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Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

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.

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This is part of an ongoing series on Stateside called Artisans of Michigan.

We are at Voodoo Choppers in Aurburn Hills to talk with Eric Gorges. If that name is familiar to you, you know he’s also host of the weekly national TV show on PBS, A Craftsman’s Legacy. But, we’re here chiefly to talk about his craft: building motorcycles.

Courtesy of Ran Ortner Studio

As the Grand Rapids Artprize competition continues to grow and evolve, Stateside’s Lester Graham sat down with the very first winner of the competition, painter Ran Ortner.

Mary Whalen

After three years of writing, arranging and recording, Red Tail Ring’s Michael Beauchamp and Laurel Premo are out with their new album.

It’s called Fall Away Blues. It blends new folk songs on subjects ranging from gun violence and fracking to our deepest relationships and changing sense of place. It also features some old traditional ballads and tunes.

Wayne State University Press

Many women can relate to the witching hour. In the middle of the night, you wake up and have trouble falling back to sleep because your mind is racing. Concerns about the upcoming day, anxiety about the mounting to-do list while, oftentimes, your partner sleeps soundly next to you. The Witching Hour is the title of the first story in a collection of “flash fiction” – not short stories – by Detroit-based writer Desiree Cooper, titled Know The Mother.

Max Nussenbaum is the CEO of Castle, a company looking to make property management simpler and more efficient
Courtesy of Generation Startup

What's the barrier between you and the life you truly want to lead?

That's one of the questions Cheryl Miller Houser explores as co-director of the documentary film Generation Startup.

It follows some young entrepreneurs as they build startups in Detroit. They try, stumble, learn, and try again.

Vial told us his new album was recorded over the course of three days in a cabin in northern Michigan.
Jay Jylkka

 


It isn’t often you hear of an aspiring musician being encouraged to give up their day job - you know, the one that pays - and plunge head first into that musical career.

But Ann Arbor-based singer-songwriter Mike Vial was given that push as sort of a wedding gift from his wife Natalie Burg. She told him she wouldn’t marry him unless he quit his job as a teacher to follow his musical dreams.

That was five years ago. Since then, Vial has played hundreds of gigs across the United States and Canada.

Now he’s out with his fourth release: A World That’s Bigger.

What gives you solace?

Maybe it's a hot cup of tea and a good book. Maybe it's a stroll through the woods on an autumn day.

Or maybe it's cat videos. Lots of cat videos.  

What gives us solace is knowing that we have thoughtful, curious listeners who send us great questions, including one from a listener who wanted to know if "solace" can be modified by "some"?

That is, can you take some solace or do you have to take it all?


Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

“I was listening to Michigan Radio and I heard about this beer tax being debated,” Tammy Coxen of Tammy’s Tastings said as she poured rye into a stainless steel mixing cup for a cocktail. “That tax has a little bit to do with the cocktail I chose today,” Coxen said.

It’s called the sawbuck, which is an antiquated term for a ten dollar bill. If the bill passes, ten dollars would not quite cover the increased tax on a keg of beer.

Contemporary opera premieres in the Upper Peninsula

Sep 30, 2016
JACQUES-ALAIN FINKELTROC

Last summer, we met Eugene Birman and Scott Diel on an island in the middle of Lake Superior. They were working on their newest opera called State of the Union.

With almost everything Birman and Diel have attempted to do, they've tried to ask themselves, "Why does it have to be this way? Can it be different?"

Eugene Birman says in most cases, other people have responded, "Well, yeah, I guess it can be.”

Photos: The River Street Anthology

Sep 30, 2016
Doug Coombe

Ypsilanti songwriter Matt Jones’ extensive River Street Anthology of Michigan music had very humble beginnings. Inspired by Saturday Looks Good to Me front man Fred Thomas’ 2006 Ypsilanti compilation, Jones set out to do a Volume 2.

Within an hour after making a Facebook post seeking musicians on February 6, 2015, his little 10 to 15 person compilation quickly had more than 60 artists lined up.

Cemetery graves overgrown with weeds.
Amy Goldman / Friends of B'nai David Cemetery

If you drive Van Dyke on Detroit’s east side, you could easily miss B’nai David Cemetery. It sits on a little hill up off the road, its rows of 1,300 plots tightly spaced.

The gravestones are carved in Hebrew, Yiddish and English. Some look like tree trunks that have been cut short, symbols of lives that ended too soon.

A few years ago, you wouldn’t even have been able to see some of the stones. The weeds had grown tall. Urns had been stolen. Some of the headstones toppled.

Courtesy of Barney Ales

 

You’ve surely heard many stories about Motown over the years. Stories of its stars or of the ambitious Berry Gordy Jr. using an $800 family loan to build one of the most impactful record labels anywhere.

But there’s a side to the Motown we haven’t heard much about until now: the business side. The entrepreneurial spirit, the hard work and the hustle to “get the records played and the company paid.”

Sam Kadi

For most of us, our view of the bloody civil war in Syria is limited to snippets of video seen on network or cable news.

But a new documentary film gives us a staggering inside view of the Syrian Revolution.

Hystopia, the first novel of acclaimed Michigan short story writer David Means, is a complex book built around a simple question: what can we do about the trauma that war inflicts on our veterans?  

“We’re profiting off of it,” Ramsdell said. “The minerals are going into the products that we’re living off of and benefiting off of, and the Congolese people are left with a country that has been wracked with war for almost 20-plus years.”
screengrab of When Elephants Fight

 

A country that is one of the most mineral-rich in the world is also one of the world's poorest nations.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been rocked by war in recent years, and although the war is over, the conflict and suffering have yet to end.

A Michigan-based filmmaker is out with a new exploration of how the minerals in our electronic devices are funding the turmoil in that African country.

