Arts & Culture

Arts/Culture
10:09 am
Mon October 3, 2011

Detroit Symphony's new season starts this weekend

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra rehearses on stage
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s new season officially starts this weekend.

DSO executive vice president Paul Hogle says ticket sales for the orchestra’s 2011-12 season are going pretty well as of right now. That's good news for an organization that lost around $1.8 million last year due to a six-month musician’s strike.

Read more
Arts/Culture
5:18 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Jack Kevorkian's paintings, memorabilia up for auction

Jack Kevorkian's painting, Nearer My God to Thee
Photo courtesy of the Ariana Gallery in Royal Oak

The late Dr. Jack Kevorkian’s art work and other memorabilia will be auctioned off next month. The auction will be held at the New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan on October 27th-28th.

Read more
Arts/Culture
4:53 pm
Fri September 30, 2011

Manistee's Vogue Theatre gets $100K anonymous donation

The long-shuttered Vogue Theatre was built in Manistee in 1938.
Photo courtesy of the Vogue Theatre

The historic Vogue Theatre in downtown Manistee is $100,000 richer today, thanks to an anonymous donor. The generous gift will go towards helping restore the long-dormant theatre.

Beth McCarthy, a member of the Capital Campaign to restore the Vogue Theatre, released a statement this afternoon:

Read more
Arts/Culture
7:00 am
Fri September 30, 2011

North Woods: Old movie theaters get new lease on life

The Vista Theater "was the place to be" when it opened in Negaunee in the 1920s.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

We wrap up our Stories from the North Woods series with a look at how cities and towns from Detroit to Marquette are bringing new life to their old movie palaces. 

The Vista Theater as community theater

When the Vista Theater opened in Negaunee in the 1920s, the Upper Peninsula town was booming. Alfred Keefer says the Vista "was the theater to be at, and they would fill this house up on movie nights."

Read more
Arts/Culture
6:26 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Votes are in: ArtPrize "top ten" announced today

"Rain" by Ann Arbor artist Lynda Cole 'is a kinetic sculpture using 7600 squares of silver leaf on polyester film. The squares are suspended within a 10 ft. cube of space and move with ambient air current.'
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

From ArtPrize's website today:

Here are the ArtPrize 2011 Top Ten in alphabetical order. Voting on the top ten will begin at 7:00 PM Thursday, September 29, and continue through 11:59 PM on Wednesday, October 5. The first place winner and the order of the Top Ten will be announced at 6:30 PM on Thursday, October 6 at DeVos Performance Hall. Tickets are available at the ArtPrize HUB at 41 Sheldon.

Laura Alexander
The Tempest II

Read more
Culture
4:36 pm
Thu September 29, 2011

Census releases numbers on the black population in the U.S.

The black or African American population as a percent of a county's population in 2010.
U.S. Census Bureau

Today, the U.S. Census Bureau released its report "The Black Population: 2010."

The 2010 Census found that 14 percent of the U.S. population identified themselves as black, "either alone or in combination with one or more other races."

From a U.S. Census Bureau press release:

Of the total U.S. population of 308.7 million on April 1, 2010, 38.9 million people, or 13 percent, identified as black alone. In addition, 3.1 million people, or 1 percent, reported as black in combination with one or more other races. Together, these two groups comprise the black alone-or-in-combination population and totaled 42.0 million.

Detroit has highest concentration of blacks living in an urban area

Census officials report that of the major cities in the U.S. (cities with 100,000 people in them or more), Detroit had the highest percentage of people identifying as black, or black in combination with other races, at 84 percent.

Here are the top ten:

  1. Detroit, Michigan (84.3 percent)
  2. Jackson, Mississippi (80.1 percent)
  3. Miami Gardens, Florida (77.9 percent)
  4. Birmingham, Alabama (74.0 percent)
  5. Baltimore, Maryland (65.1 percent)
  6. Memphis, Tennessee (64.1 percent)
  7. New Orleans, Louisiana (61.2 percent)
  8. Flint, Michigan (59.5 percent)
  9. Montgomery, Alabama (57.4 percent)
  10. Savannah, Georgia (56.7 percent)
Read more
Arts/Culture
7:00 am
Thu September 29, 2011

North Woods: Calumet, a frontier community

All this week, we're bringing you stories from the North Woods. Yesterday, we visited the town of Calumet in the western tip of the U.P., where copper was once king.

As we reported, the town is experiencing a kind of resurgence:

Tom Tikkanen runs the Main Street Program, a nonprofit focused on redeveloping Calumet. His group did a study a couple years ago to figure out what’s driving the town’s relatively recent upswing. The answer? Culture economic development.

"It starts with our artists," explains Tikkanen. "It’s a natural development that’s taking place. The more art that’s displayed and that’s created here, the more that attracts other artists."

