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April 20, 1992 - Image 5

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The Michigan Daily, 1992-04-20

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ARTS
Monday, April 20, 1992

*The Michigan Daily

Page 5

Faith Ringgold's story quilts
aren't for bedtime enjoyment

Story Quilts: Faith Ringgold
University Museum of Art
"I'm a painter who works in the
quilt medium," Faith Ringgold has
said of her work, a series of painted
quilts currently on display at the
Art review
University Museum of Art. Indeed,
the exhibit of Ringgold's brilliantly-
colored pieces, Story Quilts is one of
the most exciting events to happen to
the Art Museum this year.
In her quilts, Ringgold uses
patchwork designs sewn together as.
a frame for a central painting. Ring-
gold often integrates texts with these
paintings, which depict narrative

perimposed on a large suspension
bridge. The artist uses strong vertical
lines which stretch from the top to
the bottom of the piece to portray the
bridge. Ringgold achieves tension by
rendering the active motions of the
girls with stiff, crisp outlines, similar
to the work of Haring.
The bridge motif, usually sym-
bolizing the ability to transcend op-
pression through creativity and iia-
gination, is repeated in several of the
quilts, including "Woman Painting
the Bay Bridge."
The series' central painting, bor-
dered by radiantly flowered patch-
work, shows a naked African-
American woman triumphantly stan-
ding on top of a bridge with her arm

The musician stands at the top center of the
composition, above a huge tropical-colored
bridge (which seems to extend from his feet)
and the city, which is represented by a group of
buildings. Set against a dazzling cobalt blue
background, Rollins plays his horn, seemingly
controlling the entire world with his music.

a huge tropical-colored bridge
(which seems to extend from his
feet) and the city, which is repre-
sented by a group of buildings. Set
against a dazzling cobalt blue back-
ground, Rollins plays his horn,
seemingly controlling the entire
world with his music.
Some of the quilts comprise a
series of stories, each one a sequel to
the one before it. "The Bitter Nest
Series" tells the story of two African
American women: Cece, and her
daughter Celia.
Part one of the series, "Love in
the Schoolyard," uses surprisingly
subdued colors, especially grey. The
scene, which shows the beginning of
Cece's relationship with Celia's fa-
ther, an elderly man, uses repetition
of gray squares in the sidewalk and
the school building to convey a clas-
sical, dignified feeling about the
May-December romance. Instead of
treating the scene as a case of rob-
bing the cradle, Ringgold treats the
lovers with honest respect.
Ringgold's quilts are more than
just pretty pictures on coverlets.
They represent a force. of life-af-
firmation, even in the face of racism,
sexism, and oppression. The tone in
the quilts is not bitter or spiteful, but
exuberantly alive.
Story Quilts: Faith Ringgold will
be on display at the University Mu-
seum of Art until May 17. Call 747-
2067 or 764-0395 for more in-
formation.
-Aaron Hamburger

If performances were bland, it wasn't for lack of name power. Crowd pleaser Jon Hammond played Ludlow Lowell
with Tracy Plester as Gladys Bumps and Danny Gurwin as simply monikered Joey.
Joeyain't as suave as he looks
Misdirectedperformance leaves audiences lifeless

scenes loosely drawn from her own
experiences. The artist uses quilts in
honor of the African-American wo-
men's tradition of quiltmaking.
Ringgold's bold, crudely direct
style especially can be seen in "Dou-
ble Dutch on the- Golden Gate
Bridge." The image of a group of
young girls playing jump rope is su-

raised high to paint. The artist
emphasizes the energetic verticals of
the bridge by herself painting them
in bright reds, yellows, and greens.
Perhaps the most evocative use of
bridges occurs in "Sammy's Quilt,"
an homage to jazz musician Sammy
Rollins. The musician stands at the
top center of the composition, above

