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Cleveland from Two Wheels

September 17, 2020
The High Level Bridge, Cleveland, 1926. Rudolph Ruzicka (American, born Bohemia, 1883–1978). 1926.308

Because travel remains limited by the public health concerns of COVID-19, we’re exploring our own surroundings more. Cleveland artists have done that for a century and created some remarkable views of our community. Walkers and bicyclists this year have had a bright and cool summer to enjoy the area. We asked some avid bicyclists to compare what they see now with works in the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection by artists who have interpreted our city. Inspiration is everywhere!

Photo by Jason Kuhn. Below: The High Level Bridge, Cleveland, 1926. Rudolph Ruzicka (American, born Bohemia, 1883–1978). Color woodcut; sheet: 26 x 19.4 cm (10 1/4 x 7 5/8 in.); image: 17.9 x 12.9 cm (7 1/16 x 5 1/16 in.). The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of The Print Club of Cleveland, 1926.308

Jason Kuhn
Communications & Events Manager, Bike Cleveland

Moving through Cleveland under our own power allows us to connect with our city in a deeper way. Removing yourself from the cage of steel and glass allows intimate time with the simple wonders around you: the rumble of your tires along a well-worn brick alley; the rusting, towering angles of machinery from another era; the soothing pattern of hand-laid masonry from a previous century. I see the underbelly of the iconic spans that have carried travelers from one side of that crooked river to the other for generations. I pass through a pendulum of aromas, from sweet trailside greenery to the sour byproducts of consumption. There is the simple joy of crisp, cool shade from a tree that has stood through it all. With each pedal revolution comes an opportunity for another discovery, another connection, and another movement into the future.

Photo by Deltrece Daniels.

Deltrece Daniels
Outreach & Membership Manager, Bike Cleveland

Night riding is one of my favorite activities in Cleveland. I can always count on seeing a beautiful artistic mural on the side of a building, a pop-up art installation at Public Square, or even a free concert at Star Plaza, Wade Oval, or the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. However, I’m most drawn to the illumination at the top of the Terminal Tower. The colors are generally a representation of the celebration of the day or in remembrance of a day or event. The lights are always beautiful, and I am drawn to them like a moth to a flame. The history and culture in Cleveland is rich, and I can’t get enough of it after the sunsets. There is less traffic, cooler air, and a calmer Cleveland — which gives me the opportunity to explore at my own pace.

Photo by Michael Kent, Dark Blak Studios. Below: E. 114th, between St. Clair and Sellers, 1996. Gregory Conniff (American, 1944-). Gelatin silver print; image: 24.6 x 24.9 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, The George Gund Foundation Collection in honor of David Bergholz, The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2006.218

Tosha Studmire
Bike the Block for Black Lives

The beauty that lies within these streets is life-giving.
The beautiful lives that walk throughout these streets matter.

Bike the Block for Black Lives, a community of protesters on bikes, recently came together on two wheels to mobilize and protest throughout areas of Cleveland. We have been fighting for the many who have lost their lives to or have been impacted by police brutality. The communities of Hough, Glenville, and East Cleveland showed us what lies within them: love, joy, resiliency, friendliness, and much more. Our route started in Hough at Thurgood Marshall Recreation Center, named for the first African American justice of the United States Supreme Court who was instrumental in ending legal segregation. We made our way up St. Clair and down Euclid, where murals line the streets and speak to the heartbeat of these communities. We ended back at the rec center, where a southward pointing mural of Tamir Rice’s face stared at us, calling us to continue onward in the fight for justice. To the beautiful, life-giving Black lives that walk throughout these streets: thank you for welcoming us with open arms. You will always matter.

Photo by Alex Nosse. Below: Hillside Houses, Cleveland West Side, 1936. August Frederick Biehle (American, 1885–1979). Lithograph; sheet: 19.1 x 29.2 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Gift of Frederick Biehle, 2019.222

Alex Nosse
Owner, Joy Machines Bike Shop

My fascination with cities generally — and with Cleveland specifically — was largely born from the seat of a bicycle. I know of no better way to experience the thrilling and complex — at times tragic and vexing — diversity of our city. Freeways and “urban renewal” opened up Cleveland’s core to car drivers for their high-speed, climate-controlled commuting comfort. Those of us who (by choice or by necessity) navigate Northeast Ohio via bicycle are stuck in a parallel cultural reality. We see strangers on their porches and smile, ding a bell, or raise a fist of recognition. We commune with treelawn bunny rabbits at dawn and opossums at midnight. We appreciate the sun-faded back alley murals that predate the glamorous public art initiatives that have recently graced our trendier commercial districts. And we recognize and we mourn, up close and at slow speed, the damage done by the freeways that so effectively divide, separate, and exclude. I’m not so naive to believe the bicycle is some magic elixir for all that ails our society. But I do know that riding a bike in Cleveland has opened my eyes, connected me with people, and provided understanding that I otherwise would have breezed right past. My advice: the next time you’re riding and see an unexplored alleyway, go down it.

Photo by Marc Lefkowitz. Below: View of a Factory, 1911. Albert Bloch (American, 1882–1961). Oil on canvas; unframed: 60.6 x 75.6 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Bequest of Dr. Paul J. Vignos, Jr. 2011.42

Marc Lefkowitz
Director, The Cleveland Green School, Cleveland State University Levin College of Urban Affairs

When I need to decompress, I take a bike ride that explores the green city, the blue lake, and the revitalization that has started to reshape Cleveland. I never tire of my 20-mile roundtrip route that combines the best of nature and city. There are leafy neighborhoods such as Tremont and Glenville. I see great green spaces such as Rockefeller Park and the Cleveland Cultural Gardens, with homage to peace, unity, and brotherly love. I love the tall trees, Doan Brook, sculpture, and gorgeous gardens leading to the natural crown jewel, Lake Erie. I’m mesmerized by the lake and its many shades of blue, dotted with white sailboats and host to the father and son fishing off the E. 55th Pier. It’s such a strange contrast to the Shoreway with its cars whizzing by at 65 mph. Once downtown, I head straight to the Flats and the new Centennial Lake Link Trail. It offers incomparable views: industrial silos, kayakers, cone-shaped piles of grey ore, long tanker ships, and jackknifed bridges all jostle for space on the crooked river. My destination is Clark Field, a USEPA Superfund site being reclaimed by nature, thanks to the Clean Ohio Fund. Fields of wildflowers frame the steel mill. It’s amazing to see the transformation of Cleveland’s burning river. Consider the 1911 painting View of a Factory from American artist Albert Bloch in the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. I imagine mill workers in Cleveland walking home after their shift to neighborhoods like Slavic Village, where my great-grandfather operated a saloon and lived above it with his family. I grasp to understand what life in the gloom of pre-Clean Air Act Cleveland must have been like. How did it feel to be scorched and enobled by that mighty furnace and a plume that crowded out the blue sky in the industrial valley? The river freely flows in that valley once again. I am grateful for the fire yet glad to keep it in the past.

Left: Uploaded photo to ArtLens AI. Right: Romance of the Three Kingdoms, 1800s. Matsumura Goshun (Japanese, 1752–1811). Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk; image: 28.2 x 25.2 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art, John L. Severance Fund, 1987.35

Like these bicyclists, you can connect your life to the CMA’s collection. ArtLens AI: Share Your View is a reverse image search tool that recognizes the shapes, patterns, and objects in your own photos to find surprising and delightful matches from the CMA’s encyclopedic collection. The tool may notice you are in the same location as a famous painting! Make fun matches on our website or go to Twitter and attach an image to your tweet and mention @ArtLensAI; the Twitter bot will automatically reply with a matching artwork from the CMA.