Greensboro’s biggest arts event of the season begins this Friday. 17DAYS, a production of ArtsGreensboro, is poised to have its largest and most exciting year since the first festival in 2009.
ArtsGreensboro Deputy Director Eleanor Schaffner-Mosh is excited to see how the community has been energized around the arts.
“It’s so extraordinary what we have here in Greensboro,” Schaffner-Mosh said. “We have such a vibrant arts community and we want to shout it from the mountaintops.”
17DAYS will run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 5 and include over 100 events across the city. The festival will showcase everything from traditional print media to interactive theatre, cutting-edge multimedia, music, food, literature, discussion and more.
Last year the event hosted over 85,000 attendees and this year looks to draw even more people from across the state.
The festival originally began in May, but was moved to the fall as a way for arts organizations to showcase what would be offered in their upcoming seasons, which typically run according to academic calendars.
Schaffner-Mosh has been inspired by how 17DAYS has encouraged a network of artists to engage with organizations from multiple disciplines.
“This is a collaborative event and I feel like all of the organizations are excited about each other,” Schaffner-Mosh said.
This collaborative spirit has arguably buoyed aspects of the downtown renaissance in Greensboro. With creative organizations working together the arts community in Greensboro has been able to reach the critical mass needed to help downtown come alive.
Several universities are also involved in many of the 17DAYS events. Schaffner-Mosh noted that North Carolina A&T University, UNCG, and Greensboro College had been especially enthusiastic about being a part of this year’s festival.
Looking ahead at the events offered this year it’s clear that ArtsGreensboro is determined to not only celebrate local artists, but also to inspire the community through truly cutting-edge and unique exhibits.
Events like the Living Art Greensboro bodypainting competition and the interactive light projections by an Austrian group who will be making their first North American appearance have already proved to be conversation starters.
Most of the events require a certain amount of participation and engagement from the attendee. For events like the crochet jam, participants will actually be involved in the making of an artistic piece. Even audience members at performances of plays and spoken word workshops should expect to be engaged.
17DAYS is not about passively taking in a reticent painting, but about provoking the onlooker and drawing them in to the art. This festival is designed to awaken all of the senses. Participants will not only see art, but also hear, experience, taste and create it.
For the artist, this level of community involvement is what makes 17DAYS so special.
“People want to be a part of it,” Schaffner-Mosh said.
The original sketches of a great artist can offer a glimpse into the working mind of a creative genius, and very few artists are as deserving of that title as painter Henri Matisse.
The French master is widely considered to be one of the greatest figures in modern art. He is known as the great colorist who is able to capture a powerful yet subtle emotionality in his portraits.
Prints from the Etta and Dr. Claribel Cone Collection reveal Matisse’s grasp of the female form. On view at the Weatherspoon, they capture the beauty of the female nude, and the seduction of introspection.
Matisse’s odalisques, which are portraits of the nude female form in recline, reveal his fascination for form. The exhibit began on Aug. 2 and will continue to run through Oct. 26.
“Art on Paper” is a contemporary art exhibition featuring an array of any art that uses paper as a material. This can include a traditional approach of drawing on paper or using paper in multimedia collages or sculptural pieces.
The biennial show features both established and emerging artists from across the country and represents a nearly 50-year relationship between Weatherspoon and xpedx paper company.
The exhibit will open with a preview party on Sept. 27 and run until Dec. 21.
One of the 17DAYS traditions is the fun and engaging performances of five short stories by O.Henry.
O.Henry, regarded at one of the great American short story authors, grew up in Greensboro. His stories are known for their quick humor and unexpected plot turns.
“You always think it’s going one way,” Schaffner-Mosh said. “But he always has a twist.”
The performance of the short stories predates 17DAYS festival. The first performance occurred right after the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. After the show, the audience stood up to sing an impromptu rendition of “God Bless America,” which has become a part of each year’s performance ever since.
“It’s a very special Greensboro experience,” Schaffner-Mosh said.
This year’s plays include Proof of the Pudding, Elise in New York, The Third Ingredient, The Girl and The Graft and The Guilty Party. Performances began on Sept. 11 and will continue through Sept. 21 at the Greensboro Historical Museum.
Triad Stage will be performing their take on Alfred Hitchcock with The 39 Steps. The comedy was adapted by Patrick Barlow with elements of the Hitchcock movie and the novel by John Buchan.
The plots centers on a beautiful secret agent who turns up dead, and an average man who suddenly becomes entangled in the resulting response from a mysterious and dangerous foreign power.
