East Quad doesn't go "Halfway" on art and music
The East Quadrangle of the University of Michigan’s campus houses more than students enrolled in the Residential College (RC). The RC also has a vibrant arts and music scene, with a regular schedule of special events, performances, art exhibitions and music shows put on by an active population of students, faculty, staff and alumni.
The RC is a 4-year program within the college of Literature, Science and the Arts that can be best described as a microcosm within the university community. Students live and take classes in East Quad while pursuing academic concentrations that are frequently interdisciplinary or independently designed. Although the RC is integrated with the university, it is safe to say that it also has its own thing going on.
“Students have the experience of being in a small liberal arts college that is also part of a large university,” RC department manager Patricia Kardia explains.
The RC experience is enriched by opportunities to pursue creativity and access the arts and culture, right there in your own dorm. East Quad has the Keene Theater, the RC Art Gallery and the popular Halfway Inn, a student-run music venue in the basement. The RC also houses labs and studio spaces for artists and music students, classrooms and common spaces where creativity can flourish.
Music For the last couple of decades, the East Quad Music Co-op, a student-run nonprofit group, has rocked the Halfway Inn lounge. Affectionately nicknamed “The Halfass,” the EQMC brings national touring bands and local musicians to this alcohol-free, all ages music venue. The Halfway Inn is accessible from East Quad’s entrance, at 730 Church Street, between Hill and Willard, next to the loading dock.
Photo by Flickr user AwayFromKeyboard.
Upcoming EQMC music shows include Our Brother the Native, Gardens, T-Bone and the Drones at the Luther House Co-op off-site (1510 Hill Street), on March 13, beginning at 9:30 p.m.
Ferdy Mayne, Annie Palmer and Slow Giant will play the Halfway Inn on March 19, beginning at 9 p.m. Non-RC students are welcome to attend, just as long as there aren’t more than 2 locals there for each student.
The “Halfass” has not always had the greatest luck fitting into the university system. The EQMC was banned from hosting shows at the Halfway Inn in 2001. The venue did not reopen until 2004. The trouble happened because the Halfway Inn is a dining hall, and U-M administration sought to regulate what types of activities could be held in the space. Even last year, the venue was in danger of being closed down.
“When we were using that space, it was taking money away from the Halfway Inn. They couldn’t sell stuff. The other part was, basically no one had checked in on the group in a very long time. We didn’t have a set of rules and regulations in place that were through the university. We weren’t doing anything wrong, but they can’t support an organization that doesn’t have regulations,” explains EQMC member Jillian Rodriguez. The EQMC addressed the issue by ceasing to sell anything at shows, and “we work directly with university housing,” she explains. The changes make the venue an “open lounge space” that the group can reserve from the U of M.
Visual art The Residential College Art Gallery hosts 2 professional artists and one RC student exhibition during each academic semester. Mixed-media sculpture created by Jason Briggs are currently on display in the gallery’s 500-square-foot space. Briggs' series of artworks, collectively titled "skin, etc.", express “strong visual references” to human body parts and sex, according to the artist’s statement.
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Briggs used porcelain, hair, rubber, nail polish, steel and velvet to construct objects that look organic but do not actually exist in real life. They are fictions of organic material that are “foreign yet familiar,” according to the artist. He explains that the works’ “tactile” qualities stir the “compulsion to touch.” Briggs' works will be on display through February 24.
The RC Art Gallery is open for public view; however, the outside doors of the East Quad dormitory are locked. The best way to get there is via the entrance off of East University Street, across from the Business School. Dial 3-0176 at the door to be let in.
Other events East Quad also benefits from an active faculty and staff who help coordinate a wide range of special events and educational opportunities. Taking it beyond just the lecture hall, the RC hosts departmental and university events at the Keene Theater and various other spots around East Quad, from student and faculty-organized performances to world-class dance, theater and music shows. The RC Players are very active in theater.
View a complete, up-to-date listing of RC events online. A number of events in March will appeal to fans of Russian playwriting, including workshops and theater performances.
Jennifer Eberbach is a free-lance writer who covers art for AnnArbor.com.