Northern Michigan Arts & Culture

The Accidentals are made up of Katie Larson, Sav Buist, and Michael Dause. The band recently had their trailer stolen while on tour in Arizona.
Sony Music Masterworks

The Accidentals have announced a record deal with Sony Music Masterworks, which will distribute the group’s upcoming album on an international level.

The record label also has artists like Yo-Yo Ma, The Piano Guys, and Tall Heights under its name.

Photographer John Robert Williams shows a portrait he took of Gov. William Milliken. Williams recently donated his film collection to the Traverse Area District Library.
Dan Wanschura

John Robert Williams has been a professional photographer in Northern Michigan for over 40 years.

Recently, he donated his film collection to the Traverse Area District Library. It includes portraits of people, scenic landscapes, fine art shots, architecture, and much more.

 

 


A variety of plants play a large role in Christmas traditions around the world.
NPR

Red and green are the traditional Christmas colors. But why? How did those colors get that distinction? 

“Because Holly was red and green, we’ve accepted those as the two Christmas colors,” says Coggin Heeringa. 

 

A visitor stops to examine Rafael Hayashi's work featured during the opening recpetion of Project omni's second art exhibition. The paintings were removed from the exhibition after the opening reception.
Allen Kent Photography

Chris Sims doesn’t think that the Traverse City art scene is bad, it’s just that it can get a bit insulated.

“When you stick to just local only, you start to just sort of pull from each other,” he says. “That just sort of leads to the same outcome creatively.”

Chris is the founder of Prjct omni, an art project that features contemporary art from all around the world. Last Friday, Prjct omni’s second exhibit opened in the Warehouse MRKT in Traverse City. And while most of the response was very positive, some of the paintings got a few folks a little riled up. But Chris says even a negative reaction with art is better than no reaction at all.


Bill Church plays the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in Parallel 45 Theatre Company's version of 'A Christmas Carol in Prose.'
Parallel 45 Theatre Company

Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in the mid-19th century. 

Since then, the Christmas tale has become engrained in our everyday culture. There’s been film adaptations, operas, and countless stage versions of the story.

The name "Scrooge" has even become a term in our language, as a description for someone who is miserly.

But popularity comes with it’s downsides. For one, audiences know the story so well, they can forget the greater meaning of it. And elaborate set designs and huge casts can be distracting.

And that’s why for Parallel 45 Theatre Company, less is more when it comes to this Christmas classic.


The Grand Haven lighthouse and waves get a good dose of what Todd and Brad Reed call, "magic light."
Todd and Brad Reed Photography

A version of this piece originally aired in November 2015

Nature photographers are a special breed.

To get the perfect shot, they’re willing to go out in all sorts of weather conditions— even gale-force rain storms.

Todd and Brad Reed are familiar with braving harsh weather conditions. The father-son team owns a photo gallery in Ludington, and have a reputation for capturing nature’s beauty in all it's different phases. Recently, their work was featured in the fall issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine. 

The Reeds say a lot of their success comes from having a game-plan in place, before they ever step foot outside. Brad calls it previsualization.

“Laying in bed the night before a storm when we can’t sleep, we’re thinking about where on the beach is going to be a good spot,” Brad says. “We’re building pictures in our head. That makes us much more efficient when we get out and we’re doing the actual shooting.”


Kyle Novy is producing a 52-song album project, called 'Mount Valor.' And he's releasing every song for free.
Kyle Novy

Kyle Novy has been a singer-songwriter for a long time. But it had been about 10 years since he released any music. He was still writing songs, but the timing to record them wasn't right.

“I almost think of it like the whole pregnancy process," he explains. "I mean there’s a good nine months of development before this child is ready to be birthed, and like out in the world.”

Two years ago, Kyle says he had an idea pop into his head. Instead of releasing just one new album with 10 - 12 songs, what if he produced one big album— with 52 songs— and released it over the course of a year?

Frank Slaughter has been hosting 'Repose' for nearly three decades. The show features new age, or zone music.
Daniel Wanschura

 

Frank Slaughter has been producing Repose for almost 30 years. It's a show that airs on Classical IPR and features new age music. 

Frank says during that time, the genre has evolved to the point where some people now call it zone music.

“I think they felt that new age was turning a lot of people off," he says. "Like a space cadet show or something.”

Regardless of what you call this kind of music, you have been able to hear it on Repose every Saturday night. But now, you can hear it every weeknight as well.

Best-selling author Kyle Mills has become famous for continuing the book series' of dead writers. He'll be in Traverse City November 4, for the National Writers Series.
Kyle Mills

Kyle Mills is a best-selling author with over a dozen books to his name. But oftentimes, his name on those books is overshadowed by the names of other authors. 

