Arts & Culture

Arts and culture

3 Things: Emily Schaller

Nov 29, 2010

All this year, Michigan Radio has been asking people from across the state for their 3 ideas of what we can all do to improve things here in Michigan.  The series is called 3 Things and today we hear from Emily Schaller, founder of Rock CF Foundation, a group dedicated to increasing the quality of life for people with Cystic Fibrosis.

salvation army red kettle
Salvation Army /

The Salvation Army’s red kettle campaign is underway.

“The red kettle in a sense is really a piece of Americana.” Major Robert Thompson is the divisional commander for Wisconsin and Northern Michigan. Bell ringers have been braving the frigid temperatures in front of stores for nearly a century. But over the past few years a problem has been emerging. “The red kettles are certainly low-tech and as society changes, fewer and fewer people are using cash,” Thompson said, “They don’t have that dollar or change in their pocket.”

Thanskgiving parade float
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

Detroit held its 48th annual America’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Thousands of people lined up along Woodward Avenue to celebrate. 

People came from Detroit, the suburbs, Muskegon, I even talked to somebody from Marquette, MI. All of them came in for the parade. For a lot of them it’s a family tradition. They’re here for the clowns, the floats, and the marching bands.

Lisa Greleski and her son, Adam, has been coming here for the last 3 years.

DSO musicians
Jennifer Guerra / Michigain Radio

The Michigan House could vote on a bill next week that would allow voters to approve a millage for the Detroit Institute of Arts. A state representative from metro Detroit looked into whether the struggling Detroit Symphony Orchestra could be added to the bill.

Jennifer White and Jeff Daniels
Eliot Johnson / Michigan Radio

Thanksgiving Day is tomorrow, and it's a time to reflect on what we're all thankful for this year.

Actor and Musician Jeff Daniels stopped by the Michigan Radio studios this week to talk about why he calls Michigan home, the importance of the arts in the state and what he is thankful for. His answer might surprise you.

Person playing Wii
Petezin / creative commons

Pixofactor Entertainment in Royal Oak, MI will get a 40% tax incentive to develop a Nintendo Wii game about golfer Ben Hogan. It's the first video game company in the state to take advantage of the state's generous tax incentives.

J Dilla at a drum set
Thomas Angermann / Creative Commons

Every once in a while you stumble upon a story that passed you by. Here's one I missed from Paul Farber, a former arts intern here at Michigan Radio.

Musicians perform
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The striking Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians will play three holiday concerts outside of Orchestra Hall. The musicians have been on strike since Oct. 4, and since then have played several concerts in metro Detroit to raise awareness and money for the strike.

DSO management has cancelled concerts at Orchestra Hall through Nov. 28.

Artist rendering of Michigan State Capitol
Michigan Capitol Collection

Michigan Radio's Lester Graham put together this slideshow about the construction of Michigan's State Capitol in Lansing. After the Civil War, many state capitols were built. Graham reports domes were a common feature to show allegiance to the Union (the dome on the U.S. Capitol was constructed during the civil war).

Girbe Eefsting, John Acdespres, and Jen Pider
Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

A celebration of Michigan-made films starts Friday night in Grand Rapids. The second annual Michigan Film Festival runs through Sunday. The films are winners of other film festivals across the state or were recommended by college film programs.

Photo Courtesy of ZUU Mumu Entertainment

Amind a continuing strike by its musicians, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has canceled concerts through November 28th.  The Associated Press reports:


Three female artists have spent two years road-tripping around the small, often rural towns between Toledo and Detroit. They've talked to anyone they met.

Martine MacDonald is one of the artists. She says, “People have a deep connection to the area in which they live and work."  She also says the people they've met have been incredibly open and willing to share their stories with the artists.

The art exhibit is called “Toledo to Detroit: A Curious Journey on the Old Indian Trail." It’s at the Biddle Gallery in Wyandotte until November 13th. 