A cast of four actors play over 150 characters in this seductive and manic play as it whizz’s across the stage. Performances began on Aug. 31 and will run until Sept. 28 at Triad Stage.
Natty Greene’s will be introducing a special, limited edition brew just for 17DAYS.
“It an American strong pale ale,” said Natty Greene’s Director of Marketing, Carlee Dempsey.
The beer won’t be the only flavor unique to 17DAYS. The publishers behind the “Savor the South” cookbook collection will host a weekend of celebrating local fare at the O. Henry Hotel. Guests will be able to sample delicious food and drink with the authors of their favorite cookbooks during cooking demonstrations. Attendees will also enjoy a four-course dinner that Friday, Saturday and Sunday with wine pairings.
The weekend of indulgence will take place from Sept. 26 to Sept. 28, with tickets available at $295 per person.
If you prefer your breakfast outdoors then you can enjoy a morning meal with Taji, the cartoonishly adorable red panda at the Greensboro Science Museum on Sept. 20.
For those who are passionate about the politics of food, the FEED festival on Sept. 27 will consist of food and music along with lectures and workshops centered on the subject of food insecurity.
“A lot of this is lighthearted and fun, but there’s going to be serious discussion at the same time,” Schaffner-Mosh said.
People in Greensboro will be invited to create and project their own artwork on some of the city’s most recognizable landmarks.
The interactive public art experience comes from an Austrian group known as Tagtool. The group will set up iPads with software that enables a user to become a “projection painter.” The work created by participants on the iPad will be projected on city structures that include Caroline Theatre and the Dudley Building on North Carolina A&T’s campus, behind The Greensboro Four monument.
“It’s just so cool,” Schaffner-Mosh said. The Tagtool/OMAI Public Project event begins on Sept. 19 at The Lofts on Elm Street.
Another cutting-edge event will be the highly anticipated Living Art Greensboro bodypainting competition.
Models will be painted from head to toe in incredible designs by artists from 13 countries and 12 states.
The competitors will have six hours to paint their models, beginning at 10 a.m. The public will be invited to view the artists at 2 p.m. as they finish up the last two hours of painting.
Local bodypainter Scott Fray has won competitions all over the world with his partner Madelyn Greco, and is excited to bring this unique artwork to Greensboro.
“It’s the only art that can behold you as you behold it,” said Fray. “It’s the only art that can leap “” that can scream or gesticulate.”
Living Art Greensboro will take place on Sept. 28 at Carolina Theatre.
North Carolina artist Paul Rousso will unveil a new installation of his large-scale pop-art creations.
“We don’t know what he’s installing at the Children’s Museum,” Schaffner-Mosh said. “But it’s going to be amazing!” The exhibit will be open to the public on Sept. 22.
Everyone has a story to tell. The Healing Blues project helps to tell the stories of those who often do not have a voice. The project is a collaboration between Greensboro College faculty Ted Efremont and David Fox, along with students, local singer-songwriters, and the Interactive Resource Center for those experiencing homelessness.
Members of the Healing Blues project sat with people at the IRC to hear their stories. Through these intimate conversations the project has been able to translate these personal stories into songs.
“Sharing your personal history through song can make such a difference,” Schaffner- Mosh said.
A benefit concert and CD release party of The Healing Blues album will take place on Oct. 5 at Greensboro College.
Another benefit concert for the IRC will feature keyboardist for Donna the Buffalo, Dave McCracken on Sept. 25 at The Blind Tiger.
17DAYS will also host Grammy-Award winning singer-songwriter Steve Earle. The altfolk guitarist is known for mixing storytelling into his musical performances.
Earle will perform solo at Carolina Theatre on Sept. 21, in his first visit to Greensboro in six years.
Local favorites, Southern Culture on the Skids will also add a touch of rockabilly fun to 17DAYS. Audience members are often invited to join the group onstage for a moonshine martini.
They will perform at The Blind Tiger on Sept. 19.
One of the most extraordinary opportunities at 17DAYS will be the chance to experience an event with the Creative Class. Audience members will have a chance to interact with local artists in a causal and creative atmosphere.
Duane Cyrus is the driving force behind the class, and is known for mixing spoken word, improvisation and visual art in his own performances.
The guest artists for the Creative Class will be announced closer to the Oct. 3 session at Carolina Theatre. Admission is free and open to the public.
A powerful spoken word performance will be held at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in partnership with members of Bennett College.
Words Sung, Words Spoken will focus on the subject of social justice through poetry and spirituals with roots in the American black church.