Iron City Oddities


Oh hi again, Pittsburgh!

I hadn’t been down to my gallery Box Heart in three years, so I thought it was time to go by and swap out my old portrait work for some pieces from my newer series. As always, I hate going by myself, so it was “adventure day” with my husband and a few friends. My friend Beth suggested Trundle Manor as our main focus for the trip. After struggling to get the hell out of Cleveland and navigate freeways with Google Maps giving wrong directions as per usual, we finally goT underway.

As always, we went to the Church Works Brewery, and Ben’s fav record Store on Liberty Avenue, Sound Cat…



Then on to Trundle Manor…


So, as we first went up the steps, the owner of the home was on the ground next to the belt sander. We weren’t sure if this was a joke (they knew we were arriving that afternoon), if he was drunk, or if an accident happened with the power tools and he was dead. We debated as to make a run for it! But his fiance said he has been working hard on the cars all day a decided to nap. Mr. Arm does it all time.


Trundle Manor is a private home/museum that houses an amazing collection of taxidermy, oddities, and things in jars. It seriously gives the store Loved to Death a run for it’s money! Hobo bindle displays, death masks of Bela Lugosi and Vincent Price, mummy cats, and tumors that sing. We also got to pet the sweet and shy snake that lives in the kitchen by the microwave.

Our hostess, Velda von Minx…




Hi, pet me!








I had one of these little taxidermy alligators as a “toy” when I was little, and then his tail broke…



The dining room of absinthe bears…


Pet me moar!



Hobo Bindle museum!


Ben and Beth…


The singing tumor from a belly dancer friend! I asked for MY tumor but it got cut up into pieces and is sitting of shelves at Cleveland Clinic for research. And to think, I could have made mine a glorious entry way decoration such as this!



The garage is quite fun..


Plastic flamingos in the front yard? Psht!!!



Cars, collecting, and taxidermy are their passions. So glad we got to make a visit!

Artists and Films: The Process

Here are some recent films that give a little look into the studios and thought process of artists.

As a fan of anything Americana, and signage in general, I’m excited about this movie “Sign Painters”  I may have to go get the book now.

I only saw one film during the Cleveland International Film Festival, and it was “Breaking the Frame”. I took the director out as much as I could for that afternoon, and here’s hoping she’ll be back to speak at Cleveland Institute of Art for another screening soon. Her insights and process into making this film just add to the experience. If you don’t know who Carolee Schneemann is, this is a great overview.

Also, the film I saw last year, “Beauty is Embarrassing” is now available on Netflix and streaming. If you haven’t seen it yet or know about Wayne White, it is pretty great. Funny guy. It will be especially interesting for those who ever watched “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse”.

And while we are at it, here is a little video of  “a painter that sometimes sings” Richard Butler of Psychedelic Furs talking about his newest work from his studio in Beacon, NY. I’ll admit I am still miffed that a friend and I wore ‘I ♥ Richard Butler’ t-shirts that I made — drew a picture of him and all — and he wouldn’t talk to us or anything after the show; this was during a solo tour and not many people came out for the gig. He ran out those back doors and into his tour bus as fast as he could! Modesty indeed! Well I guess I still like him, he has a Bruegel book on his bookshelf and he has a cat in his studio.

My First Trip to Youngstown

Or rather, my last. Have you ever been? God I hope not. I only spent roughly 24 hours there and in many of the outer suburbs and I can honestly say I have no desire to go back.

My husband entered the Youngstown Peace Race, a race that has been nationally known for decades. I had heard The Butler Institute of American Art was amazing, so I figured this would be a nice excuse to stay over the weekend and do those wacky, crazy, silly, quirky trips my husband and I do every so often. I thought we had learned to make any day trip fun, no matter the destination. Wrong! The Butler Institute closed at 4pm on a Saturday, so I never got a chance to visit. I then proceeded to drive around several outer suburbs where the houses were nice enough, the trees were gorgeous, and the main drags looked typical of most American cities littered with car dealerships and a Pizza Hut every so often — Pizza Hut looking the cleanest out of all the Cash for Gold stores and abandoned strip malls with weeds growing from cracks in the parking lots.

