Grand Opening: The Studio of Morli Wilcox

The few times that I have had the opportunity to speak with an artist about her work while gazing at it, I have come away tremendously enriched. That was the case when I met with Morli Wilcox to learn about one of her paintings that I found hanging in the hallway of the catacombs.  (I snatched it up before anyone else could see it.)

A close up Big Bang Bug by Morli.

My painting is called Big Bang Bug. This is no ordinary painting, but Morli will have to explain it herself. I can’t do it justice. Another painting I found online has a similar story.

Morli recently moved to a new studio in the North Village Art Studios building and is holding a grand opening on Friday, February 1, 8 PM to 2 AM.  I am looking forward to seeing more of her work and, hopefully, getting an interview.  First Friday Love Fest will also be going on from 6 to 9 PM…two events well worth braving the cold.

CoMo Art: Artrageous Friday

House of Vansickle Spring Art Fashion Fusion

House of Vansickle Spring Art Fashion Fusion

The studio of PJ Allen-Thomas at Orr Street Studios.

The studio of Chris Frederick at Orr Street Studios.

Gorrilla art created by Smithton Middle School students.

Original art was on display everywhere, even on feet.

Grand opening reception at Grindstone Lithography Workshop.

Grindstone Lithography Workshop.

Ben Chlapek custom coloring prints at Perlow-Stevens Gallery.

Busker Ian Meyer with his Mike Sleadd temporary art tattoo at PS Gallery.

Colleen R. with her Mike Sleadd temporary art tattoo at PS Gallery.

Art + Food = Let Them Eat Art!

On Thursday, April 5, the Columbia Art League hosted Let Them Eat Art!, an evening event pairing creative art with creative food. The event was held in conjunction with CAL’s current exhibit, Eat Me!, featuring food-inspired works of art. For Let Them Eat Art! a dozen local chefs were invited to choose a piece of art as inspiration for a platter of tapas-style dishes. Guests sampled the tapas and voted on the most creative dish. I heard the evening was so successful that CAL may consider it as an annual event. If so, keep an eye out for this on their calendar next Spring. If you appreciate good food and art, this is something you don’t want to miss!

Also, please visit our facebook page to see more photos from the event!

 

Como Theatre: “Bent”

When Columbia Entertainment Company first discussed doing the play Bent by Martin Sherman I was a bit apprehensive. I wrote it off, thinking that a 1979 drama about gays in the holocaust was walking a thin line that I  wasn’t sure CEC could walk. Many of our audiences members haven’t enjoy the darker shows that we’ve done of late, such as Doubt or even Rabbit Hole.  While I thought both of these shows were well written, directed, acted and produced, our audiences often reacted that the show wasn’t something they were expecting. I worried a similar reaction to Bent could hurt CEC’s ability to produce such dark shows, especially with competition from other smaller theatre groups in town.

Jeff Neil, Joshua Johnson, Eric Seeley, Adam McCall and Nathan O'neil in Bent at CEC. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Hedrick

I realized something was different about this show after auditions. While director Meg Phillips only called for 7 roles for men, she was actually able to cast 12 men.  This showed me there was a large interest in the show and a strong passion for each of the actors to take a role that had little speaking lines. Many of the ensemble actors have been leads in past CEC and Columbia shows.  But, reading their biographies, you could tell that Bent was a show that they wanted to be a part of, regardless of their involvement.

My worries returned during the opening scene when  Max, portrayed by Adam McCall, entered the stage wearing not much more than a bathrobe and boxers. This wasn’t the first time I’ve seen Adam on stage in such little of an outfit, but it was also accompanied by Max’s lover Rudy, portrayed by Joshua Johnson,  wearing a similar outfit. “Oh, no, ” thought, “it’s going to be an awkward show.” But, that’s when things changed.  Adam and Joshua felt so comfortable with each other that it comforted me. Their teasing and flirting was fun. I was even able to laugh, something I wasn’t expecting to happen in this show,  at several of the jokes Rudy threw at Max. I thoroughly enjoyed the first act, even with the darker and serious tone it switched to once Max and Rudy were caught by the Nazis.

While the first act was highlighted by two already close friends dealing with a difficult situation, the second act soared to greater heights with two people getting to know each other while trying to overcome insurmountable odds. There was great chemistry between Max and Horst (Nathan O’Neil), where it was easy to see the hours and days of practice that each actor put in to the characters.

Adam McCall, JD Nicols and Nathan O'Neil in Bent at CEC. Photo courtesy of Benjamin Hedrick

I don’t want to go on giving too much detail about this show, but do know that each and every portrayal meant something to each actor. They were there because they wanted this story to be told in Columbia. Even though Bent has been around for over 30 years we believe that this is the first time it has been produced in Columbia.  That to me is a testament to the theatre community in this town. My early worries appear to be unfounded. I’m glad that Columbia can support theatre like this.

