Arts and Entertainment

Author to discuss Ohio’s presidential election bellwether status at Toledo Museum of Art, Sept.22

From TOLEDO MUSEUM OF ART Kyle Kondik, author of the new book “The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President,” will appear on Sept. 22 at the Toledo Museum of Art Peristyle. Just days ahead of the first presidential candidate debate, Kondik will shed light on the Buckeye State’s remarkable record as a predictor of presidential election winners. The free event at 7 p.m. is being presented jointly by the Museum and the Toledo Lucas County Public Library. Kondik is managing editor for the nonpartisan political forecasting newsletter Sabato’s Crystal Ball, published by the University of Virginia Center for Politics. Using historical documentation and research, he will explain Ohio’s remarkable record for predicting presidential election results and why the state is essential to the 2016 election. A book signing and reception in Libbey Court will follow the presentation. Kondik is the first of five speakers making appearances in Toledo this fall in conjunction with the Museum’s nonpartisan exhibition I Approve This Message: Decoding Political Ads. Others include University of Michigan political scientist Ted Brader; American Press Institute senior manager Jane Elizabeth; University of Michigan musicologist Mark Clague; and media, entertainment and technology executive/advisor Don Levy. (See BG Independent News story on the exhibit at: http://bgindependentmedia.org/toledo-museum-exhibit-dissects-the-emotional-manipulation-of-political-ads/) Ted Brader, author of the book “Campaigning for Hearts and Minds,” will discuss how emotional appeals in political ads work at 2 p.m. Sept. 24 in the Little Theater. Brader is a professor of political science at the University of Michigan and at the Center for Political…


Mariachi Flor de Toloache skirts tradition with intoxicating Latin mix

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mariachi Flor de Toloache has ruffled some feathers as the all-female ensemble has taken flight on the Latin and alternative music scenes. Though rooted in the mariachi tradition, founder Mireya Ramos is not afraid to tweak that tradition by incorporating music from outside its boundaries and jazzing up its presentation. In a recent telephone interview, Ramos said that after a CNN segment on Flor de Toloache, some of the comments posted on line were “nasty.” “It is a tradition passed on through generations,” she said. “You have families that are all mariachi, and we’re women. We don’t wear skirts. We have caused some controversy.” But those criticisms are more than balanced out by the plaudits. Ramos said she was especially pleased with the reaction from fans in Los Angeles. “They really love it,” she said. “They say, ‘oh, great, this is something new!’” And the band has caught the attention of rock crowds as Flor de Toloache has toured with Black Keys’ singer Dan Auerbach’s new band, The Arcs. Auerbach’s fans may not know exactly what to make of them at first but are captivated in the end. Local mariachi aficionados and other music fans will have their own chance to weigh in when Mariachi Flor de Toloache performs a Main Stage set at the Black Swamp Arts Festival, Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6:15 p.m. Earlier that day they will play on the Community Stage at 1 p.m. and then the Family Stage at…


Fiction writer Wendell Mayo “All My Lonely Ones” to initiate Spotlight on the Arts, Thursday, Sept. 1

From BG MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Dr. Wendell Mayo, prize-winning author and Fulbright Scholar, has lived two lives, the first as a chemical engineer, the second as a writer and BGSU faculty member. Mayo, a professor of English and creative writing, is the featured speaker for the University’s Spotlight on the Arts event Sept. 1. His presentation, titled “All My Lonely Ones: The Short Fiction of Wendell Mayo,” will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at The Wolfe Center for the Arts. The event is also part of the Creative Writing Program’s fall reading series. Mayo started as a chemical engineer at the behest of his father, a nuclear physicist. His mother continually encouraged him to “dream big” and use his imagination. “My mother, the whole time, encouraged anything that had to do with creativity in me. She would read all my writing, tell me, ‘Don’t listen to your father, someday you’ll be an artist.’ She thought I’d be a painter, or a lawyer.” Mayo started writing seriously around 1982 while working for Standard Oil, now BP, in San Francisco. He enrolled in the Vermont College of Fine Arts Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts program, continuing to work for BP at the Lima, Ohio, refinery until he earned his M.F.A. in 1988. He went on to earn a Ph.D. in writing from Ohio University, took a job teaching at Indiana Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and then relocated to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette….


