Monday, July 26, 2010

things i love about akron, ohio (pt. 4): akron art museum

Living near the DC area has made me a bit jaded about, and even hesitant to pay a fee to get into an art museum, since the excellent Hirshhorn, National Gallery, Sackler/Freer Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, and many more are part of the Smithsonian Institution, funded by the government and DC taxpayers. My frugality, when it comes to art museums makes sense but is also kind of ridiculous, considering some other great art museums in the DC area and abroad that are well worth the price of admission. I guess, in short, we're spoiled here in the DC area. This is the reason why the Akron Art Museum wasn't on the top of my list as things to see and do, while visiting the area. What drew me in however, was the structure itself - an amazing, award winning work of architecture that is, in itself an absolute work of art. So, being the art-junkie I am, like a bee to honey, I ended my casual photo walk and begrudgingly payed the measly seven dollars admission. As it turns out, that was by far the best seven bucks I spent on our entire visit. The photos here in this post only capture the main entrance and lobby of the museum, since no pictures were allowed in the museum's galleries. I understood this policy and respect it, because I ended up being surprised and delighted by the art on display behind those gallery walls.

I discovered quickly why the Akron Art Museum was world renowned. In addition to housing some major works by some of art's biggest names, there was a ton of great works by lesser-known artists from the Ohio area. It was perhaps the galleries housing works by the local artists that turned out to be my favorite, many of which, to my surprise rivaled the names and works we've come to know and love. In a sense, discovering these works by the likes of Roy E. Wilhelm, Raphael Gleitsmann, and Don Harvey, to name a few, was like stumbling upon a room full of hidden treasures. Their current rotation of new exhibits was nothing short of breathtaking. The film installation, "True North", by Issac Julien was like watching a beautiful, mysterious dream unfold, and with the extremely hot weather of late, was refreshing to view. The visuals and sound were truly sublime. Then there was the eye-opener photo exhibit, "Detroit Disassembled" from Andrew Moore. Much like Edward Burtynsky's "Oil" exhibit from last October at the Corcoran, DC, Moore's photos were monumental in scale and simultaneously beautiful and unsettling. Seeing these photos set off alarms in my head, which could be one of the motives behind this thorough, unflinching document of a dying city. The book for this exhibit, which ran for fifty dollars, was sold out unfortunately.

So, once again, little Akron, Ohio surprised me with this world class museum. Once again, the best seven bucks I spent in a long time, and it was only a short walk down the street from the Quaker Square Inn. Don't pass this place up if you're in or around the area.