Essential arts events for March 2017

Washtenaw County provides artists and arts enthusiasts with wide-ranging settings for seeing, hearing, and sensing the world in new ways that make us move, laugh, recover, reflect, or act. The moments of creation presented in these settings are diverse experiences essential to the vibrancy of our community. In this new monthly column by Ann Arbor Art Center external relations director Omari Rush, Concentrate will spotlight events that are moving the county's art scene forward in innovative and exciting ways.

Here's to You, Here's to Me: Theater goes to the bar
March 16-April 2
Continuing to experiment with genre and space, Kickshaw Theatre presents its newest unconventional Lab production, Here's to You, Here's to Me. As a follow-up to the company's summer 2016 exploration of laughter and comedy in Technology, In the Flesh, this season's show has revelry as its core subject and will take place at three different area watering holes with merriment at their own cores: Heidelberg's Club Above, Arbor Brewing Co. Brewpub, and Agave Tequila Bar (formerly Sabor Latino).
This original work features professional actors who immerse guests in the ritual of toasting. Their theatrical tools in this pop-up experience are song, dance, and storytelling as well as improvisation. A casual theatergoer or regular bar patron might be a hair uncomfortable as this artist corps breaks down the fourth wall, using elements of the venue around them to connect with audiences. But ideally, these venues become comfortable vessels for conveying familiar doses of fun.
Shows run 30 minutes each and are venue-specific in timing and accessibility. Drink purchases aren't required by patrons, but certainly serve to enhance the ambience.
Schedule and ticket details are available here.

Kids' art events: Celebrate Youth Art Month
March 11 and 12

As proclaimed by the National Art Education Association, March is Youth Art Month. It's a time for adults to reflect on the foundation elementary school teachers laid for their creative lives, or to consider making an investment in laying such a foundation for today's youth. Touching on the latter point of inspiring youth (and touching the youthful side of adults), area organizations are offering programs that give children fun outlets for ideas and energy.
FLY Children's Art Center encourages and allows youth to simultaneously think big and small during their Diorama-o-Rama workshop on March 11 from 1-3 p.m. in Riverside Art Center's Off Center Gallery. With activities empowering youth to create miniature worlds of their own using various art tools and supplies, this creativity lab might pique a precociousness gloriously impossible to restrain.
More and more the Ann Arbor District Library (AADL) is expanding its role as an accessible community space designed for growth and learning. While families can check out a Sizzix Big Shot die-cutting kit or take a Wacom pen and touch tablet home on loan to tinker with, they can also spend a weekend afternoon with AADL's Drawing for Youth program series. Free instructor-led drawing classes include themes like Create a Kingdom: Mapmaking, Giving Tree Pen and Ink Drawings, and Escher Tessellations. On March 12 from 1-2 p.m. the downtown branch hosts a session called The Art of the Doodle.
Both the FLY and AADL activities are free, family-friendly, and do not require pre-registration. 

Intermedia: A gallery full of film
March 10-25
The Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) is well known for being primarily presented inside the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor. It is also well known for being the oldest experimental and avant-garde film festival in North America. These expectations do not, however, prevent festival staff from challenging the conventions of cinema presentation. To this end, organizers use the festival's Intermedia series to specifically expand cinema-related arts into alternate environments.
As part of the 55th AAFF, the art show Off the Screen! will bring meditative film installations into the Ann Arbor Art Center to spur interaction or introspection. Typically a white-walled exhibition space, the Art Center's 117 Gallery will become a blacked-out box during this exhibition, which features installations by artists from Ann Arbor; Detroit; Nashville, Tenn.; Taiwan; and Turkey. Within this curated experience, visitors can stand over a projected pool, patiently waiting for stillness-induced ripples. Or they can rest along a wall and watch projected figures march toward them and point at them. In this two-week show, film moves off the traditional screen to be reshaped by the context of a community art center gallery.
More information is available here

Omari Rush is the external relations director for the Ann Arbor Art Center.
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