Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

Musicians performing
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

There’s a big fight going on at Orchestra Hall. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike for nearly a month, and they say management's proposed cuts are unreasonable. Haden McKay, a DSO cellist, calls it "the most extreme attack that’s ever been made on an orchestra in the United States."

The DSO is one of the top ten orchestras in the country, but it's saddled with a multi-million budget deficit. Both sides agree that cuts need to be made, but that's about all they agree on. Here's where things stand:

Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Cross Village in northern Michigan is like a lot of small, rural towns in the state, where money is tight and jobs are scarce. And when winter comes around and all the tourists are gone, the outlook is even bleaker. So a group of women started up a cottage industry of rug making to help locals sustain themselves through the lean months.

23-year old Jasmine Petrie wears her hair in pigtails and has tattoos on her back and arms; she looks more like a rock star than a rug weaver.

Jennifer Guerra / Reporter

Struggling artists generally don't make a lot of money, so they tend to live in grittier parts of the city where rent is really cheap. Inevitably, they spruce things up, more people move in, rent goes up, and artists are priced out. To ensure that doesn't happen to them in Detroit, a group of artists are taking matters into their own hands.

Iggy Pop performs at the South by Southwest festival
Kris Krug / Creative Commons

I got hepatitis and moved back to Detroit

That's from a 2006 interview with James Williamson, the former and now current guitarist for Iggy Pop and the Stooges.

Williamson was describing his tumultuous time with a band addled by drug addiction.

Williamson left the rock and roll lifestyle and went on to a successful career as an electronics executive with Sony.

The inside of Michigan Central Train Station
Albert Duce / Creative Commons

My Dad grew up in Detroit in the 1930s. He described a city humming with activity: factory whistles sounding, street cars rolling by, and broad sidewalks crowded with people.

We went back to his old neighborhood several years ago.  His house was on Lakeview Avenue.

It's gone now, along with the houses on most of the block. I was left to imagine his childhood home, and the stickball games he'd play in the alley, by trying to extract mental images from the remaining concrete slabs we could see.

Bentley Historical Library

Fifty years ago today, people in Ann Arbor, Michigan were anticipating the arrival of then Senator John F. Kennedy. He was on the campaign trail in a tight race for the presidency with Richard Nixon.

Flickr user music2fish2 (Eric Lanning)

The winner of ArtPrize was announced last night in Grand Rapids.  Grand Rapids-based artist Chris LaPorte came in first place with his life-size pencil drawing titled, "Cavalry, American Officers, 1921." LaPorte won $250,000.  The drawing is based on a photograph that LaPorte saw in a Grand Rapids antique shop.

Casey West

(By Kyle Norris) Gerry Bose has worked as paint contractor for much of his life in new construction. He actually painted the insides of a lot of new mc-mansions. But when the housing bubble burst a few years ago, Bose lost 80% of his work. Since then he's laid off his two employees, and he's had to scramble for work as a painter.

But he's also had more time and energy to book jobs as a juggler.

Gerry Bose is setting up his show at the Grant Public Library, about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids. Bose cracks-open what looks like a pirate chest.

Gerry Bose has worked as paint contractor for much of his life in new construction. He actually painted the insides of a lot of new mc-mansions. But when the housing bubble burst a few years ago, Bose lost 80% of his work. Since then he's laid off his two employees, and he's had to scramble for work as a painter.

But he's also had more time and energy to book jobs as a juggler.

Gerry Bose is setting up his show at the Grant Public Library, about 30 miles north of Grand Rapids. Bose cracks-open what looks like a pirate chest.

Dustin Dwyer

ArtPrize opened in Grand Rapids yesterday.  The huge art competition runs until October 10th.  There are some 1,700 artists competing for this year's prize.  As Dustin Dywer reports, just like last year, the winner will be decided by popular vote.

Jennifer Guerra

It costs a lot of money for Michigan students to go to college. Tuition is up at nearly every Michigan school, and the $4,000 once awarded to students under the state's Promise Scholarship has been cut. As a result, lots of students have to take out loans or work to pay for school.

Jon Sullivan

As more companies claim Michigan's film tax incentives, more and more celebrities are being seen around the state. Celebrities like David Arquette are tweeting about Michigan sunsets or talking about the state's hot spots. But, Michigan is still experiencing the economic doldrums.

Boat on Northport Bay, Lake Michigan
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

Michigan Radio listeners are having a conversation on Facebook about their favorite places to travel around Michigan.

Most are sharing. Some, like Trevor, are keeping their secrets, "If I told you I'd have to kill you."

Here's the list so far:

Actress at the Michigan State Fair
Bob Vigiletti / Michigan Radio Picture Project

There's a new post on Michigan Radio's Picture Project site.  Bob Vigiletti has eighteen beautiful shots taken in the waning years of the Michigan State Fair.  The fair, proclaimed to be the country's oldest, was closed because of declining attendance and revenues in 2009. Vigiletti writes:

It is only through out thoughts and photographs that we preserve and cherish memories of the past.

Volunteers at Sema Cafe in Ann Arbor, Michigan
Myra Klarman

(by Rebecca Williams with The Environment Report)

So what would you think about opening up your home to 120 people every week? Letting them come in with their shoes on, sit anywhere they wanted. Oh, and by the way, they’ll be expecting a full breakfast.

That’s what happens at Jeff McCabe and Lisa Gottlieb’s house in Ann Arbor. From 6:30 to 10am every Friday, their house is transformed. It’s kind of weird. You walk in and you know you’re in someone’s home, but it feels like you’re suddenly in a little diner.

Jennifer Guerra

Like a lot of Michigan cities, Jackson is hurting. The economy is in the tank, the unemployment rate is high, and stores continue to close, including the few places in town where teenagers could go hear live music. That has left those who live there with not much to do on a Friday night.

Tori Zackery

Kids can learn a lot about a place through books, television, and the web. But one Kalamazoo woman thinks you can't really know a place or its people, unless you go and visit, which is why she started a travel club.

About twenty girls and several adults board an Amtrak train in Kalamazoo. "We're going on a mystery train ride with the travel club," exclaims travel club member Claire Khabeiry. Like a lot of kids in the group she's never been on train before.

Marcus Belgrave's Sounds of Detroit

Jun 11, 2010
Courtesy of Marcus Belgrave

Ann Arbor, MI Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye. Those are some of the big names of Detroit music. But another name worthy of top billing is trumpeter Marcus Belgrave. He's been a fixture in the Detroit scene for decades, and has covered everything from avant-garde to jazz standards. He even played on some of Motown's greatest hits.

Belgrave was recently honored by the Kresge Foundation as their Detroit Eminent Artist of the year. We sat down with the jazz trumpeter to talk about his life in music.

"This is Marcus Belgrave, eminent artist award for the year. I'm very excited about this award because it chronicles my life in Detroit for the last 40 years.

A Kalamazoo arts organization that was considered a real success story has shut its doors, for now. Michigan Radio's Kyle Norris looks at why The Smart Shop Metal Arts Center has closed and what the future may hold.

J Dilla's beat goes on

Jun 1, 2010
Paul Farber

J Dilla was one of Detroit's most prolific and respected hip hop producers. He died in 2006, but his music still inspires his fans around the world. And now his Mom is using his name to support music education in his hometown.

The 1967 Detroit riot was five days of chaos, sparked by a small incident, but driven by a deeper unrest among black Detroiters, mistreated for years by the city's whites. Michigan Radio's Dustin Dwyer produced an account of what happened those five days from three people who lived it first-hand.

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