Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Emily Fox / Michigan Radio

Artists in Seattle and Philadelphia have been painting large murals on abandoned buildings in an effort to revitalize neighborhoods. Philadelphia for example, has around 2,000 murals to help brighten the city.

Everyone has heard of Motown Records, but few probably remember its Los Angeles offshoot, MoWest. It didn't last long — only two years — but during its life span, MoWest allowed Motown to try out new styles and genres and create one of the most eclectic rosters in the label's long history. Most of MoWest's releases have been out of print the past 40 years, but a new anthology called Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love: Motown's MoWest Story 1971-1973 finally highlights the label's life and legacy.

Image courtesy of Rob Gorski

On today's Artpod, we'll hear from a New York physician who bought a remote, uninhabited island in Lake Superior. His plan is to turn it into an artist residency next summer.

The land, known as Rabbit Island, is about a half hour boat ride from the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

A quintet of musicians has been traveling across the state for the past 10 days. They don’t have a tour van or a u-haul stuffed with instruments. Instead, the guys are pedaling their bikes from Holland to Detroit…with their instruments in tow! They're also raising money for various charities along the way.

Submitted by Amber Turner

Family bonding can be a reward for working in a family business. But there is also plenty Amber Turner worries about.

The restaurant industry took a beating in the economic downturn. Although some Wall Street analysts expect restaurants to pick up soon, a lagging restaurant industry makes Turner more than a little nervous. In her family, any trouble is multiplied.

Dani Davis

A unique business accelerator opens today in Detroit. 

A lot of business accelerators, generally speaking, focus on internet startups and biotech companies. But with the new Creative Ventures Acceleration Program in Detroit, the spotlight is on creative industries:

"The industrial design world, the interior design world, fashion design, music production, video production and architecture."

An uninhabited island in Lake Superior will soon be home to an artist residency program.

New Yorker Rob Gorski saw the 91-acre island listed for sale on Craiglist. At first, he was skeptical. But after talking it over with his brother, both of whom are Michigan natives, they bought the island for less than $150,000.

The land, known as Rabbit Island, is about a half hour boat ride from the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Kyle Norris

Cartoonist Jerzy Drozd has picked twenty-one rural and urban towns in Michigan where he knows people are having a tough time making ends meet. Drozd has been visiting those towns and offering comic-drawing workshops, free of charge, to the kids in those areas.  

At the Northville District Library, 30 miles west of Detroit, cartoonist Drozd asks a room full of kids what they might do if they were in a grocery store and they wanted to get their parent’s attention.

The city of Grand Rapids experienced a series of tragic events yesterday. An alleged lone shooter murdered seven people, including two children, and engaged in a standoff with police before taking his life. As the events played out people in Grand Rapids turned to social media.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White talks with Cliff Lampe about the role of social media during this tragic event. Lampe is Assistant Professor at Michigan State University in the Department of Telecommunication and Information Studies and Media.   

In the interview Lampe says:                                             

"Uncertainty can cause a lot of anxiety for people. So looking to social media for very up to date information can help reduce uncertainty and make them feel more comfortable. A lot of people were also reaching out to loved ones who lived in the affected area just, both to express concern about how they were doing and to make sure every body was okay, and then to find out more information about what was going on."

screenshot of CNN website

More than 6,000 U.S. servicemen and servicewomen have been killed in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to iCasualties.org.

Several media outlets track this information and break it down by state.

CNN.com has an interactive map that lists the casualties separately from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their maps show where the soldier was from, and where they were killed.

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Detroit’s path to revival has been in the news a lot lately. Drive an hour northwest to Flint and you’ll find a city whose struggles are similar if not worse than Detroit's. But a coalition of artists, city officials and residents is trying to re-write Flint's story through art.

Flint's problems are pretty well documented: murders, arson, blight, poverty, massive police layoffs, and the dubious honor of being named one of the most violent cities in the country.

Plus there's Michael Moore's 1989 movie Roger & Me, which basically memorialized Flint's decline on the big screen. It's a movie Stephen Zacks would rather forget.

"People know Michael Moore, they know Roger & Me, so you respond to that question for your whole life. You keep answering the question: What's wrong with Flint?"

user benlmoyer / wikimedia commons

10,000 buildings by the end of his first term in 2013

That's how many buildings Detroit Mayor Bing wants to bring down.

