Friday, December 20, 2013

The White Rabbit in Ravenna

Akron Empire is so excited to introduce guest blogger Erica Scheutzow! Erica, an artist, is a good friend and owner of As I Breathe I Hope, which offers a variety of quirky original plush characters made from new and recycled fabrics. Check out As I Breath I Hope on Etsy and on Facebook. Thanks for contributing to Akron Empire, Erica!

The White Rabbit in Ravenna
by Erica Scheutzow

The White Rabbit shop stems from the inspiration of two loving rabbits and a desire for something new. I first had the pleasure of meeting Brittany Christmas, the owner, almost exactly a year ago to the date of this interview at a craft show in 2012 and here our paths meet again! Brittany has a quaint little shop off Meridian Street in downtown Ravenna that specializes in selling handmade, one of a kind works of art from local artisans. Her concept of a consignment boutique for artisans started well over a year ago when she realized that there really isn’t a shop like this in Ravenna or surrounding areas. As we both agreed, it was a bit of a hassle to drive further out to larger cities for the same thing. “Why not just start my own?” said Brittany.

Since opening in June 2013, Brittany is very active in her community, always reaching out and getting involved with events. She has received much enthusiasm, curiosity and support from people near and far for her willingness to step out of the mainstream and not only highlight but encourage those crafty entrepreneurs. Shopping small really does come full circle!

Upon entering The White Rabbit, you’ll find a huge selection of items ranging from jewelry, textiles, paintings, pet accessories, decorations and much more all within an affordable budget, the average price range is $10-$30. You can’t beat that! Not to mention smiles and warm greetings from Brittany as she personally helps you shop and fills you in on each artist’s work. My experience with her was quite wonderful and I could tell that she was very proud and excited to have so many people stand behind her on her new venture. 

For more information about buying or selling at The White Rabbit please stop in the shop:

The White Rabbit
210 Meridian Street
Ravenna, Ohio 44266

OR, visit her social media networks:

Monday, December 16, 2013

Last Chance Holiday Bazaar

Last Chance Holiday Bazaar
by Joanna Wilson

Over the past month, I've been highlighting several local places and events where you can shop local and buy handmade.  Hopefully, you found an opportunity to explore Crafty Mart, Portage Trail Barn's WINTER SALE, and the Mustill Store's Holiday Open House to purchase gift items for your friends and family.  Just a reminder: the Mustill Store Holiday shop remains open through this week for local artisan items and for gift wrapping.  For more information, click HERE

For you procrastinators out there--and YOU know who you are--there's still one more opportunity I'd like to highlight.  Sunday, Dec. 22nd from 11am-6pm, at the Zephyr Pub in downtown Kent, you can find Last Chance Holiday Bazaar, a holiday pop-up shop to satisfy your last minute shopping needs.

The Last Chance Holiday Bazaar is an extension of Zephyr Mart, an arts and craft show first held this past September.  Were you there?  I was--and I was impressed with it.  I asked the organizers, Rachel Jernigan and J Phillip Hudson, about their event.  As an artist and a long time Kent resident, Rachel started Zephyr Mart to highlight the talents of Northeast Ohio crafters and artists while J brings his skills in event planning and his marketing experience to organize it.  (Remember J is the co-founder of Crafty Mart and the organizer behind Sausage Fest).  Rachel told me, "J and I started Zephyr Mart because we are both interested in providing a venue for artists to sell and a place for people to buy local, unique products and gifts. The city of Kent has some outdoor events but not one that we felt suited our goals."  I asked about the future of Zephyr Mart and Rachel responded, "J and I intend to do several Zephyr Mart events in 2014, including a summer Zephyr Fest with bands, food and lots of vendors."

Rachel and J are both motivated to support downtown Kent and its local small businesses that have survived over the years--alongside the influx of many new businesses.  The organizers are involved in supporting mainstays like The Zephyr Pub that need to be remembered and patronized.  One way to do that is to become involved in the Keep Kent Weird movement--showing your support for the uniqueness of local Kent.  And another way to support Kent is to shop local and buy from local artists--at events like the Last Chance Holiday Bazaar.

