Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan State University is celebrating a major donation to its campus library.

A California media company is donating nearly one million CDs, DVDs, Blu-Rays and video games to MSU.

“I know it’s corny but it’s priceless,” says Clifford Haka, who directs the MSU libraries. “Even if we had $100 million, we couldn’t go out and replicate this because most of this stuff is no longer available anywhere.”

“John W. Hoag, Daguerrean Artist, Lansing, Mich., Dec. 14th, 1849.” This daguerreotype self-portrait with sign-board indicates the sitter’s profession. Likely the earliest known portrait of a Michigan photographer.
William L. Clements Library

There are many ways to revisit the stories of our past. Textbooks, journals and diaries, audio recordings and photographs – they all tell tales that might otherwise slip into the white noise of history.

David Tinder has been collection early Michigan photographs for all types for roughly 40 years now.

His collection of some 100,000 vintage images will be preserved at the University of Michigan Clements Library.

Tinder tells us he was always a collector of many things, but started gathering photos in 1964 when he bought a book on stereoviews.

Is it “healthy eating” or “healthful eating?” Is there even a difference?

For some people, there is. Anne Curzan, professor of English literature at the University of Michigan, is ready to lead us into the nuanced world of grammarians, where some distinctions are a little more complicated than they seem.

Michigan State Capitol Commission

Future state Capitol historic preservation projects will benefit from a unique lottery next Monday. 

One hundred pieces of decorative stonework that have adorned the Michigan state Capitol for more than a hundred years are destined to become conversation pieces on people’s bookshelves and breakfast nooks.

The ornamental brackets, called modillions, were removed as part of a recent renovation at the Capitol. The decorative pieces have suffered significant damage from the weather during their century on the Capitol building.

The Orbit logo
Rob St. Mary

Last December, journalist and Macomb County native Rob St. Mary had just gotten enough funding to publish an anthology saluting the work of three independent music arts magazines from the last days of a pre-Internet Michigan.

Re-Entry: The Orbit Magazine Anthology has arrived, packing in two decades’ worth of Detroit’s alternative publishing history.

Jon Vander Pol /

Exported from Michigan is a documentary film that explores the way Michiganders are employing resilience, creativity, toughness, and innovation to pull our state back from the depths of the Great Recession.

Earlier this year the film won the 2015 Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Length Documentary at the International Beverly Hills Film Festival.

John Vander Pol wrote, produced, and directed the film.

Sunset Baby rehearsal

Sunset Baby, by award-winning playwright and Detroit native Dominique Morisseau, tells the story of a former revolutionary who wants to reconnect with his daughter, Nina. Nina feels her father abandoned her and her mother in pursuit of his social causes.

As Nina moves between her father and her hustler boyfriend, loyalty, love, the power of revolution, and the reliability of memory are all tested.  

Portrait of a Man, Said to be Christopher Columbus.
Metropolitan Museum of Art / Wikimedia Commons

So much so that they're apparently taking it out on statues now.

Google "Columbus statue vandalism" and you'll drum up all manner of news stories about statues where people have expressed their opinion of the Italian explorer.

Today, it was Detroit's turn.

When you say the word controversial, do you say “controver-shall?”

Do you say “frustra-shun” for frustration, or “shtreet” for street?  

If so, you’re not alone. But what the h is going on with those pronunciations? Is this a Michigan thing?

Those are the questions a listener posed for us today, and our own University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan is ready to help us sound out an answer. But in order to do that, we’ll have to take a close look at the mechanics of how we say what we say.

Musician Britney Stoney is a born-and-raised Detroiter and she's inspired by her hometown in all kinds of ways. She's especially influenced by the people she calls "hustlers and grinders," meaning everyday people who work hard and live good lives, regardless of their circumstances. 

Stoney says her mother is a great example of a grinder, who raised her as a single mom while working as a waitress and bartender.

Here are a few lyrics from the song "Organ Donor:"

Michigan quiltmaker wins top prize at ArtPrize, again

Oct 10, 2015

For the second time, Ann Loveless of Frankfort, Michigan has won the top prize at Grand Rapids' annual ArtPrize competition.

This year, she had some help.


The 7th annual ArtPrize competition wraps up in Grand Rapids this weekend, and tonight the winners will be announced.

At stake are two separate $200,000 grand prizes. 

One winner be selected by a panel of art experts, and the other will be decided by public vote.

Art Prize organizers say there were over 1,550 entries in this year’s competition. 

The officers of the Mystic Order of Veiled Prophet of the Enchanted Realm, 1890 including the founder, Leroy Fairchild on the right seated.
Public Domain

Does wearing exotic uniforms, wielding sabers, riding camels, or driving tiny cars sound like a good time to you? Then you might have been right at home in one of the scores of social clubs that sprang up around America hundreds of years ago.

The Freemasons, the Odd Fellows, the Loyal Order of the Moose, the Daughters of Rebekah and the Order of the Eastern Star – men and women flocked to these clubs, especially in Detroit.

Bill Loomis took a look at these groups in his piece, Hanging at the club: the golden age of fraternal societies.

