Arts and Entertainment

Horizon kids play out Aesop’s immortal lessons

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Horizon Youth Theatre’s production “The Fabulous Fables of Aesop” begins in chaos. We have 10 kids talking at once, as fast as they can. They are trying to tell all of Aesop’s fables, and this is the only way they think that they can accomplish the feat. That’s a hilariously real moment. Kids acting like kids. They do realize telling all the tales, about 600 at last count, even in that chaotic way would be impossible. What the Horizon Troupe does, using director Keith Guion’s script, is introduce us to the ancient fabulist’s world with a handful of those tales, little more than anecdotes, that continue to resonate to this day. Our language is spiked with phrases and lessons from the Greek storyteller’s fables, standing with Shakespeare and the Bible as a source for aphorisms and turns of phrase. Horizon Youth Theatre is staging “The Fabulous Fables of Aesop” tonight (Nov. 11) and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. in the auditorium for Otsego High School. Tickets are $5. Visit horizonyouththeatre.org. Beside its exploration of the tales of Aesop, the script offers a look into what it’s like to stage a youth theater production. Starting with chaos, the actors go through all the various chores they need to right on stage. The setting is simple a few blocks that the actors themselves mostly move into place from tale to tale. A table is located at the rear of the stage where they collect props and the costumes. The opening dialogue even talks about scripting, how Aesop’s large output of fables will need to be trimmed down to a manageable number. They seemingly cast on the spot. As the moral of the first fable explains, they are stronger working as a team. That’s the message conveyed by a farmer (Lauren Carmen) to his brood of children, who learn a bunch of sticks is harder to break than an individual stick. True to the democratic nature of this troupe, the roles are evenly parsed out, with everyone getting a chance in the spotlight. There are roles, big and small, human and animal, inanimate and animate. Even the youngest, second grader Alice Walters and third grader Liam Rogel, get turns to narrate tales in addition to playing mice, pebbles and other roles. Yelia Xu holds her head high in her solo spot as the milkmaid whose dreams get ahead of themselves. Eli Marx plays Androcles, in “Androcles and the Lion,” one of the more involved skits. That piece includes Gavin Miller as a lion with Rose Walters as the cruel master. Three fables get wrapped up into one in “Bells.” Edna Motion entertains a group of hiding mice by telling the story of “The Mischievous Dog” while outside the cat (Alice Walters) awaits. Mary Helen Delisle gets to shine as the sun as well as playing a mouse. Paige Suelzer plays the emperor and a fox while Emma Kate Holbrook adds her talents in a variety of roles. All this comes together without losing the energy of child’s play. Yes, they are a troupe of actors, but they also always seem like a bunch of kids. Some are small, just old enough to start hanging with the gang, and some are ready to…


BGSU Arts Events through Nov. 23

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Through Nov. 21—“The Deathworks of May Elizabeth Kramner,” a mixed media installation by The Poyais Group, continues through Nov. 21 in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center. The exhibit purports to be a re-creation by the Poyais Group of outsider artist Kramner’s (1867-1977) private lifework, a tent version of the town where she lived, with each tent representing someone who had died. Discovered by a team of anthropologists after her death but then lost in a fire, the installation was remade by the Poyais Group (Jesse Ball, Thordis Bjornsdottir, Olivia Robinson and Jesse Stiles) based on notes by one of the original anthropologists. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Through Nov. 22—“Criminal Justice?” an exhibit by activist artists Carol Jacobson and Andrea Bowers, investigates the attitudes and biases embedded in the U.S. criminal justice system. Jacobson is an award-winning social documentary artist whose works in video and photography address issues of women’s criminalization and censorship. Bowers’ video “#sweetjane” and drawings explore the 2012 Steubenville, Ohio, rape case and the citizens whose activism resulted in two rape convictions. The drawings reproduce the text messages sent among the teenage witnesses to the assault on an underage young woman. “Criminal Justice?” is on view in the Willard Wankelman Gallery at the Fine Arts Center. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Nov. 9—The Faculty Artist Series continues with guitarist Ariel Kasler. Kasler has performed at venues and events as diverse as the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto, the Detroit Jazz Festival, the Grand Theater in London, Ontario, the Clore Center for Music and Dance in Israel, New Music from Bowling Green, the NASA regional conference in Urbana-Champaign, the Victorian College of Arts in Australia and Rutman’s Violins in Boston. The recital will begin at 8 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov. 10—The Visiting Writer Series features award-winning author Claire Vaye Watkins. She is the author of “Gold Fame Citrus” and “Battleborn,” which won the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. Her reading will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Nov. 10—BGSU’s Wind Symphony and Middle School Honor Band will perform at 7 p.m. in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov. 11—EAR | EYE: Listening and Looking: Contemporary Music and Art features BGSU doctoral candidates in contemporary music performing in response to works of art. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe St. in Toledo. Free Nov. 13—The Faculty Artist Series features soprano Chelsea Cloeter. An experienced soloist, Cloeter has appeared with the Tucson Pops Orchestra, Albany Pro Musica, Milwaukee Choral Artists and numerous university ensembles across the country. The recital begins at 3 p.m. in the Great Gallery at the Toledo Museum of Art, 2445 Monroe St. in Toledo. Free Nov. 14—ARTalks continue with “Time, Space and Animation: An Expanded Journey Across Fine Art Practice and…


