PREVIEW: This Land – pastel paintings

Connie Cronenwett’s collection of pastel paintings, This Land, will be available to view at the WSG Gallery on 111 East Ann Street until Saturday, November 26!

The title “This Land” makes me think of the song This Land is Your Land, and of motifs like the American Dream, belonging, assimilation, discrimination, etc. I have no idea if that is what the paintings are about or meant to represent, but I think it will be cool to compare my expectations to the actual exhibit. I also can’t tell if the paintings are pastel hued / paletted which is why they’re referred to as pastel paintings, or if the medium is all pastel chalk. From the one image on the website preview, it seems like the latter, which is why it’s intriguing to me, that they’re still referred to as paintings. Either way, I’m expecting serene, muted landscapes that will hopefully give me some peace at the end of a long week!

Read more on the WSG gallery, the exhibit, and Cronenwett’s paintings here!


Come see Louie Palu’s exhibition, PHOTOGRAPHS in the RC gallery in East Quad!

Although I’m not well-versed in the world of photography, according to the RC website, “Louie Palu is an award-winning documentary photographer and filmmaker whose work has appeared in publications and exhibitions internationally.” I find it interesting that the exhibition is simply called “Photographs” and the description doesn’t say much about the art itself, but emphasizes the many accolades Palu has up his sleeve. It seems like quite a bit deal that someone whose photography has been featured in Der Spiegel, El Pais, Le Figaro, National Geographic, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, The New York Times, and The Washington Post has displayed their photos right here on campus, in the RC’s quaint gallery space. Just from the previews, the photos seem to have a dramatic, powerful flare that I’m excited to see in person.

The photos will be here until Monday, November 21, and the gallery is open Monday-Friday from 10:00 am-5:00 pm, so come see it soon!

Learn more here!

PREVIEW: La Pelea/The Fight

“La Pelea/The Fight is a 46-foot panoramic oil-on-canvas. At the center of the “picture” and surrounded by a jeering crowd, the viewer becomes literally and conceptually involved as the one who is about to fight and defend themself.” I kinda wanna see what this would do to my psyche. I find the idea incredibly creative, as I’ve never seen a painting in the form of a loop instead of flat canvas. There have been paintings just as long, like that of Michelangelo’s, but never a canvas that bends… it makes me wonder how it was painted — flat and then folded? Or was Salvador Diaz in the middle of the circle the whole time? As he painted the antagonizers before his eyes, and spent all that time in that panorama, was the painting process agonizing? Or did it not affect him at all? I’m excited to explore a piece of art that engages the viewer so interactively.

The painting will be available to visit in the Institute for the Humanities Gallery on 202 S. Thayer until Friday December 9th! The gallery is open on weekdays from 9am – 5pm.

Learn more here:

REVIEW: Celebrasia

I arrived promptly at 5:15, and through the windows of Mason Hall, I could see the place was already swarmed. The performances wouldn’t start until 6:30, but eager supporters ravaged the food booths, arriving early to secure good seats and snag Asian snacks like scallion pancakes, spam musubi, samosas, onigiri, tea eggs, and dumplings, just to name a few. 

After destroying the best tofu pudding of my life, and a quick fishbowl study sesh (grind never stops), we headed to auditorium A to catch the performances. Only to find an overflow of people out into the hall. There was absolutely no way to get a seat, let alone see past the crowd of heads cramming the walkway. Despite many technical difficulties, and my late arrival to the show, the student groups were a hit. From the doorway of the auditorium, through the screen of a phone filming between two heads (shout out to the dude who was recording), we gasped, bug-eyed at Revolution Yo-yo’s flying tricks and coordinated routine to “Stereotype” by STAYC. When they threw and caught their yo-yos and jumped to the beat of the song, the audience emitted oohs, ahs, and wahs

By the time the intermission hit, we were able to finally find seats and sit down. Pretending we were a part of Seoul Juice, who were all suited up in forest, olive, and dark green (one member even dyed their hair green), we wove through the crowd with ease. With the fairy lights and floral compositions framing the stage, the band resembled Christmas trees, a little grove of them. They absolutely murdered their new setlist, blazing through “Pink + White” by Frank Ocean, “Jealous” by Gummy and Ailee, and “Hype Boy” by NewJeans with character and ease. Suzy’s high notes alone were enough to bring about collective chills. Nods and grimaces of admiration (expressions like that of K-drama characters after downing a smooth shot of soju) between members solidified a sense of not only skill, but group support and dynamic. Their unique color showed when they grooved with one another during instrumental riffs. Like when Darren swooned against the back of the stage when one of the new members sang solo. Or when the mics started beatboxing (more tech issues!) and a few members stalled while the situation was being sorted out. The distraction, in the form of playing around with pleasant, jazzy sounds, made the dim auditorium feel like a street-side restaurant in Italy. Along with roars towards individual members of the band, cheers from the audience (“Slay Juice”) hyped the whole group up.

Seoul Juice performing Pink + White.

As a (mediocre) dancer and dance enthusiast, I especially enjoyed the dance groups’ performances. DB3, in matching schoolboy outfits, had the audience barking, singing along, and screaming fanchants. rXn demonstrated a versatile variety of dances that blended the traditional with trendy. 

rXn during two different dances.

FunKtion’s final pose.

“Hype Boy” came on again during Female Gayo’s performance medley. The K-pop dance group flaunted the strengths they’re known so well for: sharp stage presence, clean coordination, and charming charisma. The choreography caught every eye; mine were glued, dry from forgetting to blink. And I wasn’t the only one. The person sitting in front of me was filming a literal fancam for one of the members.

