Myths and Legends: Guild Showcases Local Artists Through Folklore Exhibit at Ann Arbor’s Gutman Gallery
Ann Arbor artist-photographer Marilynn Thomas interprets a migratory Baltimore oriole's transitory world in her layered watercolor painting called Oriole Unraveling the Universe.
She places the juvenile bird at the center of a tree while vivid red-orange hues and muted pastels color his mystical surroundings. Stenciled ferns and dragonflies provide momentary companionship as the oriole decides whether to stay or go.
Within his beak lies the familiar outline of the golden mean, which represents a magical portal that allows him to travel from one universe to the next.
“That’s his universe; that all belongs to him,” Thomas said. “I’ve done a lot of orioles simply because they only come through in spring and fall, and they’re kind of exciting. I like the migrant birds, and I’ve been painting birds for 20 years.”
U-M researcher Michelle Segar lays out “The Joy Choice” in her recent book on sensible eating and exercise plans
Exercise and eating both come down to our daily choices, and it does not have to be as hard as it seems, says author Michelle Segar, a lifestyle coach and researcher at the University of Michigan.
In her recent book, The Joy Choice, Segar details a new way to make these decisions, including diagrams that show how to apply her research-based method. She writes:
Our choice is our choice. It no longer represents overcoming perceived deficiencies, following someone else’s rules, or being selfish. We make room for the unanticipated while still meeting our own self-care needs, simultaneously renewing our energetic resources for the people, goals, and projects we care most about.
Segar’s Joy Choice strategy and decision tool were designed to assist you at the point when you and your eating or exercise plans run up against real-life interruptions. The genius of this tactic comes from working with, rather than against, the unanticipated challenges so you can keep making strides toward your target despite life’s unwelcome twists.
One way that Segar helps address these “choice points”—the moments when you are faced with continuing to pursue your exact plan or changing course—is by identifying the ways that both internal and external issues could derail making your desired healthy choice. Segar calls these forces “decision disrupters.” An example of one of the four disruptors that she features is “accommodation,” about which Segar writes, “[T]here’s real science about the damage that can occur when our automatic and consistent go-to is giving other people’s needs priority over our own. As with most things in life, seeking balance and finding compromise is key.” While our decision disrupters may not be readily apparent, we can address them once we learn about them—and prevent them from upending our goals moving forward.
Segar calls “choice points” the “true place of power” because it is at these times when you can make a choice that aligns with your greater goals. Segar says:
When the exercise and eating goals we have selected (as opposed to those that have been imposed on us by society or others) align with our core values, needs, and priorities, they become integrated into and a natural affirming part of who we are. This in turn increases the value proposition for making choices that favor healthy eating and regular exercise. Because we no longer feel that we should make those choices, our internal conflicts with them are gone or greatly reduced, and so now we want to make them and make them more effortlessly.
Making decisions that support your healthy behavior goals becomes enjoyably straightforward with Segar’s Joy Choice strategy.
AADL hosted Segar for a reading on June 24, a video of which is included at the end of this post. This fall, I interviewed her about The Joy Choice.
"North Country" Fare: The 40th-anniversary edition of Jay Stielstra's folk opera sails into The Ark
Forty years ago, Jay Stielstra was playing his songs to enthusiastic listeners around Ann Arbor, mostly at Mr. Flood’s Party, a bar that once stood on 120 West Liberty. Bouyed by the response to his tunes, the folk singer decided to write some continuity and put them together in a play, North Country Opera.
“The main thing that carries it are the songs,” Stielstra says. “I asked other musicians I knew in Ann Arbor if they wanted to be in a play, and they all said yes.”
Stielstra knew one of the founders of the Performance Network, the late David Bernstein, and brought the work to him. “David was very enthusiastic,” Stielstra says, and North Country Opera premiered in 1982 as the fledgling theater's second production.
The play was revived in 1992, 1993, and 2003 in Ann Arbor, and in 2022 it toured Northern Michigan, with the 89-year-old playwright along for the ride. North Country Opera returns to Ann Arbor for one night, October 18, at The Ark.
U-M Department of Musical Theatre's "Sophisticated Ladies" is jumping with talent
It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing!
And, man, is it swinging at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre during the University of Michigan Department of Musical Theatre's sizzling production of Sophisticated Ladies. The musical revue is a tribute to Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington's ever-enduring music and the modern dance styles that it inspired.
Guest directors/choreographers Torya Beard and Ayodele Casel are dancers who realize the immense talent of U-M’s students and provided these future stars with the support and freedom they needed to excel. They also brought in dancer Mercedes Ellington to talk about her art form and to discuss her grandfather Duke and her father, band leader Mercer Ellington. The result is a production of almost nonstop energy, from the orchestra and the large company of dancers to the varied takes by several singers on Ellington’s beloved songs.
Under the musical direction of Maurice Draughn with Tyler Driskill at the piano, the orchestra is always on stage and performs in top form.
Friday Five: Alex Blanpied, Nadim Azzam, GVMMY, Fantishow, Normal Park
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features contemporary classical/ambient by Alex Blanpied, hip-hop folk by Nadim Azzam, hyperpop via GVMMY, early '90s-esque electronica channeled by Fantishow, and flannel-flying emo-punk from Normal Park.
Alex Blanpied, Will the Sun Still Shine Without Our Eyes to See It?
Baltimore composer Alex Blanpied, who studied at the University of Michigan, wrestles with the state of the world on his new album and more specifically where his generation fits into it as climate change, war, and demagoguery dominate the headlines. It's not an unfamiliar mindset for any young person to have—I know I had it and that was a hundred years ago. But most people in their early 20s don't have Blanpied's ability to turn those worries into compelling art that sounds simultaneously contemporary—samples and electronic elements abound—and classic(al).
