Popular Culture

Toledo Symphony to perform live with HD screening of ‘Star Wars: A New Hope’

From  TOLEDO ALLIANCE FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS On Saturday, May 4, 2019, the Toledo Symphony Orchestra (TSO) will present “Star Wars: A New Hope In Concert” at the Huntington Center in celebration of National Star Wars Day. Local area restaurants, businesses, and coffee establishments are partnering with the TSO to promote special deals and themed-nights leading up to the event. The featured event of the day will take place at the Huntington Center at 8 p.m. on May the Fourth. The Toledo Symphony will present “Star Wars: A New Hope In Concert,” a screening of the 1977 film on a gigantic, high-definition screen while over 70 musicians of the Toledo Symphony perform John Williams’ Oscar-winning score live and in-sync with the movie. In 2005, the American Film Institute selected Williams’ score to 1977’s “Star Wars: A New Hope” as the greatest American film score of all time. Steven Jarvi, acclaimed conductor and Interim Artistic Director of the Charlottesville Opera, will conduct. Tickets start at $27 and may be purchased through the Toledo Symphony Box Office by calling 419-246-8000, in person at the Toledo Symphony Box Office located 1838 Parkwood Avenue, in person at the Huntington Box Office located at 500 Jefferson Avenue, or by visiting ticketmaster.com “We are all about breaking down what people perceive orchestral music to be,” says Zak Vassar, President and CEO of the Toledo Symphony. “Orchestral music always had deep roots in pop culture, and the entire Star Wars franchise is a perfect example of that. The music John Williams wrote for Star Wars is iconic, and it’s part of what makes the films so memorable and transcend generations.” John Williams has received five Academy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, seven British Academy Film Awards, five Emmy Awards, and 23 Grammy Awards. With 51 Academy Award nominations, Williams is the Academy’s most nominated living person and the second most-nominated individual in history, after Walt Disney. Williams scored all eight of the Star Wars saga films to date, beginning with 1977’s “Star Wars: A New Hope” for which he earned an Academy Award® for Best Original Score. His scores for “The Empire Strikes Back,” “Return of the Jedi,” “Star Wars: The Force Awakens, “and most recently, “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” were each nominated for Best Original Score. In 2005, the American Film Institute selected Williams’ score to 1977’s “Star Wars: A New Hope” as the greatest American film score of all time. “This event would not be possible without support from the Dana Charitable Foundation,” says Vassar. “They have been a long-standing advocate for the arts in Toledo, and we are happy to be able to present Star Wars: A New Hope—one of the greatest films of all time—with our exceptional musicians during our 75th Anniversary Season.” COSTUME CONTEST Dressing up as Star Wars characters is encouraged. Concert goers may also enter a costume contest for a chance to win signed memorabilia, concert tickets, various prizes from area businesses, and most importantly, bragging rights. Those who wish to enter the costume contest must purchase a ticket through the Toledo Symphony Box Office by calling 419-246-8000 or by visiting ticketmaster.com. Applicants must also register online at toledosymphony.com. Costume categories include individual, couple/pair, group/family, and kids. The costume contest will take place at the Huntington Center prior to the show at 7:15 p.m. Doors will open at 7 p.m. Tony Geftos from 13abc will emcee the costume contest. COMMUNITY PARTNERS “May the Fourth would not be complete without celebrating with all of our friends in town,” says Felecia Kanney, Director of Marketing for the Toledo Symphony. “What began…

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BGSU’s Browne Popular Culture Library celebrates 50 years of living in the past