Keith Guion is a master of family entertainment

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Keith Guion wryly admits to being a bad influence on his three children. Guion is a theater devotee, as a director and writer, especially children’s theater. And all three of his children have followed his footsteps, and the Horizon Youth theatre and other troupes have been the beneficiaries. His daughter, Cassie Greenlee of Bowling Green, remembers when she was in fourth grade and had been offered the part of Annie in “Annie Warbucks.” She was concerned about taking the part, so she discussed it with her father and mother, Wendy Guion. They didn’t push her, rather discussed the pros and cons. She took the part. “That was the beginning of the end,” she said while waiting for a preview of her father’s current show, “The Fabulous Fables of Aesop.” Horizon Youth Theatre will stage the show Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. at Otsego High School. Tickets are $5 and available at the door and at horizonyouththeatre.org. Guion wrote the “Fabulous Aesop” script a number of years ago while working in the Ashland area. That’s where his children, including two sons Matthew and Jeffrey Guion, grew up and picked up the love of all aspects of theater. “I never really encouraged them to get involved,” their father said, “they just sort of did.” That included acting, all the theater crafts and writing. The play references 21 of the more than 600 fables attributed to Aesop, the storytelling slave from ancient Greece. Eight of them are acted out, while the rest are mentioned in passing. “The fables are about universal themes we all recognize,” he said. The behavior of the characters whether animal, human or even plant, are recognizable. “And most of the lessons are still pertinent today.” This amounts to a double dose of Aesop for the Horizon troupe. The older members staged “The Great Cross Country Race,” based on “The Tortoise and The Hare” in October. That was directed by Greenlee, and featured the human characters talking in “gibberish,” which was penned by Guion. Now the younger troupe members, those in grades second through sixth, will try their talents on these ancient tales. He selected the tale, including less known ones such as “The Oak and the Reed,” using the story theater form. “We are essentially a company of players who get together to tell these stories,” he said. Actors talk directly to the audience. Each member of the cast of 12 gets a chance to be a narrator and a main character. Guion started working with Horizon a few years ago when he and his wife moved back to Bowling Green. Guion grew up here, and graduated in 1971 from Bowling Green High School where he studied theater with Karen Landrus. In high school he got his first taste of theater for children when he was part of a children’s melodrama. He went on to get a bachelor’s degree in theater from Bowling Green State University and a doctorate from the University of Illinois Champaign. Over the years he’s worked as an adjunct professor, substitute teacher and as a teacher and director for a number of theater troupes in the Ashland area. His children followed him and other family members to BGSU, and when it came time…


Mikel Kuehn takes listeners on walk through his musical landscape on new CD

  By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Mikel Kuehn likes to take hikes. Oak Openings is a favorite location. He favors the wilder, natural environment to a more manicured landscape – “the messiness of nature… the entanglement of vines.” “To me, it’s really beautiful,” the composer said. That carries through in his compositions. They have a deceptive tangle of sounds, lines that stretch into the musical undergrowth reaching up, seeking light. As in nature, what may seem a disorder of trees, vines, leaves and their shadows, has an underlying order. In his compositions, Kuehn said, he wants listeners to go on a walk with him and appreciate the unruly beauty of nature. Kuehn, now on the cusp of turning 50, has just released his first CD devoted to his compositions. “Object Shadow” was released by New Focus Recordings in October. The recording features seven compositions, most written between 2004 and 2014. The outlier is the composition that closes the recording, “Between the Lynes,” which dates to 1994. This is the earliest piece in which he explores the textures and techniques evident in the later work. “It’s one of the first I’m happy with,” he said. “The pieces are all virtuosic,” Kuehn, who has taught at Bowling Green State University since 1998, said.  The performers are “all perfect.” The CD opening and closes with performances by Ensemble Dal Niente, a Chicago-based new music group. The opening “Undercurrents” features the entire 14-piece ensemble. The title piece, albeit in French not English, “Objet/Ombre,” features a 12-saxophone ensemble from BGSU with electronics that shadow their sounds. Another leading new music group Flexible Music appears on “Color Fields.” Three solo pieces for cello and electronics, guitar and marimba round out the program. Kuehn said he was able to record the CD thanks to a Guggenheim Foundation grant and an award from the Ohio Arts Council. Without that money, he said, “I never would have been able to do it.” Recording a piece for as many musicians as “Undercurrents” is especially costly, he said. “Undercurrents” was recorded by Dan Nichols in Chicago using 40 microphones. That provided a striking level of detail. When Kuehn traveled to Mount Vernon, just outside New York City, to work with engineer Ryan Streber, he had an array of sonic options. He and Streber, himself a Juilliard-educated composer, worked to realize the truest image of the piece. The mixing amounted to another step in the composition process. Streber was also give the CD as a whole a consistent sonic signature, though it was recorded in several different studios, including by Mark Bunce at BGSU. He was also careful about the order the pieces were presented, just as an artist would be about arranging a show. This, though, Kuehn realizes “people don’t listen in the same way,” seldom taking the time to sit down and audition a recording all the way through. Having it on CD also provides a level of audio quality, higher than an mp3 file. The mixing process itself, where Kuehn listened to his compositions “over and over and over” was educational in itself. That the music held up for him after repeated listening reassured Kuehn that he was on the right track. Listening again to the pieces, he said, he recalled what he was going through at the…


