You know that moment in a dance battle where you do a sweet move to pass off a solo? Maybe it’s a head spin where you land pointing at the next person, maybe it’s one of those dorky hand-holding arm-waves dads and white people in movies inevitably pull. Well, this column is like that. Sort of.
My time as editor of the Trib’s arts & entertainment section is over. My own proverbial dance break is giving way to different pursuits as an investigative reporter for the news desk. But now, in the tradition of the Marquee desk, this goodbye column will pass the role over to the new head honcho, Claire Nowak — who I hear has some pretty sweet moves of her own.
Though I still only have one dance move in real life (I call it the “punch it down” in which you make parallel fists and then … well, uh, you punch them down). I do feel like I’ve learned a few “big picture” lessons during my year and a half covering art and culture in Milwaukee and at Marquette. Here is the one I most want to share in this, my finale of column writing.
Go see local art.
Any trend piece or lifestyle magazine will tell you that local is “so in.” People are taking the time to eat locally and make room on their shelves for that bar of artisan soap from the farmers market. But there is less buzz about taking in local culture, especially for college students — double especially for Marquette students.
Milwaukee has a vibrant local music scene, but at most concerts, you see the mid-twenties crowd with a few stray UWM kids thrown in. The Milwaukee Film Festival was phenomenal this year and made for some of the best weekends of my semester as well and the most memorable movies of my year, yet the theaters were often filled with grey-hairs except for a few wild (and late) showings.
Here on campus, the improv groups can be as good as professionals. The Indian Student Association puts on a remarkably entertaining comedy/dance show every year that I never miss, and there are also great bands looking for audiences all the time.
We are at an age when seeing art up front and in-person is still something we can make time for (pre-jobs, kids, the gradual dulling of our youthful excitement, etc.).
Venturing out to a piece of local entertainment, be it an art show, a piece of theater or a sociopolitical collaborative interpretive dance piece (they’re out there, trust me) is something do different from the Netflix marathons and huge arena shows most of us tend to seek out.
The spaces and crowds at these events are small and personal, the topics can be local and familiar (even Marquette-centered,) the prices are usually reasonable and, best of all, the artists are usually approachable, passionate and looking for ways to reach out and improve their own community.
In all my time working on this desk, I’ve seen a ton of local art. Even though there were shows I didn’t especially like, I never once felt like I wasted my time and always wished more students from Marquette were there with me. You meet new people. They mix up your routine. You’re introduced to new ideas and stories.
I know this advice is familiar to most of us students, but I’ll say it again: Use your bus pass. Don’t be afraid to go alone if there’s a show you really want to see (no one will think it’s weird if you do.) Try something different. Great local art is out there — find it.
Now I’ll step down from my soap box/piece of breakdancing cardboard. I’d like to thank anyone who read this column and the Marquee section last semester. It was an honor and joy to write and hear responses from my (admittedly few) readers.
Now just imagine me hitting a smooth final dance pose and looking to Claire. I know she will create a section that will continue the mission of Marquee: to help students discover local artists, characters and events and to give art happening right here the attention it deserves.