Thursday, July 1, 2010
Eleven years later, the third and final installment, Toy Story 3, has finally graced us with its presence, in 3D no less.
After seeing Toy Story 3 very recently, I must say that it was well worth the wait. Those of us who were young when the first movies came out are now right around college age, which is exactly where Andy is in the movie.
I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t seen it, but let’s just say Andy’s goodbye to his toys was a very emotional one.
Growing up, I think we all go through a phase where we can’t wait to be adults and “on our own,” but then once we get there, we would give anything to go back to being that carefree six-year-old dreaming up adventures with your toys.
As I approach graduation from college, it is hard to imagine being truly “grown up.” While I am kind of on my own for nine months out of the year, there is still always a room for me in my parent’s house.
I think the lesson we need to take away from Toy Story is that, no matter what, we will always have a support system backing us up, whether it be our families, our friends from our childhoods, the people we meet in college, or even the stuffed animals sitting on our beds at home.
My favorite line from the newest Toy Story movie is this one, spoken by Andy:
“Now Woody, he's been my pal for as long as I can remember. He's brave, like a cowboy should be. And kind, and smart. But the thing that makes Woody special, is he'll never give up on you... ever. He'll be there for you, no matter what.”
I’d love to hear your thoughts on the movie.
Photo courtesy of Google Images.
Friday, June 11, 2010
It’s that time of year again: the Tony Awards broadcast live this Sunday on CBS. Being the Broadway junkie that I am, I obviously love this annual celebration of live theater. But what is the most exciting about the Tonys is that it allows greater America the opportunity to get a taste of Broadway’s biggest shows for free.
We all know how expensive a ticket to a Broadway show can be. The lowest priced tickets for the biggest named shows right now are going for more than $75, according to broadway.com, which is way more than any college student or average person can afford. Even when shows go on tour, tickets can still get pretty pricy. So I offer a huge shout out to CBS and the American Theatre Wing for letting us in on the magic of the New York stage.
What is also fabulous about the Tonys is that it brings past and current Broadway stars together to celebrate. I love seeing stars at the Tonys that got their big breaks in New York theater but are now doing even bigger things, like movies or TV shows, and are still committed to remembering where they came from and supporting something that was once (and hopefully still is) so close to their hearts.
Here are the top five things I’m most excited about for this year’s Tony Awards:
- Sean Hayes hosting. I am a huge Will & Grace fan of course, and I am so excited for him to have made his Broadway debut this year, with Kristin Chenoweth in the cast no less.
- Matthew Morrison and Lea Michelle’s performance. If you read my previous post, you can tell what a huge “Gleek” I am, but I loved Lea and Matt before their asent television. Spring Awakening (Lea) and The Light in the Piazza (Matt) are staples on my iPod.
- Performance of “A Little Night Music.” Angela Lansbury and Catherine Zeta-Jones on stage together? ‘Nuff said.
- Liza Minelli. I have no clue if she is presenting or not (she is not on the line up according to tonyawards.com), but she will be there, and I will find her.
- American Idiot. A mash-up of a classic artist from (gasp) my generation and my love of Broadway. What could be better? (If they do 21 Guns, I will die happy.)
So, America, take advantage of this great opportunity to get a taste of what the Great White Way has to offer, and live vicariously through the lives of your favorite Broadway stars (like I do.)
I will be live tweeting my thoughts during the event, so follow along with me (@amshowen). My good friend @ohonestly will be live tweeting as well, so check her out too!
I would love to hear your favorite moments from the awards on Sunday, so please leave comments.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
In its two seasons, “Glee” has addressed such issues as body image, bullying, gender inequality and discrimination in general. Through many tear-jerking moments, most including epic power ballads, “Glee” opens America’s eyes to problems present in the school systems and broader society and offers solutions to these problems.
My favorite part of the show, other than the all-star cast of Broadway big shots and the endless supply of show tunes, is that it encourages its audience to go against the status quo. In several episodes, characters can be seen initially conforming to the things that will make them “popular” or at least “fit in,” but by the end of each episode the characters realize that being themselves is more important than what anyone else thinks.