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News Behind the closed doors on the fourth floor of Jerome Library, the treasures are stored. Treasures that most people, aside from the hoarders and most obsessive of collectors, would throw out. For archivist Stephen Ammidown, that’s the beauty of the Browne Popular Culture Library. Most of what it collects would be destined for the landfill, except someone saved it, and then they, or their survivors, donated it to Bowling Green State University. Archivist Stephen Ammidown discusses a recent acquisition of gossip and movie magazines. Those folks include a family who recently traveled all the way from Saskatchewan with a van full of movie and gossip magazines. Those now sit on a table in the library in the process of being sorted. Some donations are small — an MTV Remote Control game. “I want you to have this,” the donor said.  One Star Trek fan delivered dozens of boxes filled with all things Star Trek, including a Vulcan harp, that was made by a fan of the show. Ammidown said Star Trek is an interesting case  because the studio lost interest in it in the period between the original TV series and the movies, and didn’t license official products. So Star Trek lovers ran amok creating memorabilia on their own, including that harp. The instrument is not only unplayable but unrepairable, yet valuable nonetheless as a relic of the show and its devotees. The Browne Popular Culture Library celebrated its 50th birthday with a  cake decorated with Batman , Tuesday afternoon (March 12). (Batman’s 80th birthday will be celebrated at the Batman in Popular Culture conference on campus, April 12 and 13.) “Seems like a 100 years,” quipped Bill Schurk, who was the first head  librarian of the Popular Culture Library. He remembered as an undergraduate in the 1960s being allowed to display some of his collections of “cool stuff” at McFall, where the university library was then located. That was a privilege reserved for faculty and library staff. “I was this library when I was 5 years old,” Schurk said Tuesday.  “I collected all of this then.” After earning his masters in library science he returned to BGSU to head a new audio center. University Library Director A. Robert Rogers knew Schurk well both as a student and as a student assistant, so when the Popular Culture Library was opened in conjunction with the new major in Popular Culture started by Ray Browne, Schurk was tapped to head the library then on the first floor of Jerome Library. “I understood the material,” Schurk said. That set him apart from other librarians.  Starting the collection also “opened the floodgates,” he said, for also collecting popular music — Laverne Baker, the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and the like. About a decade later the Sound Recordings Archives was created to house that music collection. Schurk headed the archives, which now bears his name. Birthday party attendees watch an old Batman movie. (Photo by Abby Shifley) Jean Geist worked in the Popular Culture library for 18 years before her retirement in 2003. She recalls that when she arrived there were boxes everywhere, packed with donations, and the stacks were open for anyone to wander. Movie posters were in the back near a door. When the library was sorting and pruning its collection, it found multiple issues of Playboy with the centerfolds missing. All that has changed. While there’s always material to sort through like that collection of gossip magazines, most is categorized in some fashion. Ammidown noted the difficulty of finding a way to organize the large collection of…


Eva Marie Saint to get in the act with students during March 29 visit

From BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS Bowling Green State University will welcome alumna and Academy Award-winning actress Eva Marie Saint for a special event on March 29.  During “An Evening with Eva Marie Saint,” Saint will talk about her career and present a staged reading with several BGSU theatre and film students. The program will begin at 7 p.m. in the Thomas B. and Kathleen M. Donnell Theatre at the Wolfe Center for the Arts. The event is free; however, limited seating is available and tickets are required in advance. Tickets are available through the Wolfe Center Box Office Monday through Friday noon to 5 p.m., online at bgsu.edu/arts or by calling 419-372-8171. Guests with disabilities are requested to indicate if they need special services, assistance or appropriate modifications to fully participate in this event by contacting Accessibility Services at access@bgsu.edu or Theatre and Film at 419-372-8495 prior to the event.  


Controversy swirls around Gish Film Theater over ties to ‘Birth of a Nation’

