An Artscape Adventure

Every year, Baltimore, MD hosts America’s largest free arts festival, Artscape. If you can brave the heat and risk the rainy weather, you’re in for a treat and a day filled with presentations so astounding and innovative that you redefine your definition of art.

Instead of trying to do justice to the visually marvelous through mere text, I’m going to share my experience through picture and video. I’m no where near being an artist, so please forgive the camera and video quality and be sure to look for the meaning behind the screening.

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When asked what can heal our community

When asked what can heal our community: ( I wrote “enthusiasm”)

I helped pain this, can you tell?

I couldn’t believe that an event so unique had been frequenting my community for the past 30 years and I had never appreciated and experienced the artistic adventure. While some of the projects or performances were a bit trippy, I loved I only wish that I could have taken pictures of all the vendors’ shops and wares. I’d seen pictures sewn with yarn, a shockingly deep portrait of a deer, book pages fashioned into a hanging decoration, perfect woodworked animals, and concrete sculptures bursting with life.

Please, make an effort to plan your visit to Artscape either this year or next to experience emotion you’d long forgotten about. But, on the chance that you can’t make it into Baltimore, check out the local arts scene around you. It may be weird, it may be uncomfortable, it may be confusing, but if it makes you truly feel something within, then the art has served its purpose.

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Art Attack – Completing My Bucket List One Bland Activity at a Time

DSCN0572This past weekend, the University of Maryland put on Art Attack, which is basically a concert with a surprise musical guest performing right in the middle of our football field. Seeing as tickets were $8 and a decent portion of the student body was planning on attending, I knew this would be a great way to spend a Friday night and cross “attend a concert” off my bucket list.

Though I’m 20 years old, I’ve never actually been to a concert before. I suppose I’ve had opportunities, but there hasn’t been a band or artist I love enough to devote my time and money to. It doesn’t help that I like older bands (Led Zeppelin, The Who = $$), and country music (Rascal Flatts, Josh Turner = lack of interest from friends) who no one would want to join me in seeing. Though I wasn’t paticularly enthused about the band, Art Attack, featuring MGMT, seemed to present the perfect opportunity to provide me with my first concert experience.

(Here is the song that most people know by them. Feel free to search for the music video, but I find it terrifying.)

A few friends and I arrived at the concert just in time to gain access to the pit, an area directly in front of the stage where people could stand. Though I wasn’t too enthusiastic about standing for four hours, I knew that it would only help make my quintessential concert experience. After two decent warm-up bands and a whole lot of waiting around, MGMT finally arrived on stage.

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Firstly, I should do some explaining.

  1. I only know one of their songs, and vaguely at that.
  2. I had been standing for three hours in uncomfortable but adorable shoes.
  3. The temperature plummeted after the first warm-up act.
  4. People were smoking right in front of me, and I detest being subjected to the unhealthy habits of others

Basically, what I’m getting at is I had a thoroughly poor-to-mediocre time. I’m glad that I went and had an experience that I’d always wanted to, but the experience itself wasn’t so grand. And they didn’t even play the one song of theirs that I vaguely know….

This hasn’t deterred me in the least though, and I would definitely go to another concert in the future. Provided I like the band, wear sneakers, bring two jackets, mittens, and a scarf, and don a gas mask to overcome the smokers.

A Very Potter Sequel

Somehow, I’ve found myself attending a lot of theatrical productions this semester. But, my soul had not been thoroughly and irrevocably moved until I went to StarTerp’s production of A Very Potter Sequel.

I’ll provide some background on this likely foreign concept first. StarKid, a theater company formed at the University of Michigan, originally decided to parody Harry Potter by creating A Very Potter Musical. The whole show can be found on YouTube and a good three weeks of my life was spent (but not wasted) watching the whole performance with my friend, Caroline. It was the first time I truly understood what it is to love.

There’s just something about these adorable and raunchy kids that transforms Harry Potter into something outrageous, hilarious, and utterly brilliant. Don’t get me wrong, the series is beautifully transcribed by JK Rowling, but the critical perspectives and adult humor StarKid uses to create the play is what makes it truly magical (you can roll  your eyes all you like, but I’m keeping that word)

StarKid later went on to create two more shows, both equally beautiful and capable of inspiring many groups to copy their performances, which is exactly what the University of Maryland’s theater team, StarTerp, decided to do.

Our show was life affirming. I’ve been a Harry Potter fan since the 6th grade and I’ve never stopped caring about the plight of Harry and his friends. This show compliments all I’ve ever known or dreamed about related to Harry Potter and my life has been improved because of witnessing it being performed live. (Also I got to meet Ron and we’re Facebook friends now!)

