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arts and culture

two people standing at a microphone
Courtesy of Relato:Detroit / Facebook

The Metro Detroit area is incredibly culturally diverse. The region is home to more than 30 languages, and in more than 600-thousand homes, a language other than English is spoken at the dinner table.

The group Relato:Detroit wants to bring those immigrant or bilingual speakers into the storytelling fold.

Drawing of the Islamic Riad, a shared courtyard that will join repaired homes & businesses
Courtesy Ghana ThinkTank's website

Take a Detroit problem. In this case, neighborhoods that have suffered neglect.

Tackle that problem with a solution from a Third World Country, in this case, Morocco.

That's what an innovative effort called the Ghana Think Tank has done. The result is being launched today in Detroit's North End Woodward Community.

Four poets stand behind a mic to record their spoken-word album.
Brianne Carpenter / Creative Youth Center

It's been a relentless news cycle this week, so here's a break for at least a few minutes from politics, national security and healthcare. We turned the mic over to some students way outside the beltway.

Mural painted on a wall
wilansky / FLICKR - HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

 

In Detroit, there are all kinds of artists and art projects happening organically. But, the City of Detroit doesn’t really have a vehicle to encourage or develop an arts culture.

The uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act is likely influencing some of the health care rate increases.
Gage Skidmore / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Michigan arts and humanities funding may soon be taking a hit. 

President Trump's proposed budget calls for an end to the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH), one of the largest sources of funding for arts and humanities funds nationwide.

The endowment provides more than $1 million in funding every year to the state of Michigan. 

people at sculpture exhibit
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A collection of carved wooden dogs received the most votes in this year’s ArtPrize. James Mellick, a craftsman from Ohio, takes home $200,000 for Wounded Warrior Dogs.

According to the artists’ statement, Mellick hopes the installation at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel raises awareness of wounded veterans.

Courtesy of Huberty Massey / www.hubertmasseymurals.com

One of the world's most famous examples of frescoes is the Diego Rivera work at the Detroit Institute of Arts. They’re called the Detroit Industry murals.

In that same tradition, artist Hubert Massey is preparing to paint a large mural, 30 feet by 30 feet, in the fresco style for Detroit's Cobo Center.

In John Smolens’ riveting new novel, Wolf's Mouth, the action begins in 1944, in Camp Au Train, a lumber camp near Munising, Michigan. But it’s not a typical lumber camp. It’s a Prisoner Of War camp, one of the many in Michigan during World War II. 

The prisoners are mostly Germans, with a smattering of other nationalities.

But even in an American-run POW camp, the Nazis secretly hold the reins, meting out a cruel justice to anyone who disobeys Kommandant Vogel, a man known for vengeance and violence.  

Yet one Italian soldier, Francesco Verdi, dares to defy Vogel.  It’s a choice that will have repercussions for the rest of his life.  He also happens to be the narrator of Wolf's Mouth.

The "button wall" at the University of Chicago's 2008 Humanities Day
flickr user Quinn Dombrowski / http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

Early last year we announced on Stateside the Michigan Humanities Council's pick for the 2015-2016 Great Michigan Read: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel.

Mandel sat down with us in February 2015 to talk about her fantastic futuristic novel set in post-apocalyptic Michigan. 

Shelly Kasprzycki is the executive director of the Michigan Humanities Council. Of books chosen for the Great Michigan Read so far, she told us Station Eleven is "probably the all-time hit."

 

Michigan Bookmark is a series that features Michigan authors reviewing Michigan books.

Doug Coombe

Carey Gustafson spent hours in her bedroom as a kid, sketching images of rock stars and actors and her favorite pop culture characters. She especially loved drawing Pac-Man and The Monkees and E.T. and Rick Springfield.

Gustafson says back then, she did not have a well-developed sense of identity. But she did have a good sense of humor. Plus she loved rock-n-roll and pop culture, and found plenty of inspiration in music and books and art.

Slatkin is the music director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
Leonard Slatkin

Leonard Slatkin will step down as Detroit Symphony Orchestra music director at the end of the 2017-2018 season.

That doesn't mean he'll be putting down his baton for good.

"Fearless. Fresh. Made in Detroit.”

That's the motto of the Detroit Public Theatre, whose mission is to produce theater with top writers, directors, and actors in Midtown Detroit's growing cultural district.

The Detroit Public Theatre's inaugural season begins Friday at the Max M. Fisher Music Center, home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

Stateside's Cynthia Canty spoke with Courtney Burkett and Sarah Winkler, founding co-artistic directors. 

Are the arts a luxury or an economic necessity?

Oct 19, 2015
Melanie Goulish

The Next Idea

Most of us have a sense that the arts contribute to a community’s economic well-being. Measuring that feeling in real economic terms, however, is quite difficult.

