Under the Radar
Seeking out the underappreciated and overlooked blips on the cultural scene.
My sister keeps a rent-controlled apartment at Bleecker and MacDougal streets in the heart of Greenwich Village — arguably the geographical and spiritual center of New York City.
Nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques and sidewalk cafes surround this intersection. The Gray Line bus pauses hourly outside her window to tell Japanese, German and Texan tourists that Bob Dylan played his first gigs in the basement bodegas around the corner. When you step out her door, the town hits you in the face.
Cleveland is a different animal. While our attractions abound, they don’t pounce on you as you walk the street. You must find them, and it helps to have a tour guide.
And at Cool Cleveland, we’re constantly seeking out the overlooked and tucked-away cultural delights.
Mike’s Barn is just that. It’s difficult to locate even with directions. For 11 years, Michael Yates has been renting a barn on a farm outside Oberlin and running it like a musician’s clubhouse. The hottest regional blues players and the occasional big names such as Buddy Miles or John Hammond Jr. play on Sunday nights, so musicians can stop by, get up on stage and jam till the cows come home. Mike sets up a grill, and you can bring your own beer and food. But Mike’s lease runs out this year. So check out the “Divas” show Sept. 3 at 7 p.m., featuring Becky Boyd, Mary Bridgett Davies, Ki Allen, Charlita, Kristine Jackson, Saam Ali and Ms. Butterscotch. www.mikesbarn.com
Kalliope Stage is found in an area that calls itself “The Hidden City” (north of Cedar and Lee roads in Cleveland Heights). While some questioned the need for a new entrant to the city’s already crowded theater scene when Cleveland natives Paul Gurgol and John Paul Boukis opened Kalliope in 2003, it has proven to be a standout. This month, check out “Andrew Lippa’s Wild Party,” the Cleveland premiere of this award-winning comedy, American folktale and classic Broadway revival that tells the story of out-of-control passions in Jazz Era New York. It opens Sept. 7 at 8 p.m. and runs through Oct. 15. 2134 Lee Road, www.kalliopestage.com
The Cleveland Artists Foundation — created in 1984 to preserve, exhibit and collect works by artists primarily from the “Cleveland School,” which was active from 1900 to 1950 — has broadened its scope to include Cleveland artists from other eras as well. A move to the Beck Center for the Cultural Arts in Lakewood has offered wonderful gallery space but less visibility. While CAF considers a new space and the Beck Center considers its future, it continues to mount exhibits worth seeing. Covering History: Federal Art in Cleveland Revisited (1933-1943) showcases the region as a center for WPA-funded art. Sept. 8 through Nov. 25, 17801 Detroit Ave., www.clevelandartists.org
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August 31, 2006