Today it seems that students are more afraid than ever to stand up for themselves, or worse, to stand out. “Glee” reminds us that being different is a good thing and encourages its audience to keep pushing boundaries and reach for equality.
Photo from Google Images.
Sunday, March 14, 2010
Drew Holzaepfel, associate director of the Campus Involvement Center at OHIO, has been working with the Series for over ten years, and said his job never gets boring. He is constantly contacting agents and production companies to discuss potential events for the future and confirm and negotiate current events on the line-up.
I have seen many productions brought by the Performing Arts Series since my arrival at OHIO, and I am always impressed, not only with the caliber of performers, but with the seemingly effortless organization of Holzaepfel’s crew.
But the performance on show night is just a tiny part of what goes into organizing and producing the Performing Arts Series. According to Holzaepfel, the whole process starts in late spring when he or one of his employees attends an annual showcase conference, during which those in the “biz” get a chance to preview touring shows so they get an idea of whether or not they would like to bring them to their venue.
After the OU crew has seen what is available, they survey the Athens community, including the OHIO population, to see what it is that people want to see. With the results, Holzaepfel can get a better idea of what shows or artists would be best for the Series.
Holzaepfel said he loves being able to give the Athens community a taste of the national arts scene.
“Through the Performing Arts Series, we can really bring the ‘big city’ feel to Athens,” he said.
The Performing Arts Series is partially funded through the general student fee, grants and private investors, which allows the University to charge lower ticket prices.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 27.4 percent of the Athens community is in poverty. That being said, it would normally be extremely difficult if not impossible for most residents to afford the normally pricy tickets to touring Broadway productions or to see A-list performers, but the Performing Arts Series offers tickets for “a third of the price” they would normally be in a larger city, according to Holzaepfel.
As I’ve discussed before on my blog, experiencing the arts is extremely beneficial to intelligence. This article published by the Dana Foundation discusses new findings that suggest an “openness and creativity” fostered by exposure to the arts increases cognition.
I asked Holzaepfel what his favorite arts performance has been of the over 150 shows since he became the associate director of Campus Involvement, and while he couldn’t narrow it down to one specific event, he mentioned the Moscow Circus that took up residence in MemAud for a week in 2002, and last year’s Wilco concert as events that stick out in his mind.
While Holzaepfel could not confirm any performances planned for the next season, he did mention that there will be some very exciting add-on performances coming up this spring. To stay informed about any upcoming performances at OHIO, visit the Performing Arts Series Web site.
My favorite performance was the Broadway tour of "Hairspray." Below is one of my favorite scenes from the show:
Photo courtesy of http://www.ohio.edu
Friday, March 12, 2010
This quarter I have been in a voice and speech training class through the School of Theater. The class discusses the importance of communicating in a coherent way, namely through the delivery of speech. But what I’ve realized is that making your voice heard doesn’t always mean the literal way, as in the poetry and speech exercises in my class, but also pertains to what artists strive to do with every piece of art they create.
As I was sitting in my English class last week listening to student presentations and one of my peers cited this quote from former National Endowment for the Arts board member Bill Strickland:
“Creativity is the catalyst for change.”
This statement got me thinking about the massive amounts of art we take in every day that cause a stir, or at least make us step back and think about our society or our actions in general.
In high school, I performed in social action plays with a local theater company, and developing the passion and proximity to the subjects we were addressing to the audience really pushed me to develop my voice on stage, literally in my vocal performance and figuratively as an actor trying to portray such deep and difficult topics.
Art that aims to create some sort of social change is abundant on a college campus, putting students, faculty and staff and the surrounding community in a unique position to hear the voices of countless young artists.
This quarter, student artists have performed such crowd-shocking, yet poignant shows such as “The Vagina Monologues,” a series of one-act, one person scenes exploring the ups and downs women face, and more tame yet comical performances by Ohio University’s improvisation troupe, Black Sheep, Inc.
Black Sheep, Inc. performing in the Front Room.
Students that are not involved in a group or in a specific production often take advantage of open mic nights at venues like Donkey Coffee and the Front Room. My friend and roommate Jenna Siska discussed this on her blog.
