Friday, October 21, 2016

American College of the Building Arts unveils new campus

The trolley stops here

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 9:45 AM

  • Connelly Hardaway
Last night the American College of the Building Arts unveiled its new campus, the recently renovated Trolley Barn at 649 Meeting St. Formerly located in the Old City Jail, ACBA takes over the historic Trolley Barn with classrooms, offices, and a state-of-the art library. 

The Trolley Barn, built in 1897 to house the streetcars that once ran through the city's streets, was purchased by ACBA in 2014, with help from the City of Charleston. Last night Mayor Tecklenburg spoke at the building's ribbon cutting, sharing a story of his father who grew up on Rutledge Avenue near a trolley stop. Tecklenburg said that when his dad rode the loop from his house and back again, the trip was about an hour long. "The trolley system was his babysitter," laughed Tecklenburg.

The mayor also spoke about Charleston's responsibility to preserve its historic buildings. "As a city we have a responsibility to share this incredible place," said Tecklenburg. He then cut the Trolley Barn's ribbon, inviting guests to check out the now-functioning school.

ACBA student work was on display throughout the building. - CONNELLY HARDAWAY
  • Connelly Hardaway
  • ACBA student work was on display throughout the building.

ACBA's mission says that the school is, "dedicated to educating the next generation of building artisans and to preserving the building arts in a manner never before seen in America." - CONNELLY HARDAWAY
  • Connelly Hardaway
  • ACBA's mission says that the school is, "dedicated to educating the next generation of building artisans and to preserving the building arts in a manner never before seen in America."
Old meets new in ACBA's computer lab. - CONNELLY HARDAWAY
  • Connelly Hardaway
  • Old meets new in ACBA's computer lab.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

TEDx Charleston: Maybe we can change the world

Small steps, big change

Posted by Connelly Hardaway on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 3:18 PM

TEDx Charleston's theme this year was Tipping Point, which they defined as, "The magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire." - FIA FOREVER PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Fia Forever Photography
  • TEDx Charleston's theme this year was Tipping Point, which they defined as, "The magic moment when an idea, trend, or social behavior crosses a threshold, tips, and spreads like wildfire."
Two days ago I attended TEDx Charleston, my first TED talk experience of any kind. I remember drumming my fingers on the dashboard of my college boyfriend’s car, him saying, “So I’ve been listening to these things, TED Talks, they’re really inspirational. There was this one...” Did I doze off or just start playing with my phone? I wasn’t interested in strangers’ stories, especially those broken down into short, succinct presentations. Bunch of fluff, I thought.

Fast forward five years and I'm sitting in Charleston Music Hall, taking in all of that "fluff" I'd previously ignored. TED Talks are nothing new — 30 years ago a four day conference in Calif. dedicated itself to "ideas worth spreading." Now, TED holds two conferences a year, and all kinds of TED-related events span the globe, including TEDx talks, with the "x" designating an independently organized TED event.

The fourth annual Charleston TEDx presented 14 speakers, one poet with percussion accompaniment (Marcus Amaker and Quentin Baxter), one musical performance from Gino Castillo and Abdiel Iriarte, one comedian (Jason Groce), and a dance performance from Anuradha Murali with Mrudani School of Performing Arts, for a total of 18 presentations. The day, needless to say, was overwhelming, and, as it sets out to be, inspirational. More on that inspiration later.

Perhaps more intriguing than the speakers themselves were the audience members, sitting rapt in their seats. This year's event sold out in four hours, with almost 1,000 attendees. At $65 a pop, tickets included a day of talks, lunch, and a post-TED reception, a pretty sweet deal if you can take the day off of work. Sweet deal or not, the commitment required of that many people, buying a ticket two months in advance, taking off work (or perhaps, making other arrangements), and sitting, politely, for four hours of presentations, is impressive.

Is it a generational thing? Should the awe I feel when I see rows upon rows of eyes watching someone else speak, not looking down at their phones, embarrass me? Perhaps. Instead, it gives me hope that our attention deficit society has not yet given in entirely to the self-obsessiveness I see — and participate in — everyday, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram ... you get the idea. There are people in the world with their eyes focused beyond themselves, intent on helping others, and more importantly, on changing others' minds.

TEDx presenters are storytellers. They're damned good at talking and keeping your attention, and their jokes, abrupt pauses, and raised eyebrows are not for naught. At Charleston TEDx, there was local photographer Jack Alterman, who encouraged the audience to roll down their windows and unlock their doors when traveling through life. There was Charleston's poet laureate Marcus Amaker, who urged the audience, through carefully spoken words, to tear down the walls you don't need. There was Lia Colabello, who asked everyone to stop using plastic straws — right now, stop using them. Lefford Fate wants to improve mental health in prisons. The list goes on and on.