Artistic animals make debut in Four Corners exhibit

The exhibit “Artists 4 Animals 4open Friday evening (Nov.4) in the gallery space at Four Corners Center, 130 S. Main St. The show features the work of 22 artists, from kindergartners through senior citizens. Juror Jane Vanden Eynden, a fine art photographer and teacher, selected the top winners in each age category. These images have been reproduced on note cards that are be available at venues in town. Sales of the cards will benefit the Wood County Humane Society and the Bowling Green Arts Council. Winning the top prizes were: Jens Svendsem, “Black Cat,” Best Domestic Animal Erica England, “Fox Box,” Best Wild Animal Stella Loera, “My Cat Coco,” first place, K-4th Grade Alex Lundquest, “Snail Ball,” first place, 5th-8th Grade Amanda Kaufman, “Glancing Sanger,” first place, adult. The exhibit will run through Dec. 9.      


Berlin Philharmonic concertmaster will be guest soloist with BGSU orchestra

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS The Bowling Green State University Philharmonia will welcome violinist Noah Bendix-Balgley, concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, for a return guest appearance Nov. 14. The program will feature two well-known pieces by Tchaikovsky, his Symphony No. 5 and Violin Concerto. The 8 p.m. performance will take place in Kobacker Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. A pre-concert talk on the music of Tchaikovsky will be held at 7:15 p.m. in Bryan Recital Hall. Bendix-Balgley was appointed the Berlin Philharmonic’s concertmaster in 2014. He gave his first performance with the Bowling Green Philharmonia in 2015. Currently on a North American tour with the Berlin orchestra, he is making a side trip to Bowling Green to perform at BGSU. “We are absolutely thrilled to have Noah visiting Bowling Green to perform with the University’s orchestra, the BG Philharmonia. As one of America’s great violinists, having reached the pinnacle position of concertmaster of the world-renowned Berlin Philharmonic, he is an exceptional representative of the best our country has to offer in the classical music scene,” said Philharmonia conductor Dr. Emily Freeman-Brown, Professor of Creative Arts Excellence and BGSU director of orchestral activities. The opportunity for BGSU students to work with Bendix-Balgley is of great value, said Dr. William Mathis, interim dean of the College of Musical Arts. “Music students in the CMA have multiple opportunities to work with professional musicians throughout their degrees, but to have someone of Mr. Bendix-Balgley’s stature is a special treat to be sure,” Mathis said. “The impact of rehearsing, interacting and performing with a world-class artist is significant, motivating and inspiring — our students will never forget this experience. I daresay that the audience will never forget this concert, either.” Bendix-Balgley has built an international reputation as a violinist, appearing as a soloist with leading orchestras and in festivals winning top prizes in competitions in Europe and the United States. From 2011-15, he was concertmaster of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. His debut recital in Pittsburgh, in which he performed his own cadenzas to the Beethoven Violin Concerto, was named “Best Classical Concert of 2012” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He also performed his own version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the Pittsburgh Pirates on opening day in 2013 in front of 39,000 fans. As a chamber musician, he has toured North America with the Miro String Quartet and, from 2008-11, was first violinist with the Munich-based Athlos Quartet, which won a special prize at the 2009 Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy Competition, in Berlin, and performed throughout Europe. An eclectic musician, Bendix-Balgley has a special interest in klezmer music and has played with klezmer groups and taught klezmer violin at workshops throughout Europe. Last June he premiered his own Klezmer Violin Concerto with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Born in Asheville, N.C., he began playing violin at age 4 and by the time he was 9, was accomplished enough to perform for renowned violinist Lord Yehudi Menuhin, in Switzerland. He plays on a Cremonese violin made in 1732. Tickets can be purchased from the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171 or visit www.bgsu.musicevents. Advance tickets are $7 for adults and $3 for students and children. All tickets purchased the day of the performance are $10. Admission is free for BGSU students with a canned-good donation and University ID.


