Best venues of 2017
The 10th best venue goes to the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the University’s space to share its art collection and my space to take a study break. While most works on and within the walls of this public art museum are static, they entertain through visual stimulation. By exhibiting a myriad of artistic styles and movements, the UMMA’s collection is a spectacle of diverse visual representation. The UMMA is also home to temporary exhibitions and special events. The UMMA’s website features information on their current happenings, including movie nights at the museum, after-hours viewings and, recently, a chocolate tasting.
— Alex Suppan, Daily Arts Writer
9. The Streets of Ann Arbor
There is so much art to behold just by walking around the University's campus and the city of Ann Arbor. Art is in the small downtown shops selling handcrafted goods. Art is in the crafty fairy doors that are hidden all around the city. There is live music at your fingertips from the man in a wolf mask who walks around, jamming with his violin to groups of people banging on upside down buckets. The University campus contains buildings with a variety of thoughtful and interesting architectural designs. If finding art in nature is your thing, the Arboretum is the prime place to appreciate art its most natural form. The diverse audience is made up of families, onlookers and students from all over Michigan. Just step outside of your dorm and immerse yourself in the art that Ann Arbor provides free of charge.
— Isabelle Hasslund, Daily Arts Writer
8. Zingerman’s Greyline
Walking into Zingerman’s Greyline, one feels as though they have left campus and arrived somewhere almost futuristic — somewhere you might find yourself on a weeknight, floating around the room with a champagne flute in hand without worrying about paper deadlines or coming exams. I attended a reading at the Greyline on a Monday evening in late November. I felt incredibly underdressed in my thrifted jeans and my Converse, with the soles peeling away. But after sitting in the dimly lit Greyline for a while, I might as well have been wearing a shimmering cocktail dress and stilettos. In other words, the glamour of the venue itself is pleasantly consuming. Illuminated by low-hanging and ultra-modern chandeliers, the Greyline’s sleek hardwood floors and gray walls are juxtaposed against the shelf-lined walls of Ann Arbor’s bookstores with a long, stocked bar replacing the usual coffee counter. The Greyline hosts a variety of both personal and public events, from wedding rehearsals and bar mitzvahs to concerts and readings. If you want to escape college and feign sophistication for a night like I did, attend a Greyline event.
— Jenna Barlage, Daily Arts Writer
Coffee and books: the two things that make any place feel warm and cozy. Located on E. Washington in downtown Ann Arbor, Literati Bookstore has both. Literati has brought a number of renowned authors and poets — like Roxane Gay, Tiya Miles and Alise Alousi — for readings. They have also partnered with the Zell Visiting Writers Series, which was made possible through Janey Lack, the University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Department of English Language & Literature and the Office of the Vice President, to help bring writers from all over North America and abroad to host public readings. You can grab a cup of coffee, listen to readings from your favorite authors and then head downstairs to stock up on books. Not in the mood for a reading? Musicians also perform at Literati, and the bookstore’s cozy vibes create an intimate audience experience. Regardless of the type of performance it is hosting, Literati has the heart, warmth, coffee and books needed for a relaxing time.
— Nitya Gupta, Daily Arts Writer
6. Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre
Tucked into the side of the Michigan League, the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre is like the charming little grandpa in the family of Ann Arbor venues. Stepping into the solid-oak-paneled theatre feels like stepping into an older era — after all, it was designed in 1929. The few renovations have hardly changed its character. 2017 saw performances such as the School of Music, Theatre & Dance’s “One Hit Wonder,” Rude Mechanicals’ “Equus” and a variety of student and community group performances. Like the League, there is a certain elegance and charm permanently hung in the air. It is one of the few theaters in the United States to have a curved wall at the back of the stage, creating unique uses of lighting and sound. With only 644 seats, The Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre delivers an intimate experience that makes you feel like you’re at a private show.
— Fallon Gates, Daily Community Culture Editor
5. The Ark
I love The Ark. I’m shouting it from every ice-laden, snow-ridden rooftop in Ann Arbor, and I’m screaming it at you. The club seats roughly 400, and it’s an oasis of folk music. With round tables in the front and rows of seating further back, there’s no bad place to land. It’s the kind of space that lends itself to being fallen in love with. In 2017 alone, The Ark hosted the likes of Billy Bragg, Stephen Kellogg and Howie Day. It balances big names with up-and-comers, welcoming new artists with the same fearlessness that drives the soul of hip-swaying, feet-stomping roots music. There’s an attainability inherent in the air there. The nature of the venue strips each performance down to the barest of bones; it’s just us and the artist, every time. It’s cozy and loving, and it’s a stunning manifestation of my favorite aspect of folk music: overwhelming intimacy oozing from a wild, wild heart.
— Arya Naidu, Senior Arts Editor
The Midwest has commonly been seen as an expansive mecca of DIY culture, and Ann Arbor is right in the center of it all. Something about this town and the people in it just oozes creativity that’s ready to show itself off at all costs … even if it’s in a basement. House shows have served as the venue for some of my favorite memories here in Ann Arbor. They’re often made up of some of the most unique and passionate acts in the area, with shows ranging from local punk bands to three hour performances of a Phillip Glass opera. Their informal nature fosters a supportive environment for artists to share a piece of themselves with audiences in a way that feels completely devoid of any commercial motive. There’s no place where you’ll experience such raw emotion and intimacy like a house show.
3. Hill Auditorium
Hill Auditorium plays host to many of Ann Arbor’s famous concerts. Throughout its 104 year history, the hall has hosted performances by the Berlin Philharmonic, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Vienna Philharmonic, Leonard Bernstein, Robert Frost, Elton John, Sergei Prokofiev and the Grateful Dead. This past semester, the hall hosted Hillary Clinton and Bassem Youssef (among others). It was designed in 1913 as an acoustically perfect environment, the goal being that a pin being dropped on the stage could be heard by every seat. I really enjoy attending performances at the Hill Auditorium by students at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance — the fancy ceiling (with a Michigan “M” in the center) and the picturesque exterior give an exciting and sophisticated feel to every performance.
— Sammy Sussman, Daily Arts Writer
The Michigan Theater has long been the jewel of Ann Arbor. The theater is perfectly marketed for a university town, since it features films and hosts live performances. Established in 1928, its appeal is everlasting. Stepping through the front doors feels like entering a new world, full of vaulted ceilings and rich gold embroidery lining the walls. Two grand sweeping staircases — which double as a classic photo-op station — beckon guests to explore the extravagant balcony level. The theater is a breath of fresh air, but the location itself is a blend between antique and modern. While the interior may seem like it belongs in another century, the bustle of downtown Ann Arbor lies right outside its walls.
— Trina Pal, Daily Arts Writer
1. Power Center
The Power Center serves as the home for multiple organizations and functions on campus, such as the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, the University Musical Society, the musical theatre troupe MUSKET and more. A building acutely aware of its geometrical design, the Power Center’s architectural layout demands to be noticed: From the outside mirrored walls and the solid concrete spiral staircases to the malleability of the stage’s orientation, you’re hit with imagination and creativity the moment you enter. Although the theater is designed to be spacious and grand (fitting a little over 1,300 seats), every seat is no more than 80 feet away from the stage, drawing in each audience member for an intimate experience. Dazzling performances — like SMTD’s “The Little Mermaid,” performed by the musical theatre department, and UMS’s “Written in Water,” performed by Ragamala Dance Company — left their mark on the Power Center’s stage in 2017. Awaiting more art, more drama and more talent, the Power Center will be sure to imbue audiences with magic this upcoming year.
— Erika Shevchek, Daily Arts Writer