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The StarTerp production is in the process of being put on YouTube, but here is a clip from AVPM done last year:

I just can’t express what a joy it was to watch this movie and share the experience with my friends. You need to find something you love from this world and never let it go. Even if it’s something as perceivedly pointless and silly as Harry Potter, if you really care about it and it makes you smile, don’t sacrifice it for anything.

Here are some of my pictures from the show:

Song: Harry Freakin' Potter

Song: Harry Freakin’ Potter

Scene: Draco stands up to his Father

Scene: Draco stands up to his Father

Song: Gettin' Along

Song: Gettin’ Along

Scene: Final Gathering

Scene: Final Gathering

Alice in Wonderland – ASL Style

gallaudet universityYesterday, I went to see Alice in Wonderland at Gallaudet University, a university primarily for the deaf and hard of hearing.

Though I’ve been involved with American Sign Language (ASL) for a couple of years now, I’m still not very good and only know basic words, as opposed to whole sentence structures. But, that doesn’t matter so much, because I have fun learning and trying my hand at understanding a new language (pun intended).

I set up this silly little video trying to briefly recap my experience:

I’ll apologize now if I butchered any signs or was completely off base on any of them. Even as I’m re-watching it I can think of what I should have signed differently… But, I wanted to express so much more, and hopefully one day I’ll be able to create a longer and more substantial video.

playbill from gallaudetAnyway, back to the play. It was a trippy version of Alice in Wonderland (but what production of Alice isn’t), and all of the performers fulfilled their roles using Sign Language and tremendous facial expressions and body language. There was also a screen off to both sides of the stage which hosted a written narrative for those struggling to understand more than just the basic gist of the performance.

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Mad Hatter and March Hare

I was nervous about the unfamiliar setting and nuances of deaf culture, but I ended up having a great time and will definitely be back to Gallaudet. The fact that these performers couldn’t use their voices didn’t hinder the production in the slightest, in fact, it elevated the show for me and added an area of stage presence that most performances lack. The Mad Hatter was by far my favorite, because he was expressive, adorable, and owned his character. Great actors like him should be recognized for more than their lack of hearing, but for their tremendous talent as well.

I’m not a theater critic and I’m not an ASL expert, but I am lovers of both, and am glad I stepped out of my comfort zone to attend this play.

Advice for Beginners

I don’t know if you’ve heard of Zen Pencils before, but it’s basically a blog where this guy draws cartoons to match famous quotes. A lot of them are really great and you should definitely check them out, but my absolute favorite is Ira Glass’s Advice for Beginners.

Right now when I’m trying to take on a lot at once, including becoming healthier and training for my 5K; it’s nice to remember that I have to put in “a huge volume of work” to truly see the results I know I can achieve. And if you all just keep trying for whatever it is your heart truly desires, it will come to you.

Luckily I'm not a beginner at tying shoes, so I'm starting somewhere!

Luckily I’m not a beginner at tying shoes, so I’m starting somewhere!

Artwork and a Carefree Attitude

I was walking to one of my Communications classes in the Art-Sociology building when I made it to the lobby and noticed a couple sculptures made out of cardboard, littered over a little seating section. Everyone was looking at them in admiration and passing on by, their eyes rooted to the pieces until their feet carried them on, but luckily I had to wait outside for a bit and got to enjoy them longer than the passersby.

I have seen a few things like this over my years at Maryland, big, wooden boxes, large and colorful flowers, and my favorite of all — sheep! I was walking past that same building about a year ago and saw wooden sheep with cotton ball bellies in front of the building doing various activities. One was riding a bike and another was attempting to retrieve a kite from a tree, in what looked like a pretty unsuccessful attempt. Everyone was laughing and pointing at those sheep, and their presence completely brightened my day! But, I was too much of a coward to take pictures of them.

I know it seems lame, it’s just a picture, some other people even had their phones out snapping images. But, I just wasn’t comfortable going against the norm of pretending not to care and just going about my day. Yet, in reality, I really loved seeing those sheep and I instantly regretted  not taking any pictures of them. I let the stupidest bit of stupid insecurity hold me back in an effort to not seem enthusiastic, how most kids want to appear. Well, that’s stupid. And I’ll tell you what, I took pictures of those sculptures. People looked at me a bit, but I truly didn’t mind, they just wish they had the courage to care about something and make it known.

ImageImage<– I really like this wolf, I think he is so cute and possible something that I could figure out how to make.

They had a lot of other things, but I didn’t really care to take pictures of them. I like the gramophone though –>

I think the two most popular were the guy in the nifty orange costume and the Maryland Terrapin. I am so proud to have gotten pictures of both. I feel a bit ridiculous using the word “proud”, but I accomplished something and got over my insecurity, and now I have these wonderful memories to reflect on. Now I can only hope the sheep make a reappearance.

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