- may 26, 2011 june 2011 july 2011 august 2011 september 2011 october 2011 november 2011 december 2011 january 2012 february 2012 march 2012 april 2012 may 2012 june 28, 2012
Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
May 31, 2012
connecting the dots for detroit's arts scene
CONNECTING THE DOTS FOR DETROIT ARTS SCENE IVY HUGHES THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012 Dominic Arellano says his organization, Forward Arts, is unoriginal because it builds off other people’s ideas, but he might be one of the most innovative people in Detroit. Launched in 2010, Forward Arts assists other organizations and artists by helping with communication, administration, promotion, event development and fundraising. Think of Forward Arts as a manager/agent for Detroit artists, musicians and public art projects. “One of the biggest strengths our organization has is being able to connect the dots,” Arellano said. “We’re right in the middle of the graffiti artists and DIA (Detroit Institute of Art) and we understand how to work with both sides. We understand how to connect them and when not to connect them.” Sometimes Arellano approaches artists and organizers, sometimes they approach him, but every Forward Arts project develops through connection. One of Arellano’s first partnerships was with Access Arts, which is now under the Forward Arts umbrella. The Belle Isle Art exhibit, which is managed by Access Arts, caught Arellano’s attention. Now Forward Arts helps Access Arts raise funds for projects and artists. Last year, Forward Arts also partnered with Woodbridge Neighborhood Development (WNDC) Corporation President Brian Shellabarger, on the Scripps Park Project. “There are three sides to this,” Arellano said. “To help artists get opportunities, help arts organizations with development and resource development and helping creators — someone who has a great idea and wants to scale it up.” Movement through Music Arellano loves music and he loves to organize, but he’s not a musician. He managed bands in high school and didn’t learn to play an instrument until he was forced to take piano lessons as part of his bachelor’s in Music Business Management from Wayne State. While in school, he worked at the Detroit record store, Harmony House, a position that led to an internship with Universal Music and Video Distribution. In 2002, he joined Transmat Records & Movement Electronic Music Festival and in 2007, he joined the Detroit Symphony. “No genres, just good music,” Arellano said about his diverse resume. “If it’s good music it’s good music.” Nowhere is this more evident than in The Few Records, a record label Arellano started in 2005 that supports artists such as Will Sessions, New Music Detroit and Adieu. “The reason I moved to Detroit and the reason I feel a lot of people are Detroit curious is because of music,” Arellano said. “I’m not going to say it’s going to bring back the city — there’s no silver bullet — but when you talk about getting that initial momentum going, in Detroit, it was music.” Detroit’s Sound Stage “Forward Arts is really an extension of what we did at the record label,” Arellano said. “I had all these ideas that were outside of music and more geared towards art or non-profit work.” Forward Arts’ broad mission to help Detroit artists have left it open to some pretty incredible projects. In 2010, Arellano connected with world-renowned artist Matthew Barney through New Music Detroit. Barney needed musicians for the film and performance, KHU, which he was producing in Detroit. Through his network, Arellano and Forward Arts connected Barney to 50 artists. “We want to create an infrastructure specifically so we can be giving more opportunity to artists,” Arellano said.
