"The Art of Queer Health Sciences" communicates empathy, not just data


The Art of Queer Health Sciences

Clockwise from upper left: Tanaka Chavanduka project manager at the University of Michigan Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities and curator of The Art of Queer Health Sciences poses in front of Cahoots; Shalin Berman, University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design student, poses with their art at Bløm Meadworks; Jenna John, a dual major in art and design and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Michigan, and Coyne Gatto, University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design student, poses in front of their works at Zingerman's Greyline. The exhibition is on view at several downtown Ann Arbor businesses through the first week of May and at queeringart.com. Photos by Eric Bronson/Michigan Photography.

We sat at a table outside Vinology just as a 50-degree cold rain picked up. It was strong enough to send a chill but not blowing sideways enough to chase off two people determined to do something outside of our house even in a less-than-ideal environment where gray was the primary color.

That's when a shock of green veins caught my eye in Vinology's window.

Then the blue-purple river, then yellow and orange and red dashes.

Small splashes of brightness in an otherwise dull landscape.

But it wasn't until I looked up Noelani Conahan's painting later that I learned about the research by Dr. Michelle Munro-Kramer that inspired it:

U-M alumnus William Weese donates considerable Chinese ceramics collection to UMMA


Wesse Collection - Blue White Vase

Vase, China, Qing dynasty (18th century), soft past porcelain with blue underglaze and painting, Promised gift of William C. Weese, PG2020.2.10

William Weese just dropped a whole lot of Chinese ceramics on the University of Michigan Museum of Art.

Thankfully, the folks at UMMA aren't as clumsy as this post's opening sentence, and the more than 1,000 ceramics and decorative arts donated by alumnus Weese are fully intact and greatly strengthen the museum's already renowned Asian art collection.

Weese's art donation is valued at $3.35 million and he kicked in another $1.7 million for an endowment covering education, research, and programming with the ceramics.

"I have been studying and collecting Chinese art and ceramics since the early 1980s—the craftsmanship and history of the works has fascinated me my entire life," Weese said in a story published by Michigan News.

The Weese collection is rich with pieces from the Ming and Qing dynasties, and select pieces will be on view in person at UMMA in fall 2021. But the museum has already put together an extensive, feature-rich website that can be viewed now.

Below are a few more images from the Weese collection:

Friday Five: Kawsaki Audio Space compilation, concerts from The 5 PM Series, Dre Dav, Diesel Marine, Charley Cardboard


Friday Five 04-23-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features a synthwave comp from Kawsaki Audio Space, classical and jazz concerts from The 5 PM Series, hip-hop from Dre Dav, and instrumental guitar music from Diesel Marine and Charley Cardboard.


Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle Marks National Poetry Month with a Reading and Open Mic


Crazy Wisdom + National Poetry Month

Poets in the poster, left to right: David Jibson, Shutta Crum, Lissa Perrin, Edward Morin, Gregory Mahr, Dana Dever, Joseph Kelty.

April marks the 25th year of National Poetry Month and Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle will mark the tradition during their monthly reading on April 28 at 7 pm via Zoom (email cwpoetrycircle@gmail.com for the Zoom link).

Poets Shutta Crum, Dana Dever, David Jibson, Joseph Kelty, Loraine Lamey, Gregory Mahr, Edward Morin, and Lissa Perrin will read. An open mic will follow and participants may read their own poem or a favorite poem by another poet. 

The Crazy Wisdom Poetry Circle has become a home for writers in the greater Ann Arbor area and has been meeting at the Crazy Wisdom Bookstore and Tea Room for about 10 years. The Poetry Circle offers workshops on the second Wednesday of the month and readings on the fourth Wednesday of most months. Currently, several poets, including Jibson, Morin, and Perrin, co-host the group. 

Morin is the author of a recent poetry collection, The Bold News of Birdcalls, and gains inspiration from the monthly readings.

WSG Gallery's "The World Turns With and Without People" and "Silence and Breezes" explore nature and, sometimes, humans


Cathryn Amidei, Permission to Exit IV

Cathryn Amidei, Permission to Exit IV, handwoven with cotton, rayon, and polyester threads

The artists at WSG Gallery are experts at creating impressive responses to themed prompts. For March's exhibit, Silences and Breezes, WSG artists created selections that range from action paintings influenced by music to calming and atmospheric representations of the natural world. April's theme is The World Turns With and Without People, but like March's show, many of the selected works seem to buzz with anticipation for warm weather.

