Art and the Earth: One Gallery’s Effort to Make a Difference
Lorna Crichton’s office tells me almost as much as she does about her work. The space is tucked back into a larger office area on the second story of a building that was once an elementary school. On the wall over her desk is a green chalkboard; to the right is a blackboard. The room is colorful, comfortable, and visually appealing, with small artworks and plants scattered here and there.
Ms. Crichton herself is friendly and welcoming, with the quiet authority of a person in charge. She and her husband, Alan Crichton, are the owners of Waterfall Arts in Belfast. Waterfall Arts is a name which in two words describes the fusion of creativity and nature that characterizes the business. And their upcoming gallery opening, The Earth Show, seems like a perfect example of what they do.
“Artists, because they are looking – artists are always in the process of observing their environment,” Ms. Crichton tells me. “There’s an awareness that an artist has because it’s to be communicated.”
The show, scheduled to open April 5th, will showcase the artwork of any local artists who submit. There is no juried selection process, and only two requirements – the artwork must be able to be displayed, and must be centered around the theme ‘earth’.
Waterfall Arts, a business that serves as an art gallery, art school, and venue for performances, was started in 2000 by the Crichtons, who originally offered all classes at their studios in Montville, on a picturesque area of land that included woods and a waterfall. That location is called Kingdom Falls, and is referred to by Ms. Crichton simply as ‘the kingdom’.
It was not until 2006 that Kingdom Falls and its focus on “art plus nature” moved to Belfast. Their current mission statement is “creating community in harmony with nature through the transformative power of the arts”, and they do this from what was once the Anderson school, an old brick building whose original purpose was made obsolete when the new Captain Albert Stevens elementary school was built in town.
There is an open call for art submissions annually, but the theme is different every year. This year, ‘earth’ can be interpreted freely. “I don’t know – what does it mean? It could be as materials,” says Ms. Crichton. But earth could just as easily be the theme without actually being present in the piece.
Waterfall Arts has released an eclectic list of earth-related words and phrases to inspire artists. The list includes words like “dirtball”, “humus”, “clay”, “worms”, “globe,” “soil,” and “mother”.
“A lot of people don’t observe that much,” says Ms. Crichton. “(But) a lot of artists read and hear a lot and react to it…artists are in a unique place to bring awareness.” She says of The Earth Show, “Certainly one of the things is to bring awareness; attention to the issues of the environment, which are many. If the awareness of people is raised, that would be good.”
When I speak with Martha Piscuskas, Director of Programming at Waterfall Arts, a few days later, she expresses a similar thought. “Art can have a huge impact on how people become more aware,” she says.
“Waterfall Arts takes its role very seriously,” says Ms. Piscuskas. “(Art) can showcase new ideas to a community that doesn’t have access to them any other way.” She also tells me briefly about a new program that Waterfall Arts is collaborating on with Maine Artists and supporters, including Unity College, the purpose of which is “applying art and design to the creation of elegant environmental solutions.” Artists finding ways to help the environment.
Belfast is a place very ready to raise awareness. “People in the community really like to express,” observes Ms. Crichton. The open call for The Earth Show is an answer to that desire. And the Earth theme is a natural subject for a place whose mission was, from the beginning, to do with nature.
As I am leaving the building, I ask if I can look at some of the artwork submissions for the Earth Show. The artworks I see are mostly paintings – some abstract, some depicting people farming, Some of rocks and shells, some of woods and trees. Some, with bright and beautiful colors and stripes, don’t seem to obviously communicate ‘nature’ or ‘earth’.
But, as Ms. Crichton points out to me, “All art has something to do with nature since people are nature.”
Glee: Evolving for a Broader Audience
The TV phenomenon Glee returned last Thursday night, September 13th, with its fourth season with new characters, locations, and music. It is half set in Lima, Ohio at McKinley High school and half set in New York City. The show has evolved in the fact that it now is following certain characters like Rachel Berry and Kurt Hummel post-graduation. This would be in addition to the familiar high school setting with the Glee club led by teacher Will Schuester. The remaining Glee members that didn’t graduate include Sam, Blaine, Artie, Joe, Tina, Brittany, and Sugar. Glee is also incorporating more real life situations, having started with last season’s examples of a text related car crash, a suicide attempt, and bullying. Now in season four there is a college setting with hard teachers, new surroundings, bad roommates, dorm living, and finding oneself after high school.