This Friday, the city says one of the 10,000 will be a big one - Ford Auditorium, former home of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

From MLive:

Ford Auditorium's date with the wrecking ball has been set for Friday afternoon, according to a release from the city of Detroit.

Earlier this week, workers removed the pipe organ from the 55-year-old structure with a then-undetermined demolition date. Mayor Dave Bing will make some brief remarks at 11 a.m. before demolition begins.

Here's a look inside the Auditorium from WXYZ:

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (AP) - The U.S. military says a 28-year-old Army sergeant from Battle Creek has been killed in an enemy attack in Afghanistan.

The Defense Department said Thursday that Staff Sgt. Joshua Throckmorton died Tuesday in Afghanistan's Paktia province. The military says Throckmorton died of injuries suffered when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device.

Also killed in the attack were 24-year-old Spc. Jordan Schumann of Port St. Lucie, Fla., and 22-year-old Spc. Preston Suter of Sandy, Utah.

They were part of the 709th Military Police Battalion in Hohenfels, Germany.

submitted by Robert Brown

Robert Brown is like a lot of retired people:  He volunteers. Unlike a lot of retired people, however, his volunteer work is teaching Buddhist meditation to prisoners.

Brown is 70 and an Marine veteran. He retired from his job making signs for local businesses about four years ago. But he’s been a Soto Zen Buddhist for 40 years. In the late nineties, somebody in his temple asked if he’d like to come along to a meditation session in a prison.

Fiction Writers Review

Jeremiah Chamberlin wears many hats.

He is a published writer whose work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Flyway and Michigan Quarterly Review, and he is writing an ongoing series about independent bookstores for Poets and Writers.

Tyrone Warner / Creative Commons

Last month Holland City Council voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to their local anti-discrimination laws. But the fight over gay rights continues in the generally conservative town.

The debate surrounds the City of Holland adopting local laws. These laws would protect people from getting fired or kicked out of their houses because they are gay or transgender. Federal and state laws protect people from discrimination – but not based on a person’s sexuality or gender identity.

The debate is not technically about the morality of homosexuality. But in a community known for having a church on almost every corner – for many people in Holland that is definitely part of the conversation.

Jamila Nasser

As the 10th anniversary of the September 11th attacks approaches, a group of Arab American middle school students spent the past year documenting their lives and their community. Their stories are part of a new exhibit at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn.

Kresge Foundation

Twelve fellowships have been awarded to Detroit area visual artists. Each Kresge Artist Fellowship is worth $25,000 and has a “no strings attached” policy. 

Visual artist Liz Cohen was one of the winners.

“Oh I mean it’s an honor, it’s a great organization and a great grant and an opportunity to become closer to a lot of the other artists in the city.”

Jean Leon Gerome Ferris - Oil on canvas / Library of Congress

Michigan was part of the nation’s outback during the War of Independence. And most of the inhabitants probably liked that just fine. Battlefields are nice places to study, but from what I have seen, no place you’d want to be close to at the time.

Today, there will be speeches urging us to remember that we are all Americans. Some will scold those who are making our government’s present policies, or those who attack them.

Others will say that Americans should be united, just as they were in the days of George Washington and Valley Forge.

But what most people don’t realize is that a substantial minority of Americans at the time – possibly as high as 40 percent -- didn’t want independence. They were called loyalists, or Tories, and a fair number left for Great Britain or Canada, after the other side won the war. Naturally, that left the patriots with no one to bicker with except themselves, which they soon began to do.

President Washington wanted to avoid having political parties. That lasted about five minutes.

Which brings me to my favorite Fourth of July story, one with a moral we can perhaps learn from. It began on the day the Declaration of Independence was signed, and ended exactly 185 years ago today. Two of the founding fathers were, of course, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson. They were good buddies on July 4, 1776, when they signed the declaration. Later, however, they each became leaders of the first two political parties.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Grand Rapids Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts is moving into a new location. Its new home is only 2 blocks away from where it is now, so today volunteers lined up to help them move. More than 60 people created a human chain, passing one box along from one person to the next.

“You know we depend on volunteers,” UICA Executive Director Jeff Meeuwsen said, “We’re very community-oriented and we said right away, how can we involve people in our move?”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The two acre park is a step towards the city’s goal to have every Grand Rapids resident live within ¼ mile of some kind of greenspace. That goal has been difficult to achieve since nearly all of the city’s land has already been developed. Plus, city government has been cutting down on spending for years.