We know that arts and culture enhance where we live, but when it comes to determining where to invest money for our state’s future, it’s not clear how the arts really add up.

Jeremy Peters

You don't hear a lot of hot, danceable tracks about gentrification.

But Detroit emcee/slam poet/teacher Mic Write writes ear worms about the city’s evolution, his pride in its unsung neighborhoods, and how good it feels to disprove anyone who didn’t expect much of a kid from the D.

Doug Coombe

Carson Brown wants to make people think critically about what he calls the American landscape, and he’s not talking about mountains and vistas. He’s talking about the American landscape of consumerism.

“I want people to look around the space of a big box store and ask, ‘Is this space necessary? Do I need all these things? Is this a healthy way of living my life?’”

Tamar Charney

I muttered "sorry" as I handed over my credit card to buy an 80-cent locally grown peach from the cute little farm market near the office.

"It's 2015, nobody carries cash" was the hippie hipster cashier's response. It's true I almost never carry cash, but still from time to time I'm embarrassed to use a credit card knowing that the card fees relative to my purchase make no sense for the store. But I hate dealing with cash.

Except that's not quite true. I'm actually conflicted about cash.

Film rolls.
Luca Nonato / Flickr

Michigan's film incentives would be completely phased out under a bill approved this morning by the state Senate.

The vote comes a day after Gov. Rick Snyder signed a new state budget that cut funding for the film credits in half compared to the budget passed last year.

The legislation now goes to the state House, which could send the bill to the governor's desk later today.

*We'll have more on this soon.

An entire generation of  fifth graders is contemplating a big decision as the school year comes to an end: "What instrument should I play next year in band?"

But plenty of kids don't even know what instruments they can choose from. They may have seen Kenny G jamming on a saxophone on TV, or heard about an instrument they think might be called the "ter-bon," but they've never had the chance to actually hold one (a trombone, that is) and try blowing into it.

That's where "instrument fittings" come in.

A new art project that's made a stop in Michigan is trying to empower women and value girls by recognizing their potential. Girl Noticed has a message and is stating in ten-foot-tall terms.

Watching someone sketch is interesting. Watching someone sketch a mural on a wall is fascinating because of the scale. But, there’s a problem when you do a mural on an outdoor brick wall using charcoal and chalk. It’s going to weather away. It will eventually fade to nothing.

And the artist I'm watching says that’s part of the message.

“We go through our lives feeling invisible a lot of times, feeling unnoticed, or feeling like we’re noticed for the wrong reasons,” Lori Pratico said as she stepped down from the ladder.

She says she wants people to re-think what they notice about women before the chance fades away and they miss the best part of someone.

Michigan Opera Theatre reaches out to Latinos

Mar 6, 2015
Michigan Opera Theatre

The Michigan Opera Theatre is performing the opera “Frida” by American composer Robert Xavier Rodriguez. It's about the life of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

Here’s why that’s a smart idea for an arts organization:

1. Tapping into Frida Kahlo’s broad appeal

Lots of people love Frida Kahlo. Latinos love her. Women love her.  Artists love her. Gay people love her.

LaughFest image.
LaughFest

Gilda’s LaughFest 2015 kicks off in Grand Rapids this Thursday (March 5).

The 10-day comedic festival will feature stand-up, comedy films, improv, comedy showcases and more all over West Michigan.

The festival was started by Gilda’s Club Grand Rapids, a survivor support group named after the late comic Gilda Radner.

You can see a full list of the events and venues here.

Ron, East Side Riders
Corine Vermeulen / Courtesy of Detroit Institute of Arts

A new Detroit Institute of Arts exhibit features stories of Detroit residents through portraits taken around the city.

The DIA commissioned Dutch-born Corine Vermeulen to photograph people in diverse communities for the exhibit that opens today and runs through May 17, 2015.

Vermeulen took photos of hundreds of Detroit residents in temporary portrait studios and asked them questions about their current and future vision of Detroit. 

The DIA says the exhibit includes more than 80 photographs from the sessions, including portraits of students, protesters and even custom-bike enthusiasts.

One such custom-bike enthusiast is "Ron," a member of the East Side Riders. Along with having his portrait taken (pictured above), Ron shed some light in an interview with Vermeulen on the reactions he and his fellow East Side Riders have received:

“I mean it was different reactions, some people laughed. A lot of people laugh when they hear the radios on the bike. They go, ‘I can’t believe that’s no radio on there.’ When they get up close, they be like, ‘that’s real nice. That’s real nice.’ But they were just laughing at us. But we still have fun. We just keep it moving. East Side. Keep moving.”

For more portraits and interviews, check out the Detroit Institute of Arts website.

- Ari Sandberg, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Kate Wells / Michigan Radio

Between 40,000 and 50,000 classroom kids watched a live high-definition web stream of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra today, according to the DSO.

