By DAVID DUPONT
BG Independent News
ArtsX puts passions of Bowling Green State University’s creative class on display.
For Hannah Kinney that meant showing off her dragon, which stretched out under the grand staircase in the Wolfe Center for the Arts. Now in her third year at BGSU, she created the dragon originally for a 3B Production of “Shrek the Musical” in 2014
Since then, the dragon has appeared in a number of local productions of the musical, including at Bowling Green High School. When a production uses the dragon, Kinney said, she goes along to direct and guide it, and if she’s not available, as was the case in BG, her mother minds the dragon.
Kinney noted she actually does not operate the dragon. She doesn’t have the upper body strength don the backpack harness and carry the huge creature on her back.
Kinney, from Toledo, came to BGSU to study paleontology, but transferred to theater. Her scientific studies, she said, help in her in designing her puppets.
Though puppets are her passion, not enough share the interest for there to be courses. But she’s hoping to do independent study.
Puppets were the focus of ArtsX programming. Across from Kinney’s dragon was a display of puppets made for BGSU productions, including most recently “Frankenstein.” In another hall, Bradford Clark, a BGSU professor and foremost expert in puppetry, was carving, though questions from visitors gathered around his temporary work bench, kept chiseling into his carving time with their questions.
In the scene shop, people had a chance to stage their own puppet shows, and in the art education room in the Fine Arts Center next door, youngsters were making their own puppets.
In the Donnell, the Madcap Puppetry from Cincinnati staged the event’s signature event, a half-hour long production of Igor Stravinsky’s “Firebird,” using vibrant shadow puppets.
Kevin McCluney said his pre-school son was a little frightened by the show, but he said he really liked it.
McCluney and his wife, Noel McCluney, and their two sons were taking in the annual festivities for the first time.
He teaches in biology and admitted he’d seldom been over the arts side of campus. This was his first time in the Fine Arts Center. It was good, he said, to get a taste of what goes on here.
This was a great chance to expose their children to the arts, said Noel McCluney.
Though the puppets had a place of pride at ArtsX, the event offered far more. Arts X, this year the theme was Make.Believe, is a shambling affair that has a sense of let’s-put-on-a-show energy. Drums rumble, voices ring out in harmony, dragons appear, art works decorate the halls, and visitors are invited to get into the act, making puppets, getting their photo taken, or helping writing a new adventure.
The Combustible Ensemble captured the spirit by creating music on the spot that followed the movements of a classical symphony, while sounding nothing like a classical symphony. The whimsy of the endeavor belied the listening and instrumental skills that allowed the musicians to pull it off.
The event was created more than a decade ago to bring together all the art club sales to help them attract more customers while giving the public a chance to peek behind the scenes in the School of Art.
The art club sales still have a central place.
Scott Jones and Tyler Suter were ringing up sales in the ceramics studio.
Jones said he was pleased that all the arts from across campus came together to stage the event.
Suter said he was pleased by the support shown for Arts X. “It’s nice to see all the people come to appreciate what we’re doing.”
The sales from ArtsX, the Black Swamp Arts Festival, and the spring sale help the Clay Club to bring in visiting artists – three at once this past semester, construct a new kiln, and travel to conferences. Ceramic students took a trip to the Omaha studio of legendary ceramicist Jun Kaneko.
The sales, Suter said, fund “lots of amazing experiences for us students.”
The event ended with a roar. Outside the Bryan Gallery in the Fine Arts Center where the faculty show was on exhibit, the Kaze No Daichi Taiko pounded out bone-rattling rhythms.
In the lobby of the Wolfe, a rock ‘n’ roll groove ruled. As The Hollywood Jets played, the Falcon Swing Society danced and encouraged everyone else to join them.
In the middle of it all was Elijah Salahuddin who hit the dance floor with a different partner for each song. Toward the end he pulled Kelly Mangan, the prop master for the Department of Theatre and Film, out onto the floor, for some dips and twirls. Mangan had coordinated ArtsX activities in the Wolfe Center, so it was appropriate that as the festivities neared the end, she got to dance the night away.