IngenuityFest 2013 Looks to the Clouds

Fri 9/20 @ 5pm
Sat 9/21 @ Noon
Sun 9/22 @ Noon

Cleveland’s IngenuityFest, the city’s annual celebration of art and technology, has become the biggest, most must-see event of the year. And this year’s event is shaping up to be the biggest and best yet.

This year’s Fest will be held at the same warehouse docks as last year, behind Cleveland Browns Stadium, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Great Lakes Science Center.  However, the venue will be arranged a little differently than last year, and will feature all-new content.

This year’s theme is clouds. Organizers explain: “Head in the clouds.  Cloudy thinking.  Cloud computing.  We have looked to the clouds for centuries to dream and seek new heights.  Today we look toward the clouds as a space to store the information of our lives; as a place to live and work.  We also look with hope and fear seeing blue skies and storms in our past, present, and future.

“Working with a community of artists, inventors, innovators, and thought-leaders we are exploring the clouds from any and all angles; from traditional to high tech.  Whether it’s abstract or direct, easy to see or hard to find, this is, above all, an exploration of new thoughts and ideas about where humanity and technology meet, connect, and part company.  Enjoy and join the conversation at IngenuityFest 2013.”

Due to the number of simultaneous performances on the various stages throughout the festival, it’s impossible to take it all in.  So, plan ahead.

Between the Performance Stage and the Voix de Ville – a 60 seat mobile tent created by local neo-vaudeville act Pinch and Squeal, and inspired by classic Spiegel and European tent venues – performances are sure to steal the show.

This year’s lineup on the Performance Stage is particularly impressive.  Headlong Dance – based in Philadelphia – presents Red Rovers, an interactive experience where the audience becomes part of the show.  Each audience member selects a name badge with a fictional name, splits up into two teams and is told of their relationship to each other, the rovers they love and the space itself.  The performance was inspired by the Two Mars rovers – Spirit and Opportunity.  However, Red Rovers explores deep and complex subjects and human emotions that leave the audience/participants feeling deeply impacted, while blurring the lines between reality and performance.

17 Border Crossings might be the most deceptively simple-seeming performance.  Director of the Lucidity Suitcase Intercontinental Theater Company, Thaddeus Phillips takes audiences on a journey to the boundaries of countries like Bali, Bosnia, Brazil, Columbia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Israel, Jordan, Mexico, Serbia, Slovenia, Tunisia and more.  17 Border Crossings utilizes innovative stage design and lighting to create a performance that’s more cinematic than classic theater.   The stories are based on real situations that the creators encountered on their travels around the world. This is sure to be a unique and captivating storytelling experience.

Local contemporary dance company Verb Ballets presents Borrowing Winds, created by their guest artist from Taiwan, Chung-Fu Chang.  Dancers will be dressed in blue costumes with 10-foot long, white sleeves that will portray the sky and clouds as they react to the wind.

Digital violin master Dixon returns to the festival for the first time since his performance in 2011.  He’s also performed at Burning Man, numerous radio and TV spots and two TED talks/performances. Utilizing loop stations and a number of effect pedals, Dixon creates complexly layered soundscapes as a means of inducing personal and collective transcendence.  His music is arguably a spiritual experience for its audience.  Due to his improvisational nature, no two performances are the same.  Don’t miss him!

Pinch and Squeal have been performing together for four years, but Jason and Danielle Tilk have over 40 years of combined experience in the entertainment business.  The duo play off each other in hilarious, entertaining and witty ways.  Months ago, they started a Kickstarter program to raise money for the Voix de Ville tent stage.  They had accumulated 33% of their goal in 3 days on their way to collecting over $7,000 in just 36 days — well over the initial goal of $5,500.

In honor of this world premiere of their Voix de Ville stage tent, Pinch and Squeal have assembled an eclectic, all-star lineup of neo-vaudeville performers – including “The World’s Laziest Strongman,” jugglers, belly dancers, cabaret singers, a local yo-yo master, circus performers, magicians and more!

Perhaps the best “sleeper” choice to steal the whole show is Satori Circus.  This one-man show can’t be described in few words, but he is sure to steal your heart while making you laugh so hard that you burst something internally.  Whether he’s strutting around the stage in women’s clothing or awkwardly showing you his “Friends” (drawings on both sides of dinner plates), his style as a performance artist is masterful.  His attention to detail adds something really special to what he does.  This is a clown unlike any other…one that many adults would love to have at their birthday parties.  His show can be adjusted for different audiences (children and adults, formal shows in museums to opening for burlesque acts), so it should be interesting to see what he does throughout the course of the festival.

Local writer, musician, artist and curator RA Washington presents The Dismantling of the Men in Me – a choreopoem in Three Vignettes – which deals with defining one’s manhood.  The performance includes found footage/staged video, images, music by The New SuRah Orchestra and dance through collaborations with local and regional dance and movement artists.  This multimedia performance examines how we as a culture collectively define manhood and our personal histories, and how these definitions fluctuate in different moments of our lives.