The symphony says it’s the first concert of its kind, reaching kids across Detroit and Michigan.

Paul Hogle is the DSO’s executive vice president.

"I think there's an opportunity for us to do this for hundreds of thousands of students,” he says, "because the Detroit Symphony Orchestra could become America's orchestra for educational concert programming."

The Queen of Soul at President Obama's inauguration.
Cecilio Ricardo / U.S. Air Force

In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Christopher John Farley, the Queen of Soul spoke about the success of her recent album, her thoughts on current and past “divas,” and negotiations over her upcoming biopic.

Farley had a broad list of questions, which brought us to some awkward places when Franklin made it clear she didn’t want to discuss some things.

The use of “auto-tune” by some singers was something to which Franklin hadn’t given much thought. Farley wanted to know what Franklin thought of younger artists using the device.

AF: “What is auto-tune? I don’t even know what auto-tune is.

WSJ: “It’s a kind of way of electronically adjusting your voice ..."

 AF: “Oh, please.”

WSJ: “…so it doesn’t sound pitchy - it doesn’t sound wrong…”

 AF: “Oh that’s ridiculous.”

Other interview highlights:

  • Farley asked about Franklin considering the ballet as a career choice – “I love the ballet.”
  • About her thoughts on Nicki Minaj – “Hmmm. I’m going to pass on that one.”
  • Her thoughts about President Obama’s performance in office – “It’s really not for me to say.”
  • About her upcoming biopic – Franklin can see Jennifer Hudson or Audra McDonald playing the role.

You can watch the interview here:

Frontier Ruckus Portrait
Sean Cook

Michigan's own Frontier Ruckus have made their mark in the re-emergent folk-rock world that has allowed them to tour nationally and internationally.

Today the band releases its newest album - Sitcom Afterlife.

Emily Fox talked to band members Zach Nichols and Matthew Milia about some of their favorite moments of their musical career. Recent highlights include playing festivals such as Lollapalooza and Bonnaroo, along with touring Europe six times. 

Frontier Ruckus' sound has changed over the years. Their earlier albums had an intimate, raw, acoustic sound. Their latest album sounds more produced and throws in some electronic instrumentation. Their roots still show though, often with lyrics and references that invoke nostalgic imagery of growing up in Michigan.

*Listen to our conversation with Frontier Ruckus above.

People will be watching their old home movies, all over the world, on "Home Movie Day." The big event happens Saturday, October 18th. Organizers call it "an annual, worldwide celebration of amateur films."

The green acid-washed chair by Mobel Link.
User: Detroit Design Festival / Facebook

The 4th Annual Detroit Design Festival is taking place this week in the city with over 60 events.

Sam Moschelli is the sponsorship director at the Detroit chapter of the American Institute of Architects – the group putting on an event this Thursday evening at Eastern Market. Moschelli says he believes there are opportunities for both creating new and revitalizing old.

"The golden age of Detroit was in the 1920s and 1930s. We were known as the 'Paris of the Midwest.' People used to come here to study architecture and to understand the buildings of the era. That building stock is some of our most important resources that we have in the region," says Moschelli.

Detroit by Design event producer Rich Rice says the opportunity and energy that the city offers for artists are catching lots of attention internationally. 

"People talk about the arts movements. The older creatives say back in the 1980s in New York .... [Detroit] feels a lot like what was going on there," says Rice

*Listen to our conversation with Sam Moschelli and Rich Rice above.

mconnors / morgueFile

Is there anyone who hasn't scanned the radio dial on a long road trip and endured noisy static,  angry talk shows, and music that disappoints  in a desperate search for a classic rock station?

But who knew the classic rock concept was born in Michigan almost 30 years ago?

Fred Jacobs, an Oakland County-based radio consultant, was part of that birth in 1985. He said WMMQ in Charlotte, Michigan, was the first classic rock station, and the format quickly spread across the country.

Jacobs said he was inspired by complaints from listeners who couldn't find the music they had grown up with and loved. 

Jacobs said classic rock is not the same as "golden oldies." It is about the golden age of rock – music people will still be listening to in 100 years. 

Jacobs said classic rock started with music from the 60s and 70s and musicians like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who, and Eric Clapton. 

But he said it's all about the music of your youth that you never get tired of hearing.  And as generations move on, classic rock has added 80s and even more recent music to its roster.

Music artists Calvin Harris (left), Lana del Rey (right).
Carlos Delgado - wikimedia commons / Beatriz Alvani - Flickr

How do we know this?

Well, we don’t, but Spotify does.

The Swedish streaming music service released data on “How Students Listen” naming  the “Top 40 Musical Universities in America."

The report is an obvious way to attract attention to itself (and get more subscribers), but the data released is interesting in that it shows what these online services know about certain populations.

Both Michigan State University and the University of Michigan are named in their “Top 40” List.

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