- 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.
July 28, 2011
VIDEO BY ELI BROWN
AD SHOP ETC
THURSDAY JULY 28th, 2011
VIDEO BY ELI BROWN
AD SHOP ETC
THURSDAY JULY 28th, 2011
As the largest art contest on earth, ArtPrize has given ordinary people a chance to have their voice heard, and unknown artists the chance of a lifetime. In an interview with ArtServe Michigan, ArtPrize Executive Director Catherine Creamer offers insight into the how and why and inspiration for becoming a part of the homegrown phenomena that is ArtPrize. ArtPrize 2011 takes place September 21 - October 9 in Grand Rapids, more info at www.artprize.org
OUTSIDE THE WIRE
THURSDAY JULY 28th, 2011
Documentary filmmaker with Mid-Michigan roots aims spotlight on forgotten children of Afghanistan
This past June, the small town of Owosso hosted the Michigan premiere of "Outside the Wire: The Forgotten Children of Afghanistan," a documentary shot on location in Afghanistan with U.S. Special Forces.
As the audience filed out of the theatre following the show, the chatter on the street was music to Anthony Hornus' ears, because it was he who wrote, produced and directed the film.
"Everyone was commenting how the film brought them a complete new understanding of what U.S. and coalition forces were doing in Afghanistan. As a documentary film maker, to me, what could be better," says Hornus, himself an Owosso native.
After the Owosso premier, Hornus told the local newspaper, the Argus Press, "I want people to walk away from the film with a good feeling knowing there are people working hard to give kids a chance in the world," Hornus said. "And I want them to walk away with a different perspective on the war. You get bombarded every night with the bad stuff."
Before moving into filmmaking, Hornus spent 33 years as a newspaper journalist. It was with a journalist's nose for news that he honed in on this story.
"There's an old saying in the news business, if it bleeds, it leads," explains Hornus. "And that is all Americans are seeing on the coverage of the decade-long war in Afghanistan.
With his film, Hornus sets out to tell the story you don't see on the network news. It's the story of a grass roots effort by brave soldiers to bring help and hope to the people, especially the children, of this war-torn nation. Hornus describes the film as a hybrid documentary - part narration and part reporting.
Documentary viewers will witness the story behind the war. This is a story not being reported by traditional news outlets. U.S. and International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) soldiers, as well as civilian contractors, are training Afghans in construction skills - overseeing the building of schools, housing, women's shelters, bridges, dams, roads and water filtration plants.
The other component in this operation in Afghanistan is education. Hornus explains: "Afghans are learning 21st century skills in healthcare, computer technology, farming and animal husbandry."
"This was the side of the military operation I knew nothing about," says Hornus. "Our troops were being maligned. All we see on the news is casualties and firefighting. There is another side of this story I had to tell."
"It was eye-opening to discover only 20 percent of the mission in Afghanistan centers on combat," explains Hornus. "The rest of the mission is to empower the Afghans with our assistance."
The phrase 'outside the wire' is military jargon for going offsite of the relatively safe confines of the base camp or support installation. The film takes the name "Outside the Wire" to reflect what U.S. troops and other security forces are accomplishing 'outside the wire' in their humanitarian aid efforts working with the Afghan people - especially the women and children.
"The idea that soldiers in Afghanistan are delivering humanitarian aid to areas so isolated and dangerous that even relief agencies won't go was intriguing to me," explains Hornus. Despite the dangers of confronting the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups, U.S. and International Security Assistance Force soldiers were willing to go above and beyond the call of duty in the name of empowering Afghans, especially the women and children.
The 96-minute film takes viewers to places they've never seen in this ancient Muslim land. To capture the story, the crew was embedded with the 838th Military Police Company out of Youngstown, Ohio. The result is a deeply personal journey into Afghanistan with the soldiers.
The documentary is receiving glowing reviews. W. Clark Bunting, President and General Manager of The Discovery Channel, says the film tells "the truly heartwarming story of U.S. soldiers bringing relief aid to children, widows and refugees living in the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. Despite living 'Outside the Wire,' these children will charm you with their smiles, laughter and eternal optimism.
Hornus says the idea sparking the documentary came during a chance encounter with a teammate from his basketball playing days at Owosso High School in the 1970's.
