Monday, September 23, 2013

Art & Sol events include architectural tours in Saginaw, Midland and Bay City

by janet i. martineau

Strange as it may seem, architecture is playing a prominent role in the Fall In...Art and Sol festival hosted throughout the Great Lakes Bay Regional late September through October.

Billed as the world’s first solar art festival, Art and Sol is showcasing seven outdoor solar art pieces from around the world, installed in such venues as the FirstMerit Event Park in Saginaw, Wenonah Park in Bay City and Dow Gardens in Midland.

Some of them are massive, like “Night Garden” with its giant lotus flowers more than 12 feet in diameter along with tulips and dewdrops -- all colorfully powered solar energy charged by the sunlight during the day and illuminated through energy-saving LED lights at night.  

And others are smaller and rather than color offer solar-powered sound --  including Craig Colorusso’s “Sun Boxes,” consisting of 20 sound speakers, each powered by the sun via solar panels, each with a computer board loaded with a recorded guitar note and programmed to play continuously in an evolving loop.

Example of a Luxfer Prism window
So, as a part of the festival celebrating the sun, Saginaw’s Castle Museum is sponsoring four walking or bus tours dealing with Tiffany windows, Luxfer prism plate installations, stained glass and a greenhouse complex that once was.

“All of them will deal with the theme of light and how transmitted light has been used in architecture -- both pragmatically and aesthetically,” says Thomas F. Trombley, the Castle Museum’s deputy director. “All will last about 2 hours and all will require some walking.”

Midland’s Alden B. Dow Home and Studios is hosting a one-day  “Light From Above” tour of nine Midland churches -- its title referring not only to the sun’s rays but also the heavenly father up there with the sun.

“We chose nine of what we consider the most historically significant of the 101 churches we have in Midland County,” says Craig McDonald, the director of the Alden B. Dow Home and Studios of the tough choice.

And the Bay County Historical Society is chiming in with its annual “Tour of Homes,” featuring seven dwelling built form the late 1880s onward.

“We might be the stretch,” says Judy Jeffers, co-chair of the “Tour of Homes” and president of the Bay County Historical Society. “But it is outdoor event with the traveling from home to home, and many have gardens that are a product of the sun.”

The schedule, in order of occurrence, is;

-- Sunday, Sept. 29, “Capturing Daylight: Luxfer Prism Plate Installations in Old Town Saginaw,” a walking tour. 

As Trombley explains it, in the early 20th century, buildings throughout the country were transformed by an innovative glazing system manufactured by the Luxfer Prism Company of Chicago (with the commissioned help of a guy named Frank Lloyd Wright). Through the use of carefully positioned ribbed glass panels, natural light was directed into interiors. 

“It was all about putting daylight into buildings,” says Trombley. 

Several spots in Old Town Saginaw -- the Red Eye Cafe and Jake’s Old City Grill among them -- still include examples of this firm’s work and during the 2pm walking tour participants will explore the history of the firm and how its products transformed those buildings in Old Town Saginaw. 

$5. Reservations required by calling (989) 752-2861.

-- Wednesday, Oct. 2, “Tiffany Studios Installations,” a bus tour.

In the early 20th Century, New York’s famed Tiffany Studios was renowned for its decorative designs and innovations in how light was transmitted through stained glass. 

The 2pm tour will visit Tiffany windows in three churches (First Presbyterian, St. John Episcopal and First Congregational), exploring the histories of the windows and the buildings in which they are located.

“And it also includes a stop at Oakwood Cemetery (in Saginaw Township),” says Trombley. “Tiffany Studios also created granite-carved cemetery monuments.”

$20. Reservations required by calling (989) 752-2861`.

-- Sunday, Oct. 13, “Bay County Historical Society Tour of Homes.”

The seven homes on the self-guided tour are open from 11am to 5pm, says Jeffers, and are on both the east and west sides of the city. “We have Victorian homes, an Aladdin kit home (the pre-cut mail order company was based in Bay City), an Arts and Crafts style home that hints of Frank Lloyd Wright.

“One of them, built in 1888 for a doctor who had his office in the basement, is now a funeral home.”

Annually participants come from all over the state for this event, says Jeffers. “I think it is because we have so many large homes, on Center Avenue, that were built by rich lumber barons and have been well maintained.”
As is traditional with this annual tour, Jeffers says guides will be in the rooms open to the public at each venue to talk about the history of the home and point out furnishings of interest.”

Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 the day of the tour, on sale only at the historical museum, 321 Washington Ave. and by calling (989) 893-5733. A free shuttle service between locations is also available for those who prefer to let someone else do the driving, she said.

-- Wednesday, Oct. 16, “Stained Glass Windows of Saginaw,”  bus tour.

Trombley is keeping all the destinations secret, but they will include both the west side and east side of the city, both churches and private installations; some viewed just from the exterior and others by going inside.

“To be truthful, I am still working on the line-up,” he says. “There is no shortage of choices.”

2pm. $20. Reservations required by calling (989) 752-2861.

Memorial Presbyterian
-- Saturday, Oct. 19, “Light From Above: Midland’s Houses of Faith.”

The free self-guided tour runs noon to 4pm, says McDonald. And only three of the nine were designed by native son Alden B. Dow. “We wanted this tour to showcase all different styles, not just his, as well as several different faiths.”

As McDonald explains it, participants can start at any one of the nine churches, where they will receive a guide booklet providing background on each church as well as an overall locator map. Guides will be at each venue to talk about the church and answer questions.

“A committee looked at photos of all 101 churches in our county and discussed them and then chose the nine based on the architect and the design; that they brought a richness to the community; a high quality. They date from the 1950s onward.”

St. John's Lutheran
The churches are St. John’s Lutheran, 505 Carpenter; United Church of Christ, 4100 Chestnut Hill; St. John’s Episcopal, 405 N. Saginaw; Trinity Lutheran, 3701 S. Jefferson;  First United Methodist, 315 W. Larkin; Poseyville Methodist, 1849 S. Poseyville; Blessed Sacrament, 3109 Swede; Holy Scripture Lutheran, 4525 W. Main, and Memorial Presbyterian, 1310 Ashman.

McDonald says limiting each stop to 20 minutes should allow each visitor enough time to view all nine, which includes the travel time between them.

-- Saturday, Oct. 19, “Tour of a Vanished Greenhouse Complex” walking tour, starting at 2pm at 1805 Gratiot in Saginaw.

Throughout his work, Pulitzer-winning poet Theodore Roethke incorporated references to the extensive greenhouses of his family’s floral business in back of his boyhood home at 1805 Gratiot.

The greenhouses were demolished more than 60 years ago and houses stand where carnations, sweet peas and geraniums once thrived. However, the neighborhood that replaced them still provides clues to their existence. 

During this half-mile walk, Trombley will explore the neighborhood and use 
photographs and tape measures to bring these vanished greenhouses to life. And Roz Berlin, a member of the River Junction Poets, will read some of Roethke’s greenhouse-inspired works. 

Free but preregistration required by calling (989) 752-2861. 

Not all of the stops on the architectural events are barrier free.

SVSU lecture series hosts Castro's daughter, Lincoln author, Oscar-nominated filmmaker, diversified flutist

by janet i. martineau

Guess who is speaking this fall at Saginaw Valley State University’s annual speakers series?

Alina Fernandez
The daughter of former Cuban President Fidel Castro,  of all people.

Also on the docket are an Oscar-nominated international film director, a famous flutist talking about anxiety, and a Lincoln historian taking a look back at that president’s Emancipation Proclamation.

All of the lectures are free.

The line-up is as follows:

-- 7pm Tuesday, Sept. 24, “Castro’s Daughter: An Exile’s Insight Into Cuba,” featuring Alina Fernandez. In the Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts. 

Fernandez will relive watching daddy on TV overthrowing the Cuban government  by day and at home playing with her until dawn -- of her father leading the 1959 Batista government overthrow, of living as a Cuban elite during the 1960s and 1970s, of her decision to join a dissident movement in the 1980s, and of her ultimate 1993 escape from the isolated island nation just  below Florida.
Basil Clark

-- 4pm Thursday, Oct. 3, “Profiles and Personalities: A Story of Some SVSU People,” featuring Basil A. Clark. In Founders Hall.

In celebration of SVSU’s 50th anniversary, English professor Clark will introduce people who have served the university over the years -- some distinguished, others humble, all of whom he met in his research as he wrote a 1963-1989 volume of SVSU history.

Byungil Ahn
-- 4pm Wednesday, Oct. 9, “Asian History in Your Backyard: The Survival and Success of Chinese Restaurant Owners in Saginaw and the Rise of Korean Nationalism in the 20th Century,” featuring Byungil Ahn. In the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

A member of SVSU’s history department for five years, Ahn will analyze how and why four Chinese-Koreans left Korea, where their families lived and ran businesses, during the 1970s and 1980s and settled in Saginaw to establish Chinese restaurants.

It is more than just about food, and today these restaurant owners are part of a nationalist movement in Korea that exists here as well as back home. 

Allen Guelzo

-- 7pm Thursday, Oct. 17, “Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation: The End of Slavery in America,” featuring Allen Guelzo. In the Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Guelzo is the author of two award-winning books about America’s 16th President and is, appropriately, a professor of the Civil War era at Gettysburg College.

One of the books is the title of his SVSU lecture, exploring how Lincoln rejected alternatives to emancipation, including treating escaping slaves as war contraband.

Eugenia Zukerman
-- 7pm Tuesday, Oct. 22, and Wednesday, Oct. 23, “Strategies for Coping With the Age of Anxiety,” featuring Eugenia Zukerman (talk on Tuesday; performance Wednesday). In the Rhea Miller Recital Hall. 

Zukerman averages more than 30 international performances a year, but in addition to her flute playing she is also a writer, journalist, TV correspondent, music administrator, Internet entrepreneur and teacher.

At SVSU she will discuss the ups and downs of every career; struggles and achievements on Tuesday and then return the next night to perform a recital.
Mira Nair

-- 7pm Wednesday, Oct. 30, “An Evening With Mira Nair.” In the Malcolm Field Theatre for the Performing Arts.

Nair was raised in India, attended Harvard University and lives in New York City -- her diverse background resulting in films exploring the tug of competing worlds while examining the ways people can bridge gaps dividing culture, race and gender.

Among them are the Amelia Earhart biopic “Amelia,” the 2009 romantic comedy “New York, I Love You,” the coming-of-age drama “The Namesake,” the Oscar-nominated “Salaam Bombay!” and the crossover hit “Monsoon Wedding.”

Laurence C, Smith
-- 7pm Wednesday, Nov. 6, “The World in 2050: Four Forces Shaping Civilization’s Northern Future,” featuring Laurence C. Smith. In the Rhea Miller Recital Hall.

Smith, one of the world’s most respected climate scientists, explored the ramifications on geology and society due to climate change in a 322-page book by the same name as his SVSU talk.

In it he evaluates how it will impact demographics, globalization and demands on natural resources. 

Smith is a professor and vice chairman of geography and a professor of earth and space sciences at UCLA.