PREVIEW: Art Outta Town Art Prize

ART OUTTA TOWN goes to ARTPRIZE

Art Outta Town is a program through Arts at Michigan that organizes trips for students to attend art happenings outside the city limits of Ann Arbor. This weekend, the destination is Grand Rapids for one of the country’s largest art competitions: ArtPrize. This ‘radically open competition and social experiment’ features 1517 artist installations throughout the city. Unlike the Ann Arbor Art Fair, this festival utilizes pre-established spaces, like store fronts and window displays, such that the entire town transforms into an gallery. The goal of the giant display is to create both ‘harmony and tension among disciplines and between mediums.’ The grand prize for the winning artists is a large some of cash money. Finalists are determined both by a jury and by popular vote, which you can do via texting, so be sure to remember your favorites!

If you do find yourself at ArtPrize this weekend, there are a few important names and places to remember. The Prison Creative Arts Project is featuring three artists who are no longer incarcerated and are competitive members of the festival. On Saturday, September 29th there will be a meet n’ greet with the artists at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts (2 West Fulton). At 2:30 pm, all are welcome to join the PCAP Art Walk to the Department of Corrections where their work is displayed. This is an incredibly celebratory moment for both PCAP and the artists who have submitted work. Their names, images of their pieces, and codes for the popular vote are as follows, so be sure to send a text!

Brian Wagner, ‘Grist Mill at Sedona Arizona’ 52712:

Clifford Wade, ‘Ostracized’ 52624:

Fernando DeLezica, ‘Forethought’ 52487:

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Unfortunately it is too late to sign up for this week’s Art Outta Town. Luckily, however, ArtPrize runs until October 7th so you have a chance to see  it on your own. Follow the link here if you are interested in other Art Outta Town escapades, including next week’s Dlectricity. Click here to sign up! See you at ArtPrize!

REVIEW: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros

With his hair piled atop his head, an unkempt beard, and 12 other band members, Alex Ebert bounded on stage; his hands drew unknown figures in the air as the drum beat for “40 Day Dream” reverberated off the walls of Royal Oak Music Theatre. The whole band then launched into the heart of the song with such inexorable thirst for music, the entire audience was dancing whether they were aware of it or not. The band, even recorded, makes clear what audience they aim to speak to. But on stage, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros made clear that Tuesday night was for the dreamers and the lovers.

After their first four songs knocked down the majority of their hits (“40 Day Dream,” “Man on Fire,” “Jangling,” and “That’s What’s Up”), ESM0s quickly mellowed. The feeling of a festival or circus didn’t necessarily leave the venue; rather it was suppressed for a few songs until “I Don’t Wanna Pray.” The Magnetic Zeros consisted of a sprawling 13 members, led by Ebert and Castrinos, and featured a wide array of instruments from accordion to trumpet to upright bass. Playing unmistakably buoyant music full of hopeful messages (as well as transcendentalist images), it seemed hard for the band members not to have a blast on stage – Ebert admitted, “I want to…but I have to be a rock star. I can’t smile.”

What seemed most impressive on Ebert’s part was his interaction with the audience. Whether he was dancing or bouncing or singing, he made an effort to connect with those in the front of the crowd by holding hands, hugging, and during “Home,” offering the microphone to those who had something to say. Whatever physical or social barrier there was between audience and band quickly melted away so that we were less spectators than a bunch of people enjoying love-filled songs.

Perhaps the band received such positive energy because the opener, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, failed to deliver anything more creative than lyrics such as, “Satan, Satan, Satan/Satan, Satan, Satan.” Their driving bass line and high-pitched synths proved less than impressive after several songs obeyed the same form. Plus, for an audience expecting fun folk-rock, we struggled to warm up to a heavy electronic-based indie band.

Thankfully, the hippie gypsy-crew of the Magnetic Zeros saved the night by reminding us of the pure joy of music. Ask anyone – the old man sitting next to me who claimed he loved Edward Sharpe and Pitbull, the countless men sporting wild beards, or the couple who ballroom-danced the whole night – if they could stop themselves from singing, dancing, or smiling throughout the two-hour show. I’ll bet their response will be something in the vein of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros’ lyrics: “Only one desire/that’s left in me/I want the whole damn world/to come dance with me.”

PREVIEW: Theo Katzman opens for Vienna Teng at The Ark

THEO KATZMAN opens for VIENNA TENG at THE ARK

Saturday September 29, 2012

Doors at 7:30, music at 8:00 pm

U of M School of Music alum and popular Ann Arbor singer-song writer Theo Katzman returns from his new home in New York City to open a show for Vienna Teng this Saturday at The Ark. The last time he performed in Ann Arbor was in August for the Sonic Lunch summer series which featured monthly musical performances in Liberty Square. On saturday he will be performing with Ann Arbor locals and School of Music student Joe Dart on bass and Julian Allen on drums.

About this weekend’s show, Theo Katzman said, “I love Ann Arbor and I love The Ark. It’s one of the only places where you can count on people to really listen. Ann Arbor has become a second home to me — I feel like its where I’m from.” And about starting off the show, “I’m honored to be opening for Vienna Teng. She’s an inspiring person.”

