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Arts District

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Holiday Concert Season Continues With This Week's Classical Music Offerings in Cleveland

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 10:52 AM

COURTESY APOLLO'S FIRE
  • Courtesy Apollo's Fire

The second round of Messiah performances this month begins on Thursday, December 6 at 7:30 pm in Severance Hall, when British conductor Jane Glover leads The Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus in the first of four performances of Handel’s celebrated oratorio. Thursday marks a special occasion for Glover, who will be conducting her 100th performance of the piece — and Nos. 101, 102, and 103 will follow on December 7 through 9. The solo quartet includes soprano Lauren Snouffer, mezzo-soprano Tamara Mumford, tenor Paul Appleby, and bass-baritone Henry Waddington. Buy your tickets online.

Having completed their own Messiah cycle, Apollo’s Fire will switch gears into the Baroque orchestra’s folksy mode for performances of their Irish-Appalachian celebration, “Christmas on Sugarloaf Mountain,” beginning on Friday, December 7 at 8:00 pm at St. Noel’s Church in Chardon. The show, which stars soprano Amanda Powell, tenor Ross Hauck, and Apollo’s Singers and Musettes, will be presented half a dozen times through December 14 in Shaker Heights, Bay Village, and Bath, ending up in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Click here for details and tickets.

Tubas, tubas, and more tubas (including euphoniums) will crowd the stage of E.J. Thomas Hall at the University of Akron on Saturday, December 8 for the 39th anniversary of TubaChristmas. You can sign up to perform (email Tucker Jolly here) or just come and admire rows and rows of these shiny brass instruments. There are two free shows at noon and 2:30 pm — donations are welcome.

Cleveland Chamber Choir will make its first foray into holiday music (including Hanukkah, Advent, and Christmas) with two free concerts led by founder Scott MacPherson on Saturday, December 8 at the Church of the Covenant in University Circle, and Sunday, December 9 at Christ Episcopal Church in Oberlin. The 7:30 pm performances will be introduced in 6:45 pm talks by Oberlin professor Charles McGuire, who will discuss music by William Billings, Stephen Paulus, Linda Kachelmeier, Abbie Betinis, and Ohio composers Corey Rubin and Scott Little.

You don’t get to hear the Holtkamp organ in Gartner Auditorium at the Cleveland Museum of Art very often these days, but the first of three free Sunday afternoon recitals this season will feature French organist Paul Goussot of the Abbey of St-Croix in Bordeaux on December 9 at 2:00 pm. He’ll play music by J.S. Bach including one of his own arrangements, excerpts from symphonies by Louis Vierne, and his own original improvisation.

Also on Sunday, December 9, Domenico Boyagian will lead his second concert since taking the reins of Suburban Symphony. The 3:30 pm performance at Beachwood High School Auditorium features soprano Angela Mortellaro in Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate and Verdi’s “Ave Maria” from Othello. Also on the docket: Respighi’s “The Adoration of the Magi” from his Botticelli triptych, Mascagni’s “Intermezzo” from Cavalleria Rusticana, and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite No. 1. It’s free.

Check out details of these and other events on our Concert Listings page.

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Carrot Top to Perform at Hard Rock Live in May

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 10:44 AM

COURTESY OF LIVE NATION
  • Courtesy of Live Nation
Carrot Top, that wacky comedian known for his flaming red hair and his use of a variety of props during his routines, got his start on Star Search some 25 years ago. Now, he’s become a household name who holds down a regular gig in Las Vegas.

The guy's over-the-top shows feature lights, music, fog machines and confetti cannons.

“When I started touring at the beginning of my career, I had two trunks and a strobe light,” says Carrot Top in a press release announcing his May 16 gig at Hard Rock Live. “Things got pretty crazy pretty fast, and before I knew it, I had a team touring the country in an 18- wheeler with 35 trunks full of props.”

Tickets to the show go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday.

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'Rapture, Blister, Burn' at Convergence-Continuum Asks What Women Want and Delivers a Funny, Insightful Answer

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 10:42 AM

PHOTO BY CORY MOLNER
  • Photo by Cory Molner
What does happiness look like for a middle-aged woman these days? If she has a husband and kids, she has the hearth and home thing nailed, but what about those aspirations she once had for a career and sexual freedom? And if she is single and has the latter, how does she feel when she’s in her forties left alone with her glowing resume and no partner or children who love her?

In short, it comes down to the eternal question: What do women want? And the answer, such as it is, is both funny and insightful in the play Rapture, Blister, Burn by Gina Gionfriddo now at Convergence-Continuum Theater. This is a densely-packed, super-heady piece of theater that never loses its grip on the audience thanks to the skillful direction of Geoffrey Hoffman.

This is a fresh turn for Con-Con, which often deals with plays that focus on gay folks—their challenges, joys and tribulations. But in this piece, four hetero women characters dominate the stage along with a man who is, by his own admission, a slacker.

Catherine (a sometimes fiery, sometimes conflicted Laurel Hoffman) is a feminist author and media personality who is visiting her pal from grad school Gwen. The thing is, Gwen married Don (Aaron Ellersich doing a mellow turn), Catherine’s boyfriend in college, and Gwen and Don now have two kids and a happy(?) life. Adding to the complications is the fact that Catherine has taken a position as a media studies prof at the school. This leads to Catherine and Don getting closer again.

Turns out, Catherine really longs for the connected family life that Gwen has, while Gwen (a nicely emotive Rocky Encalada) is envious of Catherine’s jet-setting lifestyle of freedom and academic achievement. These tensions are intriguingly aggravatged and exposed by Avery, a student at the college who babysits for Gwen and Don, and who registers for Catherine’s class along with Gwen—where they continue their feminist discussions.

Sure, it’s all pretty contrived, but playwright Gionfriddo manipulates the wordy conversations among these women with style. Sahe even manages to wedge Catherine’s mom Alice (Anne McEvoy) into the proceedings, contributing a voice from an older generation. This is particularly startling when Alice and then Catherine wind up defending some of the positions of the right-wing scold Phyllis Schlafly, who posited that men should lead in the relationship and women must follow. Yikes! Go ahead and see if that doesn’t start some heated arguments on the ride home.

If there is a wrinkle in this production, it is that the detailed words and thoughts of Avery, Gwen and Catherine are at times delivered with too much speed and slickness. This turns the intellectually appealing screeds into little memorization sideshows that run the risk of minimizing the impact of the script. More variation in the pacing of those moments could also help some of the quips (and there are many) land better.

That said, this is a well-performed, thoughtful play that covers a whole lot of ground as it diagnoses, with large dollops of wit, the state of women and their relationships. It’s like Wendy Wasserstein’s The Heidi Chronicles from a couple decades ago, but with an intellectual, feminist-oriented dissection of torture-porn and slasher movies thrown in. Now there‘s an unexpected holiday treat for you!

Rapture, Blister, Burn
Through December 15 produced by Convergence-Continuum at The Liminis, 2438 Scranton Rd., 216-687-0074, convergence-continuum.org.

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'Ella Enchanted' at Dobama Theatre is a Slick, if Drawn-out, Affair for Kids

Posted By on Tue, Dec 4, 2018 at 10:33 AM

STEVE WAGNER PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Steve Wagner Photography

When it comes to spells that a naughty fairy can impose on a person, a curse of obedience ranks pretty high on the pain spectrum. That’s what the title character is facing in Ella Enchanted by Karen Zacarias, now at Dobama Theatre. This adaptation of the eponymous book by Gail Carson Levine explains the Cinderella story by making it all about a spell cast by the fairy Lucinda, who clearly suffers from a form of attention deficit disorder.

This is what is currently called a “family” show, but in actuality it’s really a kids’ show, since there’s little in the script to keep adults engaged. I mean, the Cinderella folk tale is part of our DNA, and we don’t exactly need a two-hour show, with intermission, to lay out the storyline again.

Sensing this, director Nathan Motta has loaded this production with all kinds of staging twists (a new pathway around the audience, huge hallucinatory puppets), and powerful eye candy (gorgeous lighting by Marcus Dana, enthralling projections by T. Paul Lowry) to keep everyone on board. All this in the service of a story that swings wildly (a wedding of giants! an attack by ogres!) and doesn’t even get around to the fancy ball and the glass slipper until somewhere in hour two.

Even with all the production razzle-dazzle, Ella is saddled with some grindingly slow storytelling, with much of the dialog delivered at a snail’s pace so the kiddies don’t lose their place. And unlike many shows and films for kids that have subtle jokes placed in the script for the benefit of the adults in the audience who brought the little ones, there is little of that until the second act when an amusing Phantom of the Opera gag is finally trotted out.

The cast is strong in all the right places. As Ella, Natalie Green oozes innocence but also reveals a feisty streak as she tries to subvert her own obedience-imposed nature. Although the music by Deborah Wicks La Puma is mostly of the background variety, Green manages to infuse her songs with a sense of import.

