I recently appeared on the local arts podcast Don’t You Lie to Me, where they fed me whiskey and made me reveal all the secrets of arts criticism and INDY Week. Thanks to Warren Hicks and Jeff Bell for having me on and for all they do for the arts in Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill.
Promo video by Jon Pfundstein for upcoming show at Durham's Gibson Girl Vintage by Streak of Tigers (Michelle Dove, Brian Howe, and Caitlyn Swett)
Dan Boehl, Sarah Edwards, and Marta Nuñez Pouzols reading at Howse Party in Durham on December 7, 2019.
Video clips from all but the first edition of Howse Party, the poetry series I run at home in Durham, which is about to take a field trip to Arcana at 7:30 p.m. Friday, August 17, featuring Jameela F. Dallis , Lauren Hunter, and Travis Smith reading tarot-related work.
After eking out a second place for arts features two years ago, stoked to snag that gold medal from the Association of Alternative Newsmedia Awards (for arts criticism), and to be in good company with INDY colleagues past and present: Byron Woods, Victoria Bouloubasis, Erica Hellerstein, Sarah Willets, and V.C. Rogers all won or placed. Thanks AAN.
ARTS CRITICISM circulation under 40,000
Michelle Dove says:
Making the 11 tracks on this “record” that is not quite poetry and not quite music has taught me more than I could’ve imagined going in. Writing is solitary, so when Brian Howe approached me about collaborating I was excited but unsure of myself. We started creating sounds to start, then recording our voices and discovering where they fit in relation to each other. Now months later, Brian and I are terribly excited to give you LURE, a poetry and sound collab that nothing’s like anything I’ve made before (Brian is a deep-seed in sound poetry!). Breaking your own forms or structures is crucial perhaps for growth. We like to think of LURE as less a record of songs and more a séance that corrals sound and language. We hope you will give it a listen and see where it lands for you. We’ll also be performing a live variation of a few tracks for NL 15th Anniversary: Night 1 of 5 on Friday, Feb 23. And we’ll have LURE cassettes at the show! Link to stream LURE or to purchase the cassette / aka Valentine’s séance for your boo.
Brian Howe says:
As we release our electropoetry collaboration, Lure, today, I want to co-sign and add to what Michelle says in her release note. It’s kind of her to characterize me blurting out “we should make something!” as an “approach,” but I’m glad I did and am kind of amazed at what that haphazard door-knock opened into. It was clear right away that michelle and I had similar affinities for spooky poetry and drone music. It was also clear as we started to experiment that she “got it,” this obscure thing I’ve been doing off and on for like 12 years. As soon as she got her hands on the tools she started making sounds that made me say whoa. I have usually done this work with me doing all the music and arrangements, with others contributing only voices or jammy instrumentation. But in this case, Michelle and I were full coauthors, both contributing words and sounds and mixing. Her new energy shook me out of my old tricks, which was thrilling, and she and I are also very different writers and readers despite a certain common sensibility, which produced exciting contrasts. We spent a good four months at least letting this artifact coalesce, and now were working on a live version, a whole other dark garden to grow. I’m excited for y’all to hear this, which you can do on my SoundCloud (link in comments) or Michelle’s bandcamp, where you can also preorder the limited edition cassette that we should have in time for our live debut at the nightlight 15th bday party on feb 23. And I’m happy to have made a rad new friend through collaboration!
How else have you had it?
How many memories has it took?
Would you call this a new sleep-state where there isn't regret?
Was it you in your own world?
Or do you wait until what becomes?
You might be half of what you're missing.
How much is a hundred mistakes worth?
What isn't what you came for?
Who didn't tell you that they vanished?
Let's leave if you are turning.
You are a brilliant look.
In last year's first-annual INDY Week Style Issue, we created paper dolls that you could dress for a number of character types and social circles in the Triangle. In this year's Style Issue, published today, we made a coloring book about aughties fashion nostalgia, which is nearly upon us (I've written about it a couple of times lately, so it was already on my mind). For next year, I'm thinking pop-up book, but our printer would probably murder me.
A couple of weeks ago, something remarkable happened at Articulating Value, the symposium that capped the yearlong series of conversations Culture Mill spearheaded among local artists and art professionals about the relationship of art and value in economic, social, and ethical senses.