Tikkanen also described the town as a "frontier community" that's redefining itself. We conclude our stories on Calumet with a look at what happens when new folks move in to an old town.

Meet Calumet's newest residents

Stephanie Swartzendruber is one of the bartenders at Shute's Bar in downtown Calumet. Outside, the bar looks like your typical dive bar. Inside, it's beautiful. Nearly everything is original from the 1890s: the rich, dark wood bar, the 1895 liquor license, the beautiful, Tiffany-like stained glass canopy above the bar.

Swartzendruber moved to Calumet last November, and she’s says the town is on the verge:

"I feel like it’s coming back! We have cute little coffee shops and art galleries and awesome bars like [Shute's] in a place where you can buy a house for under $20,000," says Swartzendruber.

Read more
ArtPrize 2011
10:14 pm
Wed September 28, 2011

ArtPrize update: “performance” art features real wedding and website snag extends voting

Karynn and Michael Gregory got married Saturday on the Blue Bridge before running through River City's Improv's 'Congratulations' Saturday afternoon.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

Voting for ArtPrize was supposed to end today. But the website has been down on and off throughout the day.  So voting to narrow down the “top ten” continues until tomorrow at 4p.m.

There are a lot more ‘sound’ and ‘performance’ art in ArtPrize this year. I highlight ‘sound’ last week, so over the weekend I caught River City Improv’s performance called “Congratulations”.

Read more
Commentary
11:43 am
Wed September 28, 2011

Food Assistance: Losing the Lottery

My favorite new magazine is nice to look at, isn’t printed on paper, and has eye-opening new information about our state twice a week. It’s called Bridge, and it is published online by the non-partisan, non-profit Center for Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Best of all, it’s free. The title comes from the magazine’s purpose, which is to inform citizens in both peninsulas about the serious issues facing our state -- but do so in an interesting, well-written way, according to Center for Michigan founder Phil Power.

Read more
Arts/Culture
7:00 am
Wed September 28, 2011

North Woods: Artists set up shop in Calumet

As part of our series, Stories from the North Woods, we head to Calumet in the Keweenaw Peninsula. The town has been struggling to re-discover itself ever since the area's copper boom died out more than 50 years ago.

The town that time forgot

Artist Ed Gray remembers when the last mine closed in Calumet in the late 1960s:

"A lot of people moved to Detroit, a lot of people moved to various areas where there was employment. The town wasn’t really a ghost town, I wouldn’t say, but...it stood still."

Read more
Culture
10:46 am
Tue September 27, 2011

Honoring Living People on Stamps?

You have to admit, this has been a very odd year in Michigan, and things seem likely to get odder. We have a governor who happily calls himself a nerd, almost never wears a tie, never ran for office before, and has been phenomenally successful at getting the legislature to pass whatever laws he wants.

His only failure so far has been to get them to accept a bridge which wouldn’t cost anything, would mean ten thousand jobs and two billion free dollars from the federal government.

Read more
Arts/Culture
10:05 am
Tue September 27, 2011

North Woods: Music of the Copper Country

Les Ross, Sr received the Michigan Heritage Award in 2009 for his "lumberjack" style of harmonica playing.
Jennifer Guerra Michigan Radio

The folklorist Alan Lomax spent nearly two months in the Upper Peninsula in 1938, recording the music of the north woods. He recorded lots of bawdy lumberjack tunes, Finnish songs and polkas. In a note to the Library of Congress, Lomax said "there was material enough in the region for years of work."

Today, most of that music has been lost to history. But Leslie (Les) Ross, Sr still plays it. Born in 1923 in Eben Junction, Ross is one of the last harmonica players in the country to play in the "lumberjack style."

As part of my Stories from the North Woods series, I sat down with Les Ross and percussionist Randy Seppola. With Ross on harmonica and Seppala on bones and spoons, they played me a number of old-timey tunes, and Ross talked about his days in Eben Junction and, of course, the harmonica.

Read more
Arts/Culture
6:00 am
Mon September 26, 2011

North Woods: An artist residency on Rabbit Island (with photos)

Rabbit Island lies about three miles east of the Keweenaw Peninsula in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Earlier this summer we told you about a remote island in Lake Superior called Rabbit Island:

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.

Gorski says the plan is to preserve the island as is, and build only a small, green cabin where future artists can stay.

"We’d like to be able to send an artist, maybe two, out to the island to practice their creative process within an entirely isolated environment. We think it’d be a very remote experience, it’d be very difficult in some ways, but I think the end result could be very interesting."

As part of my series, Stories from the North Woods, I took the 3.5-mile boat ride from Rabbit Bay to Rabbit Island to see how the residency is coming along.

Read more
Culture
11:07 am
Thu September 22, 2011

The Story: Kalamazoo street rivals make changes and settle differences

Michael Wilder and Yafinceio Harris.
The Story

"I'm not going to stop until Michael is dead."

