I learned a couple months ago about Free Thursdays at the Akron Art Museum, located near Summit Arts and Akron Makerspace. I brought some quarters so I could park at a meter, and it only took a few minutes to walk to the museum. I have visited the museum infrequently in the past, less frequently after its remodel several years ago* when it began charging for admission, but a few months ago I found out about their Thursday specials and began stopping by more often.
As a regular visitor to the nearby Akron Makerspace (formerly SynHak), I have become familiar with the area near South Summit Street in downtown Akron. There are meters for parking on South Summit, costing a quarter per fifteen minutes, and they are just a block away from the museum!
Every Thursday, the Akron Art Museum allows people to visit without charge. Lockers are available by the first floor restrooms for $.50, which is refunded once you return the key to the locker, and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of them. My last Thursday visit I brought my son to see the Mark Mothersbough Myopia exhibit, which we both enjoyed. I had also heard about the museum’s new park, a garden area behind the museum, but during my last visit it was raining. This time, it wasn’t.
Walking towards the museum, I cut through a parking lot and saw the sign for the Bud and Susie Rogers Garden. Immediately behind the sign is a plain concrete area with a metal sculpture. At least I thought it was a sculpture, but then I spotted the can of drumsticks. I spent the next few minutes cheerfully hitting different metal pieces and making happy noises. Some of those noises were even made with the drumsticks.
I’ve begun a regimen of daily walking and was hoping to use the park for that day’s jaunt, though the park was not as large as I had anticipated. Still, the concrete area turned into a path that zigzagged through carefully manicured patches of grass, flowers, and other flora.
Once inside the museum, I passed the cafe (which I was pleased to note also had vegetarian options) and deposited my bulky bag in a locker. Unencumbered, I climbed the front steps to the main gallery.
Some of the exhibits I’d seen before, such as It’s Not Easy Being Green (one of my favorites), but others I had not. I was particularly taken with a photorealistic painting of a shop window which appeared normal at first blush, but upon closer inspection seemed confusing–the layers of reflection weren’t as realistic as they first appeared.
One piece reminded me of an elaborate afghan. I was puzzled, then delighted, to discover it was composed entirely of flattened bottle caps and copper wire. I love when artwork upcycles discarded materials!
Another one was created with painted geometric shapes and splotches over a map, which reminded me of Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland. I could imagine the circles pompously looking down on those poor lines.*
There was also a photographic exhibit of National Park Service sites, and this one struck me as particularly beautiful and sad. The image is actually many photos mounted together, giving the entire work a picture window feel.
I would have spent more time at the museum if I could, but before I saw everything I needed to leave. There is simply way too much artwork on display to really appreciate in a single visit, but fortunately I can afford to return on future Thursdays.
*Truthfully, the remodel expanded the area the museum has and the building is much nicer than in the past. Now, in addition to the added space, both the interior and exterior of the building look like functional artwork. It was just that the cost was prohibitive for me until I learned about Free Thursdays.
**I asked @AkronArtMuseum if they minded if I posted the photos I took from my Thursday visit, and they very kindly granted me permission to use them on my blog for this post.
***The world of Flatland is populated by 2d geometric shapes whose place in society is determined by the number of sides they possess. The highest ranking individuals are “circles”–not true circles but polygons whose sides are so numerous they are almost indistinguishable from circles. Rank lowers with the number of sides, with the poor lines being the lowest rank; all lines are female.