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335 West Ann Street
Ann Arbor, MI, 48104
United States

Threads All Arts Festival

Blog

How To Tie the Threads knot (and updates)

Karen Toomasian

Today, denizens and Dennis’s of the internet, we’re going to learn how to tie the knot featured on lovely T-shirts, stickers, website banners, and fliers around an Ann Arbor near you. It’s called the “figure-eight knot” (or “figure-of-eight knot” if you get paid by the letter) and it’s used in a myriad of contexts, mostly as a stopper knot. Sailors use it at the ends of lines/ halyards/ sheets and climbers use it at the ends of ropes to make sure if the rope slips it won’t go through the harness or the eyebolt in the ship. It was also used as a primitive form of attachment to email inboxes (this is why it was the Threads logo before we had cyber glue). One can also double this up as a safety check or a way to get a loop end, but that's immoral. As is likely apparent, it can be a really important knot.

1. Get a rope (electrical cords also work)

2. Make a loop with the rope

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3. Send the end of the rope around

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4. Bring the end up through that loop!

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4.5 Leave it loose for about 15 minutes so it can acclimate to the twisting

5. Pull tight

Now you've got yourself the finest website banner you could ever wish for (except we took it first).

Also, you could always just do it the fast way...

Now for those updates I promised before.

Well the submission window has long closed and we have chipped off the cyber-glue got over 170 submissions!!! This is crazy y'all. We are so very grateful to each and every person who dropped us anywhere from one to several lines and kept our email inbox company! Upon writing this we are going through the arduous process of gnawing the list down to 17 hours. And with all the rad submissions this is NO EASY TASK. So we will be working to bring you the line up as soon as possible!

Also, we got a piano. Then y'all painted it. Thanks.

See you from the north!

Lang

Revamp, Rethink, Restart The Blog

Karen Toomasian

Hey there internet folks!

It’s been a while since you have seen us here (almost a year in fact), so welcome (back) to the new blog! We have decided to restart our blog and prey that the battery hasn’t died from being left out in the Ann St. yard. Here’s a little bit of what you can expect from us at the Threads All Arts Blog moving forward: updates on how we select acts/curate the festival, sneak peaks of some future Threads art, works from Threads 2016 artists, interviews with past/ future Threads homies, general silliness, secret codes, updates on events we are running or other related homies are running, recaps and feelings about some of these events, how-to’s, Arby’s secret menu items, and tidbits that arise as we (yes, that’s you all as well) attempt, against the odds, to birth Threads 2017!

And now for a brief update on where we are with the things, the many things: We are currently glued to our inbox (this was considerably easier before the internet, when just elmer’s glue worked, not this cyber glue) awaiting your (yes, you again) submissions for Threads 2017!!! We really want to see/hear/read/experience what you all are doing so please, please, please submit and tell your homies to submit as well. In addition to our attempts to physically affix ourselves to Gmail, we are planning some events and ways to pay for the festival, the cyber glue, and the space program (more on this later). Updates to come, we promise.

In terms of personnel (internal homies), spring and summer is a time of intense movement and excitement. Some of our ranks are on tour with the ineffable -pf, some of us are visiting family back home, some of us are camping, some of us continue to live outside of Ann Arbor, some of us are breeding ducks in the Solomon Islands, some of us are teaching, at least one of us is figuring out how to end a list this long, some of us are working on the Threads space program (Threads 2089 will be on Neptune), and some of us are holding down the fort working in Ann Arbor. Wherever we are, and whatever our occupations we will always be working sometimes in person, sometimes remotely (thanks cyber glue) to make Threads the incredible experience we know it  can be.

Genuinely glued to the internet (submit),

Lang

happy four-month-a-versary!

Karen Toomasian

today is a big day!!! kinda. we’re celebrating four months post-threads. this seems to be the way we’re measuring our days/weeks/months now--either, how long ago was threads, or how soon will it be.  thankfully…. we can answer BOTH of these questions now.  yes, threads was almost four months ago. so, how soon till the next one? 12 months.  that’s right folks, Fall 2017, threads is coming to you- or rather, we hope that you will come to threads.  
here’s some news:
we’re super stoked to have three additional thread-lings added to our team.  Ayal Subar, super slack liner, singer, sometimes-mumbles, swonderful to have around for many reasons.  Andrea Wilk, all around angel and also amazing at averything.  Julia Knowles, perpetually perfect + provides pastries and mastermind at organizing.

these three were a tremendous help in volunteer, tech and moral support for last years event, so it’s quite an honor to have them on board.  we continue to learn so much about

and here’s some more news:
as we continue to meet with potential donors, sponsors and each other to start making decisions about next years threads, we’d love to keep you updated as well! please join our mailing list (on our home page), find us on facebook, twitter, instagram if you haven’t already.  
the thing is, there’s so much art happening in ann arbor.  twelve months from now, even if we show you 1/100 of what exists here (always) we will be the happiest lil kiddos in the world.  we want to give you a chance to experience the freshness, creativeness, special and amazing art happening right here, right now.  threads is only as diverse as our team and our audience, so holler if you’ve got dreams, ideas or anything else! we’d love to hang with you.

With love,

The Threads Team

------all arts, all homegrown-----

hoping to find out more about the ann arbor art scene? here’s a super sweet blog to help make that happen.      Pulp: Arts Around Ann Arbor

UMS Artist in Residence Ben Willis

Karen Toomasian

Threads: How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen or heard you?

Ben: I’m a bassist. I am primarily and improviser then also a composer, depending on the circumstance. For example, I’m doing a solo set at Threads, and so I have a set of music that I loosely composed for double bass. So I am doing some completely improvised performing as well as drawing from particular ideas or structures that I have planned before hand. Most of what I do is improvising with other people in combined groups. So for a solo performance I like to have, at least, an idea of a structure to work from before hand. Over the last several years I have been doing more and more solo performing. I’m trying to explore the acoustic instrument and the natural sounds of the instrument. And I do some electronic work as well but for a solo performance I try to limit myself to the sounds of the instrument. I will definitely doing more different things as I go along. To shorten that up a little bit, my performance will be a largely improvised structured improvisation for solo bass. As someone who started out as a classical musician has moved into the improvised music world, it is nice to have that foundation of form

T: Cool, that feeds into my next question: do you exclusively play the upright bass or do you do any electric as well?

B: Yeah I do both. I’ve been playing more electric bass with some different projects in the past few years. I’m playing in the band Saajtak an Ann Arbor/ Detroit group, which has allowed me an avenue to build up my electric bass playing. I have been working on building up a set of effects pedals over the last few years. I have always been interested in electronics, but haven’t spent the time digging into that necessary to building an array of sounds I want to use. So that has been a good project to work on that side of things. It requires a degree of experimentation, especially using effects on the upright.

T: You said you started out playing classical music, about when did you start playing music? And was bass your first instrument?

B: I started playing bass in 4th grade orchestra class. I took piano lessons before that but quit after a year. So bass was the first instrument that I really played, and its always been that way.

T: And did they have you start out on a cello tuned to fourths, or something?

B: Nope, they had little basses. Now that kids are starting younger an younger, the string world is weird like that where kids will be playing at three or four years old, there’s a whole school of bass pedagogy making tiny basses tuned an octave higher.

T: Who are some of your biggest influences? Not necessarily just bass players, but people in the classical music world, the improvised music world, or the composing world that you draw a lot of influence from.

 B: I feel like there are probably these hinge figures, like in high-school hearing The Bad Plus was kind of a big point for me. There are an amazing group but also what they were doing with a jazz trio was new to me; I had never heard that style of music before. I think I found there album in a Barnes & Noble when I was in 10th grade or something. I grew up in rural Minnesota, without a lot of access to live music, so a lot of my early music discovery came through the internet. So hearing The Bad Plus was like ‘ok these people are playing jazz but they are incorporating a bunch of different styles of music as well. Also hearing John Zorn’s Naked City, my sister got me this album when she was in college, was a pivotal point for me when I went ‘ok music isn’t so strictly divided into genres, there are people crossing and spanning these boundaries.’ So John Zorn became a big influence for me in college, in the way I approached classical music and played with other people. Then through studying classical music I found all these other composers like Gunther Schuller, or Kaija Saariaho has been an influence in the way I think about sound. As a bass player, Stefano Scodanibbio, an Italian bass player, was a really influential figure in contemporary music for me. He was also a figure in contemporary music, a lot of contemporary composers wrote pieces specifically for him. Figures like him, and the French bassist Joëlle Léandre, similarly she has a background in contemporary classical music, but went on to do entirely her own thing, and does mostly improvised performances now. Lately I’ve been really influenced by doom metal and drone music, that kind of experiential nature of music.

T: You sort of talked about growing up, and starting music in your school orchestra. What advice do you have for young kids starting in music?

 B: Find other people who share interests that you have. If someone shares an interest with you they’ll be able to introduce you to so many things. So if I know someone who likes a band that I do as well, that serves as a hinge point and they can show me cool things that I haven’t heard before. You can sort of introduce each other to things you didn’t know you liked yet. Also, collaborate. Seek out people who do different things. I think I’ve learned a lot from dancers, visual artists and how they do things. Just be open to how other people do things, because art making can be a social, as well as individual, process. Also, I’m someone who went to school for music, but I think its important for young people who are growing up now to know that you don’t have to go to school for your art. Just because your not studying it doesn’t mean you won’t do it, if you’re passionate about it. There are so many ways to make art.

T: What do you think the UMS artist in residence program has allowed you to do?

B: It has allowed me to experience different things through UMS, they gave each of us a stipend to make art and tickets to four shows of our choice. Also, meeting the other artists in the program has been really helpful.

T: Threads was born out of the idea of displaying the artistic environment in Ann Arbor, how has Ann Arbor, as a place or as a community, affected your work?

B: Definitely the people I have worked with here and met here have been the most important experience. And getting to Detroit more, with their vibrant improvised music scene, has been great. There are a lot of really great musicians here with some big ideas, which are cool to witness and be involved in.

T: Could you give me a definition of a sandwich?

B: I heard a great debate on the radio about whether or not a hotdog was a sandwich and that whole bag. For me personally, a sandwich requires two pieces of bread.

T: So a sub sandwich? Not a sandwich?

B: Hmmm. So a sub, to me, seems to be divided. Yes, technically it is one piece of bread but its sliced to act like two pieces of bread.

T: But then isn’t a hotdog a sandwich too? With both you have to tear the bun open, there is still only that hinge.

B: See I still think of the hotdog with the dog on top, whereas a sub is on its side. So it could be an orientation thing. Whether it’s hinged or not, there is still a top and a bottom. With the hotdog, the bun is primarily underneath. The stuff is between things that are underneath and on top of it.

T: And do the things underneath and on top have to be bread? Or can they be non-bread entities?

B: I would say it has to be bread, or at least the idea of bread had to be there, and then removed. Like for a breadless sandwich: it’s a breadless sandwich, the “breadless” implies that there was bread in the beginning, which was then taken away. Same goes for an open-faced sandwich; it was once closed, and now it has been open.

T: Thank you so much for elucidating the open-faced problem for me! and thank you in general for sitting down and talking with me.

B: Not a problem, see you at Threads.

UMS Artist in Residence Siobhan McBride

Karen Toomasian

Lang sat down for an interview with UMS Artist in Residence, Siobhan McBride. Here's what Siobhan has to say:

Threads: How would you describe your work for someone who has never seen it, or doesn’t know who you are?

Siobhan: I make small paintings in Acryla gouache. Although gouache is flat by nature, the paintings have many layers. I use tape to delineate shapes or lay down areas of tape and cut shapes out with a knife. I then paint into the taped boundaries. The paintings are accumulations of numerous layers of painted shapes.The paintings are descriptions of weird and quotidian experiences, passages from books, film fragments, things caught in the corner of my eye, and an attempt to conjure slippery memories. I hope the work is strange and suspenseful like the excitement of exploring a new place, and the thrill of knowing you are drifting back into a frightening dream.

T: As a kid, when did you start drawing/ painting? and did you begin in any different medium or type of art?

S: I probably started drawing at the same time I learned to shape my first letters. I’d try to draw letters then try to draw a dog. Most people do some sort of drawing at a very early age. I colored Easter eggs and carved pumpkins. I had a chalkboard and drew our house in cross section with all the furniture, like a doll house. I ate crayons and pencil erasers.

T: Do you think there was a good community of the arts where you grew up?

S: I grew up in Queens, NY where there is a rich community and so much art to see. I can gorge there in a way I haven’t experienced anywhere else. As an adult, I wasn’t serious about making art until I moved to Philadelphia for school and I found a wonderful community and life long friends.

T: Any Suggestions for younger artists just getting started?

S: Go see as much art, in person, as possible. Every time you take a trip, make a point to see art. Spend much more time making things than thinking about making things.

T: Who would you say are the biggest influences on your work?

S: For me, influences change all the time. Something or someone that looms large one year might disappear in significance the next. I love Jan Van Eyck, Brueghel, and Vermeer. I love James Castle. I love Bonnard and Vuillard. The films of Michelangelo Antonioni for creating empty spaces that feel charged with meaning. Many novels, this last year Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro and Ursula K LeGuin The Dispossessed. Always, Nabokov’s short story Signs and Symbols.

T: Could you give a brief summary of the UMS artist in residence program and what it has allowed you to do personally in relation to your art?

S: Residents get tickets for four shows of their choosing and a stipend. We see shows and get together occasionally to discuss our experiences. It’s given me the opportunity to meet incredibly talented people (the residents, the folks who run the program, performers) and see some remarkable shows that I might not have otherwise seen.

T: Has Ann Arbor, either as a geographic place or an artistic environment, affected your art?

S: I am new to Ann Arbor so it’s hard to tell. I’ve moved around a lot. It tends to take some time for a place to impact my work. My palette is possibly darker. I lived in Miami before moving here and of course the climate was very different.

T: I've got a theory that you can tell a lot about a person based on what their favorite bad movie is, what is yours?

S: Anything with Nicolas Cage. He’s made a few excellent films many really terrible ones. I’ll watch them all; I don’t care.

T: If you could be a plant or nonhuman animal, what would you be?

S: I would be a green, or night, heron or an otter, or a mushroom colony.

UMS Artist in Residence Emilio Rodriguez

Karen Toomasian

Lang from the Threads Team sat down for a Q&A with Emilio Rodriguez, one of the featured UMS Artists in Residence. Here's what he has to say:

Threads: How would you describe your work for someone who has never seen it, or doesn’t know who you are?

Emilio: I would just say that my work is a fusion of poetry and theater. I like to say if poetry and theater had a baby that would be the genre I would like to go under.

T: Does that fusion normally occur in the writing or the performance of the pieces?

E: A little bit of both. I definitely write it with poetry moments written in and I like to find actors who have experience doing poetry readings to make that come to life.

T: So when you were younger were you into both theater and poetry or was one of them your ‘first love,’ so to speak, and the other you adopted later?

E: I didn’t discover theater until college so maybe poetry, or just writing in general. I was really fortunate that my mom was a preschool teacher so I started reading really early. So at a very young age I could say “you know I’m kind of bored of this story, what if I just write this story and be in control of that.” So I thank my mom for encouraging me.

T: About what age were you when you started writing? And then at what age did your current blend of poetry and theater begin?

E: I think I would say that I started writing when I was about five, you know not good stuff, just like “tie my shoe, the sky is blue.” That sort of stuff, if you know what I’m saying. And then late college is when I started mixing poetry and theater. Probably the beginning of college is when I discovered spoken word and def poetry jam and all of that. And then, also discovered theater in college as well, and figured out how to mix those as best as I could.

T: At school did you study theater, or poetry, or something else?

E: I formally studied theater. I took a couple of poetry classes and there was a spoken word club on our campus, and so I got really involved in that and became the president of that. That was sort of my training in that.

T: You’ve already said how, growing up, your mom was an integral part of your writing, but did find that there was a good community of artists where you were

E: Growing up I moved around a lot because my dad was in the military, so I had a lot of home bases. But I would say that the place I was the longest was Riverside, California, and they do not really have the best arts scene. So I think that’s why I got into theater so late. I can’t remember ever seeing a play. I think in kindergarten we saw a ballet or something. So that’s why I’m really thankful that my mom had that early literacy background to get me into stories at a young age.

T: Did you have school plays at all?

E: (Laughter) It’s so interesting! I was in 3rd grade, my brother was in 5th grade, and they did The Wizard of Oz, and I was not cast and my brother was, and my brother doesn’t do theater at all. The same thing happened with a church play, I auditioned and my mom said “if I’m going to drive you out there I may as well take your brother.” And my brother got the part and I didn’t.

T: That’s rough.

E: And now he doesn’t act at all, he’s going to grad school for business.

T: Going in a little bit of a different direction, this festival is based around the Ann Arbor community of arts, and exposing people in the area to that community. Do have any suggestions to young artists and people just getting started in the arts?

E: I would encourage people to look around for resources and go out and support whatever medium they’re in. Like if you are an opera singer go out and see opera, because that’s how you can network with people who are being successful in that area. I guess that is what I try to do, I try and see theater as much as I can.

T: Who would you say are your biggest influences?

E: That’s a good question. So I really love Sandra Cisneros House on Mango Street, that was one of the first books in high school that was required reading that I actually read, because I liked it. So she was a big influence for me in melding poetry into whatever art form you do and being authentic to the people in your neighborhood and your communities. And I really love Ntozake Shange. She wrote For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide / When the Rainbow is Enuf, which I directed in college. Basically people who have a poetic sense to whatever their art form is, or whatever their form of writing is have been most influential to me.

T: Could you briefly explain what the UMS artist in residence program is, and what it entails? And further, what it has allowed you to do.

E: It entails seeing five shows for free at UMS, then was also have meetings together. There are five of us, each from different disciplines. The main goal was to get us to see how other disciplines affect us. So, both with the meetings and the works we chose to see, they encouraged me not just to see the plays but to see the opera and the jazz music. It also allowed me to apply for an excellence in higher education in theater award, which I ended up being a finalist for.

T: Has the artist in residency program been your first exposure to Ann Arbor?

E: Well I had done a play in Ann Arbor as an actor at the old Performance Network so I really just knew that area. We would meet in that area and eat in that area, so the residency was my first time seeing even the power center and the state theater, I had no idea what any of that was.

T: How do you think that being in Ann Arbor has affected your work? And that could be geographically, community-wise, or in terms of being a part of the artist in residency program.

E: I think that it’s a little bit odd because I actually live in Detroit, so there are not a lot of young people going to theater. So being in Ann Arbor was really cool because you young people in the audience because of the university. And working with a couple of the theaters in the area has been really beneficial because that 20-30 year old crowd is what I really like to write for. When I come to Ann Arbor it’s really nice to have those people in the audience.

T: So I’ve got a theory that you can tell a lot about a person based on what their favorite bad movie is. What is your favorite bad movie?

E: I don’t know if this counts as a bad movie but one of my favorite movies is To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar. It’s John Leguizamo, Wesley Snipes, and Patrick Swayze are drag queens who travel from New York to California for a competition.

T: That sounds awesome! One more question for you: if you could be a plant or non-human animal, what would you be and why?

E: I would be a kind of tree. I know that sounds simple but I just want my leaves to fall off because I love the idea of losing something and getting it back and being able to appreciate it and just when you appreciate it, you lose it again.

T: I never thought about the question from that angle, that’s awesome. Well thank you so much for sitting down and talking to me!

Submissions Are In

Karen Toomasian

WOW! We’ve received submissions from over 100 artists! We are absolutely blown away. The amount of interest in the festival is humbling and inspiring. We want to say thank you to every artist who has submitted their work for Threads! It means so much to us that so many incredible people want to come together.

We are already working on the impossible task of forming the final lineup, and can honestly say that this festival will be jam packed. Every single artist will be absolutely stunning. Thank you so much to everyone who helped spread the word - we can’t wait to see you there!

 

 

SPREAD THE WORD!

Karen Toomasian

Thanks for finding out about us and making it all the way to our website!  

We want this festival be something really special.  That won't happen without all of the incredible people you know hearing about it and coming!  We really want to get as many people as we can involved.  It's time to let everyone know what is happening!  

Please consider helping us out while we get the word out about this festival.  The more people involved, the better!  We need you to contact all of your friends and family who may be interested in performing, displaying work, attending, advertising, sharing, supporting and getting excited about this!  

We are on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!  Let your friends know and keep up with us there!
@threadsfestival

Stay tuned as always for more information! 

Lots of exciting details coming very soon!

We're So Excited.

Karen Toomasian

This festival came from a decision to share.  We as the creative team find so much joy in experiencing the art making that's happening in Ann Arbor and surrounding areas.  People are making amazing things all around us, all the time.  We want a time and place to bring those people together, and let them share themselves with our community.    

We hope we can help create a space where the diversity that exists in our community can be experienced in various performances and display.