What can we expect to see at Last Chance Holiday Bazaar?  J Hudson told me, "The vendors at Last Chance Holiday Bazaar are an eclectic mix of Kent area artists and crafters, from recent Kent art student grads to established painters and jewelry makers. Others [from places throughout Northeast Ohio] are cottage industry creative types. Their work represents a wide range of aesthetics, styles and media. Some of their works are great to look at and others are practical and can be used. All will make great gifts. We are also going to have vintage clothes."

There will be approximately 20 vendors--please check out the vendors' names and photos of their goods on the facebook event wall.  This is a smaller event--one that relies on word-of-mouth promotion, so please share this event with your friends and family.  And, this event would not be possible without the support of The Zephyr Pub, it's owners, Michael and Nancy, and the manager, Patty Restaine.  Many thanks to everyone whose efforts go into making opportunities like this happen.  Keep Kent Weird.

Last Chance Holiday Bazaar is Sunday, Dec. 22nd, 11am-6pm
at the Zephyr Pub: 106 W. Main Street in downtown Kent, OH 
check out the Facebook event wall for more information and vendor profiles.

I'll see everyone there--I'll be one of the vendors, selling my holiday greeting cards.  Be sure to stop by and say 'hi.'

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tats for Tots at Arkham Tattoo

Tats for Tots at Arkham Tattoo 
by Brit Charek

A few weeks back, guest blogger Mathias King posted about his experience at Good Life Gives Back, a charity event where Good Life Tattoos & Piercings offered discounted prices and used the proceeds to buy toys for the waiting rooms at Akron Children's Hospital, which is a pretty cool idea.

It looks like Goodlife isn't the only shop in town interested in giving back-- this Saturday between noon and 11pm, Arkham Tattoo in North Akron is hosting a toy drive for Toys For Tots appropriately called 'Tats For Tots.' Here's the deal: Bring a new, unwrapped toy to donate to Toys for Tots and $20 and you can choose from a huge selection of traditional tattoos!

This is a charity event, so be mindful of the rules. No custom work will be done during the event, and the flash sheet won't be released until the day of the event. You might want to show up early to make sure you get a spot in line. Check out the Facebook event for more details.

Arkham Tattoo is located at 788 N. Main St., Akron, Ohio 44310

Arkham Tattoo's Website
Arkham Tattoo's Facebook Page
Tats for Tots Event Page

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mustill Store Holiday Open House--Dec. 14th

Cascade Locks Park Association's Mustill Store Holiday Open House--2013

Mustill Store Holiday Open House
by Joanna Wilson

If you've been following along on this blog, then you know that over the past few weeks I've been making suggestions on local places to shop for your handmade holiday gifts.  When you shop locally, your money helps to support the local economy.  And, when you buy handmade, you help to support a local artist.  Another wonderful opportunity to shop locally and support neighborhood artisans is happening this weekend, Saturday December 14th at the Mustill Store Holiday Open House, 11am-3pm.

The Mustill House and Store decked with boughs of greenery.

You're familiar with the Mustill Store, right?  The Mustill Store is the historic house and store that is located on the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway--right along the Towpath (at the bottom of North Street, just above Howard Street).  The Mustill Store serves as the primary visitor's center for the Canalway.  The building's operation and volunteers are organized by the Cascade Locks Park Association who also work with others to help preserve and develop the area.  Remember Canal Fest and the Duck Derby this past summer?  That previous event as well as this week's Holiday Open House are fundraisers to help support this local non-profit organization and it's preservation of Akron's history.  For more information, check out the website for the Cascade Locks Park Association here.

Help support the CLPA and shop the Holiday Open House.

Saturday, Dec. 14th's Holiday Open House at the Mustill Store will be featuring locally made items such as items such as soap, honey, jam, scarves, hats, and more.  There will also be complimentary beverages and food treats for those shopping!  Not able to attend this Saturday?  You can also visit the Store the following days during the week for these extended hours: Sunday Dec. 15th 11am-3pm, Monday Dec. 16th 9am-6pm, Tuesday Dec. 17th 9am-6pm, Weds Dec. 18th 9am-3pm, Thursday Dec. 19th 9am-3pm, Friday Dec. 20th 9am-3pm.  

There will be volunteers gift wrapping on Sunday, Dec 15th from 11am-3pm, Mon, Dec 16th from 2pm-6pm, and Tues Dec. 17th, 2pm-6pm.  People can drop their gifts to be wrapped by volunteers, and donations are welcome. All proceeds go directly to the projects and programs of the CLPA. 330.374.5625 is the store phone if anyone wants more details or has any questions. See you at the Holiday Open House!