His old high school friend, Vic Kuchar, left Owosso for a military career. Since the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, U.S, Air Force Colonel Victor Kuchar has spent more than 900 days on the ground in the Middle East, primarily in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The chance meeting of Hornus and Col. Kuchar took place in an Owosso pub in 2007. When Hornus asked Kuchar the age-old question, 'What have you been up to?' His friend jumped from his chair and ran to get his laptop from his car. Over the next hour, he showed Hornus poignant, touching pictures of the children of Afghanistan.
"After just a few minutes of reuniting with my friend, it was apparent that the children of Afghanistan had stolen his heart," says Hornus. "That's when I made the decision to go see for myself what was happening in Afghanistan."
Col. Kuchar told Hornus about Operation Care, a personal undertaking he founded five years before. This grass roots effort has grown into a trusted humanitarian aid program dedicated to serving the children, widows, orphans and refugees in Afghanistan.
Although Colonel Kuchar recruits schools, church groups, clubs and other groups from across the country to support Operation Care, the epicenter is his small childhood church, St. Joseph Parish, in Owosso. Over the past several years, parishioners have been collecting boxes and boxes of clothing, medical supplies, crutches, blankets and stuffed animals and mailing them off to Afghanistan. When the shipments arrive at military bases in Afghanistan, they are sorted and then distributed to those in need by US soldiers.
It was an eight-month long odyssey to receive military clearances, but it was worth the wait. Hornus and his adventurous crew received unprecedented access to live and travel with the military. The "Outside the Wire" team spent two weeks on missions with the Bagram Provincial Reconstruction Team, another week in Kabul. The crew's still photographer, Keith P. Lepor, spent an additional six months in Afghanistan.
Upon arriving in Afghanistan, Hornus says he immediately could see what motivates his old basketball teammate, Col. Kuchar. "I wasn't prepared for that kind of poverty. Even so, in this war-torn country with mud huts and a lack of sanitary conditions, where there's always the chance you can step on an explosive device left by a terrorist -- children smile and play just like all kids around the world."
Using state-of-the-art-equipment, the film crew interviewed soldiers, children, local officials and anyone else who could help tell the story. Completed in November, the non-political "Outside the Wire" is a final collaboration of several companies with deep Mid-Michigan roots.
Noting the tremendous amount of film talent based in Michigan, Anthony Hornus says he didn't need to leave the state to hire collaborators. Hornus served as writer, producer and director. His company is called Scar Tissue Filmworks. Long-time friend and business partner, Dennis Therrian who operates a state-of-the-art studio in Mid-Michigan called Therrian Productions, Inc, served as editor, producer and composer. Gregg B. McNeill, who hails from Grand Rapids and now works out of Arlington, VA, is the project's director of photography. Another Mid-Michigan based business owner, D.J. Perry, CEO of Collective Development Inc. is a producer on the film project.
The production team's next hurdle is securing a distributor. "The documentary is geared for TV, rather than theater. We're pitching it to cable and television networks and getting encouraging feedback," says Hornus.
While the production team intends to sell distribution rights to television, Anthony Hornus and his business partner, Dennis Therrian retained theatrical rights and are working with veterans groups, church groups or any group of 100-300 to arrange public screenings through their production company: Red, White and Blue Productions. They are partnering with the Wounded Warrior Project, a national non-profit whose mission is to aid and empower American veterans critically wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan and will donate 10-20 percent of net proceeds, from every screening, to the veterans' group. For more information, contact Anthony Hornus at 517-719-4635 or Dennis Therrian at 517-622-3663.
Although the right television distribution deal is not yet secured, the film is getting noticed. Michelle Dix, lead producer of the Oprah Winfrey Network, praises the film as "gritty, yet a beautiful and passionately told 'war story' of hope by some gutsy filmmakers."
Hornus calls his trip to Afghanistan one of the best experiences of his life. "It gives me hope to know we can win hearts and break the cycle of war and violence by educating the young."
THURSDAY JULY 28th, 2011
The wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP) inspired Hemingway. Its sandstone cliffs have held many a photographer in awe. For Michigan native and New York City physician Rob Gorski, the UP is home to the best of his childhood memories, which is why he regularly checked Craigslist for property in the UP. Last year, while taking a break from jury duty, he struck gold - an island for sale on Lake Superior!
Located three miles east of the Keweenaw Peninsula, the island rises above the surface of the world's largest body of fresh water. Ninety-one acres of pristine nature, untouched by development; a rocky, forested ecosystem that breathes rugged; and that's just the way Gorski wants to keep it - except for one small piece that will soon be home to an artist's residency.
