Word of Mouth Story SLAM WORKSHOP!

Wednesday, February 8 —6pm— Work Gallery, 306 State Street

Join Word of Mouth Stories for a casual story telling workshop. We will hang out and talk about what makes for great story telling, listen to a few tales from NPR’s “The Moth,” and give feedback on what you might want to say at the next slam. Games, stories, and free pizza with friends, why not drop by?
AND! Join us for our next slam:
Friday, February 17 –7pm–Work Gallery, 306 State Street
In keeping with the spirit of the month, the theme will be: Infatuation

Before then, be sure to check out our blog.
Come prepared to hear and tell some good stories! Hope to see you there.

PREVIEW: The 8th Annual Faculty Exhibition

For the past three week, the Slusser Gallery in the Art and Architecture building  has displayed an exhibit of faculty art work. A variety of mediums, from ceramic to painting, sculpture to photography, video installation to fibers, The 8th Annual Faculty Exhibition publicizes current creative endeavors of professors at the art school. In anticipation of the closing reception, which is this Friday, I made a trip to North Campus to explore the display. I was highly impressed by the pieces. These professors are true professionals and their craft is cutting edge. Several captivating portrayals of nudes caught my attention, as well as curious ceramic sculptures of over sized honey combs, and a self-portrait series of the artist in a body brace that alludes to Frida Kahlo’s famous work.

Only a few more days to get in on this art action. To celebrate the creativity, be sure to get to the closing reception:

Jean Paul Slusser Gallery

UM School of Art & Design, 1st Floor

2000 Bonisteel Blvd.


Monday through Friday: 9am – 5pm, Saturday: 12 – 7 pm

Closing Reception

Friday, February 3, 6-9 pm

REVIEW: Maira Kalman and Daniel Handler in the Penny W. Stamps Lecture Series

I say it was confidence: the hidden gem of this university is the Penny W. Stamps Lecture Series.

Every Thursday at 5:10 pm at the Michigan Theater, the School of Art and Design hosts one of the most stimulating, well curated lecture series I’ve ever been to. Not that I am a wide connoisseur of lectures,  but this particular series is, in my opinion, free entertainment– one hundred percent. I may be preaching to the choir since it is a requisite for students of A&D. Even if you do not have a strong proclivity for the arts, the series also runs talks on all kinds of innovation: think cities, sustainability, film, fashion; anything and everything progressive, bright, and mindful.

Last week, Daniel Handler and Maira Kalman, a writer and illustrator respectively, spoke about their newest collaborated work, a nearly-graphic novel called Why We Broke Up. Before I continue, let me just say that you probably know at least one of these artists quite well. Well, your childhood book shelf does. If you were born of the nineties, you surely read A Series of Unfortunate Events, no? Well Daniel Handler is the man behind the madness, the renowned and yet oh so discrete Lemony Snicket.

With a name like Lemony Snicket, I imagined he would be haggled as Count Olaf, his villainous character. But not remotely. Tall and dressed in a suit, he stood beside his artistic counterpart Maira Kalman, an endearing-looking Californian, and worked the crowd from the start to finish. Professional comedy. The dynamic of the two mirrored that of an adorable old married couple (though they are not). They bickered, interrupted, and mocked each other’s habits, but ultimately, their humor exhibited a true sense of camaraderie in the presentation of the work.

Why We Broke Up is about first love. And, as the title reveals, first heart break. The story is told through the illustration of objects. Kalman paints figures that are simultaneously whimsical and stunning with realism. Min, the heart breakee, gives Ed, the heartbreaker, a box of keepsakes that represent their relationship. Each belonging turns a page and gives voice to the tale of their romance. The captions that correlate with each image are written by Handler (the two artists live on opposite coasts and created this work by mailing each other corresponding images and snippets until the book was complete).

This review I am writing makes the lecture sound as though it were morose and heart wrenching when, in fact, the crowd was in hysterics the entire time. At the end of the presentation, audience members filled out a quiz that scored their level of romanticism, responding to questions read aloud such as “Unicorns are special,” and “I like the hair you leave on your hair brush.”

You know, I’m just not getting the humor across in the same way that Handler and Kalman did. They are professionals. Read it from them at the Penny W. Stamps website. And click here to read about upcoming lectures, including this Thursday’s High Line: New York City’s Park in the Sky by Robert Hammond. It’s a talk about the future of urban infrastructure coming to life–should be interesting! My dad, an avid environmentalist, is driving into Ann Arbor to hear the lecture. Afterward, we are getting Earthen Jar. A great father-daughter date. I suggest you do the same with some body; Penny Stamps is a great way to start the weekend!

REVIEW: WCBN Radio live broadcast: Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye speaks live with WCBN Radio!