Holiday Open House: Saturday Dec. 14th 11am-3pm and extended hours during the following week.

For more information:
Mustill Store Holiday Open House facebook event
Cascade Locks Park Association website
call the Store phone for questions answered: 330-374-5625 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Portage Trail Barn--Winter Sale 2013

Look for the sign on Portage Trail Extension--perhaps 100 yards west of State Rd. in Cuyahoga Falls.

Portage Trail Barn--Winter Sale 2013
by Joanna Wilson

"Shop local. Buy handmade" is the slogan of the Portage Trail Barn.  This slogan can be seen on bumper stickers labeling cars throughout the Empire.  But it's also a way of life for many people in our community.  In the past, I've shared Portage Trail Barn events among others through this website and its many social networking extensions.  But today I'd like to step back and focus on the Barn--a growing, integral part of the local arts and crafts scene.

Portage Trail Barn is quite literally a BARN!

"A community of crafters displayed together in an intimate setting, not overcrowded nor overwhelming."

I recently spoke with the Barn's owner/creator Mary Beth Filon about how she got started.  Mary Beth said the Portage Trail Barn started out in the spring of 2011 as a place where she could sell her own crafts.  Looking to avoid the craft show circuit and on-line markets, Mary Beth and her mom decided to open their own shop--one she had built right on her property.  Since early 2011, she typically opens the Barn for sales once a season, about three or four times a year, and includes not only her own crafts but those from other local vendors as well.  Mary Beth makes a special effort to surround herself with artists and crafters that understand sustainability--stocking her barn with products that are re-purposed and up-cycled from used and vintage items.

"Because the different types of crafts are spread out and displayed uniquely, visitors can really be inspired by how items could be used in their homes or as gifts for loved ones."

"Our customers appreciate the story of these items.  They are happy to do their part to prevent re-purposed things from being thrown out."

Said Filon, "I love the fact that Portage Trail Barn is all about sustainability. When I go in there I see so many re-purposed items that would normally just be discarded, from clothing and wood remnants to antiques.  I like it when I buy something there, I feel like I'm doing my part to reduce waste. The best part is you would never know that they were discarded items because the items are so artfully crafted. The crafts truly are unique. They're not just something that you would see at typical craft shows where everything may start to look the same."

"The Portage Trail Barn takes separate vendors with different talents and unites them into one combined store.  It makes the artists and the shoppers feel like they're part of something bigger.... like a local art family.  [PTB] is different from other craft shows in that it feels more home-y.  It embraces the idea of community."

I asked Mary Beth to describe what type of items will be available at the Winter Sale.  She replied:
Cloth dolls, toys, and kids gifts
Lathe turned vases, pens, and other woodwork
Wine accessories and gifts
Re-purposed mittens, hats, totes, and purses
Vintage inspired jewelry
Greeting cards
Hostess towels and other gifts

And, I'm sure there will be more surprises.  As you consider where to spend your money this holiday season, I encourage you to continue to shop local and buy handmade.  Not only will you be helping to support a local member of our arts and crafts community, but you'll be buying something unique and not mass-produced. 

Portage Trail Barn--Winter Sale 2013 is over two weekends:
Thur-Sat Dec. 5th-7th,  (Thursday 3pm-8pm) (Friday and Saturday 10am-3pm)
Thur-Sat Dec. 12th-14th, (Thursday 3pm-8pm) (Friday and Saturday 10am-3pm)

Check out the Portage Trail Barn website:
Portage Trail Barn page on fb
RSVP to the Winter Sale event on FB

Portage Trail Barn is located at 151 W. Portage Trail Ext., Cuyahoga Falls, OH 44223

Monday, November 25, 2013

5th Annual Crafty Mart: Recap

5th Annual Crafty Mart: Recap
by Joanna Wilson

You may be wondering why Akron Empire is always covering the bi-annual arts & crafts show Crafty Mart.  The answer is twofold--half of Akron Empire is the event's organizer.  The other reason is because we believe in supporting local small businesses and by covering Crafty Mart, we are encouraging and promoting over 50 local artists, crafters, and entrepreneurs.   We also like to believe that it's one of the funnest days of the year.  Have you made attending Crafty Mart an annual tradition?