SAGINAW ARTIST SEES HIMSELF IN PICTURES MARK BOYD THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012 Recently I went to my mailbox, hoping to find a check, misplaced valuable, or at least a note from a secret admirer. But I had no such luck. Not only was my mailbox completely empty of any valuables or correspondence, as I opened the door, a lone moth fluttered out. Suddenly I felt as though I had become a cartoon. I was a little concerned that a cat might drop an anvil on my head. Then I met someone whose life actually has become a cartoon. Sean Mack is a young man who has been drawing pretty much as long as he could hold a pencil, drawing on paper, the walls – whatever was available. “My parents are still trying to figure out where this ability came from. Neither of them are really artistic,” said Sean. His parents were apparently happy to provide paper, and spare the walls. Sean, along with his friend of several years, Brandon Howard, created the serial comic strip, The Revolutionary Times. As Sean explains it, the basic storyline of the strip started off with two kids who run an activist newspaper. However, it expanded as the years went by and the newspaper aspect has faded into the background. The characters are based upon Sean and Brandon and basically reflect their personalities. “Brandon is more so the leader, head strong type whereas my character is more laid back, somewhat lazy, not really one to take any situation really seriously,” said Sean. The other characters in the comic are Sebastian, Brandon's baby cousin, Jesus (pronounced HAY-zeus), a tech guy who works at Best Buy who basically looks like Jesus (yeah, the original one), and one of their enemies named Agent Diggs, an FBI "cleaner" type of operative that basically looks like the actor Taye Diggs. Even though Sean and Brandon both lived in Saginaw, Brandon moved to North Carolina before the strip was created. He called Sean to discuss it originally in 2008. They now collaborate long distance, with Brandon writing the strip, and Sean illustrating. Before that time, Sean had been creating a comic strip of his own, called The Smack Chronicles, which was more autobiographic and not as political and pop culture based as The Revolutionary Times. One of the things apparent from his drawing style is the influence of Japanese anime on Sean’s work. However, he has combined this style with other more traditional forms of illustration, and created a distinct look of his own. Sean expresses an appreciation of the Japanese anime style, he was also influenced by The Iron Giant, the comic strip The Boondocks, and more directly for this strip, Calvin and Hobbes. Sean said, “I really liked the message between the lines (for Calvin and Hobbes). I got the laugh but it still made you think.” That is the type of thing Sean and Brandon are striving to do with The Revolutionary Times. They want to have a mixture of fun and a message. “The main point is to expand minds and see a topic in a new light,” said Sean. While Sean has been drawing his whole life, he also found use for some formal training with this talent. He attended Saginaw Arts and Sciences Academy, and “really got serious then” as the school prepared him for the next stage of his education at the College for Creative Studies in Detroit. “CCS gave me good basics for proceeding in my career,” said Sean. “They still help me a lot.” Besides the comic strip, Sean has expanded his illustration work into quite a few areas. Among other things, he produces designs for a line of clothing called Identical Variant Clothing, and has also designed several album covers and logos. He even finds time to teach art at New Millennium Academy in Saginaw. “I enjoy teaching kids a lot,” he said. “We focused on basics at first, then technical things like perspective, and how to draw people. I’m teaching them how to draw their own strip.” You can follow The Revolutionary Times on Facebook or on Twitter. With all that he does, Sean is making a difference in the world, by creating thoughtful and entertaining comics, as well as having a positive influence on the kids he is teaching. It’s good to see a young Michigan man being able to use his talent and do what he loves, to the benefit of those around him. May his mailbox always be void of moths.
DEVELOPING WITH HEART KATIE DONOVAN THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012 “For the first ten years we were a suburban sprawl developer,” confessed Lansing area real estate developer Pat Gillespie. He admits that although it was quality work, it lacked creativity and that is when he had a change of heart. Gillespie took an aerial photo of the State Capitol and drew a one mile radius around the Capitol and proclaimed that this is where the focus of the company’s work would occur – within that circle. Since then the Gillespie Groups completed projects include Stadium District housing and retail development across from Downtown Lansing's baseball stadium; Prudden Place, a housing development adjacent to the also redeveloped Motor Wheel factory site; Lansing Downtown's riverside City Market project (the housing phase breaks ground this year); and the historic renovation of the Marshall Street Armory building. True to his word, every one of the projects is in his one-mile targeted area of focus. “Our passion is here, we’ve always been here, and we’re never leaving,” proclaimed Gillespie. When he says, we’ve always been here – he means it. He went to grade school at the Church of the Resurrection, high school at Lansing Catholic Central, and college at Michigan State University – all in his proclaimed target development area. The Marshall Street Armory building (directly across the street from Lansing Catholic Central) is where the offices of the Gillespie Group are now located, along with a cadre of nonprofit organizations. The tenants of this unique office building are enjoying the benefits of an office environment that offers private offices and collaborative work spaces, as well as economies of scale for vital business services such as technical support, a copy center, and meeting spaces (there are seven conference rooms). The building has just received the 2012 Governor’s Award for Historic Preservation as well as a Building Award from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network. “I bought this building at auction, after it had been de-commissioned. It had been sitting vacant for several years and was quickly deteriorating. At the time I did not know what the new purpose of the building would be,” said Gillespie. “After we got the building nobody thought that the building would lend itself to an office space, but I had this crazy idea.” Gillespie has put history front and center in the re-design and repurposing of this cavernous building that has soaring ceilings, a gymnasium and a commercial kitchen. The gymnasium now hosts two major office spaces with vibrantly colored partition walls that provide a dramatic panoramic photo mural of the building’s former tenants, the Michigan Army National Guard 119th Field Artillery Regiment. The original gymnasium wood floors and ceilings have been preserved, and an updated 119th Artillery logo has become part of the design and color story for the building. Gillespie tells the story of how he chose the colors for the project. Frustrated with the colors being offered by the interior designer, he went to Kositchek's, his favorite men’s clothing store in Downtown Lansing, and asked for a dozen of the hottest new neckties. The colors for The Marshall Street Armory project were selected from those ties. “As a developer, you go into buildings looking for a heartbeat. Starting from nothing, it is hard to create that heartbeat. This building has so much passion from its previous life, it has a heartbeat and a life that needs to be kept alive,” shared Gillespie. Next month, there will be a grand opening celebration of military proportions. The Armory celebration will include the usual local dignitaries and construction partners, but also will welcome back past members of the 119th Field Artillery Regiment who called the building home during their military service. Festivities will include a military band, a howitzer cannon salute, and a military flyover. Pat Gillespie has more plans in the works for developments within his Downtown Lansing target area, but it looks like The Marshall Street Armory project will always hold a special place in his heart.
