Sing O Muse of movie houses of the past, of glittering marquees and of unwavering dedication to the arts. Tell us Muse, of a small Ohio town during the Great Depression and its commitment to cultural treasures.
There is a place called The Lake 8 Movies Theatre where the Muses did grant special inspiration. “The Lake,” opened in 1938, a privately funded project by two Barberton businessmen, Frank Gaethke and Harold Makinson. The Lake was designed in Art Moderne, a late style of Art Deco architecture. The theater retains the main features of this style today.
Local Barberton artist, Wilson Roy Heller, was hired to paint a set of murals. These stunning murals continue to draw interest and help to define downtown Barberton. Known for political, Modernist art, the Muses of The Lake were an exquisite departure from his standard art. Of the eight total murals there are depictions of six muses from ancient Greek Mythology, the god Apollo, and a Poet.
In the lobby opposite the snack bar visitors are greeted by Calliope holding a lyre. Foremost among Muses she inspired epic poetry, music, song and dance. Her name means “beautiful-voiced” in Ancient Greek. Calliope shares a wall with Clio, the muse of history. Her name can be translated as “famous” or “glory.” In ancient iconography Clio often carried an open scroll or tablet. Heller paints her with a book bound in a way modern audiences could recognize.
Other Muses are represented as well. The goddess of tragedy, Melpomene, gazes downward while holding a mask of tragedy in her left hand. Facing her on the same wall is male figure with an open scroll. Perhaps he is a personification of poetry, or an illustration of famous poets like Ovid or Vergil.
Another male figure, Apollo, looks directly at Thalia, the muse of comedy. She returns his glance while holding a comedic mask in both hands. The bare-chested Apollo bears a bow and quiver filled with arrows. Apollo was a complex deity who served a variety of religious roles in the ancient world. He is often known as the leader of the Muses.
In Ancient Greece Terpsichore was frequently depicted sitting down and holding a lyre. At The Lakes however Heller allows the goddess of dance the freedom of movement. Her right hand is raised above her head and her right leg moves to imaginary music. She is identified by her perceived actions rather than an instrument. The flowers above her right ear lend a gaiety to her personality. Terpsichore shares a wall with Urania, the muse of the heavens. Urania holds a celestial orb with both hands. The orb appears to note the cardinal directions. Urania’s robe, as with the other Muses, features a streamlined Greek key pattern.
Chances are, if you are from Summit County, Ohio you already know about The Lake 8’s Muses. However, if you are not from the area, Barberton is worth the drive. It is only 45 minutes southeast of Cleveland. Visit http://lake8movies.com/web to learn movie times and hours of operation. Barberton is also experiencing a renaissance, visit http://www.annadeanfarm.com to learn more about the other historic buildings in this fascinating city. Near the theater, art gallery and coffee house Nine Muses Art Gallery is the perfect place to sip a warm drink while discussing a movie plot or to work on your novel. Perhaps the Muses will visit you too, all you have to do is call on them.
Rosina Eileen Khan is an