Arts and Entertainment

American Brass Quintet gets down to business during BGSU residency

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Even at the top of their game, the members of the American Brass Quintet still understand the importance of daily practice. John Rojak, the bass trombonist for the ensemble, said he started practicing for four hours a day back when he was an undergraduate, and he’s just now easing off on that routine. Not that it’s easy given the musicians’ heavy workloads as teachers, freelance performers, and members of a pioneering brass ensemble. The American Brass Quintet has been in residence at Bowling Green State University since Wednesday as guests of the Hansen Musical Arts Series. They’ve performed a mini-recital, held instrumental classes, coached, and consulted with student composers. Their visit will culminate tonight (Friday, Sept. 22) with a free concert at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall in the Moore Musical Arts Center. On Thursday afternoon they met with students to talk about the business side of music. While the quintet represents the core of their work artistically, it is just part of how they earn their livings. They all play in a variety of settings, from chamber orchestras such as Orchestra of St. Luke’s or the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra to Broadway shows. Rojak spent years in the pit of “Les Miserables.” Those hours in the practice room at what was then Lowell State College were the bass trombonist’s launching pad. Lowell State was his “safety school” and he was playing so he could get out. He ended up transferring to the Juilliard School of Music. But Rojak said he got the most important music lesson playing in amateur bands. He recalled during the…

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Horizon Youth Theatre’s ‘Kindergarten’ packed with lessons & laughter

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Horizon Youth Theatre’s “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” opens with a story about a kindergarten production of Cinderella. That’s interesting given just last spring many of these same young actors were performing “Cinderella.” That Rodgers and Hammerstein “Cinderella,” however, did not have a pig. Productions of the classic fairy tale usually don’t have pigs. But in this Robert Fulghum story, a pig is just what the thoughtful young Norman (Bella Truman) wants to play. When told there’s no pig in Cinderella, the youngster replies: “There is now!” And the fairy godmother in this tale, the kindergarten teacher, makes sure Norman’s dream comes true. From this kindergarten scene through a lecture by a Greek philosopher (Daniel Cagle) who’s not afraid to answer a question about the meaning of life, Fulghum’s play offers life lessons and uplift leavened by lots of laughter. Horizon Youth Theatre is staging the play opening tonight (Thursday, Sept. 14) at 7 p.m., continuing Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets, $5, will be sold at the door. Seating is limited. The show is being presented with the audience in the round on the stage. That puts the audience in the middle of the action as the young actors hustle making entrances and exits and wrestling oversized alphabet blocks onstage. There’s no place for the young thespians to hide with eyes all around and large mirrors on the back wall reflecting the action. Director Cassie Greenlee said she’s a fan of the show. She directed one scene of it with another troupe and wanted…


Volunteers from far & near make Black Swamp Arts Festival possible

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Driving seven hours to attend the Black Swamp Arts festival wasn’t enough for Mira Gratrix. Gratrix has been making the trek from her home in the Georgian Bay area of Ontario almost every year since 1995, and nine years ago she decided enjoying the festival wasn’t enough. “I just love being a part of it,” Gratrix said. “It makes me feel closer to the festival. I want to help.” So this weekend Gratrix was back in Bowling Green selling tickets, checking in other volunteers as they showed up for their shifts, and conducting a survey of festival goers. In the past, she’s worked back stage, served as a gate monitor, served beer, and did artist hospitality. She did miss one year when she broke her leg, but she was back the next helping out in a wheel chair. Having participated in other festivals she knows how difficult it is to get volunteers. “It’s always a core group.” That’s true as well in Bowling Green, said Todd Ahrens, who chairs the committee of volunteers that meets year-round to stage the event. The festival needs about 1,000 people to keep the event running smoothly over the weekend. “Our challenge always remains that we’re an all-volunteer-run organization. We rely heavily on volunteers. The community always rises to the occasion and comes through. This year was no exception.” Those volunteers include familiar faces. Geoff Howes has performed several years with the Grande Royale Ukulelists of the Black Swamp. This year he was doing his part collecting trash, certainly one of the least glamorous jobs. Also helping with trash…