‘Gondoliers’ provides a comic & tuneful respite from dirty politics

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Maybe “The Gondoliers” is just what we need about now. With a political campaign rolling like a torrent of sludge to a messy conclusion, a frothy piece of social satire from another time is a welcomed diversion. The venerable team of Gilbert and Sullivan reminds us that being a doofus is just part of the human condition. Doesn’t matter if you’re royalty or gondolier, you are at heart a fool. But in the world of Gilbert and Sullivan even fools can spin off a tangle of intricate rhyme that precisely delineates the absurd world they inhabit. “The Gondoliers or the King of Barataria” was the team’s last hit back in the last decade of the 19th century. And Bowling Green State University Opera Theatre whips up a production that is true to the absurdist spirit of the original. The show is on stage tonight (Nov. 4) at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. on Kobacker Hall on campus. Advance tickets are $15 and $5 for students and children. All tickets the day of the performance are $20. Tickets can be purchased from the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171 or at www.bgsu.edu/arts. The tale is a subversive fancy, so convoluted and contrived that when the character Luiz (Aaron Hill) repeats the story to Princess Casilda (Alissa Plenzler) she’s just as incredulous as the audience, though not nearly as amused. Casilda is the daughter of down-and-out royalty who married her off as a baby to a prince. When the prince’s family became Methodists “of the most bigoted and persecuting type,” the baby prince is whisked away by the Grand Inquisitor (Brett Pond) to Venice where he was placed with the family of a gondolier who had a son the same age. The father drank so much he forgot which boy was which, so now no one knows, except that stock figure in Gilbert and Sullivan operettas, the nurse. The entire play takes place waiting for the nurse’s arrival in the scene to settle the matter. The prince’s father has died in a revolt, so now the prince, whichever gondolier he is, is the king of Barataria. Those gondeliers Marco (Mark Tenorio) and Guiseppe (Luke Serrano) are the heartthrobs of a gaggle of farm girls, who refuse to select beaus until the handsome gondoliers decide whom to wed. The lucky girls are Gianetta (Hannah Stroth) and Tessa (Amanda Williams). But that makes prince a bigamist. The plot revels in its own complications. No plot turn is without a detour. The cast seems to enjoy navigating through all these ridiculous turns. Serrano and Tenorio bounce off each other nicely, at times acting as one, yet with contrasting voices. Tenorio’s voice seems perfectly matched to the ardent aria“take a pair of sparkling eyes.” Casila’s parents the Duke of Plaza-Toro (Ben Ganger) and the Duchess of Plaza-Toro (Kate Hunt-Young) try to dominate each scene they are in. The duke is continually disappointed by the lack of pomp afforded him. He would like band. But a band, Luiz, his drummer, advises demands to be paid in advance. (To which the pit orchestra gives a huzzah.) Don’t they know me? the Duke asks. Yes, they do, Luiz replies. The duke proudly sings of his accomplishments leading —from the rear – his troops in…


BG High troupe conjures magical world of Narnia

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News On a gray autumn morning fourth and fifth graders from Bowling Green schools got to visit a magical land of Narnia. They came on school buses, accompanied by teachers. The heroes of the play “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe” that they’d come to see arrive in Narnia through a wardrobe in an English country home. For the BG students this was a release from the humdrum; for the quartet of British school kids, this was a life and death adventure, involving evil and redemption. The Bowling Green High School Drama Club opens the stage adaptation of the C.S. Lewis philosophical fantasy “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” tonight (Nov. 3) at 7 p.m. continuing with shows Friday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. and Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Bowling Green Performing Arts Center. These children – Peter (Michael Martin,), Edmund (Bob Walters), Susan (Megan Carmen), and Lucy (Lily Krueger) – are transported into a land in the grip of eternal winter. The wicked White Queen (Claire Wells-Jensen) has cast a spell over Narnia. Unbeknownst to the children, their coming has been foretold as a sign of the return to the rule of Aslan (Martin Simon) the just, kindly, giant lion. Narnia is populated by magical forest creatures, who are largely on the side of Aslan and the evil magical creatures, the specters, ghouls and ogres who rally to the witch. The high school troupe brings this world to life. Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (Alexis Reinbolt and Moe Kellow) lumber about as you’d expect of creatures more at home in water. The costumes and the way the characters move in character with them do much to create the world, which is otherwise represented by a few large, but simple set pieces. This enables the action to flow smoothly from scene to scene. The biggest technical accomplishment is representing Aslan. Martin Simon appears within a large wooden puppet that moves majestically about the stage. Amid all the spectacle, the human element remains at the forefront. Edmund’s story as one tempted and lured by the White Witch gives this an emotional dimension beyond a simple battle of good against evil. The actors playing the children form a believable band, each a distinct personality that complements the group as a unit as they move through this strange landscape. These characters must experience their own horror or in case of the White Witch and her henchman… must revel in inflicting pain. That’s especially true in a scene where Aslan sacrifices himself for Edmund, in accordance with an ancient dictates. The story is a Christian allegory, but without any explicit religious references. The message is one of forgiveness, loyalty and courage, lessons suitable for all ages.


