Interview: Photographer Michelle Massey/Omeeomi, UMMA/Tiny Expo Award Winner

INTERVIEW VISUAL ART

Michelle Massey/Omeeomi

Omeeomi, we have a winner!

Tiny Expo has become an annual tradition for the Washtenaw-area arts and crafts community, and the juried artists who exhibit their works often leave the downtown Ann Arbor District Library brimming with dinero from all the sales.

But this year there was a chance to take home some bonus bucks.

For this year’s event, which was held December 10, the Tiny Expo/UMMA Store Vendor Contest allowed patrons to cast votes for their favorite artists, with the prizes being:
-- 3rd place: $20 gift card to the UMMA store
-- 2nd place: $30 gift card to the UMMA store
-- 1st place: Select products by the winning artist will be featured and available for sale at the UMMA museum store for 6 months.

The top 3 vote-getters were then vetted by Nettie Tiso, manager of the UMMA store, who chose which artist would get to sell his or her works at the museum.

And this year’s winner is ... [drumroll] ... [really long drumroll] ... [now the drummer is doing a jazz solo, so this may take a while] ... [security breaks the drumsticks and escorts percussionist out of the building] ...

Michelle Massey, a Ypsilanti-based photographer who calls her company Omeeomi.

We talked to Massey about her art and photography in the interview below:

Interview: Fred Thomas on his "Voiceover" video

PREVIEW MUSIC

Fred Thomas

Fred Thomas is hearing voices.

Fred Thomas doesn’t evoke regular feelings among his listeners. His smart, wordy songs have grabbed listeners’ emotions for two decades as a solo artist or in bands such as Saturday Looks Good to Me, City Center, and a slew of others.

Thomas is an Ann Arbor native, but over the last decade he's bounced between Portland, New York City, and everywhere in between. But we’ll always claim the prolific songwriter, whose music veers from urgent indie rock to recumbent soundscapes, as our own -- even if his current home is Montreal, Quebec.

He’s just too talented for us to let him go completely.

Thomas has a new album, Changer, coming out January 27. Two tunes have been released so far -- the stripped down and emotionally biting guitar song “Brickwall” and the electronic “Echolation” -- but for “Voiceover,” the third song released into the wild, Thomas made a video.

The clip features Thomas deadpanning his way through strumming a guitar as scenes of everyday activities -- fixing your hair, turning on a lamp, etc. -- are repeated over and over to hammer home that even the smallest moments contain moments of beauty even if everything in the greater world feels like it’s going to hell.

We’ll have a longer feature on Thomas closer to when Changer comes out, but we did a quick chat with him about the making of the “Voiceover” video:

Preview: Student Partnerships in Technology and Performing Arts Showcase

Professor Michael Gurevich is a facilitator.

As the assistant professor and chair of the Department of Performing Arts Technology at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre and Dance, it’s Gurevich’s job to help his students make connections between seemingly disparate things, be it computer music and improvisation or tap dancing and video games.

On December 13 at 7:30 pm, the public can watch some of these collaborations at the Student Partnerships in Technology and Performing Arts Showcase, the first event from an experimental pilot course Gurevich developed to bring together artists from the tech side (electronic musicians, coders, etc.) and the traditional arts (dancers, instrumentalists, etc.) Held in the state-of-the-art Chip Davis Technology Studio in the Earl V. Moore Building, the multimedia and performance showcase promises to be a head-twisting exploration of artistic intersections.

In the video below, Pulp editor Christopher Porter interviewed Gurevich and asked him about the showcase -- which is free -- and how it all plays into the University of Michigan’s Third Century Initiative: "As U-M prepares to celebrate its bicentennial in 2017, the Third Century Initiative has been established to inspire innovative programs that enhance the student learning experience and develop creative approaches to the world’s greatest challenges."

Interview: Dr. Thomas Strode and Boychoir of Ann Arbor

PREVIEW MUSIC

Boychoir of Ann Arbor

A past edition of the Boychoir of Ann Arbor chilling in their vestments.

It’s a haunting sound when a group of boys’ voices in the treble range convene.

I’m not talking about performances by boychoirs, which feature the unchanged voices of prepubescent boys, who together make a sound so lovely and pure that the effect is haunting.

I’m talking about the start of boychoir practices and the scary sound created when a gaggle of rambunctious dudes with short attention spans and constant jokes get together to learn the craft of choir singing.

But for 30 years, the ever-patient Dr. Thomas Strode has led the Boychoir of Ann Arbor through innumerable practices, and his ability to keep cool and impart high-quality musical education to a rather wiggly and easily distracted audience is remarkable.

In the common area of Ann Arbor’s St. Paul Lutheran Church, where Strode is the director of music, he teaches boys musical theory and gives singing lessons using a quiet, measured tone of voice. Under Strode's gentle guidance, the boys' constant hum of silliness at the start of practice soon becomes a gloriously soothing sound when they begin to sing.

Strode instructs a prep choir, for newer singers, as well as the performing choir, which features more experienced vocalists and expands the treble boychoir model to also include an SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choir, with the older boys and their changing voices providing the lower notes.

Dr. Strode really understands how to teach children, which is why Boychoir of Ann Arbor has thrived for three decades. And the kids really do learn to sing beautifully, as listeners will be able to hear at the “A Boychoir Christmas” concerts on December 9 and 10.

These annual shows are highlights for many holiday concertgoers -- but they will also be Strode’s final ones as the choir’s director. He’s retiring at the end of the boychoir’s season, which wraps on June 4 with the “Spring Finale” concert.

With this being Strode’s final Christmas concert, we asked the good doctor to give us a preview of what we will hear and why.

Preview: December Documentaries

PREVIEW FILM & VIDEO

Warren Miller’s Here, There & Everywhere

Warren Miller is Here, There & Everywhere. / Photo by Cam McLeod Photography.

Do you have a God complex? Then documentary filmmaking might not be for you.

“In feature films the director is God; in documentary films, God is the director,” said the deity Alfred Hitchcock.

But the seven documentaries being shown in Ann Arbor this December had directors who put aside any supernatural ambitions they may have to tell real stories.