In the streets of Kalamazoo, Michigan, people were looking for revenge against Michael Wilder for the violence he committed against others.

Michael says his violence was born out of violence against him.

So goes the cycle of hatred and rage that is repeated by people throughout the world.

The public radio program The Story recounted the tale of Michael "Too Short" Wilder and Yafinceio "Big B" Harris: two enemies from the streets of Kalamazoo who make changes and later meet at a community college:

From The Story:

Michael Wilder and Yafinceio Harris were long time rivals.  Several times they came close to an armed confrontation. Five years ago, one almost killed the other in a Kalamazoo street war.

But something always seemed to intervene. Imagine the surprise for both of them when they met, earlier this year, in a community college classroom.

Wilder said their teacher at the community college recognized their incredible story and asked if he could share it with the producers at The Story.

Wilder said he and Harris were excited to share their story:

"We're living proof that [violence] is not always the answer," said Wilder.

"You know what Yafinceio told me one day shortly after we met in school?

It almost made me cry.

He said, 'man, I realized that if I had killed you, I would have killed a good dude.' He told me that!

Can you imagine having a killer, that was going to kill you, turn around and get to know you and tell you something like that?!"

They call the trust they built between one another "Real recognized real."

Listen to Wilder and Harris recount their incredible story of how they broke the cycle of violence between them:

Arts/Culture
5:00 am
Thu September 22, 2011

Ann Arbor Film Fest celebrates 50th anniversary

The 50th Ann Arbor Film Festival runs March 27 - April 1, 2012
User mconnors MorgueFile

The experimental and sometimes controversial Ann Arbor Film Festival turns 50 next year, but festival organizers aren’t waiting until then to celebrate.

They’ve put together a five-part retrospective series, the first of which screens tonight. The retrospective series will lead up to the actual festival, which runs March 27 - April 1, 2012.

Read more
Arts/Culture
5:26 pm
Wed September 21, 2011

ArtPrize 2011 kicks off in Grand Rapids

More than 2,400 people have already started checking out ArtPrize. The art contest began in Grand Rapids Wednesday afternoon. 1,582 artists are competing to win a $250,000 top prize.

Even before ArtPrize opened, thousands of people had already preregistered to vote in the contest. Those who vote determine the winner.

Read more
Arts/Culture
8:57 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

A Michigan play receives national publicity

A Michigan play about bullied teenagers who commit suicide has received national publicity. The Bullycide Project is a play written by Fenton High School teacher Lori Thompson. It was featured on the CBS news program 48 Hours last Friday. 

Thompson says as a theater teacher, the stage is the most effective vehicle for creating social awareness.

When we hear about Tyler Clementi, the young man from Rutgers, or Phoebe Prince, the young lady from Ireland that came here and lived in Boston; I mean these are all national stories, and then there are all the stories that happen locally. 

The Bullycide Project will be performed at the Flint Youth Theatre on  September 24th.

Read more
ArtPrize 2011
5:04 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

This year try listening to ArtPrize

The Total Blam Blams play at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids Saturday night. Jason and Nora Heystek front the band which is entering ArtPrize for the first time this year.
Lindsey Smith Michigan Radio

ArtPrize 2011 begins Wednesday afternoon in Grand Rapids. Sound and performing arts will play a bigger role in this year’s contest. Music, ballet, and other performances are, after all, art. But there haven’t been a lot of entries in the past.

The winner of the art competition gets $250,000 in prize money. Organizers claim it’s the world’s largest art prize.

This is the third annual ArtPrize. The third time I’ve seen giant sculptures, breath-taking murals, funny and eye-opening drawings take over a three-mile zone in downtown.

Read more
Arts/Culture
2:54 pm
Tue September 20, 2011

MacArthur "Genius" Awards given out to 3 U of M researchers

The MacArthur Fellowship was given to 22 people this year, including three who teach at the University of Michigan. The 2011 Fellows run the gamut - from science to journalism to the arts.

Here's a list of the U of M winners:

Read more
Arts/Culture
11:04 am
Tue September 20, 2011

Art Prize starts tomorrow in Grand Rapids

"Nessie" floats in the Grand River during the 2009 ArtPrize.
Steven Depolo Flickr

The third annual ArtPrize will kick off tomorrow in Grand Rapids. Michigan Radio's Lindsey Smith will have an update for us later today.

From the Associated Press:

ArtPrize begins Wednesday and runs through Oct. 9. Organizers say this year's show will host artists from 39 countries and 43 states displaying their work in 164 venues within three square miles of the city's downtown.

While the winners of most art competitions are decided by a few professionals, ArtPrize allows any adult to enter and any attendee to vote for the winners.

Founder Rick DeVos says the event is more about the process than the finished product - giving artists permission to embrace creativity and succeed or fail.

Pages