BGSU arts events through Nov. 16

Through Nov. 21 – “The Deathworks of May Elizabeth Kramer,” a mixed media installation by The Poyais Group, continues through Nov. 21 in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center. The exhibit is a purported recreation by the Poyais Group of outsider artist Kranmer’s (1867-1977) private lifework, a tent version of the town where she lived, with each tent representing someone who had died. Discovered by a team of anthropologists after her death but then lost in a fire, the installation was remade by the Poyais Group (Jesse Ball, Thordis Bjornsdottir, Olivia Robinson and Jesse Stiles) based on notes by one of the original anthropologists. Gallery Hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Through Nov. 22 – “Criminal Justice?” an exhibit by activist artists Carol Jacobson and Andrea Bowers, investigates the attitudes and biases embedded in the U.S. criminal justice system. Jacobson is an award-winning social documentary artist whose works in video and photography address issues of women’s criminalization and censorship. See story: http://bgindependentmedia.org/artist-documents-the-cycle-of-abuse-suffered-by-female-inmates/. Bowers’ video “#sweetjane” and drawings explore the 2012 Steubenville, Ohio rape case and the citizens whose activism resulted in two rape convictions. The drawings reproduce the text messages sent among the teenage witnesses to the assault on an underage young woman. “Criminal Justice?” is on view in the Willard Wankelman Gallery at the Fine Arts Center. Gallery Hours are 11 a.m. – 4p.m. Tuesday through Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Nov. 2 – The Faculty Artist Series features the BGSU woodwind faculty in an 8 p.m.performance in Bryan Recital Hall at the Moore Musical Arts Center. Free Nov. 3 – The International Film Series continues with the 2015 film “Le Dernier Loup (Wolf Totem),” directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. Life is tenuous for humans and animals in the wonderfully filmed Mongolian steppe. The story presents a stark view of the region 50 years ago, during China’s Cultural Revolution, focusing on Beijing student who goes to live among nomadic herdsmen in 1967. The modern world imperils the ecosystem form the south, while wolves, who hold spiritual meaning for the indigenous people, threaten from the North. The screening begins at 7:30 p.m. Free Nov. 3-5 – The 16th annual Winter Wheat festival of writing celebrates writers and readers alike. Created in 2001 and produced by the Mid-American Review on the BGSU campus, the event will host writing workshops, question-and-answer sessions with authors, a book fair of literary journals and presses and an open mic opportunity. Most events will be located in the Bowen-Thompson Student Union. Winter Wheat is open to the public. A donation is suggested, but events are free for all participants. Nov. 4 – The Bowling Green Opera Theater presents Gilbert and Sullivan’s “The Gondoliers.” This classic opera marks the 12th comic opera collaboration of Gilbert and Sullivan. The performance will begin at 8 p.m. in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets can be purchased from the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171 or visit www.bgsu.edu/arts. Advance tickets are $15 and $5 for students and children. All tickets the day of the performance are $20. Nov. 4 – An Elsewhere production of “Two Rooms” will begin at 8 p.m. in the Eva Marie Saint Theatre at the Wolfe Center for…


Piper Kerman found friends, a book & a cause in prison

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Piper Kerman was a just a couple years out of college when she stepped over the line. She’d been traveling all over the world with her drug dealing girlfriend. She tried to keep out of her lover’s business until she was asked to carry a suitcase full of money from Chicago to Brussels. Kerman knew what she’d done, and soon after broke off the relationship, returned to the United States and put that life behind her. That’s what she thought. About five years later federal authorities rang her doorbell in New York City, and the time came to pay for her crime. Kerman ended up serving 15 months in federal prison, and came out to write the best seller “Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women’s Prison.” On Tuesday night she spoke at Bowling Green State University as the guest of University Libraries’ Ordinary People: Extraordinary Lives series. Being in prison meant more than serving time. Kerman said when she had carried that money from Chicago to Brussels she didn’t think about the consequences her actions. In prison she came face to face with those whose lives had been devastated by drugs. “My closeness and connection to those women led me to realize the harm of my own actions, and I’m very, very grateful for that,” she said. Kerman said she was grateful to Jenji Kohan who produced the Netflix series based on the book, for keeping the issues she wanted to highlight in the book in the forefront. Among those were friendship. Kerman said she didn’t go into prison expecting to find friends, but wouldn’t have survived without them. Kerman talked about Pom-Pom. They worked at jobs near each other in prison. Pom-Pom was released a few months before Kerman, just before Thanksgiving. She ended up sleeping on the floor of a relative who didn’t want her there. The area she lived in was cold and dangerous and poor. Before Christmas she wrote a letter to Kerman, telling her to keep her spirits up because she’d be released soon. Then she wrote: “I really miss you guys. I feel like you’re my real family.” Kerman was overwhelmed. She cried not just about her friend’s current situation but because “I wished she was back in prison with us.” In writing “Orange Is the New Black,” she said she wanted readers to feel as deeply about Pom-Pom as she did. Since being released in early 2005, Kerman has worked on efforts to assist inmates and on criminal justice reform. The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world. While the U.S. has 5 percent of the world population it has 25 percent of its prisoners. It has a third of the female prisoners. In the past three decades the number of female inmates has increased 650 percent. (The male prison population increased 400 percent.) And those arrested, judged and sentenced are disproportionately black. This was not because of any crime wave, but the way sentences are handed out. Most were for non-violent offenses such as drug possession and prostitution.  In the past these offenses wouldn’t merit prison time. In New York City it costs $65,000 a year to put a woman in prison. If she has kids and…


