Sunday, August 03, 2008

The Waterloo Arts Festival: Clevelanders Play

"Aww...Brian should have come with me." Those were my first thoughts when I walked up to the corner of East 156th and Waterloo in Clevelands' North Collinwood Neighborhood. My 16 year old, whose main form of transportation for the past 6 years has been four wheels on seven layers of wood, told me earlier in the day he would check out the art festival with me, but a last minute phone call from one of his friends offered a more enticing Saturday afternoon than hanging out with Mom. I walked into the crowd surrounding the ramps and rails set up in the middle of the street and got a few shots of the skaters. I wanted to make sure I could rub it in later on, when I told him about my evening.

"Hey! Ms. Matthews!"

I turned around, and for a moment I didn't recognize the young woman waving at me. But then she took off her Hollywood sunglasses and smiled...Aziza Nicholson! It has been twelve short years since she sat in my Art History Class at the Cleveland School of Science.
A young entrepreneur, she now goes by the name of Aziza Yasmine, and has opened a business on Buckeye Rd in Cleveland, A II Z Naturals Studio Ltd. She had a booth set up at the festival where she sat with her parents selling boutique items from her salon, organic beauty products, designer bags, and hair pieces. She was excited to tell me about her recent trip to China, where she is working with manufacturers on her own line of hair pieces.

Running into my former students has to be one of the most satisfying parts of this line of work.

The art galleries were busy when I got to the festival, and since I prefer looking at artwork by myself when I can concentrate, I spent most of my time soaking up the activity on the street. I regret that I arrived so late, as vendors and festival volunteers were already starting to pack things up. The crowd had thinned, but was still a fascinating study of 21st century Cleveland, a neighborhood redefining itself, neighbors at play.
The thing I love most about the Waterloo Arts Festival is the laid back atmosphere, like a block party where everyone is invited. Yeah, that's the thing about Waterloo; even though I've never lived there, the neighbors always make me feel like one of them, like part of the family.

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derek said...

Hey MaryBeth,

I didn't get to make this year's fest...I was moving. I am now a Cuyahoga County resident again. Looks like good times were had at the fest.

It is such a small world. I was in a summer program with Ms. Nicholson. I am glad to see people I went to school with succeeding :-).

marybeth said...

Welcome back to the neighborhood Derek!

Anonymous said...

It reminded me of Coventry in the old days. Young, casual and unconventional.