What does one make of a never-ending list, of 18 pleas, presented in various art forms, to save the world? I'm generalizing there, but at their core TED talks do want you to, as some like to say, "create change" out there in the world. Two days ago attendees were asked to write a letter to themselves in the form of postcard that they would receive six months from now. The card asked you to write down one action you would take after hearing the day's talks.

I wrote, "I would like to help someone who cannot tell their story, tell it."

I feel strange about that promise, thinking that maybe I won't be able to fulfill it. I worry that I won't be able to feed hungry kids, secure my data on the internet, or educate people about heirs' property. Like I said, overwhelming.

Speaker Kat Morgan, founder of Changeability Solutions, asked the audience to speak up when they hear something offensive, a derogatory comment towards someone of another sex, race, or lifestyle than your own. She mainly couched this request in the terms of stopping casual racism — the everyday phrases and tones people use that belittle minorities, i.e. "those people." Morgan was captivating, telling stories from decades ago, revisiting a conversation she'd overhead in her youth. And what she asked wasn't much — just speak up. 

So, Charleston, that's where we are: post-TEDx talk exuberance, buzzing with all the possibilities of a better world. That cynical college self I described is still there; I have my doubts that many of those postcard actions will come to fruition.

But maybe, maybe! If we think big and act small — baby steps — we can, well, create change. Click on those links above. Consider donating to a cause, changing your actions, or even just changing your mind. And if you need help telling your story, please let me know.

Christine Roman's pet portraits to benefit Toby's Fund

Pets helping pets

Posted by Sigrid Johannes on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 2:53 PM

  • Christine Roman
Charleston artist Christine Bush Roman is a keen observer of human behavior, but right now her work is a little more ... furry. Roman is currently accepting commissions for pet portraits. Her colorful, stylized work is done in watercolors, colored pencil, ink, and pastel. Canine faces, drooly and dignified, grin back at you from high-quality watercolor paper. A portion of all the proceeds from this project will benefit Toby’s Fund, a branch of the Charleston Animal Society. Pieces are available in 16x20 for $120, and 22x30 for $180. Custom sizing is also available. For more information or to commission a piece, head here.

With the help of fundraising like Toby’s Fund, the CAS is able to care for thousands of sick and injured animals in the Lowcountry each year. They handle everything from pets who have been mistreated or neglected by their owners to strays who are picked up by law enforcement. The medical care from Toby’s Fund also helps relieve some of the pressure on our local animal shelters, many of whom are so overwhelmed by the number of animals that they in struggle to give each case the medial attention it needs.

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The Southern celebrates LGBTQI of color at Spirit Day: True colors, true spirit tomorrow

Everyone is welcome

Posted by Erin Davis on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 2:28 PM

Will Buchanan will perform at Spirit Day tomorrow. - PROVIDED
  • Provided
  • Will Buchanan will perform at Spirit Day tomorrow.
Tomorrow Charleston comes together to celebrate those of color in the LGBTQI community through a showcase of art and spirit at The Southern Gallery from 6:30-9 p.m. The event, titled Spirit Day: True Colors, True Spirit, will include music and visual  arts, including spoken word by Cayden Webber, and tarot card readings by Emery Acevedo.

Diaspoura will perform her electro chill-pop music. Some Charleston stores have joined in on the fun, such as Gap Inc., Buckle of Mt. Pleasant, and Lilly Pulitzer, for a display of this season’s best fashions hosted by Jonatan Guerrero Ramirez. Light refreshments will be provided by The Cocktail Bandits and Pure Fluff, a local cotton candy company.

The event is sponsored by We Are Family, one of South Carolina’s oldest organizations dedicated to the protection and growth of youth who identify with the LGBTQI community, as well as straight allies who want to join the cause. The program’s initiative is to not only work with youth, but also community leaders and professionals to create a loving and safe environment so as to promote pride in one’s identity. Weekly meetings for We Are Family are hosted at at Circular Congregational Church every Tuesday night from 7-8:30 p.m. LGBTQI and straight ally youth are always welcome.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

REVIEW: Evil Dead, The Musical is bloody, screechy, silly fun

Camp in the woods

Posted by Maura Hogan on Tue, Oct 18, 2016 at 9:27 AM

  • Provided
Five clueless Midwestern college kids make their way to a secluded cabin in the woods, with thoughts of spending spring break alternating between hook ups and maybe some beer pong. They manage, instead, to unleash an evil force from the Book of the Dead, opening a vortex of demonic possession that compels them to turn against each other limb by mangled limb.