Dead authors. 

“It’s kind of an interesting job, that I’ve accidentally fallen into,” says Mills. “I feel like sometimes I’m becoming the world’s foremost book forger.”

Mills has gotten a lot of attention for continuing the book series for authors Robert Ludlum and Vince Flynn, who both have passed away.

Ludlum penned many books, including the Jason Bourne trilogy. Vince Flynn was known for creating a similar thriller series, centered around the character Mitch Rapp.

 


C. S. Lewis believed the nuanced imagination was important for perceiving reality.
The Wade Center

C. S. Lewis was a Christian theologian who authored over 70 books, including The Space Trilogy, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

This weekend in Petoskey, the annual C. S. Lewis Festival will celebrate Lewis’ imagination. 

The authors of the book, The Surprising Imagination of C. S. Lewis say he had a nuanced understanding regarding imagination. They Identify over 30 different types of imagination that Lewis recognized and used in his writings.

Mark Neal is one of those authors, and a featured speaker at the festival in Petoskey. He says the nuanced approach to imagination helps us better understand reality. 

"It's this idea that it helps us to see things that, without it, would be unseeable," Neal says.

 

Garlic sits ready to be judged in advance of the Third Annual Crosshatch Garlic Auction.
Dan Wanschura

Michigan has a lot of festivals. There’s a tulip festival, a cherry festival, an apple festival, we even have an asparagus festival.

Recently, I came across a sort of garlic festival that happens in Elk Rapids. 

 


Hasan Minhaj is a first generation Indian-American. The comdedian shares stories of what it was like growing up in America in a show called, 'Homecoming King.'
Hasan Minhaj

Hasan Minhaj loves the way humor can get a message across. As a high schooler, Minhaj was involved in speech and debate. Then, while in college, he saw Chris Rock's Never Scared comedy routine. He equated it to 'funny' speech and debate.

"I even remember in forensics, if you could basically ridicule the other person's point, it would make your side seem so much stronger," he says.

Aaron Peterson stands atop Sugarloaf Mountain, in Marquette. He's launching the Fresh Coast FIlm Festival, in hopes of making more adventure seekers aware of the U.P. and some of the conservation issues facing the Midwest.
Dan Wanschura

Aaron Peterson grew up and attended school in Wisconsin. After college, he moved to southern Minnesota, where he lived for about nine months. That's when he and his fiancé decided to move north to Michigan. They chose Marquette, literally because of how it looked on a map. 

 

Both of them are really big kayakers and they wanted a place where they could settle down, raise a family and still play outside.

Composer Eugene Birman (left) and librettist Scot Diel on the shores of Lake Superior in the Upper Peninsula. The two artists created a contemporary opera that had its U.S. premiere in Marquette, Michigan.
Jacques-Alain Finkeltroc

Last summer, we met Eugene Birman and Scott Diel on an island in the middle of Lake Superior. They were working on their newest opera called State of the Union.

On almost everything Birman and Diel have attempted to do, they've tried to ask themselves, "Why does it have to be this way? Can it be different?"

Eugene Birman says in most cases, other people have responded, "Well yeah, I guess it can be.”


Emilio Rodriguez (left) chats with fellow artists in residence during The MITTEN Lab residency.
Dan Wanschura

What’s one of the biggest challenges for emerging artists today?

A lot of them will tell you, it’s about getting their new work noticed. Think about, a playwright for example. Their work has to be compelling enough for a theater company just to notice it.

But even then, it’s not enough to just be compelling. The work has to be so good that the theater decides to take a chance and invest in the production of the show. If the playwright doesn't have much of a track record, it’s a huge gamble for the theater company.


Kinetic Affect members Kirk Latimer (left) and Gabriel Giron bring their spoken word poetry to audiences all over the country.
Kinetic Affect

Kirk Latimer was a high school English teacher when he heard a student get up and perform spoken word poetry for the first time. He was so moved by the experience that he encouraged all his students to tell their stories through spoken word poetry.

But then in the middle of class, one of his students called him out. He challenged Kirk to share his own story the way he wanted them to share theirs. And  he did. 

 

A grandmother in Senegal, Africa. Grandmothers all over the world are highlighted in author Paola Gianturco's new book, 'Grandmother Power: A Global Phenomenon.'
Paola Gianturco

Paola Gianturco travels all over the world, writing books about women and girls. About 10 years ago, she was in Kenya interviewing women for a book she was working on. For some small talk before each interview, she asked each woman how many children she had.

The first woman told Ginaturco she had three, and 10 adopted. The second told her she had 5, and 15 adopted. The next said she had four and 12 adopted. Gianturco says all the women she spoke with answered the same way.

