An Ode for the Anthem: Mark Clague’s “O Say Can You Hear? A Cultural Biography of the Star-Spangled Banner”

WRITTEN WORD REVIEW

Mark Clague and his book “O Say Can You Hear? A Cultural Biography of The Star Spangled Banner”

It seemed a little on the nose to be reading U-M associate professor Mark Clague’s new book, O Say Can You Hear? A Cultural Biography of the Star-Spangled Banner, on the 4th of July—at U-M’s Camp Michigania, no less—but that’s nonetheless when and where I absorbed enough national anthem-themed information to sweep an entire Jeopardy! category.

Indeed, to say Clague is thorough in his research would be a gross understatement.

Portraits in Motion: Joel Swanson's "People and Other Living Things" at 22 North Gallery

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Joel Swanson video stills

Left: Joel Swanson, Father and Son, 27”x48”, 2021, 10-minute 4k video. Photo by K.A. Letts.
Right: Joel Swanson, Walt, 27”x48, 2019, 10-minute 4k video. Photo by K.A. Letts.

In his first solo gallery show, People and Other Living Things, Joel Swanson brings his considerable powers of observation—honed by years as a research microbiologist—to the examination of his fellow human beings.

On view weekends throughout the month of July 2022 at 22 North Gallery in Ypsilanti, the exhibit is a mix of several bodies of his work that may, on the surface, seem unrelated yet reflect different aspects of Swanson’s interest both in what can be seen by the naked eye and in what lies beneath the reach of our physical perceptions. 

Swanson says in his artist’s statement:

Bits & Pieces: "The Small Details: Amy Sacksteder and Brenda Singletary" conjure meaning through assemblages at U-M's Institute for the Humanities Gallery

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Brenda Singletary, The World Turns

Brenda Singletary, The World Turns, 2022, assemblage, 8” x 7” x 3”. Photo K.A. Letts.

It all adds up in The Small Details, a two-person exhibition on view now through July 29 at the Institute for the Humanities Gallery in Ann Arbor.

Through accretion, addition, and accumulation Amy Sacksteder and Brenda Singletary conjure meaning from bits and pieces—ceramic and glass shards, wire, photos—assembling personal narratives that are highly specific in their material, but universal in their intent.

Systems & Shtetls: Mother Cyborg's "Crafting Our Digital Legacy" & Ruth Weisberg's "Of Memory, Time & Place" at Stamps Gallery

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Mother Cyborg, The System’s System, quilt, 2021

Mother Cyborg, The System’s System, quilt, 2021

Stamps Gallery’s two simultaneous exhibitions have little in common visually, but they do share some overarching themes.

Mother Cyborg's Crafting Our Digital Legacy exhibit offers bright and captivating quilts that focus “upon our collective relationship with internet technologies, identity, legacy, and the future,” according to the text placed in the front of the gallery. 

Ruth Weisberg's Of Memory, Time & Place showcases her ethereal designs and controlled color palettes in her mixed-media works.

While Weisberg’s often-muted tones and figural works contrast visually with Mother Cyborg’s dynamic abstract textiles, both artists ask us to consider where we came from and where we might be going.

You Are Invited: UMMA's "You Are Here" exhibit welcomes visitors back to the museum with works that help viewers experience the space

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Keshawn Warren, Saint Francis of Assisi, 2008

Kehinde Wiley, Saint Francis of Assisi, 2008, oil wash and graphite on paper, in artist's frame. © Kehinde Wiley, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York.

​​In March 2020, the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) was closed to the public along with countless other businesses and organizations after the announcement of a global pandemic caused by COVID-19. During that time, we were offered virtual exhibits at UMMA; then, in June 2021, in-person exhibits resumed followed by the October 2021 reopening of the museum’s classic Jonathan and Lizzie Tisch Apse, revitalized with bright, vibrant walls and artworks that interact with visitors’ senses. 

UMMA’s first exhibit in the remodeled Tisch Apse is You Are Here. Curator Jennifer M. Friess writes about the joys of our renewed ability to come together in person, but she also notes that we still carry the past two and a half years with us: “While it is exciting to be together again and to see the world slowly reopen, we are also deeply impacted by what we’ve been through. This exhibition holds both of those feelings.” 

​​Even works that have been in the space for decades seem imbued with new life.

Sock It to Me: Bob Seger’s eight most crucial forgotten songs

MUSIC REVIEW

Bob Seger by Tom Weschler

Photo by Tom Weschler

This story was originally published June 6, 2019, just before Bob Seger brought his farewell tour to Michigan. We're rerunning it because another Seger-related event is happening on June 26, 2022 from 3 pm to 4:30 pm at the Ann Arbor District Library's downtown location:

"Turn the Page: The Bob Seger Story with Edward Sarkis Balian"

Dr. Edward Sarkis Balian grew up in Detroit and was in a local band at the same time that Bob Seger was breaking into the music business during the tumultuous 1960s. Dr. Balian’s association has continued with Mr. Seger, as they have both shared the same entertainment attorney for over 40 years. In this interactive presentation, Dr. Balian answers questions in-depth, discusses video highlights of Seger's career, and shares many facets of Seger's personal and professional life.

