With New York Fashion Week in swing and new fall trends on the way, Mercer fashion enthusiasts may be itching for a fashion week of their very own. Have no fear fashionistas, Macon-Bibb county’s first ever fashion week is here, along with the annual Fashion in the Streets Festival. “We feature fashion designers from all over and showcase aspiring and established models, “said Shrisma Hardge, cofounder of the fashion week. “We are creating another vehicle of social and economic development for Macon-Bibb County.” According to Hardge, she founded the Macon-Bibb Fashion Week with her husband, Seandel Hardge, in an effort to “revitalize art and fashion in the community.” The couple plans on making the fashion show an annual event for Macon-Bibb county. The festival will have shopping, food vendors, live music, dance groups, a car show and a designer competition where “one of our model participants will be crowned Miss Macon-Bibb Fashion Week 2017,” said Hardge. Mercer University organizations are invited to set up booths at the festival and volunteers are needed to help run food stands, help set up and clean up the event. Hardge is also looking for models and judges for the fashion show. If you are interested in any of these opportunities, Hardge can be contacted at 770-681-7808 or email@example.com. The Fashion in the Streets Festival is partnering with many local businesses including the Joshua Wish Foundation, Games on Wheels, Beautifully Blended Photography and Kevin Chelton Photography. The festival and fashion week will be fun for people of all ages and proceeds from the festivities will go to Child Cancer Research. General admission tickets for the festival will cost $5 and VIP seating for the fashion show will cost $30. Both events will kick off on Sept. 17 at 11 a.m. on Mulberry Street in downtown Macon.
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Mercer University’s theatre department will debut their production of “Hedda Gabler,” a tale of manipulation, rivalry and death at Tattnall Square Center for the Arts on Feb. 18. Gabler, the titular character and daughter of an aristocratic general, finds her past catching up with her when an old lover comes back into her life — as well as her husband’s. Set in 17th century Norway, the twisted tale of betrayal unravels. The play was written by Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian poet and playwright, but it was recently adapted by American playwright, Christopher Shinn in 2008. Scot Mann, Mercer Theatre’s director, will be directing the feature. Mann, a former Mercer student himself, teaches theatre students many aspects of drama, including fight stunts, choreographed stage combat and gunplay. “Hedda Gabler” will be Mann’s first theatrical production of 2016. While “Hedda Gabler” marks the start of a new year, it also celebrates the work of one theatre professor, Marian Zielinski. Zielinski has done scene and light design at Mercer for 34 years and will be leaving Mercer Theatre after this production. “Hedda Gabler” runs Feb. 18 - 20 and Feb. 25 - 27 at 7:30 p.m. with two matinees on Feb. 21 and Feb. 28 at 2:30 in the afternoon. General admission for the show is $15. Those with valid Mercer ID’s have to pay the discounted price of $10. Tickets can be purchased online at tickets.mercer.edu.
Public art is adding a new dimension to Tattnall Square Park’s natural beauty. Mercer University’s faculty and students have installed a new collection of art pieces throughout Tattnall and officially unveiled the entire showcase Saturday, Nov.14. “The shows are switched out every five months as part of the Art in the Park public art program,” said Craig Coleman, an art professor at Mercer. Coleman said that the program has been in the park since November 2014, and Mercer’s art students are helping to share the new pieces. “We have some of our students from various classes over to meet the artists and help them not only carry the stuff to the location but help them fasten it down and get it constructed,” Coleman said. One of the new pieces is a large, silver fish skeleton that hangs from one of Tattnall’s trees. “It was just a pile of scrap plywood that looked an awful lot like fish bones,” said Ryan Mathern, artist and former Mercer art student. “So I stuck them together and made a ten-foot-long fish.” Mathern said the sculpture, “Pisces Osseum,” was originally created for an outdoor show in Atlanta two years ago. For this art show, the fish has been rejuvenated for its six month stay in Tattnall. Funding for this project comes from the Knight Neighborhood Challenge Grant, a program that has been helping to improve the College Hill Corridor since 2009, according to the College Hill Alliance. [pullquote speaker="Craig Coleman" photo="" align="left" background="on" border="all" shadow="on"]We do want people to like the artwork, but we also want to do what art does best, which is introduce a new way of seeing.[/pullquote] While the Art in the Park program brings something new and fresh to Tattnall, Coleman and Andrew Silver, chairman of the Friends of Tattnall Square Park advocate organization, worry about the public’s reaction to less traditional pieces. “Parks are places that people associate with certain conventional art and good art. The best art is often unconventional,” Silver said. “So what do you do when you want to push the envelope, but you know people are really attached to natural public spaces?” While there has been no outright disapproval of the art pieces, there is a constant concern for what will and won’t fly with Maconites. “We do want people to like the artwork, but we also want to do what art does best, which is introduce a new way of seeing,” Coleman said. “If you see an artwork that doesn’t do that, that just gives you a sense of familiarity maybe that’s a little boring.” The contemporary style found in Art in the Park pieces contrast with the more traditional style found throughout the rest of Tattnall. “The beauty of temporary art that stays for half a year or a month is that you can expose a community to new unconventional art that takes you outside of your comfort zone,” Silver said. “People who are made uncomfortable to the point that it ruins their park experience, they know this will leave in a few months, and they’ll have their park back.” By this time next year, the Art in the Park program will be gone, but the presence of art in Tattnall will continue to be a point of interest within the Macon community. “That’s the power of public art, the power to reinvent your relationship to a place,” Silver said. “The best public art gets you in a new relationship with your home, with your place, with your city, with your community.”