No matter what your passion, I challenge you to make your voice heard, across the room as in my voice class, or across the world if you have that kind of ambition.
Saturday, March 6, 2010
5) McCracken Art Expo: As an intern for the College of Education, I helped plan and promote the third annual McCracken Art Extravaganza Silent Auction. Students from South Elementary School had their art on display in the halls of McCracken and visitors could bid on the artwork. It was such a neat experience getting to see the excitement on the children’s faces when they saw their work displayed and sold.
Photo from http://www.coe.ohiou.edu
4) “No. 6: Portraits in an Appalachian Coal Mining Town”: Last year, a friend of mine whom I used to do theater with in Charleston, WV, choreographed a dance about the difficult life of miners and their families in Appalachia as her senior thesis for the Honors Tutorial College. I usually have a difficult time understanding modern dance, but this piece told an amazing story.
Photo by Sean Howlett
3) “Rent”: I saw the Broadway tour of “Rent” during the winter of my freshman year. The show, brought to Athens by the OHIO Performing Arts Series, showcased a lot of issues our generation faces, and was performed by an amazing cast of artists. The show, which premiered on Broadway in 1996, was made into a movie in 2005, which attracted a new generation of Rent lovers, another testament to its broad themes and brilliant artistic strengths.
Photo from www.broadwayworld.com
2) “Glee”: The first episode of this hit show choir dramedy aired in early September 2009, right after the start of fall quarter. My roommates and I started watching it together and it has proven an awesome bonding experience, not to mention we’re addicted to the music. The show pretty much explains my life in high school, as I was a four-year member of show choir and can really identify with the scenarios in “Glee.” Our viewing party numbers increased as the quarter went on, and we are anxiously awaiting the show’s return in April.
Photo from perezhilton.com
1) Spring Awakening: As a theater minor, I am required to do a certain amount of practicum work to obtain my degree. Winter quarter of my freshman year I took part in a costume practicum where I made costumes for the main stage show, “Spring Awakening.” I have traditionally been a performer only, so it was an awesome experience getting to see the behind the scenes workings of a show and getting to see garments I made on stage in action.
Photo from samantha-patterson.com
I look forward to experiencing much more art during my final year and a half at OHIO.
What arts experiences have you had on campus?
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Photo courtesy of The Post
The show was set in New York City at a time where the “global body” was sick. Apples and coffee were extinct and people were being murdered in the streets.
It was an apocalyptic scenario, and the guardian angels of the world were planning an uprising against a “senile” god. You can read more about the plot in this New York Times review from 1993, when the play premiered in New York City.
The School of Theater never fails to put on a great show. The costumes were great, the set amazing and the acting was above par as usual.
I’ve seen countless School of Theater productions since coming to OHIO and something that stands out to me is the energy between the characters. Growing up in theater, I’ve seen and taken part in a lot of shows that have individually dynamic characters but together they simply clash. The relationships, close or otherwise, in School of Theater productions, are consistently believable and stand out.
What I really love about seeing live theater is how it forces you to collectively experience things with other members of the audience. I love listening to the people beside me whispering about what’s happening on stage, and even chime in every once in a while.
I also love when theater addresses current and relevant issues, which is often, but it’s particularly great when several days after the show you are still trying to wrap your head around the ideas.
“Marisol” was a very dense show and boggled my mind. Luckily for me, my instructor for Voice and Speech Training, Casiha Felt, just happened to play the lead role in “Marisol” and let us ask questions about the show in class on Tuesday. It was neat hearing others' opinions of the show and I loved hearing Casiha’s point of view.
I think most plays and art forms in general are supposed to be interpreted however the audiences sees them, but for me this does not necessarily mean only one audience member’s interpretation. What’s so great about being on a college campus is the fact that I know a lot of the students who are frequent theatergoers and therefore have the opportunity to discuss it with them. I look at every opinion as a way to broaden my understanding of the particular piece.