Music finds Suitcase Junket’s Matt Lorenz in the oddest places

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Music has a way of finding its way into Matt Lorenz’ life. The creator of the eclectic one-man band Suitcase Junket started his musical adventure when his music-loving parents adopted an old piano. Lorenz also found the guitar that gave birth to Suitcase Junket. He found his own version of throat singing after taking a South Indian cooking class. He finds the suitcases that give the band its name and serve as percussion instruments at yard sales. He finds his lyrics in nonsense syllables he shouts while practicing. From these rescues from the world’s musical dog pound, Lorenz creates his Swamp Yankee sound, a space age take on roots music. Suitcase Junket will perform at the Black Swamp Arts Festival Sunday, Sept. 11, on the Main Stage at 12:30 p.m. and on the Family Stage 2:45 p.m. Lorenz oddball approach to music making comes in part from his childhood fascination with how things work. He remembers once convincing a babysitter to let him disassemble the telephone. Both his parents were teachers – his mother homeschooled his sister and him – and were “pretty good sports.” “My parents started taking me to the dump so I could bring home random things to take apart,” Lorenz said. His parents also brought home a free piano. His sister, Kate, who is a few years older started getting lessons. “I couldn’t stay away from it,” Lorenz said. So he started taking lessons. “My parents never played, but were…


Southern Avenue is Israeli bluesman’s street of dreams

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Growing up in Israel, blues guitarist Ori Naftaly dreamed of Memphis. He’d listen to the LPs. He decorated his room with the images. He read the stories. Now when he performs with his band Southern Avenue and looks over at his bandmates, he realizes he’s living that dream. In Tierinii Jackson he has found a true “church girl” whose soulful vocals “give me goosebumps.” In her sister Tikyra Jackson he has the drummer of his dream who delivers a soulful groove. In Daniel Mckee, he has bass player rooted in the fertile musical soil of Memphis. So on the bandstand sometimes he wonders: “How did I get here? This is pretty amazing.” Southern Avenue will bring its Memphis-based soul and blues sound to the Black Swamp Arts Festival for a Friday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m. Main Stage set. Naftaly’s journey started with his father, an avid music fan. His father had a large record collection. He had a friend at a record store and though him got the latest music magazines. In Israel, Naftaly explained, only American hits are available. His father dug deeper into the roots, and shared that knowledge with his guitar playing on. Naftaly had a following in his native land. He was “an ambassador” for the blues, he said. Then he had the opportunity to be an ambassador for his country, representing Israel in the International Blues Competition in Memphis. He was “weeded out,” Naftaly said. He was up against…


John Brown’s Body celebrates reggae’s roots & future

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The reggae band John Brown’s Body has hardly been molderin’ since its last appearance at the Black Swamp Arts Festival in 2003. The band delivered a percolating set of reggae that had the crowd on its feet and dancing, and then the band’s horns joined the closing act Chubby Carrier for a raucous jam that had members of the audience dancing on the stage. In the intervening years, says drummer Tommy Benedetti, the band has continued to evolve. “Any good band is on a journey,” Benedetti said in a recent telephone interview. John Brown’s Body will perform on the Main Stage, Friday, Sept.9 at the festival. For John Brown’s Body that evolution starts back in Ithaca, New York, with a band called The Tribulations, founded by Kevin Kinsella and Elliot Martin. Benedetti first heard them when he was a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston and became a fan. He then took over the drum chair in the band’s last year and a half. About 20 years ago, John Brown’s Body emerged from the remains of The Troubadours. The band took a “rootsier” approach. Kinsella was the main songwriter at that point. He wrote what Benedetti called “almost country reggae.” Tunes with strong harmonies and bridges that could easily be played just on guitar. But he also added the horn lines that are part of John Brown’s Body’s signature sound. Those horns are and were an integral part of the band,…


