The nice thing about visiting home is that you have an excuse to do a bunch of touristy things you haven’t done in ages, and rarely got around to when you lived there. Case in point: Belle Isle. I haven’t been out to the park since a friend’s wedding years ago.
Over Labor Day weekend I took a trip back home to Michigan which nicely aligned with Nick Cave’s months-long exhibit at the Cranbrook Art Museum. Unfortunately, none of his live performances were being staged while I was in town, but the exhibition included video from several of his performances around the city. I’m supremely jealous of anyone who has gotten or will get to see a performance in person. (There’s one on the River Walk coming up that should be amazing.)
I finally made it to this show at the Park Avenue Armory on the very last day. I had been excited to see it for a while. since I’d read so many rave reviews, but I also like to nap on the weekends, so, you know.
The films were wonderful, the light sculptures great, the music atmospheric and the live child actors creepy, but I did wish the overall effect was more immersive.
There’s something about bleak, winter beaches that fascinates me, and that goes double for beaches with amusement parks and boardwalk attractions that close up for the winter, making the whole place feel like a ghost town.
Dlectricity is one of my favorite Detroit events—a biannual festival of illuminated art that takes over Midtown for two nights in September. I was happy to make it this year, but since I had to squeeze it in between packing for a move and farewell drinks with friends, my trip was a bit rushed. I didn’t make it to half of the exhibits, but I still got to see some gems.
If there’s one thing Ann Arbor-ites love, it’s a weird event. I imagine it would be difficult in most other small cities for an art professor to launch a large-scale papier-mâché puppet parade and see it thrive as FestiFools has in Ann Arbor. FestiFools has only been around since 2007, after University of Michigan professor Mark Tucker returned from a trip to Italy with a big idea—to get art students and artsy locals to build their own oversized puppets and parade them around town on an early spring Sunday afternoon. The FoolMoon luminary parade is even younger—in 2011 festival organizers added the luminary parade on the Friday night before FestiFools. And it’s not just luminary parade, it’s a block party complete with live music, snacks and performance art.
Wednesday was so sunny and so beautiful and so freezing cold that I did what any sane Ann Arborite would and went straight to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens after work. As a kid, I used to go the gardens with my cousins every winter, and somehow that tradition has carried over into adulthood.
(I wrote this piece for the Ann Arbor blog Damn Arbor. Read the whole post here.)
The Ann Arbor Aviary is the perfect example of what’s great about Ann Arbor. You wouldn’t expect to find a gym specializing in the “aerial arts”— which include aerial silks, trapeze and lyra—in a city of this size, but there it is, next door to a storage facility out past the airport. For the record, they also offer other classes like belly dancing, and burlesque performance, and at one time, something called a “Twerkshop” for anyone needing professional instruction in that area.
Last night I went to Dlectricity, a new two-day art festival of outdoor light and sound installations all around Midtown.
We started out at the Detroit Science Center, where three large video projection screens on the outside of the building were displaying Whale by Jacco Olivier.
The animation morphed several of the artists paintings together in a loop of impressionist, life-size whale images. I like to think that this piece was an intentional play on the iconic Wyland whales on Broderick Tower, which are in danger of fading into oblivion.