Afghan-American artist’s installation shares the stories of immigrants

From CONTEMPORARY ART TOLEDO Contemporary Art Toledo and artist Aman Mojadidi bring Once Upon a Place, a set of three interactive public art works that create a platform for immigrant voices, to Toledo beginning September 15. The work will be traveling from New York’s Time Square, where it’s been installed since late June to three Toledo locations: Toledo Lucas County Public Library, the University of Toledo, and Promenade Park, near the new downtown campus of ProMedica. The opening weekend of the exhibition coincides with both Momentum (a three day celebration of art and music in Toledo’s Promenade Park) and National Welcoming Week. He will speak on “Borderless: Art and Migration in Troubled Times,” Sunday, September 17 at 2 p.m. in the McMaster Center, Main Library Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Visitors to the installations will be invited to open the door of a repurposed telephone booth, pick up the receiver, and listen to oral histories of immigrants from across the globe. Visitors can also open the phone book inside each booth to read more about the storytellers’ communities – both in their current home and the countries they have traveled from. Individuals may also wish to leave behind a part of their own story if they choose. The installation includes 70 different stories that last between 2 and 15 minutes each. According to the Pew Research Center, by the year 2065 one in three Americans will be an immigrant or have immigrant parents. Locally, according to a 2015 report by New American Economy, Toledo’s immigrant community is increasing and partially offsetting local population loss. Furthermore, immigrants in Toledo hold close…


All the pieces come together for a rousing celebration of Black Swamp Art Festival’s 25th year

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Take some music, art, and food, add lots of sunshine and clear skies, and 1,000 volunteers to cook it all up, and what you get is the 25th Black Swamp Arts Festival. This festival couldn’t have been more a contrast to the first festival in 1993, which was plagued by rain and ended in debt. This year the weather was close to perfect with day time temps in the high 60s dipping into the low 50s as the night wore on. “We think we had our best year ever,” said Todd Ahrens, who chairs the festival committee. That means unlike that first year the future of the event is secure. The festival surveyed patrons over the weekend, he said, to get their perspective about the event, and ideas for the future. Amy Craft Ahrens, who chairs the concessions committee, said that all those “with a financial stake” in the festival. That included downtown business who had strong sales and the food concessions. “Supporting the concessions supports the festival,” she said. The festival’s financial base is a three-legged stool – a third from beverage sales, a third from artist booths fees and concession fees, and a third from fundraising. It costs about $180,000 to stage the annual event. Linda Brown, a member of the visual arts committee, said that artists reported that they had a successful weekend, ranging from good to their best weekend of the year. Among those was Emily Wilson, who said the show has been consistently her best in the four years she’s been in the show. Painter Jen Callahan said her…


Kemarly’s woodwork made an impression on festival’s judges

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Neil Kemarly didn’t think anyone would really want to buy the woodwork he created. His wife had other ideas. So together they started traveling the art fair circuit, where Kemarly, from Pioneer, found out people were willing to pay for his benches and cabinetry. The judges at those art fairs also recognized their worth. Kemarly was awarded best of show, $1,600, at the 25th Black Swamp Arts Festival Saturday. In 2015, he won the best 3D award at the festival. Kemarly continues to take his work on the road despite losing his wife, partner, and ‘best friend” to cancer in April, 2016. “This is my therapy,” he said. The shows judges Kathy Buszkiewicz and Brandon Briggs said as they made their rounds separately, they independently determined Kemarly’s work was a winner. Buszkiewicz said they she was impressed the way that Kemarly was able to work the imperfections in the wood and the way he corrected them, into the overall design. Briggs said the work was a testament to the beauty of simplicity. Kemarly said he pursues woodwork as a contrast to his day job as a tool and die maker. Working in his shop wood when he decides to cut a plank, he doesn’t have an engineer telling him he can’t. “I see myself as a builder and a maker.” Other art show award winners were: Chris Plummer, printmaking, first place 2D, $1,100. Rachel Stevens Morgan, ceramics, first place, 3D, $1,100. Samuel Hitchman, ceramics, second place, $850. Paula Gill, fiber, third place, $600. Derrick Riley, printmaking, Rick Braveheart, photography, and Dave Thompson, mixed media, all…


Woodworker Neil Kemarly wins Best of Show at BSAF

A woodworker from Pioneer took top honors in the Juried Art Show at the Black Swamp Arts Festival Saturday. Neil Kemarly won Best of Show for his furnishings that use the wood’s natural characteristics as a key design element. Judge Brandon Briggs praised his work as an example of the power of simplicity in design. First place 2D went to Kentucky printmaker Chris Plummer. Plummer said some of his most recent work was inspired by his work teaching children. First place 3D went to ceramics artist Rachel Stevens, from North Carolina. Judge Kathy Buszkiewicz said she was impressed with Stevens’ striking use of color. Also honored were: Samuel Hitchman, ceramics, second place. Paula Gill, fiber, third place. Derrick Riley, printmaking, Rick Braveheart, photography, and Dave Thompson, mixed media, all honorable mention. (A full story will be published tomorrow.)