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Nov 16, 2016: Your Arts and Culture Adventure Picks

This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan. Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

marissa-kurzhalls-2It’s been a challenge to not focus completely on the election and turkey in November 2016, but I’m here to remind you Southeastern Michigan is an amazing place for arts and culture. This month explore hyper-local and global works of art within a 50 mile radius. It’s time to get inspired!

Re-Release Party (The Golden Record)

If you could explain the world to an alien, how would you do it? How would you explain language? What kinds of music would you play for them? A Host of People, a Detroit performance company, has devised a play based on The Golden Record – a 1977 project led by Carl Sagan which attempted to communicate the story of life on earth for extraterrestrials and future humans on a phonograph. A group of dedicated local artists will provide a multimedia experience which asks the viewers – how do we want to be remembered? How do we explain ourselves? Come see this great play on November 4 -19 for just $15 a ticket. More.


leila-abdelrazaqDrawing in the Diaspora: Comic Art & Graphic Novels by Leila Abdelrazaq

Dearborn’s Arab American National Museum shares the creations of Leila Abdelrazaq, a Chicago-based illustrator who fuses activism and artistry in comics and graphic novels. Baddawi, her debut graphic novel, is a coming-of-age story based on her father’s experience in a refugee camp. Pieces from her new novel along with original illustrations, comics, and zines will be on display at this exhibition November 12 – April 19.  Be sure to also check out Bigmouth Press & Comix – a blog founded by Leila Abdelrazaq dedicated to uplifting the work of female and non-binary comic artists with roots in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. More.


portrait of myself as my father

Enter the ring at Detroit’s Downtown Boxing Gym for a visceral experience heightened by the ferocity of Nora Chipaumire – a Zimbabwe-born choreographer who explores African masculinity in this personal performance. UMS presents portrait of myself as my father  on November 17, where three performers take the stage on a make-shift boxing ring for an exposition that “achieves chillingly sudden shifts in mood, from joking and light to excruciatingly dark.” (New York Times). More.

Nora Chipaumire

hai-xin-wuHai Xin Wu

Take part in an intimate performance on November 18 with world-class violinist, Hai Xin Wu, in the Lakefront Ballroom at the Grosse Point War Memorial. The venue is completely dazzling, and tickets are only $25. Hai Xin Wu is Detroit Symphony Orchestras Assistant Concertmaster Violinist, and is sure to provide a delightful experience to the audience as he has done for decades around the world. His talents mixed with the picturesque view of Lake St. Clair are the makings of a night to remember. More.


Ann Arbor Polish Film Festival

My great-grandparents came from Poland so naturally I enjoy sauerkraut, polka, and I’m intrigued by the 23rd Ann Arbor Polish Film Festival at Michigan Theater. The November 18 – 20 weekend is a lineup of dramas exploring relationships, time-sensitive thrillers, animated films, and family friendly options. Admittedly I forget most of the Polish I have learned throughout the years, so thankfully all the movies come with subtitles! More.


Thanks so much for reading! If I missed an event that’s important to you, reach out to me on Twitter. And if you explore any of these events, be sure to let UMS know on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Photos courtesy of artists and performance spaces.

Marissa Conniff is a UMS Blogging Fellow. Learn more about the blogging fellows program.

Oct 12, 2016: Your Arts and Culture Adventure Picks

marissa-kurzhalls-2This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan. Sign up for email updates (choose “Arts & Culture Adventures” list).

It’s Fall y’all! As soon as I see one yellow leaf, I bust out the scarves, fuzzy socks, and apple cider to show my love for my favorite season. With that, I have found the best events throughout the area to experience the cool breeze and warm sun…with a creative twist.

Glass Pumpkin Show

glass pumkinTo some, the pumpkin spice trend has gotten out of hand. I think it went a little too far when Pumpkin Spiced Oreos hit the shelf, but that’s just my opinion. Instead, let’s celebrate the pumpkin with the Glass Pumpkin Show at Glass Academy in Dearborn. Witness live glass-blowing demonstrations during your pursuit for the perfect pumpkin at this special event. Attend the Signature Show on October 15 and 16 for free, or the Pumpkin Preview Party on October 13 for $50. Last but not least, these pretty pumpkins are making a special trip to Downtown Home and Garden in Ann Arbor on October 22 and 23. More.

