Cleveland Woos the Art Deco World for 2015 Conference

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Next year, Cleveland will host the International Public Markets Conference, tying in with the West Side Market’s 100th anniversary. If a local nonprofit gets its way, we’ll also be showing off our treasures to another specialized group of international aficionados.

A group called 20th Century Society USA is making a bid to host the biennial 2015 World Congress on Art Deco. The event focuses on the streamlined style of art and design that reached its pinnacle in the ’20s and ’30s — just like the Tribe! The decision will be made at next month’s Congress in Rio de Janeiro.

Michael Beyer, president of 20th Century Society USA, says Shanghai is also in the running, but he likes our chances. He points to our experience in organizing tours (we hosted a five-day Cleveland Art Deco tour in 2006) and the fact that we’re eminently affordable — a big perk for folks who hang in international Art Deco circles, apparently. Then there’s our buildings.

“Cleveland has such an Art Deco legacy,” he says. “There’s Cowan Pottery, Viktor Schreckengost, Severance Hall, the Guardians of Transportation on the Lorain Carnegie Bridge, which are unique in the world. The Greyhound Bus Terminal is probably one of the finest examples of the “streamlined moderne” style anywhere in the country. The old Ohio Bell building, the lobby of old post office, Higbee’s Silver Grille, the English Oak Room in Terminal Tower — its lighting fixtures are very art deco.”

Beyer, a Parma native who recently returned to town after a fling with North Carolina, is reaching out to museums, universities, arts groups, city officials, and others to attend two planning meetings this weekend at the Chop House downtown, at 10 a.m. Saturday and 4 p.m. Sunday. Anyone interested is welcome to attend; RSVP to 20thcs@gmail.com.

Beyer envisions an entire year of Art Deco activities, which surely would thrill the diehards.
“What inspired this is a few years ago Pittsburgh had a year of glass — a whole year of Pittsburgh’s tradition in glass,” he says. “All sorts of venues had things over the course of the year related to Pittsburgh and glass.”

“Of course this Art Deco thing is way cooler than that,” he adds, deftly returning the Iron City to its proper place. — Anastasia Pantsios

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