Thursday, February 28, 2013

NONPROFIT THURSDAY I : Some Venerable Locals

We are constantly reinventing ourselves here at The Real Deal as we seek to report on aspects of life in this big town of contradictions. Cleveland is at one and the same time sophisticated and country, insecure and siditty. Sometimes that makes it tough to write about, because so much can and needs to be said. We are trying to keep to a schedule but then life interrupts.

So today, Nonprofit Thursday appears on the eve of Friday. We are going to call this Nonprofit Thursday I for this week. Nonprofit Thursday II will appear sometime tomorrow, in expanded form.

Cleveland Museum of Art

I’m starting off today with an unabashed plug for the Cleveland Museum of Art. It can be easy to take something for granted when it’s been around 100 years. But the Museum, which since 1913 has truly been one of our greatest civic treasures, just keeps getting better and better. Currently it’s in the final phase of a big-time renovation and expansion project that is actually about a lot more than just bricks-and-mortar or new gallery space. With a new director and several gorgeous new spaces, including a glassed in Gallery One that combines the anciently familiar with what seems like Instagram on steroids, the Museum is embarking on its second century with a bold confidence.

As I exited the space still digesting the realization that the term “museum” was in the process of redefinition, I bumped into Jane Alexander. She is CMA’s director of information management and technology services, a department that seen a 600% growth in the past couple of decades, was lead architect of the high-tech portion of Gallery One.

I’m not versed enough in the high tech stuff of today to say more about the Gallery’s interactivity, but if you are a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, mentor, etc., invite, coax, trick, bribe, or just drag your little ignoramus to the Museum. Their bug eyes will be your reward.

Sonya Rhui Quintanilla is welcomed by Renee Whiteside of
the Consortium of African American Organizations
I had wandered into the Gallery to pass an available 15 minutes or so. I had actually been at CMA for a meeting and reception.

The reception was to welcome Sonya Rhui Quintanilla, the new curator of Indian and Southeast Asian Art. The meeting was essentially about CMA’s outreach efforts. More than ever, it seems, the Cleveland Museum of Art has redoubled its efforts to live up to the terms of its original bequest, to be a place “for the benefit of all the people forever.”

Judge Harper

She’s got another fifteen years or so before she can celebrate her centennial, but Sara J Harper has already become an enduring local institution.  A couple of days ago, she was featured in a Plain Dealer daily tribute to some aspect of local Cleveland black history.

Real Deal readers with sharp memories know that I have criticized the dear and feisty retired judge for clinging to an NAACP vice presidency that should be a leadership development post for an up-and-comer. But I’m actually quite fond of her Honor and deeply respect her commitment to our community. She still steps spryly and regularly to the Sara Harper Library located deep in the public housing estates where she counted Lou and Carl Stokes among her neighbors growing up.

Retired Court of Appeals Judge Sara J. Harper
In fact, I was delighted to catch her en route there one day last month and without any difficulty persuaded her to stand still for half a minute.

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