A few weeks ago, a tweet went viral, because it explained something about adjectives that many people didn’t realize they already knew.

 

Think about how you would describe someone’s eyes.

 

Would you describe them as “blue beautiful big eyes"? Probably not. That sounds weird, right?


Courtesy of Zarinah El-Amin Naeem

 

This coming Sunday brings the fourth annual Headwrap Expo & Fashion Show in Dearborn.

It will feature head wraps from a wide array of cultural and spiritual perspectives.

Courtesy of Kevin Fitzgerald / www.conductorkfitz.com

On Sunday, there will be more than 300 concerts being held across the United States as part of the event "Concert Across America to End Gun Violence." One of those concerts will be held in Ann Arbor. 

Kevin Fitzgerald is conducting roughly 40 Michigan-based musicians in the show. The goal is to raise awareness and continue a conversation about gun violence in hopes of ultimately finding solutions to what he calls a "major crisis" in our country. 

"We hear the statistics about the young men, but we don't hear the voices of the women who are trying to raise them and do the right thing," Katarina Grosska told us.
screengrab of Never Alone in Detroit

Being a single parent is a tough job. Being a single mother raising a son in one of the nation's most violent cities is really tough. 

Loyola High School in Detroit interviewed more than 100 women who have raised or are raising young men. Many of them said they felt very alone. 

Those interviews eventually took form as a video entitled Never Alone in Detroit. The project was produced by Loyola and funded by the Michigan Council for the Humanities.

Courtesy of Shirley Burke

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opens this weekend in Washington. One of the items on display is a violin that, until now, was in Michigan with Shirley Burke.

Temesgen Hussein of East Lansing with his begena harp.
Ben Foote / Michigan Radio

As part of our Songs from Studio East series we're exploring music that combines both contemporary and traditional music from around the globe.

Today we meet Temesgen Hussein of East Lansing. He was born and raised in Ethiopia. And he’s one of just a few outside that country who plays the begena.

It’s used mainly in religious festivities almost exclusively, but Temesgen is breaking with tradition and introducing the begena to contemporary music.

Jan Worth-Nelson told us that high-quality writing and photography have always been staples of "East Village Magazine."
Courtesy of East Village Magazine

This year marks the 40th anniversary of East Village Magazine.

The nonprofit magazine has been bringing community news to people in Flint since 1976, a labor of love for its founder, the late Gary Custer.

East Village Magazine has hung in there to become one of the nation's oldest community media outlets. 

"Human trafficking has gone underground," Stephanie Sandberg said. "It's gone on to places where you can no longer see it, and so you have to find ways to recognize it in a new way."
Courtesy of Stephanie Sandberg

ArtPrize opens today in Grand Rapids. 

Among the 1,453 artist entries for this year's competition is a play being performed each evening by ADAPT. Theatre Company of Grand Rapids.

The play is Stories in Blue: A Pilgrimage to Heal Human Trafficking.

It's theater, it's an art piece, and it's a social justice campaign.

Stateside 9.20.2016

Sep 20, 2016

Today, we hear how men can work to undo rape culture and combat sexual violence. And, we explore a possible future for our roads: ultra-high performance concrete.

Michele McDonald

 

Eileen Pollack's new novel, A Perfect Life, took a while to find a publisher.

The book features a postdoctoral research scientist on a quest to uncover a genetic test for the disease that cut short her mother's life. This medical mystery also features a love story between the protagonist, Jane Weiss, and a man who may also carry the disease, adding human drama to the scientific exploration.

Still, the complexities of this plot were sometimes lost on publishers. One even told Pollack that "men don’t read fiction written by women, and women’s book groups don’t want to read something with science in it!"

Cara AnnMarie and Jacléne Wilk in a scene from the film "Liberty's Secret"
Tripp Greene Press

Take a presidential campaign. Mix in a large serving of old-fashioned musicals, and top it off with two women realizing they are in love, and you've got the new film Liberty's Secret.

Andy Kirshner is the writer, composer, director, producer and he has a role in the film, which is having its premiere this Thursday at the Michigan Theatre in Ann Arbor. Kirshner is also an associate professor of both music and art & design at the University of Michigan.

The film, which the website describes as "the all-American lesbian movie-musical," tells the story of a struggling presidential campaign fronted by moderate Republican Kenny Weston, who recruits the charismatic Liberty Smith to be his running mate. This singing and dancing preacher's daughter is just what the campaign needs to get back into the race to the White House. That is, until she falls in love with one of the campaign's political consultants, who is a woman.

Christopher Hebert's Angels of Detroit has a rich cast of feckless and out of their time hippies who make their way to Detroit for no good purpose. Hebert is a generous and perceptive writer who gives his characters a long hard look, but his anarchists have a difficult time explaining why blowing up Detroit will lead to something better.

Courtesy of Lynne Golodner

The Next Idea

I grew up in a suburb of Detroit and went to school where most of the kids looked like me. During the Jewish holidays, teachers didn't assign work because so many of us were absent. There might have been five or six African-American kids in my high school, and no one wore a hijab in public.

I’ve always been curious about the way other people live. My journey as a journalist and author and writing professor has taken me to find common ground in people different from me. I visited a mosque, attended a candlelight service in a Catholic church in Ireland, and spent a plane ride to Israel having a deep, powerful conversation with a Palestinian man going to see his family. As I developed my writing craft, I continued to seek out stories that showed the similarities in people, the beliefs we share, and the customs we have in common.

Some acronyms have become so common as words, that it’s tough to remember what they stood for in the first place.

We’re talking about words where each letter actually stands for its own word. Instead of saying each word individually, we mash the first letters together and say that instead.

Take scuba, for instance. We don’t call it “scuba” diving because some guy named Steve Scuba invented a cool way to stay under water for a long time.

“Scuba” actually stands for Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus.

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