PREVIEW: Sasha Velour at Necto

This Friday night, the 8th, stop by Necto to see the most recent champion of the emmy-winning TV show RuPaul’s Drag race, Sasha Velour!  Sasha is a Brooklyn based queen who uses her training in visual art to create dynamic and emotive performances that are a treat for the eye and the mind.  Since her win she’s traveled the world, stopping in Australia, South America and Europe, before finally gracing our small town of Ann Arbor!

The dragster events are held once a month, and feature performances from both internationally famous drag queens and tremendously talented local performers from both the Detroit area and all across the state.  This week’s event will be hosted by Jadein Black and Chanel Hunter, and the show will also feature a cast of local talents.  The event will be 10$ at the door for those under 21, and only 5$ for those over!  Necto is an 18+ venue so be sure to bring your ID.  She’s expected to draw quite the crowd so arrive early, although the first show officially begins at 9:45 with an encore at midnight!

PREVIEW: Buster Simpson Stamps Speaker Series

An alum of UM and native Michigander, Buster Simpson is a renowned artist who works in architecture, sculpture focusing on creating art in public spaces.  

He’s been actively creating art since the late 1960s, with socially and environmentally focused pieces that predated the more recent trends in relational aesthetics and “green art.”  He’s received a number of awards and recognitions for his work including UM Distinguished Alumni Award in Architecture and Design, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, and the Americans for the Arts Artist of the Year Award.  His work is featured in public spaces across the country and has been exhibited in at The New Museum, MoMA PS1, Seattle ArtMuseum, The Hirshhorn Museum, Capp Street Project, International Glass Museum, and the  Frye Art Museum. Check out his body of work on his official website, http://www.bustersimpson.net/.

Like all of the other lectures in the Stamps speaker series, this one is FREE to the public and will take place at 5:10 at the Michigan theater.  This will be the last talk in a long series of fascinating and successful lectures so be sure to stop on by. If you miss the event there will be a review of the lecture here on art[seen], and be sure to look out for the winter speaker series once its announced!

PREVIEW: What Were You Wearing?

 

Displayed previously at the University of Kansas, this thought-provoking exhibit is stopping here at the University for just one day, so be sure to check it out.  Featuring 18 stories of sexual assault , the exhibit hopes to challenge victim blaming and the idea that sexual assault survivors are ever to be held responsible for the crimes of others.   This event was organized by HeforShe and should be an important step in promoting both reflection and conversation here on campus.

 

This exhibit will be housed in the commons of the UMMA this coming Monday, Dec 4th, from 5:30-8:30. The exhibit is FREE to all and there will be desserts and refreshments provided by zingermans so be sure to stop by and check it out!  

 

REVIEW: LGBTQ monologues

 

By the time I arrived the lights were low and the event was about to begin, so I didn’t have time to sample the refreshments artfully arranged at the back of the beautiful Pendleton room in the Student Union.  My friend and I took our seats, pocketing the stickers we had gotten outside when signing in and prepared for a night of moving stories and personal accounts from members of the LGBTQ community here on campus.

The event had been arranged and sponsored through a collaboration between the student org LGBT Michigan and the university’s spectrum center kicking off Umich’s events for national coming out week.  By the time the first speaker came up to give their monologue, the room was completely packed.  Scanning the rows of crowded chairs it became a difficult game to try to pick out any empty seats as latecomers trickled in and slowly filled the room to capacity.  To maintain the privacy of the community members and students who so bravely chose to share their individual stories, I don’t want to recount the specific of any one story, but I appreciated the diversity and range of individuals represented in the monologues.  While it seems obvious that no two individuals would have similar experiences, I still found myself amazed at the amount of diversity of individuals and monologues that we heard packed into one night.  The crowd was delightfully receptive, laughing at the right moments, staying quiet when the mood was somber, and offering a perfectly respectful environment that everyone could feel safe in, both for the speakers and the other audience members.