Right off the bat, new characters are introduced. The first scene opens on Rachel Berry’s dance class at NYADA, where we meet her dance teacher Cassandra, played by Kate Hudson. From the get-go Cassandra is tough on all her students, especially Rachel. Viewers can sense that this pair will be at odds with each other for a while. We meet a possible new love interest for Rachel, a junior at NYADA named Brody. The initial sparks seen between them create an intriguing idea for future episodes for all of those viewers sick of “Finchel” (Finn and Rachel), though Brody states too have no intention on breaking up that long-lasting relationship. Rachel’s voice teacher, played by guest star Whoopi Goldberg, looks to have a more substantial role in this new season. We had last seen her as the one Rachel had to audition too for NYADA.
As for new people at McKinley High School, we have Marley, Kitty, Jake and returning for a more solid role, Wade. Wade had a guest role as a member of another rival glee club but has moved to join New Directions to the displeasure of some of the returning folks. With the competition of a new lead star at stake, Wade is just seen as more competition for the spot. Also seen as talented competition is auditioner Marley, a sophomore looking for a place for her to fit in. Another auditioner is Jake Puckerman, younger half-brother to graduate Noah Puckerman, who is not allowed into the Glee club initially due to his bad attitude and angry behavior. He was given a chance to join but refused because he didn’t want to lose his bad boy side. Kitty is a new cheerleader who has filled in the role of popular mean girl and assistant to Coach Sue, whose baby we see for a minute or two. After the premiere of this season, it is clear that there is a strong, exciting crop of new cast members with lots of talent to show for it.
Musical numbers typically are highlights of the episodes and this one was no exception, although there was maybe one hit and miss. The song in that case was Glee’s rendition of “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. It didn’t live up to the expectations of at least being as good as the original. Everything else though was up to par and sometimes just right out outstanding and genius. These include Cassandra’s (Kate Hudson) sexy mash up of Lady Gaga’s “Americano” and Jennifer Lopez’s “Dance Again”, upbeat “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons sung by Blaine (Darren Criss), and a stunning “Never Say Never” by the Fray sung by newcomer Jake (Jacob Artist) at his audition. These three numbers had beautiful vocals, great energy, and keeps viewers glued to the TV with their eyes and ears. Newcomer Marley (Melissa Benoist) started her glee repertoire with her audition piece “New York State of Mind” which was a split song between her and Rachel at her NYADA voice class. It was beautiful mix of new and veteran voices. Marley also closes the episode with a solid lead vocal in the group number of “Chasing Pavements” by Adele.
Glee has been the show that underdogs can watch and relate to unlike shows such as True Blood or Once Upon a Time which are more fantasy than realistic. Now that it’s expanding its cast and adding more realism to the mix of musical numbers and comedic one-liners, there is room for more viewers to relate to the show than was possible when it first came out in 2009. The new cast members help with the expansion, giving new characters to root for, crush on, love to hate, hate to love, or admire and relate to. New voices are refreshing after three seasons, as are new actors and storylines. Comedy is still present in the show but no longer in such a satirical way as it was in season one. It’s still the only show on right now that has musical episodes every time compared to shows that will have a random musical episode for fun once. Glee is a phenomenon for a reason. At least five or six new songs per episode, adding to the growing list of covers, sometimes having artist themed episodes, and new guest celebrity stars are just some of the qualities that Glee possesses. Viewers can be in a car and be listening to the radio and more often than not, can say “Glee did that” as song after song plays.
Just like it is hard to stop watching a show when you have watched it from season one like The Secret Life of the American Teenager or Pretty Little Liars or Psych, the same thing goes for Glee. Viewers get hooked one way or another no matter how hard they may try not to. They will remain curious as to what will happen next to a certain character or couple or who will get the next solo or if a character will join the Glee club or not. Teens, young adults, and even their parents are watching this entertaining, relatable, and sometimes silly show. With new cast members who are seasoned actors such as Whoopi Goldberg and Kate Hudson, they bring in those older adults who have watched them on screen multiple times and are curious about their role on glee and what new side they can get to see from that actor. As long as Glee keeps bringing in new people, covering new music, continue to be relatable and keep its comedic side as it heads to more realistic situations, it will continue to shine amongst today’s current top TV shows, and continue to keep and increase its viewer population, young and old alike.
