PJ and I spent the weekend in Cleveland. He was giving a paper at the Midwest Modern Language Association, and I tagged along for fun. Two of our friends drove up with us — one of them was also giving a paper. It was a lot of fun to get out of Athens and celebrate the end of the quarter.

PJ and I had visited Cleveland once before; he gave a paper at the same conference six years ago. At the time, he was teaching in Michigan, so meeting up in Cleveland for a weekend was a fun way to see each other. This time, we revisited the restaurants and museums that we saw six years ago. It was interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t.

We arrived in Cleveland on Friday. Our friends were staying at a different hotel, so we dropped them off and then checked into our hotel, the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel. I forgot to take a picture of the hotel while we were there, so here’s a picture from the hotel’s website. I liked the hotel. Our room was spacious and clean. The bed was comfortable, and hooking up to the Internet was easy to do. After we checked in, we logged onto the Internet to see if there was anything in particular that we wanted to do on Friday night. While looking at a page that listed bars and entertainment opportunities, I found a couple of reviews of our hotel. I thought it was funny that one of the reviews complained that the hotel had been overrun by conference participants while they stayed there. I honestly never considered that “regular people” stay the same hotels where our conferences takes place. I can’t imagine some poor sap who accidentally gets a room during the MLA! They’d be surrounded by miserable job candidates lurking about in the hallways trying not to make eye contact with anyone! As a conference hotel, the Renaissance was just fine. We had no complaints.

We ended up not doing anything exciting on Friday night except go out to dinner. Six years ago we ate at Sushi Rock, so we tried it again on Friday. We loved it six years ago — it may have been the first sushi I’d ever had — but we weren’t so fond of it this time. I don’t know if its what we ordered or if some of the food was bad, but neither of us enjoyed it as much as we had before, and Paul got sick from it later that night. For me, there was just too much crunchy bits on top of the rolls. We should have just ordered sushi and stayed away from the rolls, I think.

On Saturday, we discovered that out hotel was attached to a mall, so we ate breakfast at Panera Bread in the mall. We then drove to the Cleveland Museum of Art. When we visited before, the exhibits had commentary from Sister Wendy, which was really cool to hear. Currently, the museum is being renovated. As a result, there’s only one exhibit that you can see, Modern Masters. (It’s free admission, so it seemed fine with us.)

As I’ve kept track of artworks that I especially like over the past year or so, I’ve come to learn that I like modernism much more than I thought I did. One of the things that struck me in this collection is that I also like pastels more than I thought I did. One of the works that really stood out to me was Léon Augustin Lhermitte‘s River Marne at Chartère, pictured here. It’s a pastel, but what I like about it is that it looks like a painting until you look more closely. It kind of reminds me of J. M. W. Turner’s work. I also like the raggedness of the landscape, its lack of romanticism. This work also illustrates another lesson I’ve learned about my tastes — I like brown and gold color palettes more than I used to think I do.

I also really liked Odilon Redon‘s Vase of Flowers. Generally speaking, I’m not much into still life, especially vases or bowls of fruits. They give me flashbacks to sixth grade art class — all we did, it seems like, is draw bowls of fruit and vases of flowers. So, I usually roll right past them in a museum. But Redon’s painting caught my eye. It obviously has the color scheme that I like but I also like the proportions of the images. The vase takes up so little of the canvas, which is dominated by the flowers and the background. Indeed, it’s the background that first drew my attention. The golden colors really jump off of the canvas. They almost vibrate with energy. This strikes me as really different. As I looked at the image, I thought that the background actually competes with the vase of flowers for the viewer’s attention and ultimately undermines the dominance of the still life as the subject of the work. That may be reading way too much into it, but I nevertheless love this painting.

After visiting the museum, we met up with our friends for lunch. We then went to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’m running out of time before I have to leave for a meeting, so I’ll write about the rest of our trip in my next post.

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