By DAVID DUPONT  BG Independent News When “The Birth of the Nation,” originally called “The Clansman,” was released in 1915 it was a blockbuster, the first blockbuster movie. President Woodrow Wilson screened it at the White House, the first film shown in the White House, and then gave it a rave review. The film’s vicious depiction of African-Americans sparked civil unrest, including anti-black violence. Still from the silent film “The Birth of the Nation” is projected during town hall meeting hosted by the Black Student Union. The nascent NAACP  protested and campaigned to have it banned, and it was in two states, Ohio and Kansas. The Ku Klux Klan liked Griffith’s film so much it used the movie as a recruiting tool. That helped the Klan, once dormant, become more powerful and widespread, extending into the North including Wood County. More than 100 years later, the film is still stirring controversy. The Black Student Union at Bowling Green State University has questioned the name of the venerable Gish Film Theater.  The theater, then in Hanna Hall, was named for Lillian and Dorothy Gish in 1976, after Lillian  Gish received an honorary doctorate and visited campus. Lillian Gish, an Ohio native who made her stage debut in Risingsun, was a star of “Birth of Nation,” and a close associate of D.W. Griffith, the director and producer of the film. The move of the theater from Hanna Hall, itself controversial, to the Bowen Thompson Student Union gave the name more prominence. Kyle Thompson, political action director for the Black Student Union, said that visibility sparked the call for considering changing the name. The scheduled March 29 rededication of the theater, featuring Oscar-winning actress and BGSU graduate Eva Marie Saint, who worked with Lillian Gish in 1953, has been canceled. Saint is still scheduled to appear on campus at that time. President Rodney Rogers has asked Dean Raymond Craig, of the College of Arts and Sciences, to form a task force to study what if any action the university should take and report to the board of trustees in May. Last week, the Black Student Union organized a town hall meeting to elicit comment from all sides in the controversy. Thompson set the tone. “Keep in mind there are other voices in the room,” he said. “Respect each other. Please, at the end of the day, remember we’re all humans, and we all have emotions. We have to validate those and understand that this is a very touchy topic” He said the BSU’s call for action was aimed at creating “a better and safer campus.” “This is essentially like having a Confederate statue on campus,” he said. Tierah Townsend said that the Gish shouldn’t be in the union, which should be welcoming for all students. “BGSU prides itself as being a campus full of diversity and inclusion.” BGSU student Brandon Seifert argued that this had to be looked at in the context of the time it was created. Just about every public figure back in 1915 held views on race that would now be considered racist, he said. “Are we to go on a witch hunt through history defaming and erasing the names of influential figures because they held the popular opinion of the time, no matter horrible that opinion may be?” Gish was an actress playing a part, and actors often play controversial roles, Seifert said. Gish, who died at 99 in 1993, became known as the first lady of American cinema. “She is an inspiration for actors around the world.” His remarks drew a smattering of applause from the 80 or…


Pemberville Opera House hosting Evening with Cole Porter

From PEMBERVILLE OPERA HOUSE The Live! In The House Concert Series will present an Evening with Cole Porter performed by heartland sings on Saturday, Feb. 2, at 7:30 p.m. in the Pemberville Opera House. The performers offer a glimpse of what it would be like to be entertained by Porter himself at the piano surrounded by friends, who happen to be great singers. Tickets are $12 from Beeker’s General Store, at the door or by contacting Carol Biley at 419-287-4848, carol@pembervilleoperahouse.org or www.pembervilleoperahouse.org Heartland Sings is a nonprofit vocal music production company based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Founded in 1997, by Maestro Robert Nance, Heartland Sings has since grown into a broad based vocal arts company, consisting of full-time and part-time administrative and artistic staff. For nearly two decades, Heartland Sings has been changing the lives of participants and patrons through song. Heartland Sings entertains and enriches audiences within a 225-mile radius of Fort Wayne, with the purpose of serving as a professional, educational resource for the vocal arts, cultivating a community of artistic and cultural appreciation, and providing performance opportunities to area vocalists and musicians. Heartland singers are Maestro Robert Nance, president and artistic director, on piano with principal vocal artists Elaina Robbins, soprano, Ashlee Bickley, mezzo-soprano, Mark Phillips, tenor, Jerome Síbulo, baritone, and Ian Williams, bass-baritone.


Scots & friends brave the storm to celebrate poet Robert Burns

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The Scottish and their fellow travelers, even those with nary a tartan in their genetic code, are a hearty lot. Elliot MacFarlane recites an ode to the haggis. The storm that gripped the region was not enough to keep a couple dozen souls from venturing out to celebrate the memory of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns at Naslada Bistro in Bowling Green. Outside the weather may have been frightful, but inside we had poetry, food, whisky, and most of all fellowship to keep us warm. This was the fourth year the restaurant has teamed with Elliot MacFarlane (David Donley), a bon vivant and lover of  Scottish tradition, to present this celebration of the Scottish poet.   Boby Mitov chats with diners. We came out to eat traditional dishes, as reimagined by Bulgarian chef Boby Mitov and hear tales of Burns and others by MacFarlane, our host, for the evening. Outside the air was cold, and the atmosphere still flecked with the last remnants of the storm. When someone uttered the word a “blizzard,” Mitov was quick to respond. “Not a blizzard, just snow.” Inside Joe Spencer’s  bagpipes rang out. Linda Brown reads a Shakespeare sonnet. The weather did keep a couple of those scheduled to add to the festivities from attending. No singer, and only one set of pipes. So MacFarlane called on a little extra participation from the guests, handing out poems for them to read aloud. Some came prepared with their own selections. That included Karen Wood, the host’s wife. She offered one of two tributes to Mary Oliver, an American poet who died at 83 this week. But neither this remembrance, nor the recollection of some of the more unfortunate circumstances of Burns’ own life were enough to cast a pall over the affair. Waiter Cole Olmstead serves the Scottish Beef Collops with Whisky Sauce with Rumbledethumps. Not given the measured doses of fine Scotch whisky that were doled out throughout the evening. Each shot offered a distinctive taste of Scotland, whether the peat or the sea breezes allowed to waft through the warehouses where the whisky ages in oak barrels. For their part, the Burns Night celebrants were happy to taste that breeze, and not feel it — the contrast between the warmth inside and cold outside, adding to the festivities. Ending with a congregational singing of Burns’ greatest hit, “Auld Lang Syne.”


