The economy is clearly having an impact on summer festivals. Both the Cain Park Arts Festival and Ingenuity this past weekend featured larger-than-usual proportions of local talent. In past years, Northeast Ohio artists were few and far between at the Cain Park event, which attracts applications from artists across the country. This year, almost a third of the approximately 150 artists were from Northeast Ohio. Yet not only did the overall quality of the work seem a little better (especially crafts such as ceramics), but it seemed like most of the schlock that always creeps into such events (metal lawn ornaments, items depicting popular tourist beaches) was toted in from out of state.

As for Ingenuity, the inability to pay for out-of-state artists and performers or big headliners of past years (like Grandmaster Flash) certainly didn’t hamper the three-day festival at PlayhouseSquare. Ensembles like Double Edge Dance and Morrison Dance, bands like If These Trees Could Talk and Flat Can Co, film offerings like Kasumi’s, projected on a parking-lot wall, and interactive visual projects like “36 Views of a Bridge” by Alexander Boxerbaum and Chris Yanc (video below) or Daiv Whaley’s cell-phone photo gallery are only the tip of the iceberg that is the Cleveland creative community.

The highly touted Tesla Orchestra project earned an A for effort and mixed grades for execution. What was promoted as a spectacular display of electrical technology turned out to be basically a high-school-level skit with dancing, accompanied by the surf-rock of KB and the Riptides. The first night the electrical fireworks were barely noticeable at all; the second night the performance was postponed an hour by technical difficulties.

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