Unlike many arts symposiums, which are dry and self-protective, an emotional outpouring of the sort I have seldom seen transfigured the event into a searching referendum on white privilege and supremacy in the arts, which came into outline as a structure that must be dismantled before the question of "value" can be coherently approached.
There were courageous, unflinching, powerful testimonials from artists of color, such as Saba Taj and Monet Noelle Marshall, who faced an audience of predominantly white faces that exemplified the very constructs they and others so eloquently explained. And there were courageous, unflinching, powerful confessions from white artists, such as Laura Ritchie and Tommy Noonan. I wish I could publish all of it in Indy Week, but luckily, I don't have to, because much of it is available in a free book you can download at Culture Mill's website.
I wanted to publish Tommy's piece because it so clearly anatomizes three fundamental assumptions about worth, diversity, and professionalism in the local art scene and then so clearly overturns them. Culture Mill has enacted a process that stands in witness of the process's own failings, which are structural and all-encompassing, rather than trying to sweep them back under the rug, where we usually keep them.
As an embodiment of that principle, I think this piece is really important for white artists and presenters across the state--across the country, really--to read, and to confront it in their own practices, as I know everyone who was at the symposium that day must have been compelled to do. Find it here.
To John Keats, autumn might be a season of mists and mellow fruitfulness when gathering swallows twitter in the skies. But to us in the INDY arts and culture department, it's more like a season of impossible events calendars, as all the arts presenters stir from their slumberous summers at once, when we pay more attention to our fruitful Twitter feeds than to anything twittering in the skies. The key to enjoying the fall arts onslaught is to just succumb to the madness—and don't fear the FOMO. The following package will help you navigate the former while avoiding the latter. (And, personally, I've developed a useful thing called "faux-mo," where you express regret for missing something you secretly didn't want to go to anyway.)
Ninety-seven. That's the total number of events we wound up highlighting in our 2017 Fall Arts Guide—and that's drawing only from events that are already booked; trust us, many more are coming down the pipeline. Our editors, contributors, and critics fanned out to learn about as many fall events as we could and then boiled them down to the affairs you absolutely cannot miss, whether you're a fan of music, food, visual art, theater, dance, comedy, books, or film. We also pumpkin-spiced things up with features that cut across genres, from a roundup of fall festivals and Halloween treats to a rundown on the Triangle's booming population of escape-room games.
All of these events will touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue from September through December. If you use this guide to master your calendar game, we'll see you there.
I'm still not rich enough to shell out for an actual VR HMD of my very own, but, as someone who has long been interested in the metaphysics of virtual reality and simulations in general, I get my hands on the technology in my journalism whenever I have the chance. In 2013, I went to various Triangle universities and played with their toys to write a long story focusing on DiVE, a CAVE at Duke University. In 2016, I went back to Duke to see what they could do with an HMD, and explored a virtual ruins in Brazil. Last week, I got to think through another potential path of VR: visual art, in a story on Tyler Jackson's exhibit at Lump, Before the War. Here's the nut:
"The story of VR began millennia ago, when humans first drew a boundary in space and agreed to imagine that whatever transpired inside it was set apart from the rest of reality—a world within a world. We call this device a frame when it outlines two dimensions, a stage when it outlines three. In the twentieth century, it flattened and deepened into screens that, with a certain inevitability, are becoming permeable in the twenty-first. Now we face the question of whether we'll soon reach the logical conclusion and lock the virtual door behind us."
With everyone buzzing about The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu, one of our staffers, Allison Hussey, said, "Remember the 1990 movie of it they shot in Durham?" None of us did, so we started shaking trees to learn more about it and find people who were there. The result is one of those stories writers dream of, full of arresting details -- how the dean of Duke Chapel was shocked to show up on Palm Sunday and find a gallows at the church, how much of the film was shot at the soon-to-be-infamous Michael Peterson house. Allison did a terrific job on the story, and that's also her you see in this stunning cover image by Alex Boerner, Steve Oliva, and Shan Stumpf. Yes, we bought her a red cloak off of Amazon (she made the bonnet herself, though) and posed her in front of Duke Chapel (you can compare our image with some reference images from the film in the story). Read it to learn about the missing link between instant-classic book and Hulu hit, and to spot some well-known local landmarks if you're in Durham.