Between the Scene Stage, the Lakeside Stage, the lakeside Tesla Orchestra and the Dome Theatre, Ingenuity is a diverse music festival within the overall arts festival.  The weekend will feature dozens of local, regional and national acts.

Native Clevelanders will headline Friday night.  Mr. Gnome – singer/guitarist Nicole Barille and drummer/pianist Sam Meister – are currently working on their fourth studio album.  They’re only getting more and more popular across the country and North America, so don’t miss this chance to check them out!  CLASS – comprised of Attack!  Attack!’s Caleb Shomo and former Clevelander techno DJ/producer Dan Curtin, now residing in Berlin – will also headline Friday.

Saturday night features the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Chicago’s Angel Olsen and Pillars & Tongues as well as the electronic vibes of Thriftworks – comprised of Berkeley, CA’s Jake Atlas and Cleveland’s Jason Burns.  The evening will also feature the digital atmosphere of California’s Kevin Greenspon and another performance by Dixon’s Violin.

Friday and Saturday night will feature performances by the Tesla Orchestra – two giant tesla coils that will be placed in front of Lake Erie.  This fusion of technology and music pays homage to the late genius Nikola Tesla.  The Tesla Orchestra is the creation of a number of former, local college students from CWRU, CIA, LCCC and more.  Lightning bolts will fill the night sky as Lake Erie serves as the perfect backdrop.  Based on the pre-programmed frequency of each bolt, the twin coils perform a variety of songs with precise pitch and tone.  Tesla would be proud.

Sunday afternoon, the Scene Stage will feature the VMS Studios Kid Band Showcase.   The showcase includes nine bands comprised of kids between 10-17 years old. The kids meet at Vance Music Studios every week to practice.  Don’t take them lightly, some of them have been playing in local venues like The Phantasy, the old Hi-Fi, Relay for Life and The Winchester for five years.  The Lakeside stage will feature The Holy Spirit Choir singing songs of praise in front of Lake Erie on Sunday Afternoon.

The Dome Theatre will present a full line-up of electronic music on Friday night, followed by five performances by The Medicine Cabinet on Saturday and Sunday.

For the third consecutive year, Chucklefck is in charge of organizing the Comedy Stage.  Programming will run Friday and Saturday night from 8pm-1am with sketches, stand-up, podcasts and a live recording of The Awkward Sex Show.

The Studio on Mars, TurnStyle Films and Sway present The IndieFest Screening Room – featuring innovative, cutting-edge films, music videos and shorts.   Instead of focusing on high-budget films with all-star casts and crews of hundreds, IndieFest presents films with original creativity.   Awards will be presented at the festival and include People’s Choice (based on audience voting), Critic’s Choice (awarded by an independent panel) and Ingenuity Award for the most inventive techniques.

Ingenuity Gallery will convert almost an entire warehouse into a giant art gallery filled with original work by local and regional artists.  The highlights include George Kozman’s massive, panoramic mural Cloudscape – which will be painted live, on-site over the course of the weekend.  Jeff Chiplis’ The Great White Mountains & The Cold Cathode Plains will feature over 60 feet of flowing neon lighting to create a breathtaking landscape that is sure to complement Kozmon’s mural.  Steven Tackacs’ Six-16 will invite visitors to enter an enormous camera obscura.

Altered City/Altered States is an art exhibition curated by Kokoon Gallery owner William Scheele.  It will feature artists represented by his gallery – Charles Gilchrist, Greg Little, Michael Nekic and Evie Zimmer.

The Make Space will once again feature a number of hands-on activities, workshops and inventions for all ages.  There will also be a Showcase of Innovation area featuring local businesses like Cleveland Institute of Art, Lincoln Electric, Creativity for Kids and more.

The Festival began as the brainchild of James Levin and Thomas Mulready.  Levin and Mulready had previous collaborated to co-found the Cleveland Performance Art Festival.  Levin also founded the Cleveland Public Theatre and the recent One World Festival.  Mulready, as you may know, is the founder of Cool Cleveland.

Since its inception, IngenuityFest has been held in underdeveloped/underutilized spaces in Cleveland.  The first Ingenuity Fest was held Downtown in 2005 and attracted over 30,000 visitors.  Every few years the organizers find a new venue with unique characteristics that give each festival a different personality.

[Pictured; top to bottom: IngenuityFest 2012; Red Rovers photographed by Kevin Monko; 17 Border Crossings promotional photo uncredited; Pinch and Squeal photographed by Claudia Schieve; Mr Gnome photographed by Bill Oriani; #15 – Energy Series (3): Joule by Evie Zimmer]

IngenuityFest 2013 is FREE and open to the public!  A $5 donation is suggested at the gate.  Advanced reservations are required for some shows including Red Rovers, 17 Border Crossings, Dixon’s Violin, Borrowing Winds, Walking on Clouds, etc.  See website or program guide more information. Open Friday 5pm-1am, Saturday Noon-1am, Sunday Noon-6pm.



Josh Usmani is a 27 year old local artist, curator and writer. Since 2008, his work has been featured in over 50 local and regional exhibitions.









Post categories:

Leave a Reply