Artist documents the cycle of abuse suffered by female inmates

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Carol Jacobsen’s photographs and videos of women in prison could have been self-portraits. In the late-1960s, Jacobsen was in the same kind of situation that landed many women in prison for life, Right out of high school, she said in a recent interview, she ran off and married her high school boyfriend.  “He was a sociopath. He beat the shit out of me,” she said. So many women in prison, she said, are there because they finally fought back and killed their abusers or were forced or coerced into participating in crimes, and then had to pay for the male partners’ actions. These are the issues she explores in work now on display in the exhibit “Criminal Justice?” in the Wankelman Gallery in the Bowling Green State University School of Art. Her videos explore the lives of those in prison and her photo pieces reflect the continuum of the abuse of women within the criminal justice system. The exhibit also features Andrea Bowers’ video documentary “#sweetjane” about the Steubenville rape case. The exhibit continues through Nov. 20. Unlike the women whom Jacobsen depicts and advocates for, the artist was able to flee her abusive spouse. “I ran off,” said Jacobsen, who teaches at the University of Michigan. “I had to hide out of town for month. I was pregnant. I was lucky I had family and friends who hid me, and parents who took me to the abandoned building in Detroit for the illegal abortion that I insisted on having to free myself from a violent man.” When she met the women in prison, she realized: “This could be me; this could be a lot of us.” Jacobsen went on to study art and earn a graduate degree from Eastern Michigan University. She was inspired to move her work into a political realm, something not permitted at the university, while living in London in 1980. She witnessed political activism and saw “women raising hell in court.” When she returned to the United States, “I wondered who was disturbing the peace here.” She went to district court in Detroit, and at first focused on the plight of prostitutes, mostly poor, black women. Their punishment by the state and stigmatization by society was a nexus of the feminist issues – abortion, rape, and battering, domestic abuse. Her idea was to follow some of these prostitutes when they went to serve time on prison. Once in prison, she met other women, women serving life sentences. “These are the murderers?” she asked. They were doing time for the crimes of their boyfriends, or for defending themselves. “I got hooked,” Jacobsen said.  She decided to integrate legal activism into her art. She collaborated with a couple attorneys and together they formed the Michigan Women’s Justice and Clemency Project. Under the auspices of the project she would go inside the state’s prisons, and film the inmates and record their stories. Then in the late 1990s, Gov. John Engler closed off the prisons. All filming was banned. Visitation was limited to immediate family and legal counsel. The move was made because the Michigan prison system had been cited as one of the worst in the country by the U.S. Justice Department, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the United Nations. They…