So when the speakers stopped, mid-song, it was all the more disappointing, for both the audience and the performers. Some members kept dancing, while the other half froze in their positions, mid-step; both moves oozing professionalism. The music was fixed, the song replayed, they got back into formation again. But the technical difficulties were still being difficult; as soon as the song started back up, it grinded to a halt again, at the same time as before. Luckily, third time was a charm, and they were able to finish out the performance both smoothly, and with a bang. 

Female Gayo while waiting for the music to get fixed.

I wasn’t able to see nor write about every group, but I look forward to next year’s Celebrasia, and I’m sure many can say the same!

I left with several shazamed songs in my pocket, a satisfied stomach, and cheeks that hurt from cheesing.

Preview: Don José Marti Open Mic

This Sunday, November 13th, from 7pm – 10pm at the Rackham Graduate School, The Beta Upsilon chapter of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity, Inc. are hosting their second annual Don José Marti Open Mic! 

This Open Mic is inspired by one of Beta’s pillars, Don José Marti, who was a Cuban nationalist, poet, journalist, and publisher who is considered a hero in the Latin American liberation movement. This event will represent a large variety of art forms: They welcome writers, musicians, vocalists, actors, dancers, and visual artists to present their artwork or perform in front of a live audience. I specifically liked that they mentioned that performers of all skill levels are welcomed in the Performance Application form. I’ve been to a few open mic events, and have been wanting to expose myself to more. There will also be food catering by a Latin American Cuban Cuisine. If you like poetry, spoken word, short stories, music, dances, visual arts, acting, and photography, this is the event for you! Seems like it will be an exciting night of appreciating and celebrating the arts! 

Make sure to fill out the RSVP Guest Form!

REVIEW: Wendell & Wild

Wendell and Wild was well-wended but a bit too wild…

The cast is quite stacked, including Ramona Young who I knew from Never Have I Ever, and Key and Peele (who I quite comically didn’t realize was Jordan Peele as well, until writing this review). Father Bests, the head of Kat’s all-girls Catholic school, is voiced by James Hong, whose voice is recognizable as Mr. Ping, Po’s adoptive father from Kung Fu Panda. But Father Bests’ familiarity still poked at me. I finally scratched the itch when I realized he looks familiar too: he resembles RBG but if she was a dude and a vampire (Father Bests isn’t actually a vampire, just looks like one).

There’s also quite a noticeable bit of diversity and representation within the cast and characters. The students within Rust Bank Catholic are all people of color. In this world, while race doesn’t seem to explicitly reflect our society’s real relationship with racial tensions and injustice (unless the town council members were presumably white (though we can’t tell in their skeletal forms)), the film points out microaggressions towards the trans community, as seen through Kat’s friend, Raul’s experience.

Among the film’s great elements are its music, of which my favorite was “Ghost Town” by the Specials. Listen to the official soundtrack here:

WENDELL & WILD – BTS. Cr: Ariel Spaugh/NETFLIX © 2022

The animation is also above par. During a set visit from Screen Rant, Henry Selick said, “It’s not all lubricated imagery, perfectly done, that’s just like every other Hollywood CG film.” Yet this somehow makes the animation feel crisp and meticulous, a step even higher than the high-quality claymation of Coraline and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I first noticed this during a shot of ice sloshing under the wheel of a car transporting Kat from prison to her new school. The sound along with the depth / detail of the crunching ice was extremely satisfying.

The detail put into the visuals and worldbuilding of Rust Bank was also highly appreciated. From the snowy setting to the hellish creatures, to the wardrobe. The fits felt familiar — from the pooling nuns robes to the schoolgirl skirts and blazers with safety pins cutting through them — yet held an edge. Kat’s fashion is very in right now, though a friend pointed out that her vamped-up, rebellious school uniform felt unrealistic and erroneous of punk culture couture, much of which came out of the stuff of second hand stores and rummage sales.

I guess what felt off about the movie was its rating. As a PG-13 stop-animation film on Netflix, just from looking at the cover and synopsis, it presents as a spooky movie for kids. Upon finishing the film, it still seemed like it was meant to be a children’s movie (maybe more for tweens), because of the lack of curse words or other PG-13 things. It felt like the movie had been planned and made that way, but the rating was hiked up last minute because of the dark comedy and subject matter (demons). Maybe the demon brothers Wendell and Wild getting high off of their dad’s hair cream, the juvenile justice system, death, and Kat’s parents’ business that got burnt down (a brewery) also took part in the heightened rating.

A few elements of the script and plot resolution also felt a bit too easy. Kat getting a hold of her power after “owning her memories” and saying to her monster, “I’m in control of my life now, not you,” felt a little cheesy and too forward. The ending – family reconciled, Klax Korp finished, whooo victory! – is packaged up a little too nicely, especially because of the film’s multiple threads. The story opens up too many conflicts in the first half, but couldn’t tie up those loose ends within the 1 hour and 45 minutes, without tackling them in a way that felt forced. Maybe demons and the prison industrial context were a little too much to handle. Jordan Peele’s storyline and dialogue are usually his strong suit, so this felt a little disappointing. I had very high hopes because of the household names, and felt like all of the anticipation wasn’t lived up to. As my friend said, “Maybe he’s better with real people.”

But overall, Wendell and Wild was a cool film to watch, especially on Halloween weekend. Just wouldn’t watch twice.