“And I suddenly realized that what they were telling me was that they were raising their grandchildren,” she says. “They had adopted them when their own children had died of AIDS.”

Bill Church and Laura Mittelstaedt in a recent rehearsal of 'The Guys.' The play tells the story of an NYC fire captain struggling to write eulogies for the men he lost in the attacks of 9/11.
Dan Wanschura

Bill Church has used a scene from the play The Guys in his acting technique class at Interlochen Arts Academy for years.

The Guys is the story of a fire captain who lost hundreds of men in the attacks on the World Trade Towers on Sept. 11, 2001.

 


Two LARPers, or Live Action Role Players, during a recent get-together in Traverse City.
Lisa Fierstein

Fantasy books, games and movies can take you to another reality. Think about Dungeons and Dragons, or The Lord of the Rings. But what if you could enter those alternate, fantasy worlds in real life?

Some people try through LARPing— or Live Action Role Playing— and it blurs the lines between reality and fantasy.

There’s a LARP group in the Traverse City area. They fight evil, save the king and come out victorious, all within 48 hours. 


The National Park Service printed Moheb Soliman's poems using the official colors and iconography.
Moheb Soliman

It’s a hot Saturday afternoon in Leland, Michigan. The sun is out and a lot of people are visiting Fishtown. Sonja Vanderveen is up visiting from downstate. She’s standing in front of a National Park sign, with poetry on it.

“There were towns, and beaches spooning," she reads. "There was longing, and belonging. There was plenty of parking, and abandon lots. There was sunset. Three scoops of peach high and as wide smeared." 


Rare Bird Brewpub co-owners Nate Crane and Tina Schuett. Tina says when they were planning the brewpub, there were only about five other breweries in the Traverse City area. Now, there are more than 10.
Rudy Malmquist

It’s 6:30pm on a Wednesday evening at Rare Bird Brewpub. There are about 80 people inside drinking beer and eating dinner, and only one open table left.
 

"Everybody might think like, 'Oh you’re busy, you have a successful business, that means you’re rich,'” says restaurant co-owner Tina Schuett. "No. It means I’m several hundred thousands of dollars in debt for a long time out."
 

Tina Schuett and Nate Crane opened Rare Bird Brewpub two years ago in downtown Traverse City.


Paul Erhard performs on his double bass, in the back porch of his home in Pierport, Michigan.
Daniel Wanschura

Have you ever wondered about the difference between the music of India, and the music of the West? 

Professor Paul Erhard has, and combines elements of each to form a unique blend of music that includes some jazz.

Paul Erhard is the Professor of Double Bass at the University of Colorado College of Music. He became interested in Indian music shortly after getting married in 1985. He and his wife visited India because they had an interest in the spirituality of the people.

The Bliss Polo Club plays in front of a large crowd on a recent Sunday afternoon.
Daniel Wanschura

Northern Michigan’s lakeshore climate is perfect for growing cherries, apples and other fruits. But Mason Lampton says it’s also perfect for his favorite pastime: playing polo. The Georgia resident realized the cooler summer temperatures were much more suitable for polo than the 100 degree heat down south.

One year, as he was summering in Harbor Springs with his family, he saw an old potato field in nearby Bliss Township. He bought the field but instead of planting potatoes, decided to play polo. It took over a year to get the field graded, irrigated and in playing condition.

Now, the Bliss Polo Club is enjoying their sixth year of polo and are in the middle of their final tournament of the year this weekend.


Sufjan Stevens wrote a whole music album about his home state, Michigan. It's included in The Awesome Mitten's updated list of top Michigan songs.
Sufjan Stevens

If someone were to ask you to name your top songs about Michigan, what would come to mind? Would you have trouble coming up with more than one or two? 

Jake Cagle writes for the website, The Awesome Mitten. When he was asked to come up with his top five songs that mentioned Michigan either in the title or lyrics, or were about the state– he had some difficulty at first.

"I could only think of maybe a handful," Jake explains. "I knew it would take me days and days to come with an actual list, and then to whittle it down to songs that wouldn't get me laughed off the internet."

Jake Cagle eventually came up with his list of the top five Michigan songs, but since four years have passed since that article was published, but he recently collaborated with IPR to update it.

Billy Strings gets ready for an interview in a Nashville recording studio.
Pam Holland

When Billy Strings decided to move from Northern Michigan last January, he wasn’t exactly sure where he wanted to go. He just knew he wanted to get away.

“I’m 23 years old and my feathers are fluffed, you know,” he explains. “Kind of just wanted to go see what was on the horizon.”


Pages