illustration by Chris Williams / design by Maxine Mills and Skillet Gilmore

For the INDY‘s annual summer arts and culture preview special, I wanted to do something different this year. I love the swimming hole and other traditional summer fun as much as the next guy (more, probably), but it’s all but hopeless to put a fresh spin on them. So I decided to look at summer differently: Through a wintry lens. Our writers dream up creative ways to turn summer days in the Triangle into snow days, and things get pretty out of hand. And, of course, our critics preview the summer season in visual art, theater, dance, film and more. Props to Chris Williams for the Mad Magazine-style fold-in cover, Alex Boerner for the inspired photos, and Maxine Mills and Skillet Gilmore for the vivid interior design. Dive into the package through the handy table of contents here.

Can you escape the room?

Rebecca Rechkemmer (L) and Lisa Dalola (R) solve puzzles at Cipher Escape, a live escape game, in Morrisville.  PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER FOR INDY WEEK

Rebecca Rechkemmer (L) and Lisa Dalola (R) solve puzzles at Cipher Escape, a live escape game in Morrisville.  PHOTO BY ALEX BOERNER FOR INDY WEEK

Cipher Escape is a five-month-old live escape game in Morrisville. I went to play it with two other INDY editors and had a blast. The live escape game is a trend that has been popular in Europe and Japan for awhile but is now gaining steam in the U.S. It’s based on room escape videogames, where you have to find objects and logically combine them in order to escape a locked room. It translates wonderfully to a live experience; this was probably the fastest hour of my life. Highly recommended if you live in the Triangle. Read about the INDY editors’ experience here.

The Christian noise of Clang Quartet

cover photo by Jeremy M. Lange

cover photo by Jeremy M. Lange

Here’s a story I’ve wanted to tell for a long time. As Clang Quartet, Scotty Irving has been making harsh noise music about his Christian faith for 18 years. His set always involves elaborate masks and props––currently, a very impressive cross––and is like an Easter Sunday passion play as filtered through Merzbow.

If being a devout Christian on the transgressive noise scene (and an amazing performance artist) weren’t interesting enough, Scotty is also a folklore-sized figure with a complex perspective, an enormous personality and a rare generosity of spirit. A true American original, his intensely personal view of Christian faith and redemption is something he broadcasts to the world without pushing it on anyone, a rare feat.

I am most interested in stories about people who are animated by contradictions, and trying to resolve those contradictions, which makes Scotty something like my ideal subject. Huge thanks to him for being so forthcoming with his time and his thoughts, his pastor and church for letting me visit, Grayson Haver Currin for the fine editing and Jeremy M. Lange for the amazing photography. Read the story here.

Puppets for Pot

INDY cover by Jeremy M. Lange (photo) and Skillet Gilmore (design)

INDY cover by Jeremy M. Lange (photo) and Skillet Gilmore (design)

I hope you’re up for a pretty long read on an interesting guy who makes a puppet show about marijuana legalization while also pursuing a mainstream puppetry career in kids’ TV and commercials. It’s a story about medical marijuana rights, but beyond that, it’s ultimately a story about obsession, and to be honest, I got a little obsessed with it. Grateful to Chris Chappell for sharing so much of his story with me, and to Skillet Gilmore and Jeremy Lange for their amazing work on the art and design side. (Find the pot leaf icon hidden in our logo on the cover!) Read it here.

Wonderland and more recent writings

"Party Boat" by Sarah Anne Johnson. Courtesy of the collection of Allen Thomas Jr. / CAM Raleigh

“Party Boat” by Sarah Anne Johnson. Courtesy of the collection of Allen Thomas Jr. / CAM Raleigh

Busy times at the INDY lately, so busy I’ve neglected to blog. Some recent pieces:

* I reviewed Sarah Anne Johnson’s Wonderland, a provocative mid-career retrospective featuring deceptive documentary and scary clown sex at CAM Raleigh.

* I interviewed the legendary filmmaker John Waters about his one-man show “This Filthy World” and more.

* I ran a multi-part cover story on the 15th annual NC Comedy Arts Festival, which has grown from a local institution to a national pacesetter.

* I interviewed theater director Monet Marshall about Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments, staged readings responding to police brutality in Durham.

* I reported on a summit about arts education and access for people with disabilities, a reporting area I hope to develop further.

* I assessed an active but stratified North Carolina literary scene in a year-in-review piece about local books.

* And I reviewed the U.S. premiere of Tommy Noonan and Clint Lutes’ Brother Brother, an athletic but vulnerable dance piece that still lingers in my mind.