Painter Aaron Pickens’ Toy Stories opens at 20 North Gallery in Toledo

From 20 NORTH GALLERY On Friday, January 11, 20 North Gallery will open “Toy Stories,” an exhibition of captivating oil paintings by Toledo area artist Aaron Pickens. The exhibit will continue through March 30, 2019. A free public reception will be held Friday, Jan. 11, from 6 to 9 p.m. The “Toy Stories” exhibit features joyful and insouciant paintings with a whimsical sense of playfulness that belies the serious narratives they symbolize. Pickens’ paintings are created through dedicated observation of toy tableaux that the artist has built. With an emphasis on light and materiality, he carefully constructs these still life compositions to captivate the viewer. Pickens weaves an additional layer of depth into these bright, bold paintings with the toys and their depicted actions symbolizing and commenting on social issues relevant to today. A motif in Pickens’ artwork is to critique from a self-effacing position. Pickens states, “One of the unifying themes in my artwork has always been the desire to quietly disrupt some form of artistic convention in a highly refined manner, often using humor to do so.” Activism, art criticism, gun rights and environmental issues are examples of topics addressed in these vibrant works that entice and encourage the viewer to look longer and discover the underlying commentary. 20 North Gallery art director Condessa Croninger remarks, “We are proud to ring in the New Year and an exciting twenty-sixth exhibition season with celebrated and rising talent, Aaron Pickens. An artist with local roots, Pickens has an admirable dedication to the arts, fostering new talent through his role as an adjunct instructor at Adrian College among other institutions of higher education. As he expands his artistic career, we are delighted to be a venue hosting his popular and thought-provoking paintings that exhibit a strong duality. The way each viewer may bring a new perspective to each artwork is a true testament to the artist’s innate ability to create multi-layered paintings that discuss matters of social justice, yet are accessible to the child within all of us.” Aaron Pickens (Toledo, Ohio) received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in digital arts from Bowling Green State University (Ohio) in 2011 and a Master of Fine Arts in painting from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania) in 2015. Aaron currently resides in Grand Rapids, Ohio and, in addition to his fine art painting, works as a studio assistant for a digital installation artist. Also, as an adjunct instructor, Pickens has taught art courses at Owens Community College (Perrysburg, Ohio) and Adrian College (Michigan). With a background in both digital and traditional media, Pickens’ two main bodies of artwork comprise toy tableaux still life and alla prima plein air oil paintings, both of which have been accepted into juried exhibitions throughout the United States. Recently, Pickens was awarded best of show at both NOWOH (The Annual Northwest Ohio Community Art Exhibition) 10 and NOWOH 11 held at Bowling Green State University in the Willard Wankelman Gallery. In addition to the “Toy Stories” exhibit, 20 North Gallery continues to display glass, paintings, jewelry and artists’ cards by noted artists of the region. Gallery hours are Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 4p.m. 20 North Gallery and Aaron Pickens will be welcoming friends and collectors at the free Public Reception for “Toy Stories” on Friday, January 11, from 6 – 9p.m. The reception will feature a free appetizer buffet and cash bar. Patrons will also have the opportunity to engage with the work and converse with the artist on Thursday, February 7, 2019 in a whimsical and interactive, narrative-based activity, “Ekphrastic Mad Libs,” as well as at an Artist Demonstration and Talk on Thursday, March 14, 2019….