Interdimensional Transmissions’ No Way Back party was 14 hours of transformational bliss

MUSIC REVIEW

Carlos Souffront at Interdimensional Transmissions' No Way Back Party, May 26, 2022. Photo by Rosewyn Gold.

Carlos Souffront at Interdimensional Transmissions' No Way Back Party, May 26, 2022. Photo by Rosewyn Gold.

Resident Advisor, one of the most important websites covering electronic music, previewed Interdimensional Transmissions' annual No Way Back event as "the kind of party that can change your life if you let it."

Reading that, you might scoff, roll your eyes, and chalk it up as hyperbole.

That is until you go and experience the transformative power of No Way Back yourself, as I did on Sunday, May 26, at Detroit's Tangent Gallery.

No more scoffing.

What Price Genius? Theatre Nova’s "Relativity" explores the complicated life of Albert Einstein

THEATER & DANCE REVIEW

Phil Powers and Anne Damman in Theatre Nova's production of <em>Relativity</em> by Mark St. Germain, directed by Carla Milarch. Photography by Sean Carter Photography.

Phil Powers and Anne Damman in Theatre Nova's production of Relativity by Mark St. Germain, directed by Carla Milarch. Photography by Sean Carter Photography.

Can a great man also be a good man? What do the words great and good mean?

This is the theme of Mark St. Germain’s play Relativity, which explores the character of physicist Albert Einstein, who has become the very definition of genius.

Germain takes a troubling decision by Einstein and its impact on his professional and personal life to explore the complex balances and compromises that people make to follow their passions, in Einstein’s case a passion that would change forever the way we look at the universe.

Carla Milarch directs the Theatre Nova production of Relativity, which strikes a complex balance of its own, weighing gentle comedy against serious inquiry into the compromises Einstein made to follow his genius. 

The Share Zone: Ann Arbor Art Center launches multimedia exhibit "Sharing Space," the first show in its new building

VISUAL ART REVIEW

Ann Arbor Art Center entrance to the Sharing Space exhibition

Entrance to the Ann Arbor Art Center's new building and Sharing Space exhibition. Photo courtesy of A2AC.

What is space?

Is it the physical area around you?

Is it your mental perceptions of isolation versus intimacy, distance versus closeness? Finding your place in a crowd versus being alone with your thoughts?

Is space the place where we should launch Elon Musk on a Major Tom-like mission to Mars?

The artists in Sharing Space, a new multimedia exhibit at the Ann Arbor Art Gallery (A2AC), ask variations of these questions—except the one about an Elonaut floating around a tin can, that's all on me.

Sharing Space is A2AC's inaugural full exhibit in its newly increased footprint, which came about because the venerable institution bought and expanded into the building next door, reconfiguring nearly everything throughout the three floors of both structures. (MLive did a nice story on the renovation.)

The name Sharing Space is also a nod to a driving idea behind A2AC's newly configured galleries and workspaces. While A2AC has always been about sharing space with the community—the exhibits are free; the paid art classes welcoming to newcomers—its commitment to expanding deeper into the general public is front and center now.

The pandemic has also made us reconsider how and when we share spaces with others. Even though covid variants are still raging everywhere, the world has made the conscious decision to open up again, which means whether or not we're emotionally or physically ready, we have to figure out how to share spaces once again.

"I wanted our first exhibition to be something that spoke to our own process of coming back into the public emerging with our new space," said Interim Gallery Director Ashley Miller.

Feel Good Friday the 13th: UMMA's monthly series offered no bad luck, just great music

MUSIC REVIEW

A participant at UMMA's Feel Good Friday, May 13, 2022. Photo by Marc-Grégor Campredon

Somebody feels good at UMMA's Feel Good Friday on May 13, 2022. Photo by Marc-Grégor Campredon

The University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) showed that Friday the 13th doesn’t have to be an unlucky day.

Every second Friday the museum presents a self-described "gathering of art and humans." The May 13 edition of Feel Good Friday featured Detroit- and Ann Arbor-based DJs and artists showcasing experimental film and Detroit techno, along with all the UMMA galleries being open for viewing.

Ann Arbor artists Mark Tucker (FestiFools) and Alvin Hill opened the evening by leading a hands-on workshop to celebrate the opening of FUN, UMMA's latest exhibit, which is in the Stenn gallery facing State Street. It's a space where visitors can contribute to a summer-long creation using materials provided in the gallery.

The up-and-coming Detroit-based DJ AK then took listeners through a musical history of Afrofuturism, spinning ghettotech, dubstep, and deep house in the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Apse. The crowd, whose ages ranged from young to old, all got to dancing, whether it was right in front of the speakers or as they took in the UMMA galleries.