Art Supply Depo opens up shop in Bowling Green

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Hardly two weeks after celebrating the fifth anniversary of the opening of the first Art Supply Depo in Toledo, Jules Webster and her crew has opened up shop in Bowling Green. The second Art Supply Depo will mark its grand opening on Friday with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. and an opening party. The store is open this week 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. As was the case in Toledo, the opening is timed for the start of classes at local universities. Opening up an Art Depo Supply in Bowling Green was a natural, Webster said. Faculty and students from the Bowling Green State University School of Art as well as artists from Bowling Green were already faithful customers. Webster saw “a gap in the market.” “Bowling Green has such a strong art program it seemed a little crazy that Bowling Green didn’t have a specialty art supply store,” she said. When considering the new store, she checked the numbers at UT versus BGSU. UT has 175 undergraduate art majors; BGSU has 625 undergraduate and graduate art majors. While artists from Bowling Green would travel to Toledo for supplies, it often wasn’t convenient especially for younger students who didn’t have cars. Webster said staff has been “hoarding supply lists” from BGSU students in previous years to help guide stocking the shelves. This location also better serves artists in the surrounding communities of Perrysburg and Waterville, some of whom were reluctant to travel…


Black Swamp Arts Festival has been music to the ears of Best of Show winner Chris Plummer

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News For Kentucky printmaker Chris Plummer, a change of scenery shifted his gaze to the landscape. About two years ago Plummer quit his job at the Kroger bakery and moved with his family from the outskirts of Cincinnati to a more rural part of Kentucky. “I do a lot fields and barns because that’s what I see around me now.” Before he focused on woodprints that depicted slices of stories that reflected the angst of folks on the edge between the country and suburbs. Now he creates colorful monoprints, abstracted color landscapes, all inspired by scenes within a few miles of his home. “With woodcuts, for whatever reason, I tend to focus on what is wrong, and with monoprints what I’m looking at is the beauty around me.” Plummer had started to experiment with monoprints, as well as painting, before he moved. Now that has taken hold. Those prints were praised by the jurors at the 2015 Black Swamp Arts Festival when he won Best of Show honors. He also took the top prize at the festival in 2013. Plummer said he’s heard a lot of positive reactions to the newer work, though some people have said they prefer his older work. Still others noted that they like that he’s continuing to change as an artist. “I know a lot of people find what works and stick to that,” he said. “To me that would be boring.” Though he’s done as many as 20 shows…


‘All Hands on Deck’ brings home-grown talent to Pemberville Fair

From PEMBERVILLE FREE FAIR Celebrate the USA as the Pemberville Free Fair proudly announces segments of The All Hands On Deck! Show to be performed Thursday August 18th, 2016, at 8:30pm on The Grandstand Stage. Admission is free and seating is open to the public. The show features the rerun of two local performers, the show’s creator Jody Madaras, formerly of Pemberville, and Patrick Scholl, a 2015 graduate of Bowling Green State University and Bowling Green High School. The All Hands On Deck! Show is a 1942 Roadshow & Radio Broadcast reproduction featuring a Live 9-piece Big Band that fills your hearts with 42 of the greatest American songs ever written including Chattanooga Choo-Choo; Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe; I’m In The Mood For Love; Pennsylvania Polka; I’ll Never Smile Again; Any Bonds Today?; Don’t Fence Me In; America The Beautiful; Deep In The Heart Of Texas; Thanks For The Memory, and a powerful Military Medley – a full-circle salute to America and to our servicemen and women! Pemberville native and 1989 Eastwood High School graduate Jody Madaras created, directed, and also stars in The All Hands On Deck! Show along with Branson cast members Valerie Hill (Les Miserables), Scholl, and Beth Conley (“I’ll Say She Is” Off-Broadway musical). With nine of the best jazz musicians in NW Ohio, including fellow Eastwood graduates Michael Sander (chair of Fine and Performing Arts at Owens Community College) and Keith Hamen (Director of Bands, Lake High School), The All Hands On Deck! Show brings Pemberville a fun-filled, true-to-life reproduction of the kind of USO show Bob Hope and Jack…