Contemporary comedy at Clazel puts Players in a different light

   By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News   Christopher Durang’s comedy “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” has made a quick turnaround from the Broadway stage to the stage of the Clazel in downtown Bowling Green. The Black Swamp Players will present the 2013 Tony winner for best play Nov. 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $25. Tickets available at Grounds for Thought and online at www.blackswampplayers.org.  Seating will be at tables for eight. The play’s quick trip from being a Sigourney Weaver star turn to featuring a cast of Players newcomers and regulars started when Deb Weiser read about the new comedy in the New Yorker. It struck her as a fun show to stage, so she pitched it to the Players’ board. The play seemed a good fit as well for the Clazel. Some of the language is more appropriate for the night club setting than the Methodist church basement where the Players usually work. Besides, the First United Methodist stage is occupied this month with the church’s own production of “Godspell!” Last year when the Players faced the same dilemma, they took an evening of one acts on the road, staging them in three different spots around town, including the Clazel. This year the show will stay put in the downtown venue. The ticket includes a buffet of hors d’oeuvres, dessert and coffee. And the Clazel’s bar will be open. Doors open at 7 p.m. This week the cast was busy off-site rehearsing for opening night. “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” is in a way a modern sendup of a Chekov play. Multiple references are made his characters and his work. They serve as dramatic tchotchkes, cute but not necessary for appreciating the finely tuned comedy. The play, directed by Weiser, finds two adopted siblings Vanya (Lane Hakel) and Sonia (Deb Shaffer) bemoaning their lives in the old family home where they’ve lived their entire adult lives. Sonia remembers being brought to the home as an orphan. “Everyone pretended to love me. … I was so confused about that.” They have a housekeeper Cassandra (Joyce Coutinho) who, true to her mythological namesake, is given to prophecy. She breaks into long, hilariously disjointed bits of augury that have an odd way of proving right. At one point she declares: “I see doom and destruction for all for you! Lunch in 20 minutes.” The arrival of their sister Masha (Sara Lezdianowski), the star of a series of movies about a killer nymphomaniac, arrives with her young lover Spike (Kiefer Eller) in tow. Spike’s show biz claim to fame is that he was almost cast in “Entourage 2.” Now with all the names in the title accounted for, the plot thickens driven along by Masha’s insatiable ego with a hearty side of insecurity. That’s fed by the appearance of Nina (Kristin Forman), a small town girl star struck by Masha and infatuated with Spike. Masha takes control of everything, including what everyone wears to the costume party. She’s going as Snow White and thinks everyone’s outfit should complement hers. With the house in the balance and Vanya’s secret script, there’s plenty of plot and comic complication to keep the audience engaged. Hakel, the Players president, said the play is a good fit for the venue….


BGSU arts events calendar through Nov. 9

At the galleries – “The Deathworks of May Elizabeth Kramer,” a mixed media installation by The Poyais Group, continues through Nov. 21 in the Dorothy Uber Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center. The exhibit, a collaboration with the New Music Festival, claims to be a recreation by the Poyais Group of outsider artist Kranmer’s (1867-1977) private lifework, a tent version of the town where she lived, with each tent representing someone who had died. Discovered by a team of anthropologists after her death but then lost in a fire, the installation was remade by the Poyais Group (Jesse Ball, Thordis Bjornsdottir, Olivia Robinson and Jesse Stiles) based on notes by one of the original anthropologists. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday–Saturday, 6-9 p.m. Thursdays, and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Free Oct. 27–Creative writing M.F.A. students will read from their work at 7:30 p.m. in Prout Chapel. Free Oct. 27–The International Film Series continues with the 2012 German film “Oh Boy (A Coffee in Berlin),” directed by Jan Ole Gerster. A young man in the dreamy process of losing everything he has wanders through Berlin to the accompaniment of comedic mood music. His contemporary angst plays out on the black-and-white background of a city with a dark past. It’s never been so difficult to get a cup of coffee in a huge city. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the Gish Film Theater in Hanna Hall. Free Oct. 27 – A performance of “Evelyn in Purgatory,” an award-winning dark comedy by Topher Payne, will begin at 8 p.m. in the Eva Marie Saint Theater located in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Tickets can be purchased form the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171, or visit www.bgsu.edu/arts. Advance tickets are $15 and $5 for students and children. All tickets the day of the performance are $20. (See story at http://bgindependentmedia.org/bgsu-cast-delivers-heavenly-performance-of-evelyn-in-purgatory/) Oct. 28–The exhibition “Criminal Justice?” opens in the Willard Wankelman Gallery at the Fine Arts Center with a 5:30 p.m. ARTalk by Carol Jacobsen in the gallery. A Stamps School of Art & Design faculty member at the University of Michigan, Jacobson is known for video and photography that addresses issues of women’s criminalization and censorship. Curated by BGSU Galleries Director Jacqueline Nathan, “Criminal Justice?” features activist artists Jacobson and Andrea Bowers, whose work investigates the attitudes and biases embedded in the U.S. justice system. A reception will follow the ARTalk. The exhibit runs through Nov. 20 in the Wankelman Gallery. Free Oct. 28–A performance of “Evelyn in Purgatory,” by Topher Payne, will begin at 8 p.m.in the Eva Marie Saint Theater at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Tickets can be purchased from the BGSU Arts Box Office at 419-372-8171, or visitwww.bgsu.edu/arts. Advance tickets are $15 and $5 for students and children. All tickets the day of the performance are $20. Oct. 28–Guest artists baritone Jeremy Huw Williams and pianist Paula Fan will perform. Williams has appeared in more than 60 operatic roles and has given performances at major venues in North and South America, Australia, Hong Kong and many European countries. Fan has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician on five continents. She has recorded 20 albums and has broadcast for the BBC, National Public Radio, Radio Television China and internationally. Their recital will begin at 8…


