Remember that kid in Jerry Macguire who liked sharing obscure facts – like that the human head weighs 8 pounds? I’m that kid, grown up. On the trail of life, I like gathering little crumbs of knowledge. And one of my favorite pastimes is giving native Syracusans a positive fact to chew on when they complain about their hometown. I like proving people wrong with an unexpected bit of information, or at least serving food for thought.
That’s what I did with my friend, coworker, and lifetime Syracuse resident, Nell, during our lunch break last week while walking to the Everson Museum of Art. To be fair, Nell isn’t a Syracuse basher, but she was surprised when I shared my Everson fact: It was designed by I.M. Pei, the same world-famous architect who created the Louvre’s pyramids, the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, and even an apartment for Steve Jobs. And Syracuse has not one, but two, Pei buildings; the Syracuse University S.I. Newhouse School being the other Pei-produced architectural masterpiece.
Ask Nell about San Francisco where she lived for three years, and you’ll get an insider’s take on the city. She’ll tell you about the hidden yet hip Savoy bar with outdoor pool tables or Crissy Field, the best place to walk in Golden Gate Park (you walk right under the bridge!). Yet, Nell admitted she hadn’t been to the Everson since a grade school field trip and didn’t even know about the outdoor plaza in the back. I think most of us can relate: We’ll explore and ultimately idolize a new place, but ignore the treasures in our own backyards. I know I’m guilty: As a Michigan native and art museum lover, I haven’t even been to the Detroit Institute of Arts! But back to the trail…
As Nell and I approached the Everson, she eyed the Cubist-looking building with admiration. But it was the large sunken pool in the plaza that really impressed her. Not visible from the streets, the pool must be experienced from within the Everson grounds. You could walk by it, and not even know it was there. That day, the pool reflected our annual wish for spring: The sun and fifty degree weather had melted the pool’s ice. Nell and I walked around its perimeter, listening to the wheel-to-concrete rumble of a few bikers – an audible complement to Pei’s textured cement structure. We checked out the outdoor sculptures, then walked back to work. Nell thanked me for the lunchtime tour and I felt smugly satisfied, having shown a townie a new treasure.
Maybe I’m still in the honeymoon phase, but I love living in Central New York after calling it home for six years. When my born-and-raised Syracuse friends bemoan their city, I always jump in with my Jerry Macguire kid bit, sharing facts and then setting a date to visit a cool local spot – like the Everson. To my Syracuse cynics, the grass looks greener in bigger cities where there is more “going on” or in milder climates (the Carolinas are full of expatriate Central New Yorkers) where a snow plow has never scraped the streets. But one fact I know for sure: No matter where you live, it’s like the grass in any backyard, there are patches of dull brown – but also plenty of emerald green.
See more Pei buildings here.
Visit the Everson
For me the highlight of the Everson is the building itself, although the art inside is impressive as well. Pei has created an inviting and timeless structure. I love the gracefully spiraling cement staircase. Cement is graceful, you wonder? Yes. Visit the Everson, and see for yourself.