Opera Legend Dies

Nov 6, 2010

Acclaimed American mezzo-soprano and soprano Shirley Verrett has died at age 79, in Ann Arbor.  New Orleans-born Verrett was one of the top black opera singers of the 1970s and 1980s. She taught at the University of Michigan.

Here's a great excerpt from a speech she once gave to her students:

Musicians perform
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Symphony Orchestra musicians have been on strike for a full month. Concerts have been canceled through this weekend. But now comes word that both sides have agreed to enter informal talks to try to end the work stoppage.

Here's the latest proposal that was on the table to deal with a $9 million budget gap:

Musicians proposed a temporary 22 percent pay cut.

ZUU Mumu Entertainment/Creative Commons

Informal discussions have resumed between striking members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and their managment.  In seperate statements released today, both sides said the talks are aimed at getting the

The rapper Invinciple recently lobbied successfully for MTV-U to air her independent video, Ropes. The song is controversial because it deals with suicide and depression. Invincible once seemed poised to “make it” in the record industry in the Big Apple.  Instead, she chose to go back to Detroit and rap about tough social issues that matter to her.

She'll talk with Dick Gordon on The Story, Friday night at 8 pm.

Check out her video "Ropes," that addresses the issues of suicide:

restaurant week in GR

A number of Grand Rapids restaurants are booked this weekend thanks to the new event celebrating great dining at a reasonable price.

San Chez sous chef Daryl Rector prepares for the night shift. "We've got verduras y tortas for the vegan crowd. It's a spicy black beans & quinoa cakes with roasted vegetables and this avo-cumber sauce," Rector explains. "That's a fake yogurt that we make with avocado - basically puree that, add acidity and sweetness and you can't really tell the difference between that and yogurt."

art studio
Photo courtesy of Dani Davis

Americans for the Arts, a national advocacy group, says Michigan's governor elect is a champion of the arts.

In Republican Rick Snyder's plan to reinvent Michigan, he talks about "restoring funding for the arts." State funding is currently around $2.5 million, down from $26 million in 2001.

Cooley High School Detroit
user chuckjav / Creative Commons

Detroit Public Schools officials are working to educate developers on strategies for purchasing and re-using closed school buildings.

The school system will host a workshop later this month in collaboration with an historic preservation non-profit. Potential buyers will get information about possible uses for the buildings, as well as information about tax credits, codes and the purchase process.

Karen Nagher heads Preservation Wayne. She says school buildings can be a great buy:

Writing helps heal

Nov 2, 2010
Russ Hicks

Russ Hicks has recently experienced the death of his spouse and the loss of his job of 22 years. The thing helping him cope, is his writing. Two big changes recently happened to Russ Hicks.

Composers gather
Makepeace Tsao / Tsao Family

Musicians, composers and academics from around the country will be in Ann Arbor this week to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ONCE festivals.

Five composers from Ann Arbor - Robert Ashley, Gordon Mumma, George Cacioppo, Roger Reynolds, and Donald Scavarda - created the ONCE festival because they wanted their music to be heard and they wanted to push the boundaries of contemporary music.

Courtesy Russ Hicks

Two big changes recently happened to Russ Hicks. His wife Carol was diagnosed with cancer and passed away.

“I tell you right after Carol died I was completely rudderless and almost berserk. There was a time, a week afterward, at work where they said ‘you 'gotta go home and we'll drive you home!'”

Shortly after that, Hicks got laid off from his job of 22 years at a factory warehouse.

“And so here I am, within a year’s time I’d lost my wife and my job.”

Catherine Hadler

Several Detroit artists have started what they call “an experiment in micro-funding.”  Once a month they host a public dinner that costs five dollars. During the dinner, several local groups pitch ideas for a creative project they’d like to do.  Diners vote on the proposals and at the end of the night the winning project takes home the money raised from dinner.


Amelia Falk / Wellspring/Cori Terry & Dancers

35 arts organizations in west Michigan have been picked to be part of a new two-year training program run by the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

The goal of the program is to teach arts leaders how to fundraise better and attract new board members, among other things.

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:

Crafting a career out of woven rugs (slideshow)

Oct 20, 2010
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.