Trick or Treat on the River

trick or treat on the river

Enjoy the sites and sounds of the Huron River before winter is upon us with a festive Fall activity, Trick or Treat on the River. Vincent van Gogh once said, “Keep your love of nature for that is the true way to understand art more and more.” Luckily, every Michigander knows there’s an abundance of natural beauty in our state. Use the complimentary candy as motivation to paddle down the Huron and feel inspired by the beautiful colors of hundreds of trees that line the mighty (yet manageable) river on October 16. More.



The Gothic horror novel published in 1897 continues to pique the curiosity of Western culture, especially around Halloween. Wayne State’s Theatre and Dance Company presents Bram Stoker’s Dracula, adapted by Charles Morey at the beautiful Hilberry Theatre in Detroit. If you’re a fan of Buffy, True Blood, or Count von Count, see where it all began with the original vampire on October 21 through November 2. More.


Prepare fowbf-101216-yspiglow-bnrr a night unlike any other. From the Fools who brought you FestiFools and Fool Moon comes YpsiGLOW, a chance to shine in the city of Ypsilanti with a glow-in-the-dark street party. Immediately following the Ypsilanti Downtown Halloween Festival, artists, makers, and creators will show the glow of Ypsi on October 27 with works of art, music, and storefront decorations. Visit their website for a list of free workshops to create your ypsiGLOW masterpiece in advanced, and get ready to party! More.

Black Cat Cabaret


When I hear the words “cat” and “cabaret” in the same sentence, I’m in. Ypsilanti’s Neighborhood Theatre Group presents Black Cat Cabaret – an evening of tunes and treats in Bona Sera Underground on October 28 and 29. I can vouch for the talent and passion of these performers, and guarantee a spooktacular evening – for only $10. Treat yourself to some delicious creations from Bona Sera before or after the show. Meow! More.

Thanks for reading! Let us know if you attend any of these events by tweeting @UMSNews. If I missed your autumnal activity, let me know by leaving a comment!

Photos courtesy of artists and performance spaces.

Marissa Kurtzhals is a UMS Blogging Fellow. Learn more about the blogging fellows program.

Sept 15, 2016: Your Arts and Culture Adventure Picks

This post is a part of a series of posts curating adventurous arts and culture experiences in Southeast Michigan.

marissa-kurzhalls-2Hey everyone! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog. I am beyond thrilled and honored to be one of the two UMS Blogging Fellows. For my first blog, I would like to tell you just a little bit about myself. Why? Mainly because I can’t deny a captive audience, but I also want to provide some context as to why I chose to write about these specific events!

I’m a 26-year-old tweeting machine/cat mom/theatre nerd/yoga teacher. I live in Ypsilanti (which I love with all my heart), and I spend a lot of my time watching female comedians, writing music, and cooking with my fiancé. I studied Arts Management, Marketing and Theatre at Eastern Michigan University and continue to flex my acting muscles, although I’m focusing on producing my first album of original music! I work at the Ann Arbor Area Convention and Visitors as the Social Media Manager, and my favorite yoga pose at the moment is one-handed-tiger. I think that’s about it for now, so let’s talk about the arts and culture scene in Southeast Michigan!

And away we go…
2nd Annual Murals in the Market

Not many artists grew up on a farm…but I did! That’s why I am so excited for the 2nd Annual Murals in the Market event at Eastern Market in Detroit.

Fresh, local produce mixed with high caliber (and giant) murals captures the true essence of Michigan’s favorite comeback city. More than 50 local and international artists are traveling to the great city of Detroit to create large-scale murals over the course of 10 days! There are tons of events surrounding this exciting project during September 15-24th; from opening receptions, to classes, and a final walking tour of the completed murals. This event is a great opportunity to explore the best of Detroit! More

Ypsi Song Fest: Motown Revisited

I have to believe in my heart that every American loves Motown Music, don’t you? There’s something about the upbeat, soulful, timeless music (riddled with clapping and sweet dance moves) that brings everyone together.

As a millennial, I never really had the opportunity to hear live Motown Music, which is why I am so excited for this celebration of one of my favorite genres! This event takes place on Washtenaw Community College’s campus in the beautiful Towsley Auditorium. An impressive lineup of musicians such as John E. Lawrence (Ypsilanti guitar legend), Al McKenzie (former music director of The Temptations), Ray Moore (formerly with The Four Tops), and Ted Brannon (formerly with Edwin Starr) will bring the Motown sound alive for one spectacular evening on September 16. More

Elephant Revival at The Ark

As someone who lives in the Ann Arbor area, I can not imagine life without The Ark. I’ve seen some of my favorite performances in this space, and they always offer an eclectic set of music, keeping me abreast with the best of the folk music scene.