On maps it's referred to as Traverse Island, but Gorski, as well as the locals, call it Rabbit Island (because it's adjacent to Rabbit Bay on the Keweenaw Peninsula). Rabbit Island is also what his Finnish grandfather called it, the man who instilled a love of the Upper Peninsula in Gorski.
Gorski was born in Troy, in Southeast Michigan, and grew up in the house his parents still own. But his typical suburban upbringing was woven with regular trips to the remote world of the UP. "I have vivid memories of driving from Troy and arriving at my grandfather's house where there was always a big pot of barley soup on the stove." It was where he spent many summers experiencing the freedom of this wild place, learning about its unique traditions and its history of copper mining.
It was those visits that gave Gorski a real sense of being tied to a place. "In fact, my ties to the UP became stronger than my ties to Troy. I feel like my roots are in the Keweenaw."
Like many young people across the country, Gorski, now an emergency room physician in New York City, left his home state. He opted to do his emergency medicine residency in Brooklyn. "I wanted to get a broad base of skills, to see the entirety of everything - and New York City was the place for that." The city also offered another colorful palette. Gorski lived in a neighborhood where he was surrounded by a thriving artistic community filled with painters, writers, and thinkers. He shared his first apartment (also found on Craigslist) with a group of artists. "I saw, firsthand, how ideas can develop in this unique environment, how art can impact the conversation."
But it was a speech he heard from then-Governor Jennifer Granholm that brought his thoughts back to his roots. "The gist of what she was saying was: go out and learn, do, experience, and then come back." Rabbit Island was his siren call.
He sent the Craigslist link to his brother who works on Wall Street. They deliberated for a while, but Gorski eventually put the idea aside. Still, he continued to check the listing on Craigslist. Each time, it was there.
Soon it was the fall of 2009 and the cold weather was about to set in. But not before Gorski decided to make a visit to the island. "When we first pulled up in the boat the water was so clear. It was such a beautiful thing." He describes the island's beauty as subtle-a shoreline of fractured sandstone that has created a pebble beach, trees that have been shifted by the elements. The island has never been developed, its trees never cut. "It's a very rugged environment," said Gorski. "The fierceness of the lake is present everywhere. The locals call it 'hard land'." Gorski calls it "developed by nature."
He and his brother spent the winter trying to figure out the finances. "We couldn't have done it without the help of the Keweenaw Land Trust and Public Act 446," said Gorski. PA 446 allows the property owner to avoid the bump-up property tax if development rights are given up for good. It took several months, but in February of last year, Gorski became the owner of Rabbit Island.
Although he wasn't exactly sure what he wanted to do with it, he was certain about what he didn't want to see happen on the island. It wasn't going to be subdivided and cut up into little pieces. "Local food systems, clean sources of water, all require land mass. It's just not available now in many areas because of all the slicing and dicing that's been allowed to happen," said Gorski. "It's what I saw happen in Troy when I was growing up."
The message of preservation also came into focus for Gorski while he was doing his clinical rotations for medical school in Marquette. Traveling back and forth across the state, he soon witnessed an unsettling trend. "You'd see this beautiful area and suddenly it would get discovered. In no time at all it was turned into something it was never meant to be." Gorski was determined to not let that happen to Rabbit Island. "I really value the UP the way my grandpa saw it 100 years ago."
Enter Andrew Ranville, a college friend and successful artist now living in London. Ranville wanted to start an artist's residency and Gorski had the place - the seeds of a true organic partnership. But first, they needed some money. They got a web presence on Kickstarter, a platform created to help fund creative projects. It's a way to dialogue about a project and test the waters to see if people will fund a project, get some momentum behind an idea. As of July 11, 2011 the partners had met and actually exceeded their goal of $12,500.
All the money raised will go into infrastructure on the island. The plan is to start with a few small cabins designed by Ranville. "Andrews's primary medium is wood," said Gorski. "His design is subtle, basic. It's beautiful." This would be a perfect blend for Rabbit Island. Ranville will be the principal artist-in-residence and will also construct the minimalist structures. His mission is to incorporate the buildings into the landscape of the island. He'll be drawing from the experience of his current work, as well as other installations in wilderness settings in Europe and America. There will also be a studio, trails, a fire pit, solar energy, maybe a garden. A minimalist approach to the handful of artists the residency will support.