Arresting images portray intersection of policing & art

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Ben Schonberger’s art installation, “Beautiful Pig,” at River House Arts in Toledo couldn’t come at a more fraught moment coming as it does in a time when our reactions are color coded. The heart-felt cry of Black Lives Matter giving rise to the reaction of Blue Lives Matter. Schonberger collaborated with retired Detroit detective Marty Gaynor to create a portrait of the cop and his community and the relationship between the cop and the artist. “I think it’s an incredibly fragile moment,” Schonberger said. “I don’t think it’s ever been more relevant.” He sees the exhibit as an opening to an “alternate” conversation about policing and community, one “that doesn’t begin with a charged reaction.” In every incident, “everybody has an alternative story,” he said. This isn’t work, he said, that someone will see in the gallery and buy to hang in their home. “The best part about this work isn’t the art, it’s to be able to have an alternative conversation about people and process. If you can have a conversation about humans and feeling, identity, empathy, survival and history, if you can understand someone’s brain for a minute, that’s when contemporary art is so powerful.” Fittingly this is the first collaboration between the gallery’s owner Paula Baldoni and the nascent group Contemporary Art Toledo. Brain Carpenter, the founder, said the group is interested in exactly these kind of shows that are more about generating debate than displaying objects. The River House walls…


Levis Commons hosts art fair this weekend

From GUILD OF ARTISTS & ARTISANS Four Bowling Green artists will be among the more than 130 exhibiting at the 12th Annual Levis Commons Fine Art Fair on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 13 and 14, at the Town Center at Levis Commons in Perrysburg. The art fair is presented by the Guild of Artists & Artisans, which produces the Ann Arbor Summer Art Fair. Admission and parking are free. Fair hours are Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fairgoers can visit LevisCommonsFineArtFair.com for up-to-date event information. More than 130 professional artists from across the country will show their work at this juried event. Featured artwork includes ceramics, glass, painting, drawing, multi-media, sculpture, photography, fiber, leather, wood, jewelry and more. Bowling Green artists who will exhibit are: Thomas Sanders, photography; Diana Hall, photography; Ellen Smith, wood artist; and John Thies, ceramics. The featured artist at this year’s Levis Commons Art Fair, featured on its poster, is Paul Fletcher of Westlake, Ohio. Fletcher has been painting and drawing as long as he can remember. A graduate of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, he began his professional career in 1981 in an advertising studio in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1986 he became a full time artist building his career with zoos, aquariums and wildlife organizations. Fletcher’s love of nature and wildlife are his inspiration. After discovering encaustic in 2008, he spent his first year developing a self-taught style of unique impressionism. Now he works exclusively in encaustic,…


Delta Saints to bless arts festival with healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News What does it take to bring a rock ‘n’ roll band from dorm room sessions to the stages of the world? About a 1,000 shows and just as much bourbon. That’s what Ben Ringel attributes the success of The Delta Saints to. When the band plays the 10 p.m. set for the Friday show at the Black Swamp Arts Festival Sept.9, he wants the audience to come away with one impression: “I’d love it if people left and said ‘we really saw this great rock ’n’ roll band.’” Not that he feels the Delta Saints have reached perfection. It’s a continuing learning process, he said. “We try to learn something every night,” he said. “Three-quarters of the lessons we learn are ‘don’t do that the next time.’” That sense of lifelong learning is not surprising for a band that got its start at a college, Belmont University in Nashville. In 2007, Ringel and several other students who had transferred into the college bonded together.  They shared a bit of an outsider attitude, coming from different schools and parts of the country. Ringel was born in Louisiana, but lived in Seattle, before going to Nashville. Bassist David Supica came from Kansas. They and a couple other guys were “all pursuing music, both in school and as a passion.” “We needed an outlet for it, needed friends to drink beer with. It really took off from there.” They wrote songs together, and then with enough for…


Horizon’s Thomas Long wins top comic acting prize; 3B’s “Mermaid” going to state festival (update)