It was hard to find a nice restaurant anywhere. In fact, we couldn’t even find an Outback Steakhouse or Chili’s when desperation set in. When going online to find something with good reviews, I found a lot of recommendations for the Applebee’s. We drove downtown, all dressed up, thinking there might be something, a hidden gem, or a strip of amazing places the way Grand Rapids, Michigan, surprised us. Nothing was to be had. One brew pub seems ok until the smell hit us as we walked in. The areas we drove around were downright scary, if not completely abandoned. On occasion there would be an Italian eatery that was clearly a front for some kind of dicey operation — nothing too welcoming. Just me taking photos around the area caused a lot of weird drifter types to yell at me, “what the fuck are you doing?” and “hey girl, come here!”. Maybe I was missing something? Maybe I happened upon 4 or 5 of the worst areas of town by accident?

America is beautiful…

So my husband and I did something we had never done before. He in his black velvet blazer and nice shoes; me in my designer clothes, French perfume, and pashmina wrap. We went to an Eat ‘n Park. I never felt so glamorous as sitting there at an Eat ‘n Park getting stares as I ate whatever microwaved entree I had ordered. The food wasn’t too terrible, actually.

At least I can say our Fairfield Inn was very nice and mod. I’m glad I chose to stay there versus the Econolodge next door that looked like a brothel. Well actually, it kind of was because it was next to this truck stop…

A trucker’s paradise to be sure. I wondered what kind of quality product works at a truck stop by Youngstown, Ohio. The best!

In any event, the race was Sunday, it was all fine and good. A lot of people from around the country come to the race because of the prize money. My husband was 2nd in his age group — he’s kind of a stud. Walking around was a tad depressing, though. All of the nicer buildings that hadn’t been abandoned were all banks. All of them. One even had blood strewn across the door. A sign of the times.

Fake blood, that is…

So….yeah. If I do go again, I’ll stick to the Butler Institute and be sure to come right back home. It’s only an hour drive, after all.

The Other Museums of Ohio

Oh sure, you can visit MOCA, The Cleveland Museum of Art, go see Balto stuffed and on display, or visit any number of Hall of Fames in this god forsaken state — and why not? Sure they’re great, you could go and do that. However, if you are a fan of road trips, the bizarre, kitsch, or just have super specific interests that you are certain no one else has — you are in luck. Ohio has a lot of weird collections on display for public consumption! Here are some of the “other” museums on my list…

If you find yourself on the way to Cedar Point or the Erie Islands, you can check out the Merry-Go-Round Museum. No, not the clothing store from the 1980s! I mean actual carousels.

Alliance, Ohio now has The Feline Historical Museum. It is brand new, and I know some of you crazy cat people are curious to check it out. 260 E. Main St., Alliance , Ohio. It’s free!

Also in Alliance is a bizarre favorite and something to behold. The Troll Hole! They have a cafe and gift shop of course, but there is a waterfall, a grotto, and children get their own doll to hold during the tours.

Canton is a horrible and awful place, but if you do go, check out the weirdness that is the Canton Classic Car Museum. My husband and I spent part of an afternoon here looking for Johnny Carson’s DeLorean (which was sold off) and I can tell you this place is bizarre. Lots of non-car related artifacts, toys, and collectibles combined with an array of hood ornaments and funeral cars. It’s kind of fun.

If that doesn’t do the trick and you still need to keep yourself busy in Canton — city of the former HQ of the Hoover company — you can visit The Vacuum Cleaner Museum. Um, yeah.

If you venture down to Cincinnati, there is the American Sign Museum. See, you don’t have to go all the way to Vegas for the Neon Graveyard after all (which is never open when I’ve gone anyways!). I am a lover of signage and Americana, so I may have to venture to this place next time I’m in Cincy.

The Harris Dental Museum. I’m one of those weirdos that doesn’t feel pain or mind going to the dentist. “Is that all you got?” is what I said after my last root canal. So if you aren’t afraid of the dentist — or the creepy little house the museum is housed in — you might enjoy this place.