Sound like the makings of feel-good musical theater? It’s scary, but curiously true. Evil Dead: The Musical, which takes a gooey, ghoulish swipe at horror film shock and schlock, now rushes the stage at Threshold Repertory Theatre with craven zeal, thanks to a collaborative project between Threshold Rep and What If? Productions, directed by Kyle Barnette.

Infectiously, intentionally inane, this high-octane, lowbrow romp of a show makes blood sport of the Evil Dead cult horror trilogy, simultaneously celebrating and skewering the genre. Think fake blood madly splattering into the “splash zone” theater seats, foot-stomping numbers flashing freakish with strobe lights, and shout-outs from the audience a la The Rocky Horror Picture Show. With amped-up camp and mega-energy, this self-possessed, unapologetically silly production is by design a hilarious hot mess, spilling its guts and glee so that we can enjoy the lighter side of, well, darkness.

After all, there is no better spoof bait than a low-budget horror film, especially when the stage sendup finds its origins in the 1981 The Evil Dead. The movie was the brainchild of director Sam Raimi, and got an early leg up by way of a nod from chill-master Stephen King. A quick kick around IMDB ascribes some of the editing work to a young Joel Coen, half of the brotherly duo. And, like the demons plaguing its hero, Ash, the film’s unstoppable appeal refuses to die – planting its demon seed in two sequels, Evil Dead II (1987) and Army of Darkness (1992), as well as in video games, comic books, a 2013 remake of the original film and a 2015 television series on Starz.

Evil Dead: The Musical
is a Raimi-sanctioned work that debuted in Toronto in 2003, and represents a Frankenstein mash up of the original trilogy. Its score of contagiously giddy, full-tilt numbers was clearly created to wake the dead — or at least jumpstart a flagging sense of humor. At Threshold, a faux-rustic set is punctuated by a dorky talking moose head and a cellar door that is forever opening and slamming shut as demons come and go. Here, the characters talk smack, fall prey to otherworldly possession and continuously have a go at one another. At first, I was a little taken aback by repeated insults in the vein of “you stupid bitch.” However, I soon enough realized that, like any horror film that respects the genre’s code, the character wielding those offenses was going to pay dearly for said transgressions.

The upshot is as follows: The main character is Ash (Cameron Christensen), the housewares employee at S-Mart responsible for bringing together his sister Cheryl (Kelly McDavid), girlfriend Linda (Shelly Goughnour), best buddy Scott (Jonathan Ford) and Scott’s latest conquest Shelly (Bess Lawson). However, when they find and play a tape of incantations, one by one the friends become possessed, and thereby hell-bent to seal the fate of their fellow cabin mates. To fight for his survival, Ash partakes in some pretty gnarly deeds, largely trained at his former loved ones — and at times even himself.

Propelling the increasingly antic, crazed display of comic slaughter — complete with laughably ersatz entrails and scenes of dismemberment — is an impressive onslaught of musical numbers that power along with mirth and mayhem. Admittedly, at times I found the spoken exchanges a bit stilted, but the score repeatedly resuscitated the pause in forward motion. I can understand the actors’ needing to catch their breath. On that note: Special props go to Christensen, who as Ash carries much of the show. He manages to be curiously appealing even when savaging his nearest and dearest — and does so with what seem to be relentless reserves of personal stamina.

A song like “Housewares Employee” delivers in both music and hysterical lyrics — and Christensen and Goughnour nail it. As the handyman Jake, James Ketelaar gets a comedic star turn with “Good Old Reliable Jake.” Lawson, in her additional role as cabin owner Annie, similarly kills it with “All the Men in My Life Keep Getting Killed by Candarian Demons.” And the entire ensemble surges onward through their last breath, always entertaining and never waning through a rapid succession of company numbers like “Do the Necronomicon” and “We Will Never Die.”

As seriously as I take theater, it can be terribly liberating to be given such clear marching orders to annihilate any mandate to mull, parse, or ruminate. Instead, Evil Dead: The Musical demands — and commands — that you allow yourself to let go and laugh at every goofy, spoofy, ridiculous, occasionally clumsy moment. It may just have unleashed a demonic desire in me to do so again sooner than later. As Halloween this way comes, this larger-than-death, skull-splitting rendition of a filmic horror great is just the screech-worthy, chainsaw-charged way to rock your horror.

Evil Dead runs Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., through Oct. 29. Get your tickets here. 

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