The View From 32


MAY 16, 2007   HAIRCUT DAY

Learning from kids' art

Xavier's Van Gogh-inspired landscapeTonight was the big Art Show at my grandson Xavier's school in North Royalton, so I paid my obligatory visit. I have to say that for grades 1-4 the art was surprisingly sophisticated.

Most of the projects started with learning about an actual artist, ranging from Van Gogh to Andy Warhol. The thing that was most encouraging is that the art teachers seem to focus on using the original work of art as a jumping off point, not as something to be slavishly imitated.

Van Gogh's Starry NIghtXavier's landscape is unmistakably inspired by Van Gogh's Starry Night —you can see it in the swirling brush strokes around the sun. But it's clearly Xavier's landscape—day instead of night, brighter colors.

So on the art front everything looked good. The school was jammed with families: mothers, fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, older and younger siblings. The halls, lined with literally hundreds of pieces of students' art, became obstacle courses as small groups stopped to admire the handiwork of their child/grandchild/brother/sister/etc.

I was a little surprised to not see a single African-American face in this throng of people. I know North Royalton isn't the city's most integrated 'burb, but still...

Xavier and his shack art workSo as I was feeling vaguely superior for living in a much more integrated area—the Near West Side—it was a small revelation to see the next batch of kids' art on tables in the library, and learn that they were based on the work of an African-American artist I'd never even heard of.

The little clay shacks—Xavier's features a swing in the yard, along with a pile of tires and a snake—take their inspiration from the "shack art" of Beverly Buchanan. Each is unique in shape, color and "accessories".

The students clearly picked up on her attention to detail and interest in the individuality of people and their homes. They didn't simply make things that looked like what they saw of Ms. Buchanan's.  My hat's off to the teachers who are able to teach art history while letting the kids stretch their own artistic wings. And for teaching me about yet another African-American artist whose work I'd never seen before.


Haircut day, 2007

Sign in window at Great CutsGetting a haircut ain't what it used to be.

Used to be that I'd walk to Looking Good Hairstyling at Lorain & Fulton, where Alberto would spend a leisurely 45 minutes cutting my hair and chatting about the neighborhood, his family, my job, and his plants that took up the front part of the shop.

Afterwards I might walk to the Hot Dog Inn for a chili dog with slaw, then continue on to Van Rooy Coffee at Detroit and 29th for a cup of good coffee.

Not anymore.

Looking Good is gone, replaced by a renovated storefront still waiting to find a tenant. The Hot Dog Inn is a shadow of its former self: no more all-beef franks nor 24 hour service. Van Rooy moved to the 'burbs and a social-service agency has taken over its first-floor location. There may be renovated apartments upstairs, I'm not sure.

As the upscale homes and apartments continue to proliferate and the neighborhood becomes "cooler," a lot of what made it such a great place to live has been pushed aside.

I don't miss the semi-regular murders and screaming neighbors that used to be part of everyday life on the Near West Side thirty years ago, but I'm not altogether happy with the new improved version either.

Oh, and the haircut today?

I spent all of fifteen minutes with a nice young lady at Great Clips on Snow Road, paid with a credit card, and drove to work.