Cast: Lea Michelle, Jane Lynch, Matthew Morrison, Heather Morris, Darren Criss, Kevin McHale, Jenna Ushkowitz, Chord Overstreet, Samuel Larsen, Vanessa Lengies, Chris Colfer, Melissa Benoist, Becca Tobin, Jacob Artist, Dean Geyer, Kate Hudson, Whoopi Goldberg
Airtime: Fox, Thursdays at 9 p.m.
Revolution: The Pilot
Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without electricity? No cars, no lights, no TV and even the batteries don’t work. The electricity has suddenly been turned off for forever. That’s what is being depicted in the new show Revolution on NBC. The 17th century lifestyle comes alive through the TV with a modern twist. The flaw is that the Amish live today without electricity and they seem to be doing well. So how is Revolution going to make it more interesting; by adding in the family drama, lots of killing and the mystery of how to get the power back on. From the pilot you can gather that the producers would be more than happy to kill off some other “important” characters.
The Revolution Pilot was directed by John Favreau and has many strong leads (Tracy Spiridakos, Giancarlo Esposito, Billy Burke, Tim Guinee and Graham Rogers). What’s more, the show has a good positive message, family always comes first. Put the Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and Walking Dead (without the blood sucking zombies) together and you have Revolution.
The show opens with a regular family suddenly shut down in darkness. What seems to be suspicious is that the dad seems to know that this was going to happen and tries to warn his wife. What is he hiding? Well you find out some truth at the end of the Pilot, so you do not have to wonder what he was hiding through all the five seasons that are bound to come from this show. A good way to open the show? Sure mine as well start out with a bang.
Within the first half hour of the movie many people have died, which I’m not surprised, but the problem is that in order to gain a plot the producers had to kill off some important people. By killing off these awesome actors the producers (Bonanza Productions) are setting up a theme that they will be doing this to you all season. So be choosy as to who you pick as your favorite character. When killing off people there has to be a breakout star and that is where Charlie comes into play. Charlie is the daughter of a family that is being torn apart by this blackout. Randomly the family is confronted with a situation where Charlie’s brother Danny has been kidnapped. This is where the start of the main plot comes in. Charlie has to go rescue her brother and of course figure out the mystery of the how the power went out; there is no way the producers could leave that part out of the plot.
Charlie seems to be like a Katniss from the movie Hunger Games. Katniss and Charlie have similar outfits, which seem to be very clean, and choice of weapons (bow and arrow). Katniss also was the main character and did not die, so we can assume Charlie will survive almost all the seasons, unlike her followers. Yes, Charlie has two people who decided to help her on her journey to find her brother. These people are a woman named Maggie (Anna Lise Phillips) whom her dad was seeing and a man named Aaron (Zak Orth) who was apparently really rich and seems to be pretty dorky. Although rooting for him will be a good idea cause he seems like a character everyone will come to love. Before finding her brother, Charlie has to go get help from her uncle. Charlie’s uncle will apparently help her find her brother; the uncle’s name is Miles. By surprise Miles is an awesome fighter and can kick some ass. A really cool fighting scene is show and you can clearly tell Miles will be the one doing all the fighting for the team. By the time they actually find Danny he will probably be dead or suddenly turned badass. The badass part doesn’t seem like it would happen, he seems to be ignorant, but you never know what a little torture will do to him. The producers will definitely make him go through some well needed torture first.
Revolution is what would happen to the world if it was the 17th century again. Predictable, but entertaining the producers knew what they were doing. Finding why the power went off should be a huge priority for the characters and will be eventually. Right now in the show a lot of self-discovery and fighting will happen. Charlie will probably have a lot of tough decisions to make and have to encounter dangerous situations. The direction the producers are going seems to be pretty intense. Having her uncle around will help and her followers might even do some good. Entertaining and predictable, Revolution will be a show to keep up with and to see if people can survive without their precious electricity.
Strength & Art: A Dancing Combination
From the haunting violin strings of Remo Giazotto’s, Adagio in G Minor, to the raunchy dubstep styling of District 78’s, Like a Criminal, the artistic musicality that threads itself through Fox’s weekly competitive dance darling, So You Think You Can Dance (SYTYCD), is never on short supply. As the weeks progress throughout the competition we see fewer and fewer contestants, each one voted off by the television audience, sometimes four at a time. That is, of course, if they’re unlucky enough to dance “for their lives” in a fashion unable to dazzle the panel of judges sitting pretty, ready to save them. Season 9’s performance finale this week, no trend breaker to the eclectic musical tendencies of the past 8 seasons, also brought with it a vivacious concoction of choreographed drama tempered with comedy, and a precise declaration of what it means to set the bar higher.
