? of the Day: Dear Plain Dealer, is this the "street culture" you hope to kill?

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Tue, 09/05/2006 - 07:12.

In a recent series of editorial rants in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the authors proposed Cleveland must attack "street culture" to correct our condition as the most impoverished big city in America. I've posted on their position and my disgust at their suggestions this is an NAACP issue, or an issue at all, and I questioned what on Earth they mean by "street culture". Then, while working on a website cataloging my parents' art collection for the May Show Project Philip Williams and I are organizing I understood what the PD wants to kill... the culture that empowered the art shown above, being a "Jazz Bowl" by one of the world's most prominent designers, Cleveland's beloved Victor Schreckengost, and a print masterpiece by one of the world's most renowned "minimalist" artists, Frank Stella. Without "street culture" neither of these works of art would exist. Good idea, PD.

If you take a good look at the design of the 1930's Jazz Bowl, it features and visualizes the word "jazz", the African American music that grew up in the streets of cities like New Orleans, New York and Chicago, and features images of the urban American world and bars and bottles of booze and cocktail glasses and evil words "follies", "dance" and "cafe"... some of the most decadent street life images of American culture and in our fine art. Without street culture, there would be no Jazz, and no Jazz Bowl... Schreckengost would not be nearly so renowned.

Stella is a product of many artistic influences he draws from his home street culture of New York City. Take a good look at imagery found in the Moby Dick print featured above and realize you are looking at the inspiration drawn from aerosol art, aka graffiti... and the colors of Stella's palate sure aren't inspired by fields of grain. Heaven forbid street culture didn't exist to inspire such great artists, young and old.

So, is this the street culture the PD hopes to kill... the street culture of Cleveland here and now, that may inspire the next great jazz musician, or jazz bowl, or Stella... and that led to Bone Thugs n' Harmony and the only Grammy Award I recall ever for Cleveland artists? The street culture that attracts collectors to buy great local art... the culture of Shaker Boulevard... is that the street you are talking about? Or is it the street culture that is our greatest hope for developing our new economy, as is proposed to be funded by a tax levy the PD wants the voters of the streets to pass this November? What do you think they are talking about?

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