Combined with the festival waterfall and ongoing light shows, the onlookers were always near some sort of visual treat.

Geared turntable of the Center Street Swing Bridge

Was Ingenuity Festival a success? I don't know how you would quantify that. But Don and I saw thousands of Clevelanders enjoying themselves talking, interacting and transfixed by the creative efforts of a lot of great local talent.