Arts & Entertainment

Rockford group to submit entry, perform at ArtPrize

September 13, 2012 // 0 Comments

by CINDY M. CRANMER A Rockford woman is working to turn her dream into reality with an ArtPrize performance that will feature 90 area singers as well as a song entry the public can vote on at the event. ArtPrize, which runs this year from September 19 to October 7, was founded in 2009 and has been restructured over the last four years but still features the world’s largest art prize along with being the largest art competition to decide its awards by public vote. There will be 16 prizes totaling $550,000 that will be distributed in 2012. Of this amount, $350,000 will be decided by a direct vote of attending visitors and $200,000 by a panel of jurors. The top public vote awards will be for $200,000 for first, $75,000 for second, $50,000 for third and $5,000 for fourth through 10th places. For more information on ArtPrize, visit “It is my dream to organize a 90-voice choir from the Rockford community to perform at ArtPrize 2012,” said Renee Vande Wege, Rockford Community Choir director. Members of local church choirs, professional singers, high school choir members or individuals who have a singing talent but are not currently involved in any group all are welcome to join the Rockford Community Choir for the performance. “We’re excited. We’re probably a little nervous. We’re feeling all the things you feel before you perform,” she said. The choir that is being put together features a gamut of voices from a fifth-grader through a 75-year-old area resident. Vande Wege took over conducting the Rockford Community Choir from Kayle Clements, a local composer. The ArtPrize entry the public can vote on will be a piece that the Rockford Area Arts Commission commissioned Clements to write. The vote code is 53416. Two Roads is a four-part a capella piece that will be performed at St. Cecilia Music Center at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22. A four-person recording will showcase the entry so the public can vote when the group is not performing. Two Roads uses the text of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” Vande Wege said. “The idea for this song evolved out of my life journey this past year and my desire to draw together the multitude of […]

Walk through history at encampment

September 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

The West Michigan Living History and Educational Association would like to invite the public to the 26th Annual Grand Rogue Living History Encampment on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 15-16. Every year on the second weekend after Labor Day, visitors can view first hand what life in early America was like at the annual Grand Rogue Living History Encampment. This is a timeline event featuring military and civilian living historians demonstrating our country’s history from colonial times to the present. The event is supported by generous local citizens and businesses, and is open to the public at no charge. At the Encampment, historical re-enactors will be wearing authentic period clothing and living in period shelters. Traditional artisans will demonstrate their historic skills, including blacksmithing and woodworking throughout the weekend. Activities will also include musket and cannon firing and multi-period military tactical demonstrations. The average participant has invested upwards of $1,000 in authentic clothing and equipment, and countless hours of research to perfect their historic portrayals. Many of them have participated as consultants and extras in historical films and documentaries, including “The Last of the Mohicans” and the award-winning History Channel series “Frontier: Legends of the Old Northwest.” On Friday, prior to the main event, about 400 children—fourth-grade level, from several schools—will be arriving for an all-day event (invitation only) to participate in a historical educational program. Eight stations are set up, such as Jacques LeBlanc, period surveyors, music and storytelling, blacksmiths, colonial woodworkers, French and British soldiers, French voyageurs and an Indian camp. The day’s activities will be culminated by the firing of an authentic six-pound British field gun. The Encampment is held at the Grand Rogue Campground, 6400 West River Road, Comstock Park. Hours for the public are Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., and Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, you may visit the website at Handicapped parking is available.

Local theatre group reaches higher level

September 6, 2012 // 0 Comments

The curtain is opening on a whole new approach to community theatre in Rockford, with the debut of the Rogue River Community Theatre Company (RRCTC). “The nonprofit corporation, formed this summer, is taking local theatre to a higher level of professionalism and community engagement,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth Homrich, head of an 11-member board overseeing the new group. “We’ve enjoyed tremendous support over the years and I am confident this change will improve local theatre and ensure it’s around for many years to come,” Homrich said. “We are building on a foundation of success and integrity established more than a decade ago.” The Rogue River Community Theatre Company will be led by a board of directors, including a four-member executive board consisting of Homrich, Vice President Mike Jonkman, Treasurer Stephanie Gamble and Secretary Shannon Rop. Board directors are John Bagin, Kirsten Bagin, PJ Bevelacqua, John Hogan, Tracy Strome and Brian Thomas. The 11-member board is rounded out by Director of Theatre Patricia Rose. “Having this level of the performing arts in Rockford is a real community treasure,” said Jonkman. “Everyone in the Rockford area should take advantage of this unique asset.” Rogue River Theatre started in the late 1990s as a fledging group of Rockford residents offering stage productions once or twice a year. Beyond traditional spring and fall plays, the all-volunteer cast expanded its mission to include Reader’s Theatre productions for adults and Actors del Arte’ Ensemble, which performs dinner theatres in the Grand Rapids area. The three ensembles collectively present about eight productions a year. In 2003, Rogue River Theatre launched an annual Summer Theatre Arts Camp for school-age children grades K-12. This year’s weeklong summer camp had 62 participants. The theatre group has been under the umbrella of the Rockford Area Arts Commission (RAAC) and in recent years has been a key contributor to its annual income. “We don’t look at it as a defection, but a cause to celebrate,” said RAAC Chairman Jeff Lewis. “We’re ecstatic to have community members who are excited to take the helm and expand the arts one audience member or one actor at a time.” RAAC was founded in 1975 to encourage and sponsor programs and services promoting the arts and cultural activities in […]