I encourage you to take in as much art as you can, because I think it helps you make sense of the world and what is going on around you. In this particular show, a main theme was addressing the fact that people tend to avert personal responsibility because they think a higher power will take care of everything, Jose Rivera makes the point that we must take responsibility into our own hands and not sit back and “watch the world burn” in the case of “Marisol.” This really hit home for me in the aftermath of the recent earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, because it seems that sometimes we turn our heads and pretend that others don’t need our help, when in fact there is so much more we can do.
These are only my opinions--I would love to hear what YOU think.
Sunday, February 28, 2010
Sometimes, you just need to get away from the weekend party going and barhopping and experience new places. I’ve compiled a map of some of my favorite places I’ve been to experience art.
View Art Across America in a larger map
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
I’ve talked a lot about this in my blog (see “What does art mean to you?”) and have been amazed at the responses I’ve gotten from fellow students about their definitions of art, and the responses have really opened up my eyes to something I never realized before.
My new definition of “art”: there is no definition. Art is everywhere, and usually in places where we least expect it. I’ve heard time and again in my journalism classes that journalism is about telling a story, and I listen and nod my head that I agree, and it finally hit me: this is my new art.
Art is all about telling a story. Everyone has a story, but tells it in a different way. As I’ve gotten more involved in my major and really had the chance to experience pretty technical writing, I’ve started to find the art of crafting a message. The feeling that I get when I piece together the words just right to encompass the story in the best possible way, I feel like I just painted a Mona Lisa.
I truly miss performing on stage and wouldn’t trade the experiences I had growing up in the theater, but I know I’m starting a new chapter of my life. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I may not have time to participate in theater for a while, but I’ve found I love public relations almost as much as I love being on stage.
I think whatever our true passion is in life is becomes our art. Some of us may take longer to figure it out, while others of us are lucky to find our niche quickly.
I challenge you to find your art, and don’t let anyone else define it for you.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What is your art?
Saturday, February 20, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
“I think if you are creating something unique with the intention of presenting it to an audience and want to have an active dialogue about, that is art. Art cannot be personal - at all - you can't create something and then never let anyone see it. Art has to be shared. It's essential.” –Conor Hogan, senior telecommunications major
“In high school we had a revolving dark room door and I loved how every time you entered and exited, it was like coming and going into two different worlds. I've never felt so comfortable doing something before, like I was always meant to do it. Art means everything to me, particularly photography.” –Jen Lin, junior photography and French major
“Art is a form of expression. It can take place in any format (even though it's mostly considered "art" if it falls under the fine arts categories of music, painting, sculpture, etc.) But it goes beyond that. Art comes from being passionate about what it is that inspires you. I believe it is completely possible to be an artist in your own right, in your own way, in your own field, professionally and recreationally.” –Sam Browning, junior public relations major
I really like all of the responses I’ve gotten and believe in all of them. As a theater minor I've taken numerous theater and fine arts classes and there is one thing that is repeated over and over again: art is not created in a vacuum. Not only does it define us as artists, but it defines the world around us.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
I admittedly have never been to a pageant before this one, though I have seen them on television, so this was a new experience for me. Each contestant performed a talent, modeled “swimwear” and answered an interview question. I attended to support my fellow Public Relations Student Society of America member, Tommy Greene. Other participating organizations included The Post, the Running Club, Alpha Lambda Delta Freshman Honor Society, OU College Democrats, the Global Leadership Center and others.
Ice Ice Baby,” and a dramatic reading of the lyrics to Miley Cyrus' “Party in the USA.” The winning act was the performance of an original song targeted to the Empower campaign, created and performed by Jordan Youtz, representing the OU Advertising Association. He received $100 for his organization.
The Empower Campaign sells jewelry made of recycled paper created by Ugandan women collaboratives, which the contestants modeled during the swimwear portion of the show.
The real beauty of the pageant was the fact that it educated the audience and even the contestants about the Empower campaign and the hardships the children in Uganda face on a daily basis. Throughout the show the organizers played films and slideshows showing their trips to Uganda and the various efforts made by the Empower Campaign.