Admittedly, I was initially attracted to this event because of the name of the band. Elephants? I am in! But then I looked up the band on Youtube, and was completely blown away by the elegant (not elephant!) sound produced by a five-person band. I’m a sucker for mixed-gender bands, and Elephant Revival plays to this segment quite beautifully. The rugged folk style is paired with gentle harmonies…and a musical saw! The Youtube video link shows the band playing on a porch in the mountains, so I can only imagine the sound they will produce in the intimate space at The Ark on September 21! More

“Cabaret” at The Dio Dinner Theatre

We are totally spoiled by the Netflix lifestyle these days. We can watch hours of entertainment…20 feet away from our kitchen. I’m one of those theatre-people that likes to eat and drink before, during, and after a show, but generally snacks and beverages are prohibited in the sacred space of the theatre (with an “re”). At The Dio Theatre in Pickney, they dish up dinner along with high-class entertainment, satisfying your brain and belly all at once! Their production of the sizzling Broadway smash, “Cabaret” will run from September 22nd – October 30th. The show takes place in 1930’s Berlin at the Kit Kat Klub, featuring musical theatre favorites such as “Don’t Tell Mama” and “Maybe This Time.” More


A 10-day long pop-up art festival is taking place in the heart of Downtown Ann Arbor from September 22-October 1. I attended (and performed at) this event last year, and highly recommend it. Free and open to the public, Pop-X features unique works by nine artists in beautifully designed “pavilions” created by a local architect. Visitors wander into each pavilion to be immersed in a rare artistic space. Some of the art is interactive, some of it’s digital, and…some of it was executed by Lisa Waud of The Flower House! (Not to mention, there is a beer pavilion, so now you have to go.) There will be artist discussions, live performances, and even a dance party to make each day of Pop-X a unique experience! More

Thanks for reading! Which events are you looking forward to in the next couple of weeks? Let me know on Twitter @m_kurtzhals so I can put them on my calendar. Cheers!

Marissa Kurtzhals is a UMS Blogging Fellow. Learn more about the blogging fellows program.

Announcing 2016-17 Wallace Blogging Fellows

We are proud to announce the 2016-17 Wallace Blogging Fellows

We’re pleased to announce that Adam DesJardinis and Marissa Kurtzhals have been selected as the 2016-17 UMS Wallace Blogging Fellows. The fellowship program, currently in its inaugural year, is intended to expose area arts audiences to adventurous arts and cultural opportunities throughout Southeast Michigan.

The fellowship period will take place from September 2016 to April 2017. During this time, fellows will serve as curators who make monthly recommendations about events throughout Southeast Michigan, whether presented by UMS or by other organizations.

Watch for the roundup posts here on the UMS Lobby blog, and via UMS email and social media.

Meet the fellows

adam desjardinsAdam DesJardins is a Midwest-raised, Detroit-based 23-year-old who enjoys dragging people to performances, public art projects, street festivals, and the likes. He has a soft spot for public transportation and buying second hand candles. Growing up in the thrift store racks of Metro Detroit and on the sandy beaches of Lake Superior, Adam has an eternal, booming love for Michigan. A love that boomed extra loud during the past year when Adam worked in Lille, France as a English teaching assistant, spending his copious vacation time bouncing around from the Baltic to Brussels to Baku. This year, Adam is thrilled to be back in the arts community as a Wallace Blogging Fellow.

marissa-kurzhalls-2Marissa Kurtzhals likes to tell stories, and has had a lifelong passion for the arts. She began blogging for Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in 2011 and now serves as the head of social media at the Ann Arbor Convention & Visitors Bureau. Marissa hopes to inspire UMS readers to explore the dynamic arts and culture scene of Southeast Michigan. In her spare time, Marissa enjoys singing, cooking, yoga, and spending time at home with her fiancé.

About UMS

A recipient of the 2014 National Medal of Arts, UMS (also known as the University Musical Society) contributes to a vibrant cultural community by connecting audiences with performing artists from around the world in uncommon and engaging experiences. One of the oldest performing arts presenters in the country, UMS is an independent non-profit organization affiliated with the University of Michigan, presenting over 70 music, theater, and dance performances by professional touring artists each season, along with over 100 free educational activities. UMS is part of the University of Michigan’s “Victors for Michigan” campaign, reinforcing its commitment to bold artistic leadership, engaged learning through the arts, and access and inclusiveness.

Media Inquiries:
Mallory Shea