On a Friday night in the Warner Robins bar Friends on the Hill, members of the band Bootz & Katz took the stage alongside their microphones, guitars, keyboard and drum set. It seems like a typical rock concert were about to take place if not for a separate table holding a laptop and live sequencer board, a device that allows music to be recorded, altered and played back. The group’s drummer, Michael Lirette, counts out the rhythm with his drumsticks, and Bootz & Katz launches into its opener. Dixon Cassara alternates jobs throughout the performance. Sometimes, he plucks out notes on the bass guitar. At others he adjusts the keys on the live sequencer board. Ryan Walters plays two roles during the production as well, switching between the keyboard and guitar. Sophie Leveille, the group’s lead singer, belts out the lyric. The sounds that this group produces merge the genres of jam-style rock and electronic music together to form a new genre, Livetronica. Bootz & Katz is one of the few Livetronica musical groups in Macon, and its formation was purely experimental. “At the very beginning of 2013, I met Dixon… I had always DJ’d and made electronic music and I played guitar too, but I never tried combining them,” Walters said. “We were like, ‘let’s just try it, electronic music and rock music at the same time.’” Bootz & Katz, in its initial stages, consisted of only Walters and Cassara until they decided that live drums were necessary for their music to progress. “We called Mike up and he was willing to come on board, and the rest was history,” Cassara said. “It was actually Mike’s idea to get a singer in the group.” Leveille, a sophomore and music major at Mercer, met Walters through mutual friends and their conversations eventually turned to music. “We started talking about music and he said he had a couple of songs that he needed vocals for because he was in this band called Bootz & Katz,” Leveille said. “[I thought], ‘that’s kind of a funny name.’” Walters and Cassara chose the name Bootz & Katz after meeting a beat boxer who worked on his talent by saying “boots” and “cats” three times fast to create a beat. “It was originally b-o-o-t-s and c-a-t-s, but we kept having people come up to us after shows talking about ‘Puss in Boots’ and kittens,” Walters said, “so we changed it to the ‘k’ and the ‘z’ to give it more of a phonetic touch.” The group was almost named Conflux meaning the merging of different ideas, but the title had already been taken by a jazz-metal band, Cassara said. Despite this, Bootz & Katz still named their first song “Conflux”, and it is one of their most popular songs. The creative process behind making a Bootz & Katz song involves input from every member. “Ryan and Dixon will produce a song. I’ll put words on it or maybe Mike will jump in first and then we’ll have practices together,” Leveille said. “We’ll make sure everything really ties in together so that it’s not three separate ideas, but one major, beautiful, awesome song.” The group is influenced by a wide range of genres, from hip-hop to classic rock, Dave Matthews Band to Skrillex. When it comes to actually putting the “live” in “Livetronica,” Bootz & Katz puts just as much passion into performing music as they do creating it. “When you’re rocking out to that song that you feel super prideful about and you look up and there’s all these people going absolutely nuts over it … it’s indescribable,” Walters said. In their two years of performing, Bootz & Katz has mainly kept their performances to Middle Georgia, but the band wants to branch out to Atlanta, Athens and venues outside of Georgia. “Right now, we just want to embrace the Middle Georgia market and play as many shows in Macon, Warner Robins and Milledgeville as possible,” Cassara said. “We have a solid following elsewhere, but nothing’s like home.” The process of making and performing their own music has only brought the members of Bootz & Katz closer together. “I [feel like I] have three older brothers now… because we’ve gotten really close while making all of this music,” Leveille said. “At first it was kind of foreign territory, but now we’re basically a family.” Bootz & Katz plan to release another single and EP containing three to four new songs by March 2016. To listen to selections from Bootz & Katz, visit https://soundcloud.com/bootzandkatz.