Bent, at Columbia Entertainment Company (1800 Nelwood),  runs for only one more weekend, Thursday through Saturday (3/15-3/17) at 7:30pm and a final Sunday (3/18)  matinee at 2:00pm.  I strongly encourage you to come check it out.

DO THIS ON FRIDAY: Midwest By Southwest 2012 tour@ The Blue Fugue

Midwest By Southwest 2012 tour this Friday March 9th The Blue Fugue at 9pm. These bands are on the way to play South By SouthWest (SXSW) or the “place you’d rather be seeing shows”.

Whenever Cincinnati bands/musicians tour, I try to let people know. It’s one of those cities that when you live there you say “if this was somewhere else, it’d be huge”. Or if you’re a musician there, you also say “this is bullshit, imagine if we lived in Brooklyn”. I cut my musical teeth on the mean (not really) streets of Cincinnati Ohia (my mom pronounces it “O-Hi-Uh”). I moved there from the best state in the lower 48, Kentucky, way back when the internet and all banking systems were set to explode-The year 2000 and have played some of the best shows in front of the best people there. Outside of the suffocating nature of far-right christian conservatism, GOP city/county domination, and annual Christmas time crucifixion crosses hosted by the Klu Klux Klan, I met an amazing set of friends, comrades, artists, rebel-rousers and rockers that I still keep close. There’s also a stellar music scene that gets national news only when a band moves out of the city and acts like they’re above it now-see: The National, Heartless Bastards, Afghan Whigs, Oh and that awesome pic of Iggy Pop crowd surfing was from Cincinnati too, etc.

I met the good folks in The Sundresses back in 2003. They played a Books Not Bombs show that I organized at my alma mater and it smoked. The Sundresses went on to make a couple of incredible records since then and have extensively toured the U.S. Imagine a punk rock band stuck in Memphis right after Brown vs. Board. Anti-racists playing music in the midst of the violent white backlash. Imagine the politics of the period, the convergence of some Old Crow-soaked speakeasy mixed with front porch hollerin, cranked fender amps, and fucking trombone. It’s Lead Belly using Muddy Water’s gear with Nina Simone’s snarl, and the jump-boogy that connects it all in a really weird way. It’s all over the map and delicious. CoMo doesn’t have this so get it while it’s in stock.

Listen to The Sundresses “An American American”

 Wussy is the good therapy session that you walk out of on Friday and plan your weekend too. Dueling vocals that fit that duel-voice narrative in your head that argues the merits of whether you should buy some “party supplies” from that dude Gary or just commit to being a shut-in. At once melancholy and at the other hyperactive, all wrapped inside addicting melodies and primal rhythms. I hated 90’s college rock for the most part (that includes the Pixies) but this stuff is on another level, different. The production on all their records is flawless in my opinion. For chrissakes, the New York Times and Village Voice are in on the pile up. They’re a huge draw back in the ‘Nati and should be here too.

Listen to Wussy “Muscle Cars”

The Whiskey Daredevils from Cleveland are also along for the ride. They remind me of fistfight between two guys that have brand new cowboy boots. They’re nice guys but those boots are brand-fucking-new, like the tags got cut off right before they walked in. Uber-clean country twang hot licks that won’t be found at a Mitt Romney Revival. There is pierced tongue as a leftover from bad decisions placed firmly in the cheek of most of their songs. I like to think that they’re one of the guys fighting Brad Paisley in that boot fight.

Listen to Whiskey Daredevils “Skulls” via the Misfits

Oh Me My ,from the greatest state in the lower 48, Lexington KY, are also tagging along. Big soul vocals make this a winner already. These kids clearly have been raised on WRFL (Ky’s version of KCOU, but back in the day, way better). If the Flaming Lips listened to more soul records and did less L.S.D. and had more sex, this is what would’ve happened. Somewhere along the way of listening to more soul records they got hooked on low-fi garagey stuff. That Wayne dude is super weird and one of the FL dudes now lives in Newport Ky.

Listen to Oh My Me

The Midwest by Southwest tour hits The Blue Fugue for the first stop on an epic 10-day run to Austin, TX and back, featuring of some of the best bands the Midwest has to offer. 

(hear ’em all at: http://snd.sc/AzxQ8V)

 The Midwest By Southwest 2012 tour, presented by the Bunbury Music Festival, is spreading the Midwestern musical love to and from the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival. 

True/False: Behind the Scenes photo essay

I spent a couple of hours photographing the crews at the T/F Lab (workshop) and Box Office locations on Sunday as they  worked on production and design aspects of this year’s festival theme, Influencing Machines. Everything pictured is a work-in-progress and more will be revealed over the next couple of weeks leading up to the event.

 

 

CoMo Events: Farmers and Artisans Market

There is a new market in town that serves more than one purpose. It’s the new Farmers and Artisans Market in the North Village Arts District. Such a great concept for Columbia! The community loves its artists and farmers and really care about buying locally. It is on Sundays until November 13th and goes from 9am to 2pm.