Of course there is the new Museum of Divine Statues in Lakewood Ohio that I recently visited.


The Dittrick Museum of Medical History Located at Case Western in Cleveland, it is a great place for research, lectures, and old medical illustrations through the centuries. This is one of my favorite places in Cleveland! According to the illustration below, if you are a young man who touches himself, you will get ill and start wearing a turban (those French people in the 1700s sure were wacky)


The Bicycle Museum. Hey, I know the whole fixed gear bike thing is all the rage. Bike messengers and tweed ride fetishists are sure to get excited about this one!

The Wyandot Popcorn Museum, some people are nutty about their popcorn, and here is a place to see vintage machines among other popcorn related items.

Barber Museum and Hall of Fame Apparently it has lots of cool old chairs, signs, and blades. It would have been funnier if this were located in Barberton.

And there you have it!

The Divine Statues of Cleveland

I made a quick trip with my friend Camilla to the newly opened Museum of Divine Statues. It is a beautiful space, with fun eerie ambient music, a gift shop, and the layout and design of the exhibition is pretty fabulous.

I wasn’t raised Catholic or anything, but lately I’ve been into images of the virgin Mary, so I thought I’d come and take a look. All of these statues and candle holders had been donated when the Diocese of Cleveland started to shut down various churches. The restoration is due to a make-up artist! The perfect lip gloss and eye shadow job on Joan of Arc and many other saints kind of makes it obvious. All restoration is done on site and you can watch as it happens, which is pretty cool.

Right now the museum is only open on Sundays, but they are planning to expand with a coffee shop downstairs. I give it an A+

Romantic Weekend in Akron

Hellooo Akron!


Okay so this wasn’t meant as a “romantic weekend”, but we decided to make the most of our trip down the freeway 30 minutes for hubby’s race and to visit one of our friends. Mind you, we always have had fun in Akron; friends, good music, a dark bar and getting hammered played a large part in this of course. Akron has really good pizza places — way better than Cleveland for some odd reason — and one of our fav clothing stores that carries Ben Sherman products is located in the Highland Square area. On staying the whole weekend I learned however that Akron has loads of crazies wandering the streets begging for money, it seems deserted for the mostpart, and learned that I should not eat a 10oz. burger while sleeping in a round room. Yes, a round room! While it was fun, it really did give me nasty headache the first night — I never get headaches.


I had read and heard about the hotel in an old Quaker Oats silo, so we decided to stay. I’m not as seasoned a traveler as people who do it all the time for business, I have however, traveled A LOT and stayed at A LOT of Motels and Hotels. Enough that I really think I should be paid to review them as I am quite particular. For instance, I rate my stays at The Falls View Marriott in Niagara Falls and the Holiday Inn in Johnstown, New York to be vastly superior experiences when compared to “luxury” digs, like The Morgans NYC and The Chesterfield Palm Beach. But that’s a whole other write-up for another time.

The Silo Hotel was quite funny and disorienting. It had squishy pillows, a bouncy bed, almost totally soundproof (duh, silo!) my only complaint is the complete shit shower with spastic water pressure and the linens could stand to be upgraded; run by Crown Plaza I don’t know how they decided to label it “the most exciting hotel in the world” when I can think of 6 hotels in Vegas more so, but indeed it was bizarre. The old Quaker Oats ads were pretty fun, as were the choo-choo trains everywhere…





Here’s hubby posing with his trophy from that morning at Akron Aeros Stadium. He got 2nd place in the Masters division:



Here’s the Mary Coyle ice cream shop where we got some yummy grub:


I also don’t know why the shoe repair shop has a mannequin dressed as a pregnent Mexican robot:


In all it was a fine trip except for the part where I threw up from my headache (no more round rooms and burgers for me!), and the part where I caught a cold. But that’s okay, if there’s an awesome show at The Lime Spider — ahem, May 25th — this summer, I will indeed be back up on the rooftop chowing down on a Gyro while tipsy.

Last year I did Palm Beach, San Francisco, Chicago and repeat trips to Michigan in-between various other jaunts…this is the budget year so I have to get excited about what I can.