While this may not be as art-centered as my usual blog posts, I felt it was relevant not only because students showcased their “talents,” but because I was moved by the art of people coming together for cause. The emcee of the event reminded us that we are truly privileged to be attending a university and receiving an education and that we should never take it for granted.
This post is also a reminder that we can find art in places and ways we never thought possible.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Ohio University created a marching band in 1923, but it wasn’t until 1967 that the Marching 110 took the energetic form of a show-style band we know and love today.
What interests me most about the marching band is the fact that many if not most of the members of the 110 are not music or art majors. Being in such a widely recognized band is a very time consuming activity, but there is obviously a draw for those who are passionate about performing.
I recently spoke with Alyssa Mehling, saxophone player and administrative assistant for the Marching 110, via e-mail. Mehling, a senior public relations major, auditioned for the band the summer before her freshman year “on a whim,” and hasn’t looked back ever since.
“I've had so much fun with the Marching 110,” Mehling said. “Besides the friends I've made there, I've traveled to Alabama, Illinois, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, New York and California. I've performed half-time shows for The Cleveland Browns, The Cincinnati Bengals and The New York Giants. I watched my OU football team almost beat the Buckeyes. The places this band has taken me over the past four years are places I would have never found myself in otherwise. The band can be a lot of work and time, but the euphoria I feel after an incredible performance is always worth it.”
For junior integrated language arts major, Tyler Charles, being a part of the Marching 110 is all about the connections to others, a dedication and passion for the university and a love of music.
“I didn't realize how much I would love the 110 when I first went to training week as a freshman. It's to the point where I can't even consider what my life would be like if I didn't do it,” Charles said. “I wouldn't have the friends I have now, or the sense of pride for my school, or the discipline to achieve the goals I set for myself everyday. In 20 years, I want to be able to look back on my time at OU and think, ‘Those were the best times of my life, and this helped make me the person I am today.’”
This pride for the university is evident, especially on Homecoming weekend. During the parade, alumni of the Marching 110 play with the current members. It is without a doubt the biggest crowd pleaser of the day and is a very unique experience even from the audience. As I stood on the hillside of Scripps Hall watching both bands perform this year I was caught off guard not only by the amount of talent but by the dedication and passion for the marching band that still exists for members even after graduation.
I leave you with a clip from a halftime show last fall during which the Marching 110 performed an amazing rendition of "Smooth Criminal."
Sunday, February 7, 2010
The Athena only has three theaters, so the variety of showings is limited, but the theater shows movies that are difficult to find on the big screen anywhere else, especially documentaries and independent films. The prices also tend to be cheaper than larger theaters, which is a huge plus for college students.
The Athena hosts the annual Athens International Film and Video Festival, a weeklong event featuring diverse film and video projects, largely from local artists.
Arts for Ohio has recently collaborated with the Athena to produce Cinematheque, a “screening of classic ‘art’ films from around the world.” The event brings in speakers and fosters discussion and debate about the art. The great thing about Cinematheque is that it is free for Ohio University students and local high school students as it is funded through the Arts for Ohio Initiative.
The Athens International Film and Video Festival will take place this year from April 23 to April 29.
The next Cinematheque is not planned yet, but you can follow the process on the Arts for Ohio Web site.
Friday, February 5, 2010
I got to the gallery around 11 a.m. and was the only person visiting it at the time. The first thing I noticed was how open it seemed—there were two sets of doors open and, while there was a lot of art on display, the room was free of clutter and created a very inviting atmosphere.
It was neat experiencing the exhibit as the only observer. I’ve visited many galleries with friends or family, and somehow I always feel rushed to move on to the next display at the same pace as those I am with, which doesn’t allow me to take in the art as fully as I would like. My experience in the Multicultural Gallery was refreshing in that I observed at my own pace, spent more time with pieces I connected with and skipped over those that didn’t seem to speak to me artistically.
Below is a sample of the art displayed in the gallery:
While the pieces were all very different, the general feeling I got from all the art was a feeling of strength, pride and support that accompanies the camaraderie between the women behind the art.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
It is my belief that we all view art in a different way, but it can be equally beneficial to everyone just the same. Some of us may listen to music to get us through a rough week at school or work, some of us sing in the shower to pump ourselves up for the day ahead and some of us may play piano or guitar or another instrument to relieve stress.
