The Center for American Places/Columbia College, Chicago
Commissioned by the George Gund Foundation, Andrew Borowiec took photographs of Cleveland for its 2002 Annual Report. However, once he was finished, the George Gund Foundation provided the support for their publication in an imprint of the Center for American Places. What you see is a Cleveland that many know but never see. The pictures, all in black and white and with only a couple of people, are stark, gritty, industrial, touching, and beautiful. Black and white is the perfect medium for Cleveland. Some photographs, taken in winter, seem colder; like a wind off of Lake Erie. Others, in the summer, seem hotter, more humid. Much like some of our summer days. In short, this is how Cleveland should look. The photographs that really make an impact are of people's back yards, overlooking the industrial Flats. Their choices of furniture do not seem out of place; car seats, mismatched chairs, makeshift tables. Gritty furniture for a tough people. Two photos require a careful reexamination - the disappearance of a small house for an upscale townhouse. All that remains of the house is its fence. It is strange that the fence seems to belong, but with a much different meaning.
Andrew's choices of Les Roberts and Rod Slemmons for the essays was a masterstroke. These two individuals add more depth to the wonderful photographs and provide excellent insight into Cleveland. While probably not popular with the Cleveland Travel and Convention Bureau, this is a book that all Clevelanders should read. For those that wonder about our fair city, it will reveal our industrial legacy. Slemmons;' essay is a perfect ending to this wonderful book, as he recalls the people that have populated this town. And in the end, you will realize that Les Roberts was correct, this is a tough city and Borowiec has captured it.