Sunday, February 28, 2010

Art outside of Athens

While in college, particularly at Ohio University, students find themselves separated from the rest of the world, sometimes in a form of isolation. Athens is such a small town and, while it provides plenty of unique artistic experiences to students, university employees and the community, it is important to remember that there is a lot of great art happening outside our city as well.

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

Finding art where I least expected it

As I’ve grown up, I keep refining my definition of “art” and what it takes to be an “artist” and questioning whether or not I can describe myself as an “artist.” Yes, I love performing and I have done so for as long as I can remember, but I’m beginning to realize that performing or painting or directing or dancing are not the only things that qualify as art.

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

Putting on a show

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Revisiting the meaning of art

In a previous post I discussed the different ways people view art. I’ve received a few more answers from fellow Ohio University students since then and would like to share them with you.

“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.

My art of choice: musicals.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Empower showcases talent for a cause

This weekend the Empower Campaign held a “Mr. Empower” pageant to raise money for children in Uganda to go to school. The competition showcased ten contestants, each from a different student organization on campus.

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.

Tommy Greene of PRSSA.

Some of the most interesting talents were a recitation of 50 digits of Pi, an impersonation of Vanilla Ice singing “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

Music makes the people come together

One of the best performances I’ve seen while at Ohio University is watching the Marching 110. Whether it’s at a football game, the homecoming parade or the convocation ceremony for freshmen, the marching band never ceases to put on an amazing show.

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

Cinema offers diverse viewing opportunities

One of the hidden gems of Athens is the Athena Cinema located on Court Street. It is the quintessential example of a small town theater. The antiquated marquee adds quite a bit of character not only to the theater but to the street as well. The d├ęcor in the theater gives off an air of nostalgia with red carpeting, a wide staircase and a chandelier. While watching a film in the Athena, it feels like you stepped into a 1920s film.

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

Art is in the eye of the beholder

I recently visited the Multicultural Gallery in Baker University Center, which is currently home to the second annual “Women of Appalachia” art exhibit. The display is a collaborative of Appalachian women who have come together to celebrate their creations, but also to provide a place of comfort and companionship to each other in a unique way. (For more background on the group, visit their Web site.)

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.