Self proclaimed “wandering poet,” Naomi Shihab Nye, wandered into Ann Arbor and landed at The Work Gallery on Wednesday night. A comfortable audience gathered in the space to hear the recently published writer dish it out with WCBN Radio talk show host T. Hetzel. T. Hetzel’s regular spot is a literary commentary called “Living Writers,” where she chats with exactly that: living artists of the literary world. Naomi Shihab Nye is the year’s Zell Distinguished Poet in Residence and has been in Ann Arbor all week, beginning with a packed reading on Monday night at the UMMA. In the broadcast, the poet discussed her writing process, her inspirations, and her vision as well as sharing snippets from her most recently published work “Transfer.

Never having read her work before, I perused the merchandise at the front of the gallery during the broadcast, dipping into Shihab Nye’s collection of poetry and other writings. With one ear on the conversation and one eye on the page, I got a crash course in this woman’s work. The detail of her characters jumped to life  while the author made real time commentary for her interview. The immigrant story of her father moving to Texas (because it’s in the middle of the two coasts, must be close to both right? Wrong) and the way he connected her to their Palestinian roots, was a colorful influence on her work. Also, she wrote of taking flight–birds and bird watching. My favorite poem, the title of which now escapes me, was one of these. It was short; three lines only, arranged artfully on the page. In a few succinct words, it pointedly conveyed the feeling of lying in the grass and cloud gazing with friends, but failing to see the bird everyone else spots and yet pretending to be able so as not to feel estranged.

Of all the pieces of advice that Shihab Nye dispensed in her interview (to writers—and non writers alike), the two I found most pronounced  were these: Find a time of day that allows for the most creativity for you. For Shahib Nye, it is morning, because of the solitude and “privacy” of the still-sleeping world. And, it is nearly criminal to not carry around a notebook. Always carry around a notebook! You never know when you’ll meet a stroke of genius. Always be prepared to capture it.

I highly recommend getting a hold of a piece of Shihab Nye’s poetry. It is accessible yet complex, familiar and yet unique.

These live WCBN performances are very worthwhile events! (the evening was complete with a jazzy interlude by School of Music students Kirsten Crey and Pat Booth). My friend, Bennett Stein, has been spearheading these live radio broadcasts at The Work Gallery, so if you missed this one, keep your eyes open for the next. The events are In the mean time, tune into T. Hetzel’s Living Writers series: every Wednesday at 4:15, WCBN FM Ann Arbor 88.3 FM. Now she has got a radio voice.

PREVIEW: Chris DuPont at The Blind Pig

Already need a break from studying? Check out Chris DuPont live at The Blind Pig!

The local musician plays easy-on-the-ears ambiant folk-rock. You’ll be sure to hear plenty of original tunes from his most recent album “Lay No Claim.” The performance is not just a solo act. DuPont is accompanied by several other musicians, including Katie Van Dusen on violin who *cough* I may or may not have lived with last summer…ahh many a’front-porch summer night jam sessions to be remembered.  Not to sound like a groupie or anything.

For a night of charming harmony and gentle acoustics, be sure to check out the show!

Let Chris serenade you with a homemade invitation. Get a better taste of what you can look out for on Tuesday night.

Chris DuPont

January 24th 2012

The Blind Pig

208 S. First St

Doors at 9:30

$5, 21+/$8, 18+

Get more info on the artist at his website

REVIEW: Restaurant Week

It’s Restaurant Week in Ann Arbor. What does that mean? A host of delicious restaurants around town are offering deals on lunches and dinners.

Here’s how to play: For a fixed price of $12 for Lunch and $25 for Dinner, you get any combination of a three course meal, a dessert, or a drink (some restaurants offer two for one pricing).

Restaurant Week is sponsored by Main Street Ann Arbor as well as several other organizations dedicated to cultivating a sense of culture and community in the city. One of the best ways to do that is through food. The great thing about Restaurant Week is that is allows a spectrum of citizens who may not ordinarily splurge to have a night out at a fancy joint for an affordable price. From Gratzi to Jamaican Jerk Pit, Gandy Dancer to Jazzy Veggie, Restaurant Week covers the range of eateries that Ann Arbor has to offer.

This special week occurs twice a year: once in the January and once in June. Last summer, I was working as a server at The Jolly Pumpkin Café and Brewery on Main Street. During the event, the restaurant offered specials like lemon-thyme risotto, braised duck, and pumpkin flavored whoopie pies. Delish! And let me tell you, the place was packed, so make sure if you’re going to hit the town you make a reservation. Some things to keep in mind: Restaurant Week’s prix fix does not include tax or tip, so if you take a date be sure you have a little extra pocket change.

Here is a list of restaurants close to campus you may want to check out:

Seva, Sava’s on State, Silvio’s Organic Pizza, Jamaican Jerk Pit, and The Original Cottage Inn

Read More