She is backed up well by Tina D. Stump who plays loopy Lucinda and a couple others, and Amy Fritsche who is double-cast as both Ella mother (who dies early, a la Bambie) and Ella’s mean stepmother Dame Olga. As for the evil stepsisters, they are given a Saturday Night Live turn echoing the way SNL embodies the grownup Trump sons. Kelly Elizabeth Smith is Donald, Jr. (er, Hattie) who never misses a chance to do something nasty, while Neely Gevaart as Olive is the sweet but clueless Eric, being led around by the nose.

Joshua McElroy makes for a very down-to-earth (and indeed, charming) Prince, but Eugene Sumlin seems to struggle a bit to find a hook for Sir Peter, Ella’s father. His connection to his daughter and infatuation with Olga never feel fully realized, even for a fairy tale.

Part of the weakness of the show is revealed in a curtain call mini-concert, when the actors throw off their character shackles and perform some rip-roaring contemporary tunes. This up-tempo and energized performance, while certainly enjoyable, has no organic connection to what went before and serves to point out how slow and strange some the previous two-plus hours had been.

This is an extremely slick and professional production on the surface, and the acting is certainly more than satisfactory. But a story that could have been told neatly and simply in an hour or so has been padded out, and the stuffing begins to leak out by the end.

Ella Enchanted
Through December 30 at Dobama Theatre, 2340 Lee Rd., Cleveland Heights, 216-932-3396, dobama.org.

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Friday, November 30, 2018

Renowned Photographer, Video Artist and Advocate LaToya Ruby Frazier to Speak at Case in January

Posted By on Fri, Nov 30, 2018 at 3:02 PM

COURTESY OF CASE WESTERN RESERVE
  • Courtesy of Case Western Reserve
Photographer, visual artist and advocate LaToya Ruby Frazier uses photography/videography and “her insight” to “capture and explore social inequality and historical change in the postindustrial age.” In The Atlantic’s 2018 Martin Luther King Jr. issue, marking the 50th anniversary of King’s assassination in Memphis, she used a helicopter and aerial photography techniques to capture how that city, Baltimore and Chicago have reacted to decades of oppression.

Frazier, an associate professor of photography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, will serve as the headline speaker for the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation at Case Western Reserve University. She’ll speak at 12:45 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 18, in the Kelvin and Eleanor Smith Foundation Ballroom at the Tinkham Veale University Center.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Artist Spotlight: Bruce Buchanan on Stained Glass and Light

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 2:47 PM

PHOTO BY BRUCE BUCHANAN DESIGN
  • Photo by Bruce Buchanan Design

We're standing in Bruce Buchanan's cozy work space. The natural light looms fantastic; a spectrum of tones set the mood, giving the place a palpable warm feel. Buchanan moved into his studio at 78th Street Studios almost a year ago. Sheets of hand blown glass are filed by color. There are projects in progress, those completed for clients and Bruce’s own artistic endeavors.

“I had no product for a long time. It was lot of showing people that I can do stuff and that there are artists who still work in this medium. It’s got so many bad connotations because of that 1960s-1980s super craft time where all this machine made garbage glass was available," he says. "It’s like either sun catchers or old church windows or Tiffany, but there’s plenty of really happy middle ground. I like traditional design. I like geometry. I like solid craft you know.”

Buchanan admits that he is a little striped obsessed. Hanging along the western wall are very simple yet highly contemporary stained glass works. He used hand blown German glass that has so many nuances the shadows are an extension of the piece. Bruce informs us that simple artworks like these require the finest material.

“The glass is blown as a vessel cut down and laid flat. That’s how they create hand blown sheet glass. It is the most human glass you can get.”

The colors are so juicy and luscious we come close to experiencing synesthesia.

As we discussed techniques artists employed without the use of today’s technology, Bruce pulls out the trammel points (handmade compasses) he uses on patterns. He is currently working on a badly bowed window.

“These are beautiful hunky bevels and they’re bowed and a mess, so I’m tasked with taking it apart and rebuilding," he says. "This is zinc, which is unforgiving. It’s very strong, but when it goes it really goes.”

Buchanan starts with a crayon rubbing of the window and frame to create a map, which helps to alleviate any overthinking. He does a lot of manual plotting and graphing without a giant printer plotter to assist him. He explains that, “It’s like industrial quilting. It’s pattering and sizing and pulling together the materials and planning.”

