Arts Alive! In Ann Arbor, Michigan
By Eleanor Hendricks
Small cities often
surprise me with the unexpected. Ann Arbor left me with my mouth
wide open in awe. Located a mere 43 miles west of Detroit, the
college town has superseded the larger city in many of the fine
Bob Seger’s song,
Mainstreet, recalls a moment in his hometown of Ann Arbor. The pop
music scene has exploded since then, leading the Midwest in the
musical styles of acoustic, rock, jazz, alt and techno.
When I was in Ann
Arbor, guitarist Marshall Crenshaw and his band, The Battle
Rockets, were playing at The Ark. Crenshaw, a Michigan native,
is also known as a rock pop singer. In addition to his music, he
acted in the film, La
Bamba, filling the role of Buddy Holly.
Over at The Blind Pig,
The Smiths United, Siouxsie and the Banshees, and DJ Josh Burge
were shaking it up. The Smiths United hail from Detroit, and
replicate the early sound of the British alt band, The Smiths.
On the other hand, the Banshees began in London as a punk rock
band, and contributed greatly to the birth of othic rock. DJ
Josh Burge founded Plastic Passion, and is famous for playing
80s dance music.
|Jeff Daniels' Purple Rose
Soon after arriving
in Ann Arbor, I attended a matinee at the Purple Rose Theater in
Chelsea (a neighboring village) that was founded by actor Jeff
Daniels, who comes from Chelsea. He chose his hometown to
fulfill his vision of offering the New America play, produced
and performed by Midwesterners.
The seats in the
small theater wrap the audience around three-quarters of the
stage, creating an intimate connection to the actors. As I sat
in the first row, I could almost reach out and touch the
performers. The plot of the play,
switched between Ludwig van Beethoven in the 19th
century and a present day musicologist who both struggle to work
out the complexities of this composition. The performance and
the production were top-rate.
|The replica of the room from the
Villa of the
Mysteries in Pompeii, Italy.
With more than 18,000
works of art, the University of Michigan Museum of Art has
94,000 square feet of exhibition space, making it the largest
university museum in the country. I was impressed by the works
on paper by German Expressionist and the paintings of the
American Impressionists -- two of my favorite art movements.
Their collection of Asian ceramics is outstanding, along with
the Tiffany windows, acquired from New York’s Havemayer estate.
The museum also has an exciting acquisition of Modern Art
masterpieces, by artists like Ben Shaun, Franz Kline, Helen
Frankenthaler, Stuart Davis and many others.
|An Egyptian sculpture at the
Kelsey Museum of Archeology.
The Kelsey Museum of
Archaeology (also located on the university campus) houses many
superb representations of ancient sculpture, ceramics and other
artwork. Objects from Greece, Rome, Egypt, Middle East and
Mediterranean cultures are among its 100,000 artifacts. Don’t
miss the Egyptian statues and mummy cases, and the display of
decorated vases from Greece.
The most amazing display is the replica of a room from
the Villa of the Mysteries in Pompeii, Italy.
Although a research
museum since 1928, the Kelsey also presents special temporary
exhibits on loan from other national and international museums.
| "The Wave" by sculptor
Few larger cities
have the extensive array of outdoor sculpture that’s found on
the north campus of the University of Michigan. The campus
displays contemporary three-dimensional artwork on sidewalks,
lawns and in the lawn itself. Maya Lin, who created the Vietnam
Memorial in Washington, DC, has designed a unique piece, named
The Wave, which
undulates under a plot of grass. It’ll make you, like me, want
to roll around its lumps and bumps. The red metal angles of
Begob, by Alexander Liberman, stand out brightly in front of
dark green foliage. A huge black twist of modern sculpture by
Clement Meadmore (2007),
Hob Nob, is one of the newest acquisitions. The public is
invited to tour the campus and enjoy those and many more like
Art lovers must put
Ann Arbor at the top of their bucket lists because the small
American city is worth the trip.
Ads fund American Roads so please consider them for your needed
If you enjoy the articles we offer, donations
are always welcome.