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Toledo Museum of Art + SIP Coffee

Updated: Sep 23, 2022

The MUSEUM: The Toledo Museum of Art Having never given it much thought, I hadn’t realized how close Toledo is. By the time you’re sick of driving, you’re there. I also have this association with Columbus however the (lack of) scenery is slightly different so maybe it just feels like a longer drive then it actually is. A sunny, cool February day and great for a drive, I decided to head over to the Toledo Museum of Art. Approaching the entrance to the museum had an air not unlike entering a very serious and conservative bank; in contrast to the covered parking area that felt like I was gearing up for a day at an amusement park. While not the most impressive of introductions, entering the museum on the lower level did make the atrium revealed at the top of the stairs that much more majestic. Having scoffed at the idea of a museum map, I start to wander. Here are some pieces that caught my attention:

Current Exhibits ONE EACH: Still Lifes by Pissarro, Cézanne, Manet & Friends This gallery was exciting to step into since it was dimly-lit rendering the space mysterious and dramatic. The walls were painted a deep navy blue and the lighting was limited to just a spotlight or two highlighting each work. The shadowy light completely enhanced the mood of each still life giving the subject a rich dimension. All together it created a very immersive and contemplative experience. I have always been drawn to the detail and photographic quality of still life and tromp-l’oeil paintings. For this reason, I particularly liked this exhibit and because there were just a handful of pieces, enough for the sake of comparison but not so many that you’d lose interest.

“Everything Is Rhythm”: Mid-Century Art and Music I was looking forward to this exhibit and eager to see how the TMA would tackle the concept of pairing music and visual art. I think it’s a valid and thought-provoking connection to present to museum audiences, but the presentation seemed a bit… forced. I didn’t agree with the music pairings. You can’t approach the exhibit without seeing the work first and immediately, almost involuntarily, making your own conclusions as to the rhythm of the piece. Instead of one music selection, I would have liked a selection of music to choose from and have the experience of how different music can effect my interpretation of the piece. The gallery space was a bit congested with additional gallery walls and speakers to plug into and had lighting similar to a big-box store. The time spent in the gallery left me feeling over-sensitized and uncomfortable.

The TMA Glass Pavilion

I ended my visit at the Glass Pavilion, a short walk across the street from the main building. So. Much. Glass. So much that I would have been anxious if anyone under the age of ten were meandering around. Even the gallery walls are glass so you can just about see the entirety of the glass. I can’t imagine that someone hasn’t smacked into a glass wall on occasion having been distracted by so many objects. In the middle of all this elegant and fragile work is a powerful and radiant glass blowing demonstration area. It’s baffling and impressive how such delicate objects can come from such a labor intensive process.

I would definitely return to the TMA. It is a manageable size in that you can hit everything in a day, not feel overwhelmed and still have an appreciation for what you’re looking at. Next time, I would check out the museum café as well as the Peristyle Theater which happened to be closed that day.

The CAFE: SIP Coffee I’m a researcher at heart so I like a plan but always leave flexibility to deviate. I looked up some coffee shops in advance and settled on SIP Coffee. Not far from the museum, good reviews and a decent website. (This is the bar). No strange circuitous routes to the destination and ample parking! Bonus! It’s difficult to relax and be open to new experiences when you’re concerned about your car getting towed…

Anyway. SIP, for Socially Infused People, is a nice place, clean with minimalist décor and a slick contemporary theme, spacious but cozy and unique in their use of the space. Though there wasn’t much happening socially - mostly students buried in books and laptops, looking rather intense. Among my first impressions, this place is stuffy – as in warm, too warm. I like a coffee shop that’s a bit cool so you can curl up with your warm beverage. Noting the temperate, I order a hot, toasted marshmallow almond milk latte any way… because my preference and what is actually happening in the environment are clearly not related. Hungry after my art journey, I peruse the bakery case and find an artful selection of complicated croissants and confusing pretzels. I settle on a pre-packaged but ‘home-made’ looking granola caramel bar. The wait time for my drink gives me just enough time to look over the impressively organized barista counter, community board and condiment area. When my latte is ready a friendly barista hands it over in a paper cup and cardboard sleeve. Meh. Who among us doesn’t prefer the white ceramic café mug when you are going to linger for awhile? Ah well. Since the ground floor is full I grab my order and head upstairs.

The second floor is just as spacious, just as warm, equally as nice and features large picture windows and a high ceiling. Framed artwork adorns the wall gallery-style and more students fill the tables. With out the hiss of the milk being steamed and the clatter of plates and steel pitchers, it feels less like a coffee shop and more like a university study hall but it still has a nice vibe to it and lots of natural light. The latte is good, the snack is tasty, I settle into some reading.

The CONTENT: Click Magazine & Rich and Pretty On occasion, I can be one of those people that can be still and not have to totally entertain myself every second. (Love to my meditation and yoga practice.) I can wait in line at the grocery store and not be tempted to scroll on my phone. I would be perfectly content sipping on a latte and people watching in a café. However I am sympathetic to the fact that on the receiving end, that’s creepy. And I think a coffee shop has the best ambiance to read in so I will always bring something in print as opposed to sitting on my phone; once the photo shoot of my artfully crafted latte and charming pastry has concluded of course. I <heart> Click magazine. It takes me so long to get through an issue even though the issue might consist mostly of images. Preferable, I like to indulge the issue cover to cover in one day like I’m taking a photo intensive course. I go on so many tangents looking up equipment or an artists’ Instagram or an idea or concept in an article. & Rich and Pretty I always bring a few options because I never know what I’ll be in the mood for. Some coffee shops have an atmosphere that lends itself to the attention span of short articles others are quite enough you can get into a novel. I like to have options. And in this case, I had run out of magazine. This book, lauded as a ‘great summer read’ and the reason and season for which I purchased it, was not touched in over six months because I rarely read fiction. I definitely judge a book by its cover and I was attracted to the pop of bright neon pink against a vivid turquoise. And the cover image had a blurry photographic quality. The book was neither boring nor engrossing and the cover was the best thing going for it. It definitely earned every inch of space it took up on the 2for-get-these-out-of-the-store table.

UPDATE: The other book in the 2-for pair turned out to be much more to my taste. So much so that it was photo-shoot worthy and posted to Instagram.

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