PASSIONATE BUSINESS MARY KATHERINE QUASARANO THURSDAY, MAY 31, 2012 If you question whether or not an experience with the arts can change your life, just ask Marissa Kurtzhals, a senior Arts Management student at Eastern Michigan University. “I saw Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Fox Theatre when I was six and I have never been the same.” Kurtzhals and her peers in the field and study of Arts Management are dedicated to sustaining those moments of inspiration for others, and for years to come. Her road to the Arts Management program began at the Fox Theatre and continued through Woodhaven High School. “I discovered my true passion for theatre with the help of my drama teacher Mr. Clemmons. He worked so hard for our program [and played] an integral role in my receipt of an EMU Theatre Scholarship.” While looking for a way to combine her passion for theatre with practical business skills, a friend suggested that Kurtzhals explore EMU’s Arts Management program. “One meeting with Susan Booth and I was a convert! She talked about the ‘creative economy,’ the serious market for the arts, and gave me numerous articles to read. Arts Management is the business side of the arts and EMU’s program can be customized to your education and your specific interest.” Professor Ken Stevens is the founder of both the graduate and undergraduate Arts Management & Administration programs at EMU. As described by Booth, “Eastern Michigan University’s Arts Management and Administration Program was one of the first undergraduate programs in the United States…created in 1975, the program was in direct response to a need for well-schooled arts administrators to usher in a growing number of regional arts and cultural institutions.” Kurtzhals’ educational experience included a six-month internship at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts under Marketing Director Katherine Myers. “She [Myers] encouraged me to develop my voice on social media and provided great direction on writing effective communications.” Last month, eleven students (including Kurtzhals) from AMPlifying the Arts (AMP), an organization of EMU Arts Management students, traveled to Washington D.C. to advocate on behalf of the arts. They met with Michigan legislators Senator Debbie Stabenow, Congressman Hansen Clarke and Representative John Dingell on National Arts Advocacy Day. Kurtzhals shares, “Asking your representatives for $155 million for the National Endowments of the Arts and $30 million for arts education is not an easy task. However, AMP students were pretty fearless. We're a group of passionate young professionals. And many of us recently completed a course, taught by Professor Stevens, in which we studied techniques in addressing Congress to support the arts.” Kurtzhals will be graduating in Fall/Winter 2012 with a degree in Arts Management and currently serves as the EMU Theatre Department’s Social Media Specialist. Her blog marissakurtzhals.blogspot.com chronicles her life as an artist and arts advocate. As its Social Media Specialist, the EMU Theatre’s Facebook page has increased its ‘Likes’ by 44% and Twitter followers and responses have increased steadily. She shares the following from her trip to DC: “Alec Baldwin delivered a speech at the Kennedy Performing Arts Center to inspire the advocates. He mentioned his love for ‘gangster’ dancing after watching West Side Story and convinced us it was an integral part of his early days of inspiration.” Kurtzhals, a huge 30 Rock fan, had found a kindred spirit. If you question whether or not an experience with the arts can change your life, just ask Marissa Kurtzhals…or Alec Baldwin.