The physical expressions of all that seems good in the musical world, those of which the seasoned contestants make look easy, came to a close this week with a thunderous bang and a brow wiping gasp, the likes of which was brought on by the night’s burlesque-style pole dancing number. Was the season capped as successfully as it began? If ever there were a resounding yes to be had, this would be one.
From the Tyce Diorio number choreographed to showcase the four remaining contestants coming alive from a sheet of music, twisting, turning and pirouetting to every nuanced beat like the good little musical notes they were dressed to be, to the inspired hip hop number performed by one-legged, non-contestant, John Sok, the bar steadily rose. Even Cyrus, the self-taught, dubstep animator who people either love to love, or love to hate, appeared to hold his own dancing alongside the season’s classically trained male ballet aficionado, Chehon. Both dancers displayed not only a strong commitment to partnering but with it an unwavering dedication to staying in character during the relentless jazz number they performed together.
Of course, as many people will complain, Cyrus, who did not spend his life toiling away at dance class after dance class, like the majority of SYTYCD contestants do, left some things to be desired, such as cart wheels with straight legs, and leaps that leave the floor. What Cyrus lacked in technique, however, he more than made up for in stage presence, as evidenced by the sheer intensity of the penetrating gaze he let fall on his Paso Doble partner, fan favorite, Eliana. During their number together where becoming a raging bull trying to subdue his pompadour left Cyrus supporting his partner every step of the way, there was not for an instant any question on character or strength. In keeping with this consistency, Cyrus continued to show unyielding presence during his and resident hip hop dance star, Twitch’s metamorphosis from human incarnate to dubstep robot. This number began by both dancers smashing through a thick glass door and continued on by owning the beat and demanding attention through clean and finely synchronized animation.
The highly emotional ribbon tying itself through the choreography of the entire episode gave each dancer a moment to shine. After an emotive Sonya Teyah jazz routine set to the backdrop of Moloko’s haunting and slightly quirky, “The Time is Now,” Tiffany, the tiniest dancer in the competition, was praised for displaying lines so long she lent the illusion of being a woman twice her own height. This much deserved and graciously accepted compliment was given by Nigel Lythgoe, one of the show’s resident judges and executive producers, also known by most as the show’s toughest critic.
SYTYCD, unlike its singing counterpart, American Idol strives to build contestants up rather than break them down through a system of constructive critique rather than through blatant insult. Viewers of SYTYCD often feel uplifted by the artistic expression exuded in not only the choreography and dance but also through the meticulous set designs and elaborate costume choices. This is in sharp contrast to American Idol,which easily leaves audience members feeling ravaged from harsh judgments from panel judges. Tonight’s performance finale of SYTYCD however left nothing more intact than the utmost respect for each contestant’s sense of self, and for the audience’s desire to be emotionally tapped. From the lighthearted pole dancing number to a triumphant and first ever ballet number in a SYTYCD finale, performed by Eliana and Chehon, the judges remained supportive, honest and constructive. The contestants, all four of them, capped the season off just right – artistic and strong, bringing their absolute best to every single performance.
Alanis Morissette’s New Album: Celebrates Wife and Motherhood with an Edge
Strange things are going on as it appears that Alanis Morissette sounds more level headed and happier than ever. Since it has been four years since her last record release, which for me has been way too long, it was time for a reawakening; which her new album Havoc and Bright Lights clearly represents. The opening song, “Guardian” is sheer illustration of this. It is not hard to figure out that this is a song about being a wife and mother and to think we all thought she’d still be singing about lost love and heartache.
No need for panic though, because this is still an Alanis record. Her stimulating raw voice is the foundation of the album; which gives her usual poetic lyrics that extra push they don’t really need, but always tend to gain. A soft harmony has brushed over her music, while embracing her typical role as an irritated feminist with every song consisting of a powerful chorus. Slight arrogance does not appear all that often, which I guess happens after becoming a mother. Her lyrics often look jumbled to me on paper yet seem to flow effortlessly with the music. The album may be lacking those “You Oughta Know” vibes, but definitely pack the same punch.