In an effort to better understand how my peers experience art, I sent out a message on Facebook to Ohio University students asking a simple question: What does art mean to you? Here are some of the responses:
“Art is a form of self-expression that communicates how you see the world.” – Sandi Combs, public relations major
“For me, art is very malleable—it can either be very personal, or very public. It can be used to express emotion, or to make a political statement. It is almost always powerful.” – Rue Khalsa, Carr Van Anda major
“Art is a blurring of the line that segregates the mundane and the divine. In whatever form it is expressed, art is the manifestation of inspiration, summoned from the infinite void of potential. When given form, it then serves as a conduit for others to experience that mystic spark, ultimately reconnecting the observer to the observed to the source. By this definition, art, for me, can be anything from a masterpiece on a wall, to the dancing of trees in the wind, to the elegant lines of a lover's moonlit body.” – Scott Eardley, chemical engineering major
“Art is a creative way of expressing yourself, or getting behind others’ feelings.” – Devin Hughes, public relations major
"Art is the expression of emotion and personality to tell a story." – Jenna Siska, magazine journalism major
"Art is an expression of creativity that shows who you are inside. I don't think that what is art to one person is necessarily art to someone else." – Annie White, public relations major
For me, art is an escape. Whether it is a performance, a form of visual art or simply listening to your iPod while you study, it is my opinion that art can make us feel virtually any emotion, and is one of the most powerful things in our lives because of that.
Friday, January 29, 2010
The Arts for Ohio Initiative, a project created to integrate the arts into the Ohio University community, eliminates the cost of admission for students for performances and exhibitions presented by the university. The initiative is funded by Vision Ohio in hopes of increasing the presence of arts on campus and inspiring new ways of conversing and thinking.
Not only does the Arts for Ohio Initiative help provide larger audiences at events, which inevitably helps the artists, but it also provides opportunities that students might not get otherwise. College students are traditionally low on funds, so free admission removes a huge barrier to experiencing art.
According to a study by the Arts Education Partnership, students who are exposed to theater, dance and music have more success in school than those who concentrate on academics alone. This is yet another huge benefit of the Arts for Ohio Initiative, and great news to people like me who already view art on a regular basis.
The fact that this initiative is still in place with all the recent budget cuts is a testament to the importance of the arts and arts education. Perhaps the best part of the initiative is the sheer amount of art going on all the time. If you look at the calendar on the Arts for Ohio Web site, there are literally events going on every day, and something for everyone to enjoy.
Here are some events you won’t want to miss this quarter:
•“Marisol” by Jose Rivera, OHIO’s School of Theater main-stage production for this quarter
•Winter Dance Concert, performed by the OHIO School of Dance
•Women of Appalachia art exhibit, currently housed in the Multicultural Center Art Gallery in Baker Center
•Singing Men of Ohio and Singing Men of Ohio Alumni & Friends concert
All of this quarter’s events are listed on the Arts for Ohio Calendar of Events.
Saturday, January 23, 2010
John F. Kennedy once said, “We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth.”
From a young age, art has been my truth, my escape and my true passion. My life would not be complete without it. Whether on stage myself or in the audience, I have never been happier than when I am experiencing art.
Art is the one thing in my life that remains constant. It is always there, ever-present to challenge me to think in new ways.
I am creating this blog not only because I want to share my love of art with others, but because I want to explore the uniqueness of experiencing the arts on a college campus. Whether it is through the ways we view art, the specific types of art, or participating in art ourselves, I believe we, as college students, will never experience the arts in the same way ever again, and my blog will be a way to preserve that experience.
In this blog, I hope to push myself to look critically at art and to find it in places I have not discovered before.
It is my opinion that art is not reaching its full potential if it cannot be discussed, critiqued and shared. I hope that you will join me in this discussion because I believe we can all help each other view art in new and exciting ways. After all, “all the world’s a stage,” and the spotlight is waiting for each of us.