By John Kelly
Senior Membership Assistant
On a typically overcast and chilly January morning in Cleveland, a group of 22 members ventured down I-77 for a day of exploration in Akron, our friendly neighbor to the south. Despite the relative proximity of the two Northeast Ohio cities (as evidenced by the identically cold temperatures that awaited us Clevelanders upon our arrival in Akron), for many of the travelers the trip was a chance to journey to a place they don’t often have the opportunity to visit. While it is easy to set our gaze to more distant locales for our art travel needs, sometimes we overlook the fact that we can also find scultural treasures much closer to home. We arrived first at the Akron Art Museum, where we were afforded the chance to take in the contemporary architecture of the recently renovated and expanded galleries during a tour of the dynamic and sleek photography exhibit, Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present. Featuring over 100 photos, the exhibition chronicled the evolution of the diverse visual styles and techniques used by photographers to capture images of rock musicians, performances, and even some album covers through the years. After the informative and edifying tour, we took advantage of some remaining time to view the rest of the museum’s fine collection of modern and contemporary art before boarding the bus for a quick jaunt across downtown to the Akron Civic Theatre.
Heralded as the “Jewel on Main Street,” the interior of the theatre certainly lived up to the billing, with its impressive and distinctive mix of structural and decorative styles. Another private tour gave us full exposure to the beautiful space that opened as a movie house in 1929, later became a performing arts venue, and after closing in 2001 for an extensive renovation, reopened in 2002 as a reincarnation of its original rendering. With nearly 2600 seats, it’s one of the last atmospheric theatres of its size in the country, as tiny lights replicate a starry sky and cloud projections float across the auditorium’s ceiling. The only positive aspect of that fact that the restoration project remains unfinished in a small section of the interior—after running out of funding before it was completed—is that it afforded us a chance to glimpse the clear distinction between the pre- and post-renovation appearance, thereby allowing us to fully appreciate the magnitude and immense success of the undertaking.
Such heavy doses of culture quenched everything but our appetites, so our last stop fittingly brought us to the Vegiterranean, a restaurant that’s been part of a revitalized downtown Akron neighborhood. In keeping with the musical theme of the trip, the trendy vegan establishment is owned by Chrissie Hynde, lead singer of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame band, “The Pretenders.” After a leisurely lunch peppered with tasty food and enjoyable conversations, another fun and fulfilling member’s trip had just about come to an end. As the Clevelanders in the group began the trek back northward in the late afternoon, we had all been reminded—or maybe even come to realize for the first time—that the drive down I-77 is worth taking more often.
Join us for our next members-only trip to the Cleveland Clinic to tour their art collection on Friday, February 25 from 2:45-4pm. Hope to see you then.