Tennis: Young & Old/ Fat Possum Records
Nineties indie rock, that’s where I live. Reminiscent of MTV music videos from artists like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, REM, Alanis Mourisette, Audioslave, The Wallflowers, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Incubus. As a 20-something college student I consider myself a veteran Indie-kid, a 90’s trooper that waded through the rage that was Indie-pop-punk rock. Naturally, music has changed and I now find myself exploring a new kind of Indie, one with lighter tones and poetic lyrics that seems to cradle a broken heart rather than manifesting heart ache into inexplicable rage. So, when I picked up my ear-buds to give Tennis’ new album “Young & Old” a listen, I approached it with an open mind hoping to widen my perspective on music in general, and possibly add to my senseless iPhone shuffle sessions.
Tennis certainly seems to capture the essence of what today’s youth is craving; heart thumping bass cords, with a symphony of sounds from other arbitrary instruments, including the tambourine, xylophone, violin, and even a flute. My favorite track, “My Better Self,” carries a droned melody, with hypnotic vocals by Shady Babes, punctuated by piano cords that act as the thread that brings everything together into a trans-like musical experience.
The entire album is filled with words rather than repetitive chorus lines and loud drum hooks like other alternative tracks have been in the past. Each melody has its own identity that separates it from the rest and brings you along on a trip through emotion in an “above the clouds” kind of way only Tennis can really accomplish.
Holding true to alternative roots, Tennis grasps the idea of contemporary music and adds a sense of design to it with a steady flow of melancholy lyrics sure to wind down even the most stressful of days.
No Doubt: A Distinctive Homecoming
Gwen Stefani sings, “You push and shove, I take the bait … It’s a risky business, gonna play it anyway” off No Doubt’s eighth studio album, “Push and Shove,” proving to fans that their electric, pop rock, ruthless sound is here to stay. Ten years since their last record, No Doubt shares “Push and Shove”, a looking glass to their solid captivating sounds that, to say the least, consumes this record. Island beats still run the background to their funky party soundtracks, while melodies overflow with catchy choruses showing fans that even a decade later they have no reason to conform. Their style has only grown into an established sound that sets them apart from any other artist; most importantly influential and glitzy Gwen Stefani still has her dominant free from care attitude.
DMX: Back On Tracks
Eyes closed, ears on the beat, and lyrics overpower everything. X has made me cry, laugh, and jam. The industry really doesn’t deserve to pocket as much as they do off an amazing poet, storytelling genius like DMX. We all have pain in our lives, beliefs that scream out from us even in silence, and if we’re unafraid, then usually we stay real to ourselves no matter the circumstance.
If you’ve listened to DMX before then you know he always hits us with a mix of fast and slow beats on his albums. His latest release, “Undisputed”, which hit shelves September 11th 2012, is no different. The beats and lyrics are new but he hasn’t caved into the industry that make only what sells, bullshit. He sticks to his beliefs and themes we see all the time in his songs; that there is a god out there he holds in his heart, that we must stay real and true with ourselves and people, and that we always know who the realists are. Those of course are themes I have found. Any listener might find a multitude of their own which I haven’t mentioned. That however is just another mark of a great artist.
On the album, X pulls in up-and-coming artists; Kashmere and Rachel Taylor, among others. One must feel like he does this to stay true to his ideas about the industry which we know well enough through most of his songs, but is said most bluntly here… “The industry don’t give a fuck about you, but the industry don’t make a dime without you!” –The industry (Def. Jam Poetry performance)
“Fuck what you say, fuck what you do, I’m gonna be the dog all day.” From the title, Already, kills it like nothing else. DMX is letting listeners know no matter what anyone else thinks he’s going to stay himself. Mix that with a softer somewhat slower song like, Slippin Again, where he says “Money ain’t the answer, it’s just another form of cancer,” and you’re bound to be blown away. X is making a throw back to his song Slippin. Except this time around he is talking about trying so hard to keep himself up and clean from his crack addiction, and how he doesn’t want to give up but it is just so hard sometimes. Addiction is just the package he mails us the information in. Life and yourself are included in that box.
You don’t have to grow up in Bed Stuy to feel his pain and joy to even relate it to your own life. DMX is the man “with the master plan” as Biggie once said, and nope he’s not on his way to Maryland just on his way to the top again.