Monday, July 21, 2014

2nd Annual Geekfest

2nd Annual Geekfest: Saturday July 26th, 2014
by Joanna Wilson

Created as a local alternative to ComicCon, Geekfest looks to be the pop culture event of the summer.  If you're a devoted fan of pop culture, comics and graphic novels, sci-fi, anime, gaming, and the like, then you're sure to find something at Geekfest to appeal to you.  The all-ages event, organized by and hosted at the Main library downtown (Akron-Summit County Public Library) on Saturday, is one packed full with hourly activities.

Geekfest is organized by Akron-Summit Cty Public Library and will be held at the Main Library downtown.

The many highlights of activities include a Magic the Gathering open play opportunity starting at 1pm.  At 2pm, there's a performance by the local teen pop/punk duo ShiSho in the auditorium, and at 3pm begins the cosplay contest and parade.  I heard that last year's cosplay was such a big hit--the organizers of the 2nd annual Geekfest are expecting an even bigger turnout with a must-see contest.

Cover art of ShiSho's 2013 EP entitled "Sisters."

In addition to trivia contests, DIY crafts, photo ops, games, and special events, there are also multiple opportunities to meet and ask questions from professional artists/creators in scheduled panels on sequential art, concept art, and more.

For more information, you can call the Teen Department at the library at 330-643-9067.
Or check the facebook event wall for the complete schedule of events: 2nd annual Geekfest

Geekfest 2014 is Saturday July 26th, from noon until 4pm.  See you there!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Lo-Hio Solo Bass Showcase

Akron Empire is excited to welcome a new guest blogger, Daniel J Weihe! Daniel is a lover of all things local and all things art. He can most often be found wearing a rakish hat, in the company of great food and great friends.

The Lowdown on Lo-Hio
By Daniel J Weihe

The Lo-Hio Solo Bass Showcase is the brain child of Akron area native Jared Lees. Birthed from a deep love of all things low end and a desire to be surrounded by musicians who actually know what "fretless" means, Jared reached out to the bass community in the hopes of bringing together bassists and musiclovers from all over the country for a unique opportunity to play, listen, school and be schooled.

The inaugural Lo-Hio show will feature up-and-coming solo bassists with unique styles from across the United States: the showcase’s own host, Jared Lees, 18-string bassist Scott Fernandez; Brittany Frompovich, host of Virginia’s bass forum; singer/songwriter Darren Michaels; experienced touring artist Kent Beatty; and Brandon Covey, bassist for popular local band Yankee Bravo.

This free show is open to the whole family and will be held this Sunday, July 20 from 6 pm - 9 pm at EB’s Pub and Party Center in Canton. Everyone that comes will be entered for a chance to win free prizes from Aguilar, Gruv Gear, Guardian Pro Cables, Kalium Strings, PreSonus, Skjold Basses, TC Electronic, and more!

If you want to get a little taste of the great music you're going to experience, make sure to check out Lo-Hio's Facebook page for links to the artists’ websites.

Lo-Ohio Solo Bass Showcase
Saturday, July 20 from 6-9pm
EB's Pub and Party Center
1211 39th St NW, Suite B in Canton

Monday, July 14, 2014

How We Roll UA--FREE bike tours

How We Roll UA--FREE Bike Tours Through Downtown Akron
by Joanna Wilson

I only discovered this opportunity by chance one afternoon when I was hanging out downtown.  Always curious, I introduced myself to a group of people who were renting bicycles during the recent transportation convention outside of the John. S. Knight Center.  Turns out, they were representatives from How We Roll UA--an organization forwarding bicycle road safety and offering free bike tours in downtown Akron.  They sent me to their website, I signed up for a time and date, and took the free tour.  This is one of those exciting opportunities that makes it fun and worthwhile to write for a blog because now I have the excuse to share my experiences and encourage you to take advantage of this offer as well.

The Bike Kitchen is a bicycle fix-it location.

Though they have bikes available to borrow, the organizers encourage people to use their own bicycles.  We met at the Bike Kitchen--at Lock 3 Park under the old O'Neil's Building where it's all clearly marked--at the appointed hour.  The Bike Kitchen is associated with Summit Cycling Center--click HERE for more info about them.  Our tour group was small but the informal, very casual journey was probably the better for it.  On this day, our group had three guides who led us from the Bike Kitchen to some of the best and most interesting locations throughout the downtown area.

On our casual tour, we passed Don Drumm Studios...

...the historic Old Stone School...

...and the Chihuly polymer sculpture on campus.  Yes, the tours move forward rain or shine (not during thunderstorms) but this day only looked frightful--we didn't experience bad weather after all.

Gently reminding us about road safety and how to share the road with cars, we stopped frequently to enjoy the locations and keep the group together.  You don't have to be in top physical shape to keep up--it's meant to be a slow, enjoyable ride.  Though my scheduled tour appointment was during rush hour traffic, we actually experienced no difficulties sharing the road.  My guides knew exactly what they were doing.

Our three lovely guides--too bad I couldn't carry a pad of paper with me to write down their names!?  They were awesome.  If I remember correctly, this photo was taken during a stop in front of Bierce Library on The University of Akron's campus.

We also stopped at the historic Hower House.

Our ambitious group decided to double the tour length and we rode across the All American Bridge.  This photo was taken from the top of Waters Park in North Hill looking back at downtown Akron.

In addition to the free bike tour, we also received a free t-shirt, a tote bag, and coupons for discounts in several downtown restaurants and events.  This almost seems too good to be true but it is not.  I did it--and I encourage you to take advantage of this program as well.  The schedule for free tours continues through the end of August and a few select dates in September.  Check out their website to read about the tours and to schedule your own.  Let me know how you like your t-shirt!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Terrarium Workshop: Crafty Mart Summer Faire

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this recap of the Terrarium Workshop at Crafty Mart Summer Faire. Dominic has also written about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll, Travelogue, UltraSphinx, and ShiSho. If you're interested in guest blogging please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.

Terrarium Workshop: Crafty Mart Summer Faire
by Dominic Caruso

Crafty Mart has been an essential craft show (and more) in Akron, with events in the spring and fall of each year for several years running now. In addition to offering great handmade and vintage gift items from a wide range of artists and artisans, Crafty Mart has featured fine local music, food, and most recently, they’ve added hour-long workshops to the mix.  I had the good fortune to attend one of the five workshops offered at Crafty Mart Summer Faire on Saturday, July 5, and it was a blast.

The workshops that were offered this time around included terrarium-making, yoga, natural perfume blending, pewter sculpture, and braided hex-nut bracelet-making. While I consider myself a thoroughgoing yoga man, I decided to mix it up this time, and chose the Terrarium-making class, which was presented by sisters Krystle and Erika from Klink Creatively.  You may have noticed their handiwork at previous Crafty Marts: they make the cool dinosaur and animal planters with succulents, as well as cool geometric concrete planters, wine bottle terrariums, and more. With degrees in graphic and interior design, Klink Creatively’s principals say their goal is to bring creative solutions to all dilemmas design-related.

Some of the colorful planters from Klink Creatively.

The terrarium-making workshop was small—just four of us plus the two teachers, so there were plenty of supplies to go around and plenty of time to ask questions and interact.  For a modest registration / materials fee ($20), we each got an enormous glass jar (about 10 inches tall, by 6 inches in diameter), lots of rocks, soil, moss, bark, activated charcoal (controls mildew), decorative shells, cookie dough, decorative figures like miniature dinosaurs and deer, and a vast selection of small starter plants for us to choose from. Okay, there wasn’t any cookie dough. This time. The plants were handpicked by Erika and Krystle for their suitability, beauty, and compatibility in terrariums.

Cool geometric concrete planters by Klink Creatively.

We got easy-to-follow instructions for creating our terrariums layer by layer, in order to create the best environment for the plants to thrive. Krystle and Erika are amiable, good-humored, and knowledgeable teachers.  For someone with no aptitude for plants or gardening, it was a nice confidence-builder.  For more experienced plant-people, the workshop was clearly a fun way to experiment and be creative with the materials. It was like a mini course in landscape architecture.  By the end of the class, we’d each created a terrarium we could take home, share, and admire.  Pretty cool.  Plus, we’re now all qualified to compete on the international terrarium building circuit. I may have dreamed that last part.

The proud members of the Klink Creatively Terrarium Workshop displaying their creations.

Crafty Mart returns in the fall for a two-day extravaganza at three locations. Mark your calendars: Saturday and Sunday November 29 and 30, 2014, at Musica and We Gallery, Summit Artspace, and Akron Art Museum. That reads like four locations, but Musica and We Gallery are two floors in the same building. This will be the biggest Crafty Mart yet, and the workshops will be returning as well, so stay in touch, find something that you’d like to try and go for it.

Here’s the one I made. I made sure to include 4 different climate zones in my terrarium, so it’s like the New Zealand of terrariums.

Crafty Mart:

Learn more about Klink Creatively:

Get to know the other fine presenters of the Summer Faire Workshops:
Perfume Blending:
Yoga and aromatherapy:
Pewter minatures:
Hex-nut bracelets, taxidermy, multidisciplinary artist:

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crafty Mart Summer Faire

Crafty Mart Summer Faire
by Brit Charek

Most of you know that in addition to co-operating Akron Empire, I also organize Crafty Mart, a bi-annual pop-up handmade marketplace downtown Akron. This summer has marked a lot of changes for Crafty Mart-- most notably that we've expanded the number of shows we host and added our first outdoor event which will take place this Saturday. I'm a little nervous but really, really excited!

In the wake of many super cool outdoor crafty events taking place all over our fine state such as The City Flea in Cincinatti, The Columbus Flea and The Cleveland Flea, which everyone should totally check out, I thought we could come up with our own version here in Akron. This was the idea that eventually culminated into Crafty Mart Summer Faire.

In addition to having an outdoor marketplace full of handmade and vintage goodies, classes and workshops will also be offered at Summer Faire, including a yoga + aromatherapy class, a perfume blending class, a terrarium course and more! For more information and to register, click HERE. You can register now through Friday night.

Make your own terrarium! Sign up here.

The event will shut down just in time for the Akron Artwalk to start. This Artwalk is extra special since we will finally see the reveal of the Make Your Mark Mural by local tattoo artist Jesse Strother. If you don't already know about that, you can read about it HERE.

As always, admission to Crafty Mart is free, and there's free parking on the street and in the library deck on the corner of Market and High Street. If you want more information, visit Crafty Mart's website. Hope to see you there!

Crafty Mart Summer Faire
Saturday, July 5th, 10 am - 5pm
Musica 51 E. Market St. Akron, Ohio
RSVP on Facebook

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Nightlight Cinema--Independent Film Theater in Akron

Inside the new Nightlight theater--featuring a fully automated, digital projection system.

The Nightlight Cinema--our own independent film theater in downtown Akron
by Joanna Wilson

The best thing to happen in the Empire this year is the opening of the new independent film theater, The Nightlight, in downtown Akron.  The new venue has been made possible from a grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as well as other local grants and a very successful Kickstarter campaign--all organized by Akron Film + Pixel, the local social organization for fans of film and games.  The state-of-the-art theater features a brand new projection system and screen, with a fully automated digital film projector which offers impressive image quality.  The 46-seat theater offers our community an intimate viewing experience with a oversize screen, the way theater film viewing is supposed to be.

Three of the men hard at work to open The Nightlight include (l to r): Rob Lucas, Kurtiss Hare, and Steve Felix.

One of the things that most impresses me about the founders of this new downtown space is their commitment to making the theater reflect the community of Akron.  The wooden bar/counter space was purchased from the Bomb Shelter, the round tables were donated from The Lockview, and the benches in the lobby area were acquired from the Church in the Falls (in Cuyahoga Falls).  The art on the walls in the lobby area has been curated by Roza Haidet (she's guest blogged for us several times) and it features the photography of Cleveland filmmaker/artist, Robert Banks (who has been a big supporter of the Akron film group from their beginning).  Food and snacks at the concession area include delicacies from The Blue Door (located in Cuyahoga Falls) and Cupcake Binge (in Munroe Falls).  And the opening film, beginning Tuesday July 1st, is Only Lovers Left Alive--a film directed by Akron native and independent filmmaker Jim Jarmusch.  All this Akron-centric thinking is the kind of dedication that I want to support!

The Nightlight light box sign above the lobby was crafted by hand in acrylic by Cory Sheldon.

The theater opens Tuesday, July 1 with screenings of Jarmusch's Only Lovers Left Alive.  Upcoming films include the digitally restored, retro classic Beatles' movie A Hard Days Night, Night Moves with Jesse Eisnenberg, Snowpiercer with Chris Evans and Tilda Swinton, and eventually the documentary film Life Itself, about the life and career of film critic Roger Ebert.  The film schedule and screening times are available at the website: The Nightlight Cinema.

Regular admission is $8.50, and tickets can be purchased at The Nightlight prior to screenings. Seating is limited and will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Arriving early is advised. An online ticket booking system will be available at starting in late July 2014. 

Please join me in showing this new venue and Akron Film + Pixel that we love what they are doing by attending a screening this first week!

The Nightlight Cinema is located at 30 N. High Street (just down from Rubber City Clothing and Uncorked Winebar)
For more information and screening times:
Twitter: @nightlightakron
facebook: Akron Film + Pixel

Friday, June 27, 2014

World Cup Soccer with Akron American Outlaws at Manny's Pub

World Cup Soccer at Manny's Pub
by Brit Charek

Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose.

Sometimes you lose, but you still win? That's what happened at the USA vs. Germany World Cup match yesterday, and the crowd gathered at Manny's Pub near the University of Akron campus rejoiced.

Even though the yanks lost, and let me tell you-- it was a nail-biter, they still get to move on to the knockout round along with the German team.

I've had an interesting relationship with soccer over the years. When I was just 21, I took a job as a waitress at The Globe Pub in Chicago, one of the only pubs in the city that would show live matches from all over the world. Believe me, I've seen soccer fans at their best and most certainly at their worst. Especially when it came time for the World Cup.

When I heard that Akron had formed their own branch of the American Outlaws, a group of US soccer supporters, I had to see what it was all about. That's how I found myself at Manny's Pub yesterday, which is where the Outlaws gather to watch matches.

The American Outlaws are an unofficial supporters' group for the United States men's national soccer team established in 2007 with chapters all over the country. Check out their website to learn more.

I should have realized what a big deal the game was when my husband and I had to drive around the block three times to find parking. We got into the pub just in time for the kickoff, and it was packed. There were fans of all ages crammed in the pub, all decorated head to toe in US colors chanting, singing and pumping fists in the air together.


Like I said earlier, the game was a nail-biter. The two teams were so evenly matched that they were pretty much playing defense the whole 90 minutes.

The US moving on to the next round was also dependent on the outcome of another match that was going on at the same time, which led to my husband nervously refreshing his phone every minute or so. When Portugal scored their second goal over Ghana in the second have of the game, the crowd celebrated and some of the tension started to ease.

The next match will be on Tuesday, July 1 at 4pm where Team USA will take on Belgium, and the Akron Outlaws will again gather at Manny's. This time, I think I'll try to get there earlier. Go USA!

For more info about the Akron American Outlaws, check out their Facebook page.

Manny's Pub is located at 394 Brown Street, just south of Exchange in Akron, Ohio.