Rollins isn't just a guy from Black Flag'

by Skot Beal
Henry Rollins is a really articulate guy. Just look at all
the work he's produced in the last 10 or 12 years - five
or six albums with Black Flag, a solo album, three spo-
ken word albums, five albums with the current Rollins
Band, about nine published books, and countless essays
on everything from coffee to tattoos.
Rollins' latest piece of work, the new Rollins Band
LP, The End of Silence, is easily the band's most cohe-
sive, powerful collection of songs to date. The music is
always extremely hard-driving and complicated, filled
with loud guitar, thoughtful arrangements, and weird
time changes.
Of course, the thing that stands out most is the
trademark Rollins vocals delivering brutal lyrics with
considerable anger. But then, Rollins has a lot in his
past to be angry about, and thinks of his work - in-
cluding the music - as an outlet for that anger. Indeed,
he cares about little else, not even the tremendous suc-
cess of The End of Silence on today's college radio
charts.
"It's nice," says Rollins, in an extremely apathetic
tone at his informal Friday press conference at St.
Andrew's Hall. "I mean, all that stuffs cool, and I sin-
cerely am happy that, you know, people are checking it
out, but it honestly doesn't have a whole lot to'do with
what I do, which is play."
Playing is something that the Rollins Band does a
lot. Right now, they are in the midst of a tour which will
probably take them through February. They also held
the opening slot on the Lollapalooza tour last summer.
It seems that Rollins isn't too excited about the prospect
of returning to the tour this year.
"They asked us," he explains, "and I said, 'Thanks,
you know, but no thanks.' Lollapalooza was really fun
once, but realistically, it was forty-five minutes of
playing, where we do about a hundred, and then you
wait like eight hours to get your bus out of there.
"I'd much rather be doing this, you know, going out
doing our own gigs. Playing a lot of music, you know,
being able to really physically expend ... "
Having seen the Rollins Band live Friday night, I
can vouch for Rollins' pouring out the sweat on stage.
He's a very intense performer, banging his entire body
around the stage and shaking with emotion. It's hard to
discern whether it's pain or ecstasy. I-is lyrics, as well
as his books and spoken-word performances, are
certainly full of pain. It's hard to tell which medium he
is most expressive with, but he seems to have a favorite.
"If I had to pick," says Rollins, "like, five nights of
one of 'em, the band. Just 'cause the physical nature of
it is really appealing to me.

"The talking shows, I find when I do a string of 'em
... It's a really emptying experience, where the band
thing is physically exhausting but not mentally as
painful:
"I relate to things really physically and it's the phys-
ical thing that keeps me hot to do it. The talking shows
these days are pretty intense and they have a tendency
to really be depressing. It's kinda like carving your guts
out and kinda throwing them out there."
This is understandable, considering the topic that
he's been dealing with in the last few shows. Quite
recently his close friend and roommate was walking
home and, during the course of being robbed, was shot
in the face and killed.
"I've been talking a lot about just how fucked up life
is sometimes, how brief it can be. Just watching a friend
get his brains blown out like five feet away from me is a
pretty life changing experience," Rollins says.
"A lot of things that were important to me aren't so
important," he continues. "I have a different perspective
on things ... It's been kinda hard to keep going some
days. It's kind of a depressing thing. But, you know, I
keep going."
Though his friend's murder hasn't kept him from
playing live, Rollins says that he's not going to keep
playing gigs forever. I imagine, however, he'll continue
to write for as long as he has something to write about,
which should be a long time.
"When it doesn't move me the way it moves me, I'm
outta here," he explains. "You know, I'm not into enter-
tainment. I don't do this for the money or the chicks or
any dubious fame. I only do it to get off. And when I no
longer get off, I'm out."
While the past is in many ways important to Rollins,
it obviously isn't something he dwells on if he isn't into
it anymore. In fact, while the past is certainly an impor-
tant source for some of his writing, it's something he
doesn't like to think about too much, especially when it
comes to his music.
"I don't like remembering," says Rollins. "I like go-
ing brutally forward, like a Sherman Tank, just forward.
Otherwise, I'm just 'That guy from Black Flag,' you
know, and half our set would be Black Flag songs.
"I don't like resting on any past reputation. You're
only as relevant as your last record, your last book, and
you're only as good as you are gonna be that night.
And, you know, we kick ass, and I can say that because
I know it. And I'm proud of that.... It's just pathetic
when you see these bands getting back together after all
these years and just trying to resuscitate the same thing
and quite honestly it's because they can't make a living
any other way. And it's kinda sad. Well, that'll never be
my story."

Pal Joey, dir. Brent Wagner
Power Center
April 16, 1992
The School of Music's produc-
tion of Pal Joey took a potentially
fun and exciting musical and
turned it into an exercise in medi-
ocrity. The play itself left plenty
of room for creativity and shining
performances, but this version
failed to deliver on most counts.
All the raw elements of a good
musical (choreography, vocals, an
orchestra and actors) were present
but they were misdirected. There
were, however, some redeeming
factors in the production.
By far the best part of the show
was the choreography by Tim
Millett. The intricate tap dance to
"Plant You Now, Dig You Later"
grabbed the audience and pulled
them into its high energy. The
male dance number, the "Happy
Hunting Horn," characterized men
as hunters of women in a funny
and satirical way. The orchestra
complimented the choreography
with a near-flawless performance.
'Inconsistent' sums up the act-
k -**

ing in this musical. Danny Gur-
win, who starred as Joey Evans,
started out with a strong perfor-
mance. His rendition of "I Could
Write a Book" indicated that, with
his strong voice and realistic man-
nerisms, he was perfect for the
role. However, his performance
started to wane during the middle
of the second act. His faltering
performance took away from what
could have been a touching end-
ing.
The strength of the show lay
with the supporting characters.
The shining star was Jon Ham-
mond who played agent/ con-
artist, Ludlow Lowell. Hammond
took a relgtively small role and
turned it into one of the highlights
of the production. From his accent
right down to his walk, Hammond
provided the spice Pal Joey
needed.
The three female leads, Chris-
tine Fenno, Lynette Knapp and
Tracy Plester, each came up short
in the end. Fenno, the best of the
three, played Vera Simpson. She
had a beautiful, strong voice but
her acting could have used a little

polish. Knapp and Plester (as Lin-
da EnglishalGladys Bumps) both
gave consistent performances, but
they just weren't enough to esta-
blish strong characters.
Costumes by Deborah Yeger-
lehner were well done. The scene
that best showed the creativity of
the costumes was "That Terrific
Rainbow," where the women
danced in white costumes with sil-
ver tinsel, while colored lights
flashed on them. It was straight
out of a real '40s nightclub.
The sets, despite their elaborate
design, were not staged convinc-
ingly. During the scenes in Joey's
apartment ,the audience should not
have seen the nightclub; it looked
awkward and out of place. Slow
,changes also diminished the effec-
tiveness of the well constructed
sets.
Pal Joey was not a show from
which one walked away singing
and wishing that life was like a
musical. Maybe the School of
Music should have left this show
in the hands of Gene Kelly.
- Jessie Halladay

A bunch of really geeked Newsies run through the streets of New York after pulling ott a Pulitzer surprise.
Extra! Extra.!Newsies mildly amusmg.

Newsies
dir. Kenny Ortega
by Sarah Weidman
S inging orphans in big screen
musicals don't usually turd me on.
That's why I was surprised when I
found myself mildly amused by
Ne ws ie s, a new musical from
Disney. The directorial debut of+
choreographer Kenny Ortega (of
Dirty Dancing fame), this film takes{
a leap back to the time when movies
were about the little man trying to7
make life easier for the weak.l
Newsies recounts the true story of
a strike by New York newsboys in
1899, after New York World publish-

Luke Edwards). Jack sees profits in
his own wit and nine-year-old Les'
endearing pout, so the three become
partners.
But when Pulitzer (played by
Robert Duvall) rips the kids off,
these newsies get angry. David has
the brains to feed Jack the lines of a
leader. They join together with
newsies from each borough of New
York to force the publisher into in-
creasing their incomes.
The main posse includes Max
Casella, who is better known as
Vinny from Doogie Howser. Casella
plays Racetrack, a kid who could
pass for a mini Joe Pesci. He's a
cigar-smokin', back-talkin', tough
city kid.
This whole plot is rolled into a

Featured stars Bale and Moscow
leave most of the dancing to the rest
of the cast. I'm not sure whether
they relinquish this duty because-
they are not great dancers, or to dis-
tinguish their roles from the masses.
It makes no difference, though, be-
cause the dances are not included to
waste film time as much as they're
included to show off the aggressive
anger the boys feel. The energy and
ferocity in the dancing carries on
even when the kids are fighting.
.Punch, dance, jab, twirl - you get
the idea.
What Bale and Moscow can do is
act. The twosome present an endear-
ing pair anxious to find justice in the
slime of New York politics. They
save each other when they're in

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