Rockford father-daughter bond forged in fear

August 30, 2012 // 0 Comments

Family values explored in ‘The Meaning of Normal’ by BETH ALTENA Anyone who knows Phil Mann can concede he does a convincing creepy. Surprisingly, so does his daughter, lovely 16-year-old Tiffany, a straight-A student who will be a junior this year at Rockford High School. The two were recently featured in a news segment titled “The Meaning of Normal” that proves family values can take a ghoulish twist and still make the memories of a lifetime. The news segment won WZZM TV 13 one of seven Emmy Awards the station was awarded this year by the National Press Photographers Association in the category of television. Nationally it took third overall and first in its category. Mann works second shift at Steelcase, making family time tough to arrange around Tiffany’s schedule of school and homework. Their solution? Spend time together as the zombie groom and zombie bride at The Haunt. “This is their together time, scaring people,” explains mom and wife Debbie. The Mann family has a long tradition of enjoying and creating haunted houses and considers a “haunt hunt” a nostalgic family outing. Two years ago Phil and Tiffany signed up as staff at the Grand Rapids spook house and found a perfect fit for their creepy creativity. “I am so lucky to have my dad,” Tiffany said of the pair’s ghoulish hobby. She has Facebooked to her friends that her dad is cool. Any parent to a teenage girl will appreciate the gesture as atypical. Perhaps the juxtaposition of straight-A school work, a real appreciation for dressing up as the dead to scare strangers and a daughter-dad relationship that is admirable helped give the segment its appeal. It was produced by Andrew B. Sudgen for WZZM-13, who Phil said “practically lived with us” during the filming. Mann is interviewed at his Steelcase job and at home, and Tiffany was filmed singing with the Rockford High School choir. And then there is the filming from The Haunt, where Tiffany moves with slack-jawed, broken necked jerkiness, dragging her damaged wedding gowned self toward screaming visitors. Dad, dressed as undead groom, likewise performs in deathly makeup, with vacant eyes and a lopsided, looming gait. Pure father-daughter fun. “We get paid with scares and dropping people to the […]

All types of talent to be presented at Art in the Park

August 30, 2012 // 0 Comments

Rain or shine, Rockford will be the center of a storm of art on Saturday, Sept. 8 along the banks of the lovely Rogue River during the Rockford Area Arts Commission’s (RAAC) annual Art in the Park. The event, in its umpteenth year, has about 70 artists of all ilks planned. The work will be good—the show is juried, which means the RAAC is selective in what artists are allowed to participate. As in past years, some of the artists will be exhibiting their works in progress so viewers can watch them in action, whether they are painting with acrylics or oils, weaving or creating pottery art. Rockford’s own Lila Harmon is one of the organizers, and said the diversity of the show is one of the draws. She said there are many local artists whose names and work may already be familiar—think Linda Bassford, Noel Skiba, Dana Ziebarth, Lois Carpenter, Shirley Dean—but also artists from all across the state will come for the day. Mediums include painters of a variety of styles and types, photography, metal art, woodcarving, jewelry, pottery, weaving and more. As always the event is free to attend and is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. “It is always a rain or shine event, so we hope for good weather,” said Harmon. She noted that bad weather isn’t always a deal-breaker for those with a booth. Last year the weather was picture perfect, but two years ago the rain started about 9:00 in the morning and let up at about 4:30 p.m. “There were still plenty of people there.” Live music compliments the event, which centers around Garden Club Park by the dam and the music will be on the stage in the grass. No food vendors are invited because there are so many dining opportunities in downtown Rockford. Harmon said the event is a great opportunity for holiday shopping, and those who don’t find the perfect gift at Art in the Park should take a look at the many shops and stores Rockford offers. During the event the RAAC picks a few favorites for awards—Best in Show, Best Photography, etc. Although the public can’t vote for their favorites at this art event, they can count on all quality stuff. […]

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