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OCTOBER 6, 2009   

Art inspires

White sculptural chaneliers in Progressive headquartersThe best thing about tonight's Cleveland Web Standards Association meeting was that it gave me a chance to walk around a small part of Progressive Insurance's headquarters in suburban Cleveland. I've heard about the extensive collection of contemporary art that Progressive owns, but never saw it before.

It was pretty exciting, really. In every hallway, around every corner, everywhere you looked there was something interesting. It made even walking to the restroom an adventure.

Progressive collects "innovative and daring" work—more than 6,000 pieces of it—and displays sculpture, paintings and prints throughout its buildings.

Uncle Sam and other sculptureI can't help but compare this to the hallways at Cuyahoga Community College Western Campus, where I work. Aside from the usual flyers and posters advertising college events, the brick or cinder block walls are mostly bare.

Most of the "art" that you do see consists of a suite of digital prints based on photos of the college itself. The work is mediocre, and the subject matter—the very buildings you're in—make it meaningless decoration.

Sculpture of guy at Progressive headquartersIn contrast with the lively and thought-provoking art you see at Progressive, if the "art" at Tri-C inspires anything it's self-absorption and acceptance of the status quo.


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