I appreciated greatly that there was also time reserved at the end of the event for open mic time, inviting audience members with their own story to share to come up to the front and have a turn on the mic.  I was surprised at how well spoken everyone was, reading everything from a personal poem relating to the topic to a moving life story.  It was the perfect way to round out the night, and even the open mic speakers all delivered their monologues with a level of polish that was not expected or needed, but highly appreciated.  I think this event was the perfect place for those who might feel isolated or alone on campus to hear the stories of others that they might resonate with, or bring communities closer together.  I hope that this event becomes a yearly series and sincerely thank those organizing it for their dedication and effort.

Review- Maddman: The Steve Madden Story

I arrived early to the Michigan theater- nearly a full two hours before the event began- expecting the interest generated by this one of a kind experience to be more than overwhelming.  It was the premier of the Steve Madden documentary, “Maddman: the Steve Madden Story” by Ben Patterson featuring a live Q&A from the man himself after the movie was over.  Thankfully my friend and I got a spot near the front of the line, but as the line slowly grew and the drizzly rainy day chilled even further you could feel the sense of excitement mounting in the hubbub of the crowd outside.  I had been a long-time wearer of Madden’s shoes, coincidentally having thrown on a pair that very morning without realizing the connection.  Knowing next to nothing about the company or the man behind the company I was very excited to learn exactly how that well-loved pair of black “troopa” boots on my feet came into being.

Finally, it was time to file into the theater, walking by a mini photo op area where individuals dressed far better than I were taking photos, already making the event seem like the fashionable and flashy movie premier that I had expected it to be.  Generously, all attendees of the event receive free concessions (I picked some popcorn and a delicious mocha dark chocolate bar) along with a free goodie bag that featured a mug, a t shirt, stickers and much more.  For a free event this was far more than I expected and a more than welcome first impression. The screening room had a capacity of 200, and by the time the event was ready to begin nearly every seat was full.  A staff member told us to “pretend we were at sea world” and squeeze in so that no seat would be wasted

Finally the lights dimmed and the documentary began with snappy shots of the feet of New Yorkers as they bustled around the city.  The documentary itself was nothing short of fantastic. I thought the director did an extremely good job of capturing both elements of Steve’s life and career, and also the frenzied kinetic energy of the office.  Steve’s story  progressed naturally, one event flowing to another while weaving the overarching story of a dedicated and passionate man becoming the textbook example of “rags to richtes” through hard work and creativity.  They discussed sensitive topics, like Steve’s time in prison due to being caught up in the money laundering scheme made famous by “Wolf of Wall Street,” with special care,  while also maintaining focus on Steve’s dedication for his company and forward momentum.  I remember laughing out loud at more than one occasion and grinning from ear to ear by the time the movie was over.

Last but not least, it was time for the Q&A. Even from sitting near the back of the room, you could get a feel for Steve Madden’s natural charisma and force of personality.  He managed to exude an air of confidence without seeming haughty or arrogant, and seemed to earnestly answer all of the questions presented to him, even the less than comfortable ones about his time in prison.  I particularly liked that when asked why he chose Ann Arbor to premier the movie about his life story, he brought up that many people he know and a large number of people who work from his company were Umich alums themselves, and that the school had a special place in his company.  While the event was a once-in-a-lifetime experience I highly recommend the documentary to anyone interested in business, fashion or just an inspiring story of hard work and dedication.

 

Preview: Maddman: The Steve Madden Story

For any fans of fashion, business, documentaries or any combination of the three, this coming Wednesday go to the premier of  “Maddman: The Steve Madden Story” at the Michigan Theater and attend a live Q&A with Steve Madden himself.  The Madden Company, whose products can be seen adorning the feet and bodies of many students walking around campus has had a tumultuous and interesting history, and this documentary will track their history along with Steve Madden’s own rags-to-riches story.

The event will take place at the Michigan Theater, October 11th.  The doors will open at 7:15 and the screening itself will begin at 8:00.  I anticipate a fair amount of interest in this event so if you want good seats make sure to get there early! The event will be free to the public with limited free concessions.