I’ve gone the past two weeks and it almost doubled in size over that time! I think there is a great mix of farm stands with awesome looking produce, and art booths with wonderful handmade items. And I appreciate that it is on Sunday and not Saturday. Saturdays are usually busier and makes it harder to get to the farmers market. It’s nice to have a choice now!

While I was there I had to pick up some new potatoes from the community garden, a bar of handmade soap, and an adorable little handmade pot. Next time I will plan my grocery shopping better so I can pick up some more fresh produce. The art is an added little bonus to the trip! It will be great to pick out handmade gifts for upcoming birthdays and holidays.

You should definitely stop by and check out the new Farmers and Artisans Market. It is located at the Wabash Bus Station at 126 North 10th Street. Just grab a smoothie or coffee up the street at Kaldi’s or Main Squeeze and do some shopping! Visit http://farmandart.com for more information.

CoMo Etsian: Mama Roots

Chris, the woman and mother behind Mama Roots, makes toys based on a Waldorf inspired tradition of toymaking. I got to meet her at her lovely home where she showed me the entire process behind her toys, and it fascinated me!

First, Chris draws out what she wants the toy to look like. Then she’ll trace it onto her wood.

She gets a lot of her character ideas from childen’s books. Chris is the book buyer for the University Bookstore, but she originally started making toys when her oldest son was young. She didn’t want her house filled with a bunch of plastic toys, so she opted to make some toys for him.

She uses long wooden boards and cuts out as many shapes as she can. Chris uses the scraps as firewood, so none is wasted. Her primary tool is a scroll saw that she houses in the unfinished part of her basement.

Then, Chris uses an electric dremel sander to smooth all the edges of the toy.

She moves over to another part of her basement to add the details to the toys. Chris follows behind the dremel with a ton of hand-sanding to make sure everything is completely smooth since it will be used by children.

Chris uses an industrial wood burning pen to hand-draw on all the details of the character. They usually don’t get mouths, smiles or frowns, due to the Waldorf traditions. The idea is that children will more easily project their own feelings onto the toy while playing with it if it doesn’t have a predetermined emotion.

Then she’ll hand paints each toy with a non-toxic water color paint. Each toy, and piece of wood, takes the paint differently and can sometimes create a nice pattern.

Each toy is finished and sealed with a beeswax. It is also non-toxic and safe for children to chew on.

Here are some of her finished toys!

As soon as we moved over to the art area, her boys each pulled up a chair and dove right into the paints. I loved it!

I fell in love with Chris’ toys while I was at her house! I actually emailed her a few days later and ordered a couple! One is a gift for a little boy – it will be larger so he can chew on it, and one I’m keeping for myself. It’s the Rebuilding Bluebird and the profits go to the Joplin relief efforts. Not to mention… it’s really cute!

I wish I could have had a bunch of these growing up! How fun would it be to act out your favorite story book with some adorable wooden toys!

In addition to her etsy shop, Chris also has a blog and facebook page, so make sure you stop by and visit her there, too!

CoMo Event: Art in the Park

{photo courtesy: a hasty life}

Art in the Park has already happened, it was last weekend. I had never been before and wasn’t sure to tell you all, so I’m going to give you a heads-up for next year. It is hosted by the Columbia Art League and takes place at Stephen’s Lake Park.

There were so many fabulous artists there. Painters, wood-workers, jewelry makers, sculptors… everything was outstanding. It’s a juried show, meaning that the artists have to apply to be in the show.

I think my favorite part is that you are able to talk to the artists about how they created their things – I think it adds to the handmade experience.

I even ran into our friend Joe from Twinwood Carving! His bowls are just stunning.

I actually volunteered on Saturday in the children’s tent – it was SO much fun! There were four free crafts for the kids to do, a t-shirt tie-dye station that cost $10, and a young collector’s tent where each piece of art was $5. And of course, since it was 95 degrees, a lot of people took advantage of the splash park and lake. There were also yummy concessions to fill your belly with.

So I know that you can’t take part this year, but make sure you plan on attending next year!

CoMo Art: The Larry Show

If you have a chance to stop by the George Caleb Bingham Gallery in the art building on the corner of Hitt and University, make sure you do so. What I really meant to say is – Plan to stop by and see the Larry Show. It runs until August 25th when they will hold a reception from 4 to 6.

Larry, the star of the show, is a model for the art department. He poses for the students to draw, paint, or sculpt him. When I was in school I had the pleasure of meeting Larry and I sketched him in my drawing class. He is such an interesting man.

I don’t want to show too much, you should experience it yourself.  You’ll get a good glimse into Larry’s life. And a look at some fabulous art work. It is a collection of pieces from several artists.

The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 8am to 5pm. You can call 573.882.3555 if you have any questions. Enjoy!