To spice up a dying Facebook meme, here are nine true stories of concerts I attended and one I made up:
1. One time, at a Kanye West show, I was seriously mistaken for Chester French, or at least one of Chester French’s entourage.
2. One time I was up front at a show by the Swedish psych-rock band Dungen. During a quiet pause, by way of friendly greeting, I yelled the only Swedish phrase I know, “den javla opa.” They gasped in unison. “Do you know what that means?” one of them asked me. “Yes,” I replied apologetically. “You fucking monkey,” he marveled into the microphone, translating for the crowd.
3. I once saw a college bro in a polo shirt with a popped collar stage dive at a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! show, to which a gaggle of shocked tweens sensibly responded by promptly parting like the Red Sea and letting him crash to the floor.Read More
Every now and then a story comes along that is so momentous, so earth-shattering, that it changes the scope of human knowledge forever. This is not one of those stories. But it still has a lot to recommend it, chiefly the fact that it is about doing yoga with goats, which is a thing now and has made it to the Triangle. Props to Drew Adamek for bringing me this (here's how it came together -- Drew: Do you want a story about goat yoga? Me: I don't know what that is but yes), and for writing one of my favorite ledes I've ever published. Props to Alex Boerner or the candid caprine portraiture. Props to Allison Hussey for coming up with "N-a-a-a-a-maste." Props to all that is benign and decent in this world for this being a thing.
First let me tell you about the ordeal we endured trying to name this column: However. Howe + Why. The Tao of Howe. Howe Now. And so on. After every possible terrible pun on my name had been dispensed with, we landed on Artificer. It's my new INDY Week arts & culture column, and it begins with a look at Marvel Comics' social-justice experiment by way of Durham's cameo in Champions, a new teen team whose main superpower is hashtags.
Artificer will pop up whenever I have a sincerely contrarian opinion burning a hole in my pocket and there's a hole to fill in the paper; the next one will probably be about why women write better books than men. That should make for a fun time on the internet.
One knows oneself by heart,
Which is to say,
Imperfectly. Fun is self
Water finds its level.
Six first places, two second places, and two third places add up to a nice haul for the INDY at the 2016 North Carolina Press Association Awards. Some of these stories cover issues as pressing as immigration, HB 2 and transphobia, the rise of Trump, and police shootings; others fill in the texture of our times through experiential journeys into the mixed martial arts scene, a rare tuba museum, and a groundbreaking Southern art exhibit. If you are unfamiliar with our paper, the progressive weekly serving the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina, then these, as some of our best and most representative stories, are a perfect litmus test to find out if we're for you.
1st Place, News Feature Writing: Billy Ball, “The Invisibles”
1st Place, Feature Writing: Barry Yeoman, “The 30 Years That Brought Us HB 2”
1st Place, Arts and Entertainment Reporting: Brian Howe, “The Brass Menagerie”
1st Place, Sports Feature Writing: Bryan C. Reed, “Unstoppable Force”
1st Place, Serious Columns: Bob Geary, Citizen
1st Place, Election/Political Reporting: Barry Yeoman, “The Trump Show”
2nd Place, Profile Feature: Grayson Haver Currin, “Saving Eric Bachmann”
2nd Place, Arts and Entertainment Reporting: Chris Vitiello, “Luck of the Drawl”
3rd Place, General News Reporting: Paul Blest and Jane Porter, “Four Shots on Bragg Street”
3rd Place, Profile Feature: Kenneth Fine, “Saving Grace”
To be sure.
That must have been his meaning.Read More
"I always wanted to push through to new ways of doing things in relation to the human voice, the most ancient instrument. I had a feeling of its primal power. At the same time, I was also working with combining these different elements into one form. A lot of people weren’t working that way. I feel like I was always trying to work between the cracks of what we think of as art-forms to find another form."Read More
"It’s funny, this is only the second time I’ve used my field recordings in a finished piece, although I have hundreds of hours of them. I don’t often use that material itself. Maybe it’s partly out of reverence for the sounds themselves and the forces or animals that make them. Maybe it’s because I’m trying to create something that is somehow a parallel world; that, as Stieglitz the photographer would have said, is some kind of equivalent, not the thing itself or an illustration of it."Read More