The 5th annual Crafty Mart is Saturday, November 30th (the Saturday after Thanksgiving) 10am to 5pm at Musica in downtown Akron.  Admission is free.

Let me remind you of a few past Akron Empire posts about Crafty Mart and a few of its regular vendors.

**Last week, Dina from the blog Dina's Days shared her thoughts on Five Reasons to Shop at Crafty Mart.

**Last year, guest blogger J Hudson shared his experiences as Crafty Mart's co-founder.

**A review of the Spring show from 2012 by Akron Empire's Brit.

RSVP to Crafty Mart on Facebook

Below are links to three of the Crafty Mart vendors we've profiled in the past.  All three will be at the upcoming 5th annual show as well.

The charming robots made by Pat Gerber are crafted from reclaimed wood from shipping pallets.

Chris Rutan of Rigmarole makes vinyl wallets, paper folded stars--and she's a photographer.

Roza Haidet of Rusty Chain makes one-of-a-kind jewelry from copper, brass, and sterling silver.

Tame Your Mane beard oil is a new venture by Mathias Noble King.

At the 5th annual Crafty Mart you can also take advantage of a charity fundraiser on behalf of the Battered Women's Shelter of Summit & Medina Counties.  You will be able to buy $1 raffle tickets for a chance to win a $100 online Crafty Mart shopping spree just in time for the holidays!  

For more information, please check out the following links:

Crafty Mart page on Facebook

Crafty Mart event on fb
Crafty Mart website
a complete list of all the vendors at the 5th annual Crafty Mart

Over the next several weeks, Akron Empire will highlight a few other events to shop local and handmade.  I hope you'll join me in supporting local artisans this holiday season.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tame Your Mane Beard Oil

Tame Your Mane Beard Oil
by Brit Charek

My husband is very proud of his beard. It's more than just a fashion statement or a bi-product of skipping an extra grooming step in the morning-- it's become part of his personality.

Thanks @katiemidge for snapping this photo from Handmade Toledo

Although the beard was one of the features that first attracted me to Mathias, its exponential increase in size over time started to put me on edge. Out of spite, I sent him an article about how to care for his beard. This led us on our Beard Oil adventure. He ordered a few different types off Etsy, but since he tends to be a "taker-over-er," as I have passive-aggressively coined him (with affection, of course!), he started making his own.

After a few test batches, Mathias opened an Etsy shop himself and started selling his own blend which he calls "Tame Your Mane." It's a blend of essential oils designed to keep the skin under your beard healthy and moisturized, while keeping the facial hair manageable and conditioned. And it smells great. It contains peppermint, black pepper, tea tree, cypress, jojoba and almond oil. He hand blends each bottle individually.

It's been a long road, but I've accepted that the beard is here to stay. (I'm just grateful he trimmed it up for our wedding day...) In the meantime, I'm having a lot of fun working the craft show circuit with him and watching him bask in the frequent compliments he gets on his product as well as his beard.

You can check out Tame Your Mane Beard Oil at Crafty Mart next Saturday November 30th at Musica downtown. There will be a tester bottle for skeptics to try out.

Follow Tame Your Mane's Facebook page for more info.
Purchase beard oil from Tame Your Mane's Etsy shop.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Chin's Place in West Akron

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this article about Chin’s Place, a classical Cantonese restaurant near Highland Square.  Dominic has written about music for Akron Empire in the recent past, with articles about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll, Travelogue, and the UltraSpinx/Bad Trouble split 7", and most recently, ShiSho.  He is also an artist with a piece in Clever Little Devils, an exhibition at the Box Gallery, which was featured last week on Akron Empire, click here to read that post. If you're interested in guest blogging, please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.

474 West Market St., Akron OH 44302--catty-corner from the Red Cross Building

Chin’s Place
by Dominic Caruso

I’ve been kicking around Akron for a few years now, and have lived nearby to Chin’s Place for a little over a year, but never gotten around to trying the food there until last weekend. In fact, numerous friends have recommended Chin’s to me, and my girlfriend eats there all the time.  All I can say is I’ve been missing out.  Luckily, when we are wrong, we can do things to make our mistakes right--we can change course. Which I intend to do by eating at Chin’s a lot more in the future.