George Shirley, emeritus professor at the University of Michigan School of Music, Dance and Theatre, recently received the National Medal of Arts from President Obama.

Flower House will be open Oct. 16-18 before the house is deconstructed

A sad, old, derelict house in Hamtramck will literally blossom for three days this month when it becomes Flower House.

Bonnie Jo Campbell
John Campbell

Whether between mothers and daughters, brothers and sisters, or lovers new and old, human relationships are rarely tidy and neat.

This is especially true when they’re in a story by Kalamazoo writer Bonnie Jo Campbell. They’ll be powerful, offbeat, sometimes shocking and always interesting, but never neat.

wikimedia user InverseHypercube /

Detroit has itself a brand new resident.

Liana Aghajanian is the latest winner for Detroit’s Write A House program.

She was chosen from more than 200 entries and will move into a totally rehabilitated home just north of Hamtramck for a two-year residency.

We're happy to have an enthusiastic word-nerd audience with lots of suggestions and questions.  

Douglas, who listens to us from Atlanta, wants to know about discomfit vs. discomfort.

He wrote: “I once was discomfited by discomfort, never discomforted by discomfit.”

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan started digging.

Part of the Rumsey St. Project, this auto body garage was painted by Los Angeles-based artist Mark Dean Veca

The Next Idea

Collaboration between people of different backgrounds, expertise and points of view is one of the key drivers of innovation.

There’s one entry in this year’s Artprize in Grand Rapids that takes collaboration to another level.

Drinking on Game Day at MSU
Simon Schuster / Bridge Magazine

It's a rite of passage on college campuses: Game Day.

Yes, thousands pour onto campus for a football game, but there’s also the pre-game and post-game celebrations.

The centerpiece of both: alcohol – lots and lots of alcohol.

Bridge Magazine explored on-campus drinking in a series of reports centering on Saturday, Sept. 12.

HMN Photography

A year ago, Ypsilanti singer-songwriter Chris DuPont found himself coping with depression and questioning his faith.

DuPont spoke with Michigan Radio's Mercedes Mejia about his renewed outlook on life and the stories that inspired his new album, Outlier.

DuPont is also the music director at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Ypsilanti. 

Holding it Together

Detroit has collapsed into ruin, and a man named Kelly is earning a living as a scrapper.

He picks through the thousands of abandoned buildings, stealing scrap metal and then selling it to salvage yards in Scrapper, the newest novel from Michigan author Matt Bell.

The New York Times describes Scrapper as, “equal parts dystopian novel, psychological thriller and literary fiction.”

Bell says he likes that description, but thinks of the novel also as a detective story.

Maria Elena/flickr /

A dusty old Facebook hoax that was debunked years ago has flared up again being passed from friend to friend like a bad cold.

It's the "Facebook privacy status" hoax – the one that reads "As of September 29, 2015, I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future" ... and so on and so forth.

Cliff Lampe, associate professor at the University of Michigan School of Information joined us to talk about why so many people are falling for this again.

The entrance to Historic Fort Wayne in Detroit.
Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The new bridge planned between Detroit and Canada will land on the U.S. side near one of Michigan's landmark jewels. Historic Fort Wayne dates back to the 1840s and played many roles in U.S. military history.

While Detroit residents are aware of the fort, many Michigan residents outside of the city say they don't know much about its history and have never visited. So here's a short video on the history of the fort and a look at what little that's known about its future.

Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

Anishinaabemowin is the language that was spoken by tribes in Michigan for millennia, and it’s near extinction in the state.

Many Michigan tribes don’t have any fluent speakers left, while those that do are only reporting between one to three fluent speaking elders.  

Michigan tribes are doing what they can to bring the language back.

Doug Coombe

Every Sunday during the spring and summer months, you can swing by John’s Carpet House in Detroit, and hear some of the best local blues musicians jam for free. But John's Carpet House is not a house, it's actually a field, located in an area called Poletown, where I-75 and I-94 meet.

The music happens all day long, as a roster of musicians rotate on and off the tiny stage that’s set up in a grassy area.

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.

Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians Archives and Records

The original language of Michigan is dying in the state.

Anishinaabemowin was the language of the Great Lakes for millennia—spoken by the Chippewa/Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi tribes—known as the Anishinabek.

One of the biggest impacts on the language, that affected generations of families, was Native American boarding schools.

Bob from Kalamazoo's been wondering about something: What's going on with "absolutely?" Does it mean yes, no, or something else?

University of Michigan English Professor Anne Curzan delved into the question.

"Luckily for us, there was a study in 2007 by Hongyin Tao at UCLA, who used four spoken databases of American English to try to figure out what's going on with 'absolutely.' He looked at two ways 'absolutely' occurs," Curzan says.

"One he called the "dependent absolutely." This is when 'absolutely' occurs before an adjective, as in 'absolutely right,' 'absolutely perfect,' or 'absolutely wrong.'

Robert James Russell / Twitter

Ann Arbor author Robert James Russell is celebrating the release of his newest book, Mesilla, this week.

Mesilla is a Western that follows Everett Root, a wounded Civil War deserter haunted by his past, into 1863 New Mexico Territory.