May the sad passing of remarkable Cleveland son Philip Johnson be the NEO Turning Point!

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Wed, 01/26/2005 - 22:40.

"Monuments differ in different periods. Each age has its own."

"Maybe, just maybe, we shall at last come to care for the most important, most challenging, surely the most satisfying of all architectural creations: building cities for people to live in."

Philip Cortelyou Johnson: July 8, 1906 - January 25, 2004

On April 2, 2001, Philip Johnson dedicated "turning Point Garden", a cluster of sculptures commissioned by Case University that was recognized in the Case Magazine to represent a physical convergence on the school campus, a turning point into pure sculpture for this then 94 year old Cleveland-born genius of art and architecture, and "a shift in the University’s attitude about itself as a diverse but unified institution creatively looking to the future - a way to further articulate that idea by creating a new, stimulating gathering place." It is fortunate some Northeast Ohio leaders were forethoughtful enough to commission this work as it is now a lasting tribute to a remarkable Cleveland son now deceased - Philip Johnson passed away January 25, 2005, at age 98, and Turning Point is a landmark expression of this remarkable life of achievements.

 

I remember reading the account of that dedication in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and that at the time Philip offered to develop here a world-class architecture school, with a curriculum he assured was entirely unique. After reading the article, I expected NEO leaders to take him up on the unique value his proposal offered our region, and I was shocked by the utter disregard of this community. Over the past three years I've spoken to many area arts and economic development leaders and have not found one who appreciated Philip's outreach, although I did have a few of them exclaim, "we blew that one". Now, with Philip's resting in peace, I wonder is that all there is for NEO - blowing it? Is it too late? May we learn from our mistakes? Do we yet recognize the value of the creative class? Are we able to embrace truly world-class transformational initiatives? And, most important, did Philip Johnson pass on feeling he was known and loved in the community where he was born?

The New York Times has published an extensive profile of this great and fascinating man. Reading it, one is not surprised he may not have fit in well in Cleveland or been embraced by many of our community leaders, if we assume the worst about our leaders - that they are unsophisticated, or short-sighted, or ego-centric, or prejudiced. I tend to hope none of those faults are true, and we simply "blew it". Thus, I look at the passing of Philip Johnson as a reality check for our leadership, offering a turning point for Northeast Ohio - a distinct time in our history when we may decide to now in concert "care for the most important, most challenging, surely the most satisfying of all architectural creations: building cities for people to live in."

Thus we must recognize Philip's other words quoted in this memoriam, "Monuments differ in different periods. Each age has its own." Even as some community leaders place their hopes for our future on old-world monuments to gambling, and convention, I propose our new age of leaders step forward and assume responsibility for hearing the transformational proposals brought before them, to build in Northeast Ohio cities where our children and future generations will want to live... build cities with unique value, like a Philip Johnson School of Architecture, and an arts and technology incubator, and innovative schools, universities and museums, and expanding cultural gardens and institutions, and effective early child development, and transformational healthcare, and sustainability, and all the other great attributes that will make this the best location in the nation, with the best people on Earth.

There are leaders in NEO pursuing this dream, and they are well represented on REALNEO. To bring them together in a virtual community for change, we're developing a Turning Point virtual community where we will architect a better NEO for people to live in, in loving respect for the unique value in and of each of us.
.

"To have fun is the only dream I have in life."

Philip Cortelyou Johnson: July 8, 1906 - January 25, 2004

AttachmentSize
JohnsonCWRU2.jpg9.62 KB
johnsonSm.jpg3.39 KB
JohnsonCWRU.jpg16.53 KB
JohnsonBack.jpg9.34 KB