Get to Know Cleveland — It Doesn’t Bite

Abby Hawkins, Arts Editor

Without the North Star of a hip, über-liberal metropolis to attract the mostly urban and suburban clientele of Oberlin College, students often have trouble navigating what is culturally available beyond the few square miles of campus. Though there are enough artistic happenings here to keep a restless Obie busy nearly every evening of the year, sometimes the siren song of the outside world calls. This is when one can seize upon the plethora of musical, artistic and cultural offerings of our neighbor to the northeast — Cleveland. Though we use it as a reference point when describing where exactly in the world our college is located, few of us really turn to it as a diversion or an opportunity to expand our cultural boundaries during the school year. But Cleveland has plenty to offer.

While the Conservatory draws in many world-class jazz and classical acts, if you’re craving a big name and a bigger venue, hop in a car and head to the Cleveland House of Blues, whose lineup for the next few weeks includes shows by Ziggy Marley, J. Cole and Black Star. The House of Blues interior is like a vintage saloon that’s been blown up to accommodate hoards of screaming fans. If you’re looking for something more subdued, the Cleveland Masonic Auditorium is offering the effervescent melodies of Fleet Foxes, the Felice Brothers and Neon Indian in the next month alone. And for a more highbrow evening on the town, Opera Cleveland, the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra and DANCECleveland provide class galore in their various cultural fare.

Looking to spend a rainy day at the museum? The Cleveland Museum of Art, open six days a week and free to the public, boasts artwork by the likes of Warhol, Gauguin, Caravaggio and Monet, among countless others. The museum also hosts art classes, curatorial internships, film screenings and a marvelous art library. (And if you feel like blowing off steam during a particularly stressful week by piloting a miniature rocket ship to Mars, the Children’s Museum of Cleveland is right down the street.) The Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland also reopens to the public on Sept. 23 with dazzling sculpture and works from the Cleveland Institute of Art; the MOCA, too, has free admission.

So, instead of decrying Cleveland’s failure to measure up to its East and West Coast cousins, bum a ride from a friend and embrace this relatively undiscovered cultural gem in the Rust Belt. Its numerous thrift stores, farmer’s markets, restaurants (including classic student favorite Melt, whose menu gets creative with the classic grilled cheese), ), and fine arts outposts will provide a much-needed adventure outside the Oberlin bubble. What are you waiting for?