I say with confidence that Theo Katzman is one of my favorite musicians I’ve heard in the past….years. The last time I memorized an entire album was probably ‘NOW 4’ which I purchased circa 2000 and listened to devotedly. I’ve been playing Theo’s latest cd in my car on repeat all summer long and have all the songs memorized. Embarrassing? I’m not sure.

Here are some videos of songs from his album  Romance Without FinanceBrooklyn and and acoustic version of Every Few Days.Video work is done by the very creative  School of Art and Design alum Christine Hucal. I like dancing to the music she mixes in her videos in my free time. Some of my favorites include Crazy Secret Things and $itting at the Gan$ter Table. Check ’em out!

Julian Allen, Theo Katzman, and Joe Dart at Top of The Park 2011

PREVIEW: Ingrid Michaelson concert

World-renown singer/songwriter Ingrid Michaelson will be in Ann Arbor performing at the Power Center this weekend. Recently having released her latest album “Human Again,” she has several hit singles as well as multiple albums, including “Be Ok” and “Girls and Boys.” Her songs have also appeared in many movies and TV shows. Enormously popular for her indie-pop style and original lyrics, she has reaped the rewards as a successful poet and singer.

Her concert will take place September 30th at 7:30pm, doors open at 7pm. I have a few friends who go to see her last spring when she came to Pontiac, and they said she was absolutely stunning. Tickets still available online so get yours soon!!

REVIEW: Kidd Pivot – Tempest Replica

REVIEW: Kidd Pivot – The Tempest Replica

This first UMS show kicked the season off with a bang. Kidd Pivot’s production, “Tempest Replica,” was one of the most beautiful performances I’ve ever seen. Robotic-like movements contrasted flowing gestures, moments existed where the characters appeared to roll across the stage, bouncing so quickly from lying down to standing up to lying down…etc. It was astounding. The staging of the performance was definitely the most impressive of any dance company I’d ever seen. They had a giant white screen that floated as a back drop to the play, upon which they were able to project words, quotations from the text, and act and scene numbers. Not only was it helpful, but it also created a blank slate before which the action of the play proceeded. It was incredible clever and oftentimes the screen would waver about, causing a sort of ripple effect which only served to make it look even cooler.
I think everyone would agree that the shipwreck scene at the beginning was the most impressive moment of the play, staging wise. The play began with a man folding paper-boats on stage, from the moment you entered the auditorium, he was hard at work. He passes one boat to the spirit Ariel, and demands “Shipwreck!” She hesitates, and then shoves the boat in her mouth as a crash sent shivers through the audience. Suddenly, the white, billowy curtain falls and an image of rain is projected in one corner while a man writhes below. Flashes of lightening light the stage, and behind the translucent curtain are three men dressed completely in white, white masks covering their faces, roll from one edge of the stage to another. I truly felt as if the entire stage were pitching and rocking about in the sea. It was immensely impressive.

I haven’t read the Tempest, but I was able to follow the storyline for the most part. It seemed to me that it was a story of creator vs. creation, in the same avenue of Frankenstein, honestly. Many of the characters were posed and prompted by Prospero, this god-like man who could create creatures out of thin air by magic. Many of his creatures either tried to kill him, run away, or both. One of the final scenes had me a little lost because it showed three white-masked figures following the steps of Prospero, and I thought it symbolized the whole repetitive cycle of this man’s life: creates, wishes to destroy, beings too powerful, creature in control, he creates his own creation…etc. Or it could have been a way for the narrator to look back upon the events of his life, retrospectively wishing for a different life. It was thought-provoking and the dance was beautiful, but I was a little lost.
That brings me to another point: timeline. Granted, I haven’t read the book, but I was completely confused as to where in time we were left during Act V. Entire scenes seemed to repeat themselves and suddenly we were off this alleged “island” where Prospero and his daughter were vanished and into the real world with doorbells, dinner parties and the like. It was bizarre! At least on the Island I could suspend disbelief of the events that sequenced, but smushed up against the real world, I was lost in what remained reality and what was solely absurd.

Cyrstal Pite who created this piece is to be hailed for such a successful performance. The choreography, staging, and actors were so well-aligned; it was a seamless production and a beautiful show. I would gladly see another show by Kidd Pivot, and am super excited to read the Tempest in one of my classes later this year to fill in the plot gaps. Tremendous and awe-inspiring, I’m glad I attended.

PREVIEW: Kidd Pivot – Tempest Replica

“All things in common nature should produce / Without sweat or endeavor” (Shakespeare, Tempest, 2.1)

This weekend, Kidd Pivott will be in town performing their interpretation of the Tempest as set to modern dance. Their dance company is based in Vancouver since 2002. Under the artistic direction of Crystal Pite, this performance is sure to blow you away. A tale of revenge, redemption, and passion, the stormy spectacle is definitely worth your time. Ballet Tanz says, “Pite’s as energetic as a sparkler and fluid as quicksilver.” Although this “common nature” definitely involved some “sweat” and “endeavor” it is a performance not to be missed.

Kidd Pivot, Tempest Replica will perform at Power Center on the evenings of this Friday and Saturday (9/21-22). Tickets still available!