"All Rise," All Week: Wynton Marsalis brings his inspiring music and passion for education to Ann Arbor
Blues and swing are at the core of every piece Wynton Marsalis composes, every note he plays on his trumpet.
He also tirelessly talks to audiences of all kinds—from concert halls to classrooms—to explain why the blues and swing center his music.
Marsalis, along with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra (JLCO), will show and tell all about the blues and swing during his October 10-16 residency in Ann Arbor courtesy of the University Musical Society (UMS), which will include concerts, talks, and educational outreach.
While Marsalis and Co. are yearly visitors to Ann Arbor, their appearance is happening a bit earlier in the calendar year than usual, so the JLCO big-band performance on October 16 at Hill Auditorium likely won't include the holiday repertoire that has helped define their previous concerts here.
But that closing concert won't necessarily even be the musical highlight of Marsalis' residency.
Featuring Iggy Pop: A compilation of James Osterberg Jr.'s duets & collaborations
This story was originally published on September 16, 2021. We've updated it with even more Iggy Pop collaborations.
Iggy Pop is known for his outrageous stage antics, groundbreaking music, and massive influence on punk rock.
The Ypsi-Arbor native who was born James Newell Osterberg Jr. should also be known as a man who doesn't say no.
Need someone to croon on your single? Tell Iggy the time and place and if he needs to wear a shirt.
Need a deep voice to sing-speak words over your music? Mr. Pop will suddenly appear in the studio, tap you on the shoulder, and say, "May I?"
Iggy even performed "Silent Night" with William Shatner—the. man never. says. nah.
I started thinking about Pop's predilection for partnerships after his latest collaboration hit my inbox.
Hammond B3 player Dr. Lonnie Smith is a master of soul jazz, which is not the first genre you would associate with Pop. Probably not even the last genre. But "Move Your Hand" is a single from Smith's latest Blue Note album, Breathe, and it features Pop riding the funky groove by sing-talking through a simple set of lyrics.
This song follows two other 2021 Pop collaborations: He provided vocals on an alternate version of "I Wanna Be Your Slave" by Italian rock band Måneskin and repeats one word on the garage-rock single "I, Moron" by English duo The Lovely Eggs. (Iggy: "You need me to say 'moron' in 16 different ways? I got you.")
And as I was writing the above paragraphs, I discovered yet another new collaborative Pop effort came out: "European Son" with Matt Sweeney as featured on the new album I’ll Be Your Mirror: A Tribute to the Velvet Underground & Nico.
No is not a word Ig knows.
Aside from his work with fellow Ann Arborites the Ashton brothers in The Stooges, Pop's most famous collaboration was with David Bowie, who produced his 1977 albums The Idiot and Lust for Life. Pop also had a big hit in 1990 with "Candy" featuring The B-52s' Kate Pierson from his album Brick by Brick.
In 1989, he joined the charity-single bandwagon many years after that was a thing by singing on "Spirit of the Forest," with the likes of Brian Wilson, Ringo Starr, Joni Mitchell, and ... Olivia Newton-John, among many others ... to benefit the Earth Love Fund foundation. Then followed that up by participating in a truly awful, Lenny Kravitz-produced, superstar-soaked cover of "Give Peace a Chance" in 1991. (Somehow never single achieved the same cultural saturation as "We Are the World" and "Do They Know It's Christmas?")
But there are numerous other collaborations in Pop's career that feature him working with lesser-known or more esoteric artists, some of whom just sample his voice from interviews. I'm sure Iggy doesn't mind. He says yes to everything.
Below you'll find a selection of those recordings—oui, there are a lot of tunes in French—starting with the most recent.
Chekhov's "Three Sisters" gets a risqué update in U-M’s "Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow"
Playwright Halley Feiffer had the clever idea of taking Anton Chekhov’s play Three Sisters and kicking it into the 21st century.
It’s one of those creations that begins with the question, “What if?” What if Chekhov were writing his play today using raw contemporary language with lots of profanity, slang, catchphrases, snarky attitudes, and even a few funny jokes backed by some hot early 2000s music?
The result is Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow Moscow being presented at the University of Michigan’s Arthur Miller Theatre. Director Ryan Dobrin takes the idea a bit further in his production at the university by setting Chekhov’s characters “in a more diverse context,” according to a program note. The result is a comic mashup that draws, again according to the program notes, on the affectations of Paris Hilton and the Kardashians as well as on gender-identity issues.
The playbill also comes with a warning that the play may be “upsetting, offensive, or triggering for some audience members” and advises caution. Some of those who might respond that way are fans of Chekhov who might not appreciate what Feiffer has done to his play.
Friday Five: Mista Midwest, Latitude 49, A Good Sign, Dani Darling, Dimitra
Friday Five highlights music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.
This week features hip-hop from Mista Midwest, contemporary composition by Latitude 49, electro-pop by A Good Sign, indie-R&B by Dani Darling, and the latest MEMCO Exposure mix by Dimitra.
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang reaches for poetry “when argument fails, when there can be no objectivity, when things have become personal”
Frances Kai-Hwa Wang’s new book, You Cannot Resist Me When My Hair Is in Braids, begins with desire and dreams and concludes with anger, love, and home. In the pages in between, the expansive lyric essays travel broadly from Kathmandu, which is “the ancient city of my youth while I am disappearing into summer, fire, and sea,” to the basement of the Detroit Institute of Arts where “we discover the museum’s stash of old film reels.” The essays consider how to have one’s own dreams, embrace identity, experience violence against identity, and engage with family (not to mention ex-family members).
Leaving a place and leaving a marriage become both a backdrop and an integral part of the essays. In “Texting Nostalgic for Kathmandu,” Wang writes: