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Mayhem and harmony highlight spring arts season

Contributed • Jan 25, 2018 at 4:30 PM

JOHNSON CITY – Mayhem and poetry. Strings and keys. Visual art and health care. Polyphony and percussion. Children’s stories and the ravages of poverty and AIDS. A North Philadelphia creative sanctuary and three minutes of terror.

While the connections may not be immediately apparent, spring 2018 at East Tennessee State University’s Mary B. Martin School of the Arts will weave these and many more dichotomies into a season that features vocal and instrumental music, slam poetry, comedy, numerous life journeys, visual vistas and a touch of introspective horror – all with a harmonious result.

The season begins with a look “Along the Horizon” at “Contemporary Drawing in Tennessee.” This exhibition, curated by Andrew Scott Ross and Vanessa Mayoraz of the ETSU Department of Art and Design faculty, focuses on drawing as a useful medium for artists. The exhibition, displaying the work of 13 Tennessee artists at both the Reece Museum and Slocumb Galleries, runs through mid-February. In conjunction with the exhibit, an artist panel discussion exploring the range and limits of the medium will be held Feb. 15 at 5:30 p.m. in 127 Ball Hall, followed by a 7 p.m. reception in the Reece Museum.

On Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. in the D.P. Culp University Center’s Martha Street Culp Auditorium, the School of the Arts will bring some merry mayhem to campus in the form of three poets - The Mayhem Poets - who are on a mission to change the face of spoken-word poetry using a blend of theater, improv, comedy and hip-hop - without the “gangsta” poses.

“This will be a somewhat different approach to poetry than many people might expect,” says Anita DeAngelis, director of the Martin School of the Arts. “There will be a little bit theater, a little bit of slam poetry, a little bit of comedy and a lot of fun.”

While The Mayhem Poets have their say verbally, activist/artist Regina Holliday uses her artwork to speak volumes on the subject of access to medical records and its effects on health care and mortality. After losing her husband to kidney cancer in 2009, Holliday started The Walking Gallery, painting health care-related images on jackets and other attire, so that as the wearer walks, the message is spread.

Holliday will share her personal and public journeys at ETSU at 7 p.m., Feb. 15 in the Culp Auditorium as the visiting artist for the annual “Evening of Health, Wellness and the Arts,” sponsored by ETSU’s College of Public Health, Martin School of the Arts and Quillen College of Medicine.

“We are known for our eclectic and diverse seasons,” DeAngelis says. “Spring 2018 is certainly no exception.”

The rest of the diverse season includes:

* March 1, 7:30 p.m., Seeger Chapel, Milligan College - Harmony will build as March opens with a performance by the London-based a cappella group, The Swingles. The five-time Grammy-winning vocal ensemble of seven singers includes Greeneville, Tennessee, native and ETSU alumna Sara Davey.

* March 22, at 7:30 p.m., Science Hill High School Auditorium - Mid-March cues the percussion, Third Coast Percussion, another Grammy-winning group. Established in 2005 in Chicago, this artist-run quartet of four classically trained percussionists is praised for its direct connection with the audience, elegance, wit and “inspirational sense of fun and curiosity,” says the Minnesota Star-Tribune.

* April 9, at 7 p.m. in 127 Ball Hall - Some discordant notes will join the chorus with the screening of “Voices from Chernobyl,” an award-winning film that documents the stories of the 1986 nuclear power plant disaster from the perspective of the people affected by it. The free screening is part of ETSU’s Earth Month festivities.

* April 17, 7:30 p.m., Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church, Johnson City - The season will crescendo with harmonious interplay between the Parker Quartet - yet another Grammy winner - and ETSU piano faculty member Dr. Esther Park. The New York Times says a Parker Quartet concert is “something extraordinary,” while the Washington Post praises the group’s “exceptional virtuosity [and] imaginative interpretation.”

* The spring season will also include three films in the ongoing 2017-18 South Arts Southern Circuit Tour of Independent Filmmakers series. On Feb. 12, the combination of documentary and animated feature “Liyana” follows a young Swazi girl on her heroic trek to rescue her two young brothers in a world ravaged by poverty, alcohol and HIV/AIDS. On March 12, filmgoers will meet a North Philadelphia family and share its joys and crises in the documentary “Quest.” Then, on April 16, the screeching strings, plunging knife, 78 camera set-ups and 52 edits of Hitchcock’s classic “Psycho” shower scene will be the focus of “78/52.” Each film will be screened at 7 p.m. and includes a talkback with the filmmaker and a catered light reception. “Liyana” and “Quest” will be screened in the Culp Auditorium and “78/52” in 127 Ball Hall.

For tickets or more information, visit www.etsu.edu/martin or call

(423) 439-TKTS (8587). For disability accommodations, call (423) 439-8346.

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