Arguably, stained glass is a first foray into color theory. One sits and contemplates, cognizant of light and how it throws through the glass. We talk about art history.

"Glass holds the purest form of color. It changes so much with the light and is so light dependent," Bruce instructs, "It’s hard to put a finger on as it really crosses all movements."

Bruce is more interested in how one can become a better viewer of stained glass than leading a traditional course. A few weeks back the artist led a guided tour of St. Augustine Health Campus in the Gordon Square Arts District with Columns and Stripes, the young friends of the art museum. He wanted to give them an idea what the medium is like and so he gathered them in his studio to cut glass.

“People don’t understand really what the materials are at all; they're confused by it. Then we walked over to St. Augustine to look at the 1969 chapel and a 1910 chapel. We experienced very different stained glass right under our noses that nobody gets to see.”

After studying graphic design at Kent State University for a couple of years, he transferred to Cleveland State University where he completed his art history degree. As it often happens after graduation, many artists find themselves in tedious jobs they can’t stand. “I finally hated that office job enough that I started really networking. Six weeks later, I quit my job and I was climbing on churches.”

In 2001 Buchanan was sent to a class where he lived for a week and learned how to paint saint heads and the like under the tutelage of glass painter extraordinaire, Kathy Jordan. Glass painting is similar to working with enamels. Basically it comes down to additive and subtractive processes. The areas that look like brushstrokes are additive. Everything that fades is subtractive. For example, the artist will paint a layer over the whole piece and then use a badger brush to remove or subtract the powder/pigment when it dries, creating subtle shadows and light.

Finally we get to talking about display and Buchanan advises, "People want to put old windows in light boxes that have electric light shining through it and I think, well if that’s the best answer you can come up with, I guess, but not having natural light passing through it is a killer. There’s the changes of the season, which perpetuates the change in the natural lighting. One doesn’t need these super grand ideas when quiet design is so effective. When you do it right it has a gravity of timeliness. You don’t have to grab into that bag of bells and whistles all the time. The glass itself is so flipping seductive, so let it be the star.”

For more about the artist and studio hours, visit his site here.

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8 Cleveland Holiday Markets to Help You Score Sweet Gifts This Season

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2018 at 2:09 PM

click image PHOTO VIA YELP'S TOTALLY BAZAAR/FLICKR
  • Photo via Yelp's Totally Bazaar/Flickr
If you’re more of a casual browser who knows the right gift only when you see it, there are plenty of holiday markets slated between now and Christmas. Here are a select few we’d recommend hitting.

Holiday Market at the Screw Factory: On Dec. 14 and 15, the Screw Factory Artist Lofts in Lakewood is throwing open its resident studios and lining other floors with more than 60 vendors. Admission is free.

31st Annual ArtCraft Open Studio Sale: The ArtCraft building on Superior will once again be holiday shopping central on Dec. 1 and 2. With six floors of artists and vendors, you’ll surely walk out the door with something great.

Yellowcake Shop Holiday Pop-up: Running now through Dec. 24 at The Van Aken District in Shaker Heights, shoppers can get an in-person look at Cleveland clothing designer Valerie Mayen's apparel.

Cleveland Bazaars: There are a few ways to catch the Cleveland Bazaar this holiday season, including the 78th Street Studios (Dec. 8 and 9). With these events, dozens of local artists and makers offer handmade items, ensuring originality in all of your chosen gifts.

Heavy Metal Flea Market: Swing by Now That’s Class on Dec. 22 from noon to 6 p.m. to browse new and gently used metal/punk/noise merch, including CDs, posters, gear, records and more.

Slavic Village HoliDazzle: Spend the evening of Nov. 30 (5 to 9 p.m.) at the Magalen (5203 Fleet Ave.) for Slavic Village’s third annual HoliDazzle featuring local makers, holiday entertainment and more.

Rock ’n’ Roll Holiday Flea Market: Stop by the Beachland Saturday, Dec. 15, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a mixture of eclectic shopping and music. Warm drinks, good food, a DJ, and all the holiday shopping you need.

Wintertide at Gordon Square: On the other side of town on Sat., Dec. 8, Detroit-Shoreway hosts its second annual Wintertide from 2 to 6 p.m., replete with shopping, music, movies, theater, food and general holiday merriment. Visit any one of the many shops and makers headquartered in the neighborhood for the perfect gift.

For more ideas, check out Scene's Official Holiday Gift Guide right here.

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