WSG Gallery continues exhibiting virtually on its website—where past shows can also be seen—and in the 117 Gallery at Ann Arbor Art Center, which is where The World Turns With and Without People will be through May 3. 

Friday Five: ZZVAVA, Delphine Delight, Cellar Floor, French Ship, Abusuzit


Friday Five 04-16-2021

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features garage rock via ZZAVA, EDM-techno from Delphine Delight, lo-fi hip-hop by Cellar Floor, electronic pop by French Ship, and Ghana jams by Abuszit courtesy Dagoretti Records.


Beyond the Birds: Ann Arbor Poet Ed Morin’s "The Bold News of Birdcalls" explores nature, relationships, and work


Ed Morin and his book The Bold News of Birdcalls

The Bold News of Birdcalls by Ed Morin is not just about birds. Stories about people, relationships, work, and news occupy his poems. In “Moments Musicaux,” with a dedication to “my sister Audrey,” we read about her birth, marriages, and children. We learn that “Her last words to me were, ‘You’ll look younger if you get your hair cut more often.’ ” Morin sees both the gravity and the humor in his subjects. 

Morin’s poems that do focus on nature or birds are not without the poet’s opinion. The poem “Icicles” says, “February is a sallow miser who hoards / what little daylight is left in the world.” Yet the collection is also not without appreciation for the natural world. We see how industrious birds can be, as “Housing for Wrens” offers the lines “along comes the plain-brown-wrappered wren, focused as a meter reader, from yard / to yard appraising birdhouses for nesting.” This poet not only observes the wren but also admits in another poem that: 

Inspired by Little Free Libraries, two miniature art galleries have popped up in Ann Arbor


Free Little Art Gallery and Take Art Leave Art

Left: Marie McMahon Parmer stands in front of her Free Little Art Gallery. Photo from Instagram.
Right: Some of the recent items at Take Art Leave Art. Photo by Shawn Bungo via Instagram.

The trend of placing a Little Free Library in front of your home/school/business and filling it with books is such a feel-good story—barren boxes or those filled with water-stained dregs from someone's basement notwithstanding—that it's surprising variations on this haven't happened: Canned Goods Rejected by Your Children Cupboard, Clothes That Your Kids Wore Once and Then Never Grabbed From the Bottom of Their Dresser Drawers Boutique, Sporting Goods I Thought I Could Sell for More Than I Was Offered Shoppe.

But Pittsfield Township's Shawn Bungo and Ann Arbor's Marie McMahon Parmer recently launched clever variations on the Little Library ideal by offering free art.

Julie Babcock's poetry book "Rules for Rearrangement" considers how to carry on after a sudden loss


Poet Julie Babcock and her book Rules of Engagement

University of Michigan lecturer Julie Babcock’s recent poetry collection, Rules for Rearrangement, offers a journey to discover what those rules are. The book charts a thorough and far-reaching path through memories and ways to persist when someone has disappeared from one’s life. 

The Ann Arbor poet writes, “Everyone is filled with a heavy combination / of blockage and sun.” The obstruction and brightness feel relatable. People have their burdens and their joys. 

How might someone go about rearranging both what weighs them down and what buoys them? A stanza in a section called “Arson” asks for the following: 

Introduce your new self and explain your need. For instance: I need rules for
           rearrangement. For instance: I need to box memories. I need to let my 
           objects know it’s not them.

For Babcock, it can be a matter of space and objects. That same poem goes on to discuss how “Empty space you uncover will be awkward and shy.” Yet, “Former free space you cover will be angry.” This negotiation illuminates the effort it takes to design spaces, things, and even life differently than what they were before. The poet both rails against and is curious about the things around them and what happens to them. 

At the end of the collection when “He returns from the dead so they can discuss Bob Dylan who won the Nobel / prize for literature,” it becomes clear that the rules may be malleable and dependent on how someone approaches them because "'My love,' he says, 'nothing is every one thing.'" Allowing for this multiplicity offers permission for whatever way a person moves forward in the wake of a traumatic event. 

I interviewed Babcock about her new book, writing, and novel in the works.  

Friday Five: Matthew Dear, Battalion, David Song, Grayson Jarvis, Arthur Durkee


Friday Five 04-09-2020

Friday Five is where we highlight music by Washtenaw County-associated artists and labels.

This week features twangy techno from Matthew Dear, thrash metal via Battalion, R&B by David Song, meditative music courtesy Grayson Jarvis, and avant-ambient flute by Arthur Durkee.