Tom Muir wins the championship belt for best buckle

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Making a belt buckle is not as simple as it seems, and it has taken master jeweler and metalsmith Tom Muir decades to get around to the task. Muir, who has taught in the Bowling Green State University School of Art for 25 years, said as a graduate student in the early 1980s he did try his hand at it. “But it never worked out quite right.” Even as he pursued other work that landed him recognition as one of the nation’s top jewelers, including an ornament on the White House Christmas tree in 1993, the challenge of making a belt buckle was in the back of his mind. Recently a technical and aesthetic considerations aligned, and he started creating belt buckles. And those are some buckles. One just won the World Champion Belt Buckle Competition. What’s the prize? A $250 in cash and a belt buckle, of course. Buckles are often awarded from traditional masculine activities, such as hunting and fishing and more recently barbecuing, Muir noted. (Making belt buckles may not be so gender-specific – one of Muir’s former students, Marissa Saneholtz, a BGSU and Bowling Green High graduate, received an honorable mention in the competition.) An avid amateur naturalist, Muir has been using forms from nature in his most recent work. He made one designed like a pig’s snout, a nod to competitive barbecuing.  In the case of the winning entry, he used the snout of a star-nosed mole for the buckle. In a statement for an exhibit Naughty Narrative (another former student from Bowling Green, Andrew Kuebeck, curated the show) Muir explained the attraction of the mole’s nose. “This busy, inscrutable animal living in fertile darkness makes a marvelous emblem of the human unconscious or dream life.  And its nose combines in a single form the tender vulnerability of a revealed secret with a plethora of foldings in which a sensual mystery appears to dream.” The artist sees even more. The soft, fleshiness of the snout evokes human genitalia, male and female. That’s played up by the placement of the buckle just about the groin. For men, this makes the buckle, like other adornments, a symbol of the wearer’s social status. The showy quality of the trophy buckle relates, Muir said, to his interest in body language. That’s all the more obvious during political campaigns. Experts, he said, have compared the way certain male politicians carry themselves to the way dominant chimpanzees strut about. That’s evident in the way Donald Trump presents himself, he said. “I’ve always been interested in body language and the way people dress, and things that signify who they are in society,” he said Muir takes that even further back into history, to the codpiece, a far older and more obvious kind of masculine adornment. Henry the VIII wore one. The thugs in “A Clockwork Orange” wore them. Muir is making them and will encourage his students to try their hands at codpieces. Beyond the weighted symbolism of the belt buckle, are technical challenges. “A belt buckle requires a little more skill and planning in terms of how the belt is attached,” he said. When he first tried making buckles as a graduate student that was the hang up. Some artists may just purchase fasteners to…


‘Tis the season for music of our time

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The New Music Festival at Bowling Green State University is a fall ritual. Just before Halloween, BGSU becomes the center of the contemporary music universe. Maybe that’s why this year’s event started on a macabre note – the opening of “The Deathworks of May Elizabeth Kramner.” The art installation transforms the Bryan Gallery in the School of Art into a village of the dead. The conceit of the work by the Poyais Group is that folk artist Mary Elizabeth Kramner created these tents as a recreation of her German village, each structure representing how a former inhabitant died. The viewer wanders about this village of the dead in darkness. The tents illuminate at odd intervals, and small organs set among the tents emit mournful chords. The viewer is suspended between life and death, between reality and fantasy. The mystery seeps into the bones. Yet festival, hosted by the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music,  celebrates the music of living composers. Presenting the expected is not in the festival’s mission statement. In another seasonal coincidence, this year’s featured composer is Dai Fujikura, who told the audience at the Composer Talk, that he was influenced early on by the musical scores of horror films. He was about 10, and growing up in Osaka, Japan. This was the music he loved to listen to. He was also drawn to composition because he was a mischievous piano student. He said if he didn’t like a measure of music, even by Beethoven, he would change it. And why did Haydn have a measure of rest? He would just ignore it, much to the displeasure of his piano teacher.  “She was right,” he concedes now. The Composer Talk is a staple of the festival, its keynote address. But every featured guest composer presents it in a different way. Sometimes they delve deep into the intricacies of their scores; sometimes they wax philosophical; and sometimes, as was the case with Frederic Rzewski 10 years ago, they perform. Fujikura’s talk was actually an interview with Kurt Doles, the executive director of the MidAmerican Center. The composer told Doles, and the audience, that he didn’t like watching the horror films, but loved listening to the music. His favorite score is “Alien 3” by Elliot Goldenthal. He liked the way the music mixed in at one point with the sound effects of a human being eaten. He speculated that he loved those scores because the composers stretched instruments to their limits and beyond, mined them for new sounds. Fujikura employs this ever-expanding language of extended techniques in his own music. He explores those sounds in close collaboration with the artists who commission him to write music. He played a recording of a Skype conversation he had with flutist Claire Chase. In it they discuss the various ways in which her voice could be integrated with her playing. That technique she said had never been fully exploited, she said. When musicians commission a piece by Fujikura, he tells them to expect daily contact. He once even asked a member of the ICE ensemble to play a bit of a score on Thanksgiving, admitting he really didn’t know how big a holiday it was for Americans. When he’s commissioned by a “superstar” performer who is busy touring…