13-year old Ashley Jones remembers the old vacant lot where the park is now. She refered to it as a ‘hot mess’ before the renovations.

“It looked crazy. It had the prickles when you walked it would stick on your shoes. There was no shade or nothing. And it was kind of boring.”

Designer Felicia Ferrone worked as an architect for six years in Milan, Italy before returning home to Chicago a year and a half ago. She now runs her own design practice and wishes Chicago had more of a reputation as a design center.

Ferrone thinks what has kept Chicago from being better known is its Midwestern work ethic.

“Everyone is just busy working, instead of clamoring for attention,” she said.

Photo courtesy of Mosaic Youth Theatre

When the auto industry nearly collapsed a couple years ago, it had major ripple effect on the state’s arts and culture institutions. General Motors and Chrysler stopped contributing money to non-profit arts groups almost immediately. But now at least one of those auto companies is back in the giving game.

A look at how the ups and downs of the auto industry have affected Michigan's arts organizations.

The Detroit Three, aka the "Rocks of Gibraltar"

Up until a few years ago, it was hard to find an arts organization in southeast Michigan that didn’t rely on and receive generous amounts of money from the auto industry. We’re talking five or six-figure contributions.

Anne Parsons, president of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, says for decades GM, Ford and Chrysler were the corporate giants of philanthropy:

ANNE PARSONS: "They had been the “Rocks of Gibraltar” if you will, certainly our corporate giving."

JENNIFER GUERRA: "...and now?"

ANNE PARSONS: "Well I think it’s very different. They’re absolutely engaged corporate leaders, but I certainly think the impulse to knock on the door of one of the auto giants to have your problems solved or challenges met, I think those days are over."

Photo submitted by John George

For the past few days, we asked people whether they thought Detroit's image was on the rebound. We heard about the best and worst in the city. And people shared their visions of Detroit's future. Some people chose to show us their own Detroit in pictures.

Richard Cawood / Flickr

The rock band U2 performed last night in Spartan Stadium, making it the second concert ever held at the venue according to the Detroit Free Press.

More from the Freep:

On what just might have been a perfect June night in mid-Michigan, U2 reached high to create its own summer masterpiece.

The powerhouse Irish band brought its 360° Tour to Spartan Stadium on a gorgeous Sunday night, delivering a compelling, glorious performance on a mammoth high-tech stage.

It was a visual and sonic spectacular that deeply resonated with the elbow-to-elbow to crowd, keeping fans off their seats and occasionally dropping their jaws.

Only the stadium’s very upper corners were bare on a night that drew more than 65,000 for just the second-ever concert at the venue.

-Brian Short, Michigan Radio Newsroom

Photo courtesy of Nicola's Books

Independent booksellers are continuously looking for ways to compete with online retail giants like Amazon.

A recent New York Times article highlights how some independent bookstores are taking advantage of something online retails can't provide: in-person author events. Here's an excerpt:

user mconnors / morgueFile

On today's podcast, we talk with Michigan author Steve Amick about writing, humor, and the character of writers from the state. It's part of Michigan Radio's occasional literary series, Michigan on the Page.   Amick is the author of The Lake, the River & the Other Lake, which takes place in a fictional town on the west side of the state.

Changing Gears is wrapping up its first week as part of the Public Insight Network. Through PIN, everyone can sign up to become a source for our coverage. It’s kind of like a citizen news wire.

To put your personal experiences in the spotlight, we’re introducing a new daily feature called Your Story. We’re letting you tell how Midwest’s economic transformation is changing your life.

Photo submitted by Joshua Mango

We're back with more from our survey about Detroit's image. Many people think the city is and always was a great place, with a bad reputation. But others think the problems and challenges the city faces are just too big. Before we get to responses about Detroit's drawbacks, here's what people say is the coolest thing about Detroit.

Cars, and the pride of a town built on the automobile industry.  If you are a car person, it is definitely a pilgrimage of sorts. - Robbert Liddell, Detroit

Cyclists will descend on Detroit for the 11th Annual Tour de Troit on Saturday.
Brian Stoeckel

When we asked, “Is Detroit cool again?” we wanted to know whether Detroit’s image is changing.

Our inspiration is Mayor Dave Bing’s Transform Detroit, a event that is showing examples of Detroit’s revitalization to about 50 reporters. Despite the positive picture the city is trying to present, we know not everyone believes the city is on its way back.

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