Artists have finally figured out what industrialists have known for more than a century: Local resources are good for business. At the natural history museum's Resources: Steel, Rubber, Coal, and Salt, more than 50 pieces of art, constructed out of Northeast Ohio's natural offerings, reveal the accessibility, durability, and even beauty buried in the gritty materials. While the exhibit features a few large pieces (like a wall sculpture and a sidewalk table), it's heavy on wearable objects, such as bracelets, pins, necklaces, and rings, all on view through August 21 at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History's Fawick Gallery, 1 Wade Oval Drive. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $7, $5 for kids; call 216-231-4600.
It seems peculiar that Porthouse Theatre chose West Side Story (opening tonight) to close its 2005 season. After all, Porthouse's leafy outdoor setting could clash severely with the stark city life playing out onstage. But the timeless musical has withstood all sorts of blunders (from numerous underwhelming community-theater productions to a tossed-off spoof in Austin Powers in Goldmember) since its inception in 1957. So looking past the lush, green backdrop oughta be relatively easy. It's at Blossom Music Center (1145 West Steels Corners Road in Cuyahoga Falls) through August 14. Show times are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $11 to $24; call 330-929-4416.
Friday, July 29
Growing up, we loved getting blitzed on the Pro Football Hall of Fame Festival parade route the night before the big event, but Canton put the kibosh on those unsanctioned parties years ago. Since then, the festival committee's beefed up the week leading to the enshrinement ceremonies to include daily events, thereby allowing folks to get legally tanked for 10 straight days. It all kicks off this afternoon at Kent State University's Stark Campus (6000 Frank Avenue in Canton) with the Jackson-Belden Food Fest at 4 and the super-popular Balloon Classic Invitational (which features hot air balloons in various shapes and sizes) at 5:30. For the next week and a half, footraces, parades, live music, fireworks, and a little pigskin action consume Canton. For a complete schedule, visit www.profootballhoffestival.com.
On last year's Deep in the Heart, Austin singer-guitarist W.C. Clark added some rhythm to his blues. He also worked in some sizzling horns and pianist Marcia Ball (on a pair of steamy duets). It's a welcome blast of soul from a bluesman who's revered in his hometown as a sort of deity. (Stevie Ray Vaughan, like many of the city's musicians, learned his fancy fretwork from Clark.) Prepare to worship at the Winchester (12112 Madison Avenue in Lakewood) at 8:30 tonight. Tickets are $10; call 216-226-5681.
Saturday, July 30
Today's Brews, Blues & Burgers: An Ale-Tasting Event at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens gathers more than 20 breweries and more than 50 of their yummiest beverages for a summer shindig that's sure to have us seeing double. Local brewing companies Thirsty Dog, Great Lakes, and Willoughby will dispense suds alongside Delaware's Dogfish Head, Pennsylvania's Stoudt's, California's Stone, and many other ale- and pilsner-making microbreweries. Music by the Armstrong Bearcat Band will chase it down. And local chefs will be preparing dishes made with beer, just in case you get tired of drinking it. Brew flows from 2 to 5 p.m. at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens, 714 North Portage Path in Akron. Admission is $30. Call 330-315-3205 for more information.
Sunday, July 31
The 32 lithographs on display in The Story of Harness Racing by Currier & Ives uncover a piece of American history (documented by a pair of 19th-century printmakers) that looks quite familiar on the surface. But gaze beneath the pastoral scenes of cavorting horses and nattily dressed folks, and you'll discover a chunk of the past you probably never knew existed. Back in the day, impromptu horse races broke out on rural streets, as guys worked out their need for speed . . . just like dudes with souped-up Mustangs do today. Awesome stuff. Giddyap to Hale Farm's Jonathan Hale House (2686 Oak Hill Road in Bath) through October 30. It's open from noon to 5 p.m. today and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Admission is $12, $7 for kids; call 330-666-3711.
Monday, August 1
No matter how you add it up, math ain't fun. The eggheads at the Great Lakes Science Center, however, pry entertainment value out of plus signs, mathematical formulas, and numerical symbols in 10 new exhibits, which bamboozle big and little kids into using their noggins as they shoot a game of pool or bang on a keyboard. Displays like Hexagon Marbles, Elliptical Pool Table, and Harmonious Waves (which transfers voices into a series of cool patterns and lines) subtly incorporate figures and equations, all the while stressing the joy of numbers. Who'da thunk it? The science center (601 Erieside Avenue) is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is $8.95, $6.95 for kids; call 216-694-2000.
Tuesday, August 2
There's absolutely no reason to complain that there's nothing to do in Akron tonight, tomorrow, or even next Thursday. The free Summer Concert Series offers rock, jazz, and classical performances almost every single day of the week through the end of the month -- happening at night, during lunchtime, and at dusk at various area parks. Tonight's 7 p.m. concert at Firestone Park (1480 Girard Street in Akron) features Woodstock-era faves by Mo'Shambo. Call 330-375-2835 for a complete schedule.
Wednesday, August 3
On their fifth album, Free at Last (due next month), South Carolina punks Stretch Arm Strong continue down the fast, hard, and clean path forged on 2003's Engage. Onstage, the sonic assault comes in two- and three-minute bursts. Hear for yourself when the group plays the Pirate's Cove (2083 1/2 East 21st Street) at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 216-241-5555.