From BG INDEPENDENT NEWS Actors from Horizon Youth Theatre picked up awards, including a top comic acting honor, at the Ohio Community Theatre Association’s OCTA Fest Jr. this weekend. Thomas Long received an Outstanding in Comedic Acting for his role in “The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet.” HYT presented a 40-minute excerpt from the play, which was originally staged in October. Also at the festival 3B Productions’ “Disney’s The Little Mermaid” was one of two excerpts chosen to be staged at OCTA’s state conference on Labor Day weekend. Several HYT actors performed in the chorus for that show, which was 3B’s annual summer youth production. “Little Mermaid” received outstanding awards for: Dylan Coale, makeup design;  Joe Barton, costume coordinating; Janine Baughman and Tom Montgomery, musical accompaniment; and Sarah Matlow and Will Dupuis, outstanding musical performance. Also, 3B received excellence for:  vocal ensemble; Bob Marzola, choreography; Beth Kinney, props; Andrea Maccariella, props; Jesse Bernal, set design; and Noah Halaoui, musical performance. In addition to Long’s award, HYT won a number of merit awards. Those were: first time director Jeffrey Guion; Wendy Guion, props; ensemble acting; and Anne Weaver and Bob Walters, acting. The Toledo School for the Arts presented an excerpt from “Little Prince” and received an outstanding for puppet design and excellence for ensemble acting, as well as several merit awards. The festival, held Saturday in Wadsworth, was about more than competition. As the performers from all over the state waited for the results, they flooded the area in front…


Life of a cop turned into art in “Beautiful Pig”

From RIVER HOUSE ARTS The life of a Detroit police officer is the focus of “Ben Schonberger: Beautiful Pig,” an exhibit that opens with a reception Friday, Aug. 12, from 8 to 10 p.m. at the River House Arts and Contemporary Art Toledo, 425 Jefferson, Toledo. The reception immediately follows the artist’s 7 p.m. talk in the GlasSalon of the Toledo Museum of Art’s Glass Pavilion. Centered on a trove of photographs and ephemera collected by a former Detroit police officer during the latter part of the 20th Century, purposefully assembled and augmented by the artist, Beautiful Pig offers a provocative, timely, and unflinching look at cultural identity, self-perception, and the realities of racial disparity in law enforcement. The project began when Schonberger, while working in Detroit, acquired a box of photographs from Marty Gaynor, a retired police officer. Gaynor had documented the entirety of his career through thousands of images, including countless Polaroids of individuals he had arrested. Intrigued by the scope of the collection and the man responsible for amassing it, Schonberger embarked on a years-long collaborative process with Gaynor. The result is in an intensely personal yet culturally and historically revealing archive. Beautiful Pig appeared in 2013 as a self-published book to overwhelming critical acclaim. It was shortlisted by both the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Award in 2013 and the Anamorphosis Prize in 2015. Today the book can be found in the New York Public Library, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, MoMA, the Los Angeles Contemporary Archive, The Arts…


Pokey LaFarge travels the byways of American music

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Pokey LaFarge is a traveling man. Has been since his teens when he left his Illinois home, where his name was Andrew Heissler, to head west. He had his mandolin and his stories with him. He also took with him a love of music and history first nurtured by his grandfathers and put that together into songs he sang on the streets. He ate from trash cans. He slept where he could. Now leading his own six-piece band, he travels by bus and plane and eats good food. Still, he agreed, that this was busking in grand fashion. “Traveling has always been the essence, the heart, of what I do,” he said in a recent interview. LaFarge’s wandering ways will bring him and his band to the Black Swamp Arts Festival where he’ll perform a Main Stage show, Saturday, Sept. 10, at 8 p.m. He’ll also perform on the Youth Arts Stage at 4 p.m. that day. His music is rooted in the music of the American heartland and in a time when jazz, country, blues, ragtime and vaudeville shared a cradle. And the stories his music tells are, too, reflecting the way we’re pulled into the future, sometimes reluctantly, but never able to surrender our past. Certainly things have changed, said LaFarge, who now calls St. Louis home. “A professional musician has a lot more responsibility, a lot more work,” he said. “But it’s better than sleeping in the ditch.” Some things haven’t…