Purple people eaters

So one day the often black-tied Trustees of the venerable Cleveland Museum of Art  have a meeting. One rich dude says to the rest of them, cartoon-like Harvard lock-jaw style, "What say we do something purple?" And the restees say "Tally-Ho, old chap, let's do it!"

Forget the permanent collection, with its notorious browns of Rembrandt, Caravaggio's suggestive reds, the sublime greens in Frederic Church's sunset and Degas' wispy gray dancers. What the people want is purple, and the funkadelics in charge made it happen. Thousands of times.

In the museum's cubic glass gallery, former home to priceless Rodin sculptures, are mounds and mounds of purple latex balloons, about 25,000. Exhibit is called No. 965: Half the air in a given space. Artist is Martin Creed, an acclaimed Brit, says he ponders relations between air in spaces. Critics applaud, I take my son Noah to plow through the purple.

First you deny latex allergy, then a badge goes over your head (if you get lost follow the solid wall). Put your hands up, back against the door, and enter sideways. Step into the  happening.

Balloons in your face, around your legs, up your back, beside your arms, touching your stomach, resting on top of your head. Eau de latex and Noah and I crack up. We are in the art, of the art and being the art as we move and push and touch and bounce. After a grab and pop I stick the purple fragment in my pocket. Somewhere else a pop, laughter, shouts. Soft collisions and smiles, "Dad, take a picture!"

The center is dark, we make for the far glass wall. Looking out from an amazary of balloons--the street, our car, green grass, people walking in the sun. We're inside twirling, laughing, exclaiming how it feels so crazy!

For purple mountain's majesty indeed, above our thinking brains.


  1. I've heard how awesome this is. Thanks for reminding me to get my butt over there! Hope all is well.


  2. I too have heard, but not yet seen. Must. Go. See. Maybe today.

  3. WOW! We were there yesterday. I didn't go in, but my 15-year-old daughter did and LOVED it. Now I'm going back.

    Thanks for this.

  4. As the balloons crowded my face, I could not even see my three year old son at my feet. Making a circle with my arms held just enough purple back to see my son's laughter. This echoes the importance of creating and protecting enough family space to feel safe and alive together. That's one of many lessons I learned in the bath of balloons.