"We want Rabbit Island to become a symbol of an ethic," said Gorski. "Only .03 % of the island will be developed for the residency. And that development will involve practices we've learned about through sustainable development over the last 300 years."
"I'm not anti-development," said Gorski. "What I am about is creating a civilization of simple and subtle, minimal things - a sort of leave-no-trace ethic."
The island is raising all kinds of interesting ideas for Gorski and Ranville. "When you're looking at a space that is cut off from everything, you can empty your mind and begin to look at things differently," said Gorski. "Development can be as simple as building a bench on which to watch nature."
"My thesis is Rabbit Island could be a new palette for creation," said Gorski. "It is a big picture look at what's necessary and what can be cut out. It will definitely be an interesting environment in which to think and create."
SCULPTING OBJECTS, SHAPING ARTISTS
THURSDAY JULY 28th, 2011
In an economy struggling to keep community projects and programs alive, Richard "Rick" Gage, owner of Richard Gage Design Studio in Hazel Park, offers a solution to aspiring artists to not only apprentice with mature artists, but to do what many entrepreneurs learn when times are tough; diversify their talents to engage a broader audience. Gage founded TANK 425, a collaborative and creative apprenticeship program. The workshop division of the studio evolved to connect young artists with mentors who help them expand and strengthen their techniques and skills in welding, metalworking, woodworking, fabrication and carving stone in preparation for the real world of art.
TANK 425 students may learn how to carve stone using the direct method or learn a fabrication sculptural method. The direct method starts with sketches or real models to create a work; and the fabrication model of sculpture refers to a sculpture that is usually made of metal through bending and then assembled by way of fasteners or welds. These fabrication sculptures require special machinery and labor to complete.
"If we artists work together as a community, not as competitors, our work will be better appreciated by the general public and our value will be established," says Gage.
Rick Gage, a skilled artist and craftsman, grew up in Detroit and earned a degree in chemistry from Wayne State University. He paid his way through college doing custom body work on cars and designing trendy women's clothing for friends that were immersed in the punk rock scene in Birmingham, a suburb of Detroit. Even then, he understood the value in utilizing all of his creative talents, including metal art, while developing his entrepreneurial spirit.
In the early '90s, Gage left the chemical industry and moved to Sedona, Arizona to focus on his art full time. Much of his work then was creating functional items such as lamps and tables, with sculptural elements. He returned to Michigan in 1995 and opened his studio.
Over a fifteen-year period, Rick Gage had many assistants. Some expressed a great interest in his work and wanted to learn more. He graciously obliged offering his time and direction to whoever wanted to learn the art of sculpture, realizing how valuable he could be to their future. Later, when the economy took a nose dive, Gage realized that what he had been doing for so long could be done on a grander scale if more seasoned artists were involved. He knew how difficult times were for sculptors trying to make a living, and because his studio was large there was space to involve other sculptors in his plan. He could bring in a host of knowledgeable artists whose mediums were varied, making it possible to broaden the younger student's training in stone carving, metalworking, woodworking and fabrication sculpture.
TANK 425 is a unique program open to any artist who wants to share their talent, time and energy; and helps foster a collaborative spirit in the larger art community and in Hazel Park. Students are given the opportunity to create sculptures and host their own shows at the studio. Workshops are often developed around one specialized aspect of what the artist does, for example, welding. The mature artist can make extra money by teaching a welding class.
Rick Gage can provide the means to the end, "Some projects may require two welders and a hoist. I have two welders and a hoist." For a student launching a career in sculpting and for the artist who has developed a recognizable style, TANK 425 offers resources for both.
Inside the studio, sculptures are being created for another purpose. Gage is also working with the city of Hazel Park on a public program called Lots of Art which makes use of the area's empty commercial and residential lots by installing temporary art sculptures. So far the city has made nine lots available to display sculptures. The Hazel Park Arts Council has made efforts to raise money to grow awareness for the project and approves family-friendly pieces for display. The garden sculptures, made of metal and stone, will benefit artists with direct sales and exposure, and could also attract real estate investors.
Hazel Park Community Art Programs, a program that offers art classes to kids is being engaged by Gage and TANK 425. Interested youngsters will be taught multiple artistic sculptural disciplines including welding, woodworking, carving stone and fabrication.
Rick Gage is an artist with a vision. He understands the value of mentoring, collaborating with peers and community, and giving back - whether through imparting knowledge and hands-on instruction or offering space for creative expression.