The restaurant is a Highland Square fixture and enriches the neighborhood in more ways than one. Proprietor Elaine Chin was nice enough to spend a few minutes to talk to me about the restaurant's history and food. It’s a 3rd generation Chinese restaurant that serves what Elaine describes as classical Cantonese cuisine. The Chins craft their dishes using their grandfather’s recipes.  After starting a successful restaurant in Hong Kong, he came to Akron in the 1950s to work as a chef and to bring his family to the United States. The Chins' stewardship of their grandfather’s recipes extends to the use of fresh ingredients: everything is made from scratch, down to the duck sauce, which, when the apples are in season, they make using fruit from their friend’s local orchard. None of the restaurant's sauces are pre-made. They even peel and mince ginger every day to use in their flavorful dishes. Elaine told me that whenever they can, they use locally grown organic vegetables. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a particularly cultivated palate, but you don’t need to be a gourmand to appreciate and enjoy food that is prepared with care and quality ingredients.

In the spring and summer, vegetables like baby bok choy and green beans often come from Chin’s own garden, an impressive and lovely space which you can visit behind the restaurant. The garden is in hibernation now, but you can view photos of it on Chin’s Facebook page. In the spring and summer, you can eat outdoors on nice days.

I had the black bean - ginger tofu vegetables, which I immediately started eating and then had to rearrange to take this photo.

Don’t wait for spring and summer to stop in. It was a gloomy day on Saturday in November, when I visited.  And although it wasn’t particularly cold outside, the overcast day made me feel especially hungry for some good, filling winter food.  I ordered the black bean - ginger tofu vegetables, and it was delightful. The ginger in the sauce made the dish especially delicious and satisfying, the perfect comfort food for cold gray winter days.

In addition to cultivating their garden, Chin’s hosts a Plant Swap each spring, where friends and neighbors can meet to exchange perennials, annuals, herbs, vegetable starts, and other plants.

The dining room is small, but comfortable and bright.
The dining room is sparingly decorated with beautiful images like this embroidered picture.

The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner every day except Sunday. They serve a nice variety of vegetarian and vegan selections, including black bean - ginger tofu vegetables.  They also serve meat dishes like Cantonese chicken chow mein, and seafood meals like traditional Cantonese shrimp and black bean sauce, along with popular favorites like egg rolls, moo shu pork, and kung pau chicken. You can dine in--the restaurant has a small, but comfortable dining room--or take out, or have them deliver. They also cater.  One additional thing that I noticed while I was there: Elaine knew each person who came in to pick up orders and spent a minute or two chatting with each one to see how they were doing. It’s the kind of place that is a real asset to a community, and I’ll be back. Maybe, we can meet there soon!

Visit Chin’s  Facebook page.
Here’s a link to their menu--call for seasonal specials.

Friday, November 15, 2013

5 Reasons to Shop Crafty Mart November 30

Akron Empire would like to welcome back guest blogger Dina from Dina's Days.  Dina has previously shared with Akron Empire her favorite thrift store in Akronabout local musician, guitarist Dan Wilson and a vintage clothing sale at NOTO in downtown Akron.  Thanks Dina!

{images designed by}

This month marks the 5th anniversary of Akron's best handmade craft marketplace, Crafty Mart. While preparing to write this post I reached out to Dina's Days Facebook and Twitter fans to hear what they love most about Crafty Mart. Here are five reasons why you should be there on November 30 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Musica, We Gallery and Uncorked Wine Bar, 51 E. Market St. in Akron:

1. It's their 5th anniversary!

After five years, this bi-annual craft marketplace continues to be one of Akron's must-see events. With over 50 vendors, the event boasts an incredible array of handmade crafts, up-cycled treasures, and one of a kind gifts. Musica, We Gallery, and Uncorked Wine Bar serve as the perfect venues for this local event in Akron's historic district. 

2. There's a photo booth! 

Another fan favorite, Magnolia Photobooth Company offers free high quality photos in their photobooth upstairs at We Gallery. As you can see, the props are so much fun.

3. You could win a $100 shopping spree while supporting a good cause! 

Shoppers can purchase a raffle ticket to enter to win one of several $100 shopping sprees to Crafty Mart. All proceeds benefit the Battered Women's Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties, the only shelter providing domestic violence services within a two county radius. 

4. It's a one stop local shop for all your holiday needs! 

Just in time for post-Thanksgiving shopping, Crafty Mart not only gives artists a platform to share their talents, but also provides shoppers with the ultimate local shopping experience. On November 30th, you can join thousands across the nation by participating in Small Business Saturday right here in Akron. While you're there, you can begin checking items off your list by picking up a few unique gifts. 

{every year I pick up a dressed up box from Monica Whelan. This Kodak one was the perfect addition to my vintage camera collection}
{an adorable ring made by Barbara from Toony Jewelry}

5. Meet new people, get inspired, and spend time with loved ones!
Okay, that's really three reasons but one of my favorite things about going to Crafty Mart every year is making an afternoon out of it with my friends or sisters. We grab a delicious drink from Urban Eats and make our rounds. One of the best responses I received from a fan on Facebook was that Crafty Mart leaves her feeling inspired to create and craft.  I couldn't agree more! 

Be sure to join the event on Facebook and share with your friends! 

Crafty Mart links to share and follow:

Monday, November 11, 2013

Clever Little Devils--Art Show at Box Gallery

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Rob Lehr.  Lehr has curated a new art exhibit that opens this weekend.   Rob Lehr has sat on the board of directors for Artists of Rubber City since 2008. He has organized several group exhibitions in Akron with as many as 65 participating artists.  Rob Lehr is also a freelance Creative Director and Commercial Artist having graduated from the Myers School of Art at The University of Akron in 2008 with a Bachelors of Fine Art.  As a contemporary artist, his artwork depicts suburban American concepts & aesthetics while commenting on social politics, urban lifestyles, food politics, classism, and popular culture.  Since 2010, he has owned & operated an art toy company named Vivid Plastic, which sells vinyl art toys & contemporary art prints nationwide.

Clever Little Devils at the Box Gallery in Akron
by Rob Lehr

A new contemporary art exhibition opens this Friday, November 15th called Clever Little Devils at The Box Gallery. This show brings together over 40 local and national artists to discuss the relationship between youth culture and advertising. As a curator, I am always looking for unique themes that will help artists tell their stories and showcase their personalities.  I believe every artist has a personal response to the art they see daily and advertising is certainly one of the most unavoidable mediums of art around.  The exhibition gives these artists a neutral playground to express themselves at a community-driven art gallery. 

Artwork by Trey Berry

As children, we have a different understanding of what advertisements are trying to tell us (or better yet, sell us) about American life. I also feel that advertisements enter our lives without warning and without permission. This is an opportunity for fine artists to respond to an otherwise one-way interaction. 

Another piece in the exhibition.  This 3-D work is by Ron English.

Many artists in the show wanted to celebrate the nostalgia of advertisements from their own childhood, while other artists chose more satirical views in illustrating the theme.  This balance between play vs. work, really becomes apparent throughout the artwork.  From current social issues to the ghosts from our past, the artists brought substance to the show using their creativity.

by Adam Dumont

Selecting artists for group exhibitions is always a lot of fun. I have been fairly active in Akron’s art scene for a few years now but I am always looking for new talent to help round out the show with new perspectives. A few national artists that are featured in Clever Little Devils are Nick Bakita (New York City), Ron English (Dallas),  Phil Guy (San Francisco), Bonnie Stipe (Albuquerque), Andrew Lopez (Chicago) and several local artists include Andy Dreamingwolf, Mark Soppeland, Charlie Wagers, Arnold Tunstall, Adam Dumont and many more.

By local artist Mark Soppeland

Clever Little Devils is also about bringing contemporary and thought-provoking artwork to our community galleries in Akron. We need more exhibitions that offer contemporary ideas and mediums, not just at the museum level.  Artists in this show come from a wide variety of age groups and diverse educations. From tattoo artists to fine art college professors, this show will hopefully offer you something new.  I want the The Box Gallery to be a place for people from many different backgrounds and experiences to engage in conversations about art. 

By Bonnie Stipe

 For me the hanging the art on the walls is just the beginning because I truly enjoy throwing a big party!  This Friday, November 15th, will be a great gathering of Akron’s creative personalities all under one roof.  I am fortunate to have Ashley Brooke Toussant and Kyndra Heischman both playing music for the opening reception.  These ladies have fantastic voices and their performances alone should not be missed.

For a full list of artists in the exhibition, along with more details, visit the facebook event page here:

Clever Little Devils opens Friday, November 15th 2013 from 5pm-9pm at The Box Gallery on the 3rd Floor of Summit Art Space Building  (right around the corner from The Akron Art Museum). The gallery address is 140 E. Market St, Akron, OH 44308.

The event is open to the public and free.  Show runs through December 31 for First Night Akron.  The exhibition is sponsored by Artists of Rubber City.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The 2nd Annual Akron Comicon at Quaker Square Station -- Saturday, November 9

Akron Comicon Returns!
by Brit Charek

Akron Comicon returns next weekend on Saturday November 9th! (If you missed the inaugural event last year, check Akron Empire's review of it by clicking HERE-- there's some great photos!) This time the event will be held at Quaker Square Station, where there is plenty of parking and nearby restaurants. 

The event was organized to "established to celebrate newspaper comics and comic-books as an original American art form and promote comics as a viable entertainment medium by bringing creators, dealers, and fans together for a day of fun and interaction designed for the entire family."

Just like last year, there will be a range of events and activities taking place all day. One I'm personally looking forward to is the Costumes for Charity Contest. For every costumed attendee, Akron Comicon is donating $2 to charity. The winnings will be split between two charities: Hero Initiative and Help For Heroes. Last year, there were 52 fans in costume at the event-- this year there's likely to be many more!

This year's event will have 40 featured guests, many of which are currently working in the comic book industry. Here's a list of just a few: Dave Aikins, Darryl Banks, Mike W. Barr, Tom Batiuk, Adam Beechen, Jon Bogdanove, Craig Boldman, Ron Frenz, Mike Gustovich, Bob Ingersoll, Tony Isabella, Brad  Ricca, Chris Sprouse, Marc Sumerak, Chris Yambar, and Thom Zahler. Information about all guests is available on Akron Comicon's website.

Akron Comicon has moved from Akron U's Student Union to Quaker Square Station
Check out to see a list of artists, guests, vendors and special events. Also make sure to like their Facebook page to continue getting updates!

Admission tickets cost $10 at the door. Admission for Senior Citizens is $5. University Student tickets are $5 with a student I.D. All children age 10 and under are free. 

OR you can enter our contest to win a free pair of tickets to the event, courtesy of Akron Comicon! Just answer the questions and enter your email address below before midnight on Thursday, November 7. We will announce the winner on Friday, November 8 and email instructions for how to get your tickets. Thanks for following Akron Empire and we'll see you at Comicon!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ShiSho: The Sisters EP Review

Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this record review of the local band, ShiSho.  Dominic has written about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll, Travelogue, and the UltraSpinx/Bad Trouble split 7". If you're interested in guest blogging or having your local band written about, please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.

This Band Could Be Your Life: ShiSho
by Dominic Caruso

ShiSho (Midge, left, and Vivian, right) at the Grog Shop

ShiSho is a folk-punk duo consisting of real life teenage sisters, Vivian and Midge Ramone, who have been writing songs and performing all over Northeast Ohio for nine years(!). They’ve opened for acts like Joe Jack Talcum of Dead Milkmen and They Might Be Giants, and recently played New York City’s Bowery Electric. ShiSho stickers and posters even turned up in prominent locations in the series finale episode of the popular British TV show, The IT Crowd. ShiSho plays quirky, irreverent, and cleverly humorous songs that are often meandering, playful narratives populated by odd characters, outsiders, Morrissey, and the occasional killer clown doll.

Cover art for the Sisters EP
In September 2013, they released five new songs on The Sisters EP. The new music captures the sisters sounding more polished and accomplished than ever before--both vocally and melodically--achieving a sound reminiscent of the deadpan delivery of Patty Donahue of the Waitresses, and the slightly off-kilter guitar-accordion pop of They Might Be Giants. ShiSho’s live performances  usually consist of Vivian’s guitar and Midge’s accordion. However, the EP fleshes their sound out, adding a catchy power-pop beat to the songs, along with an economical use of synths, making the songs even more irresistibly hummable.

Midge and Vivian at The Bomb Shelter, photography © Melissa Olsen,, 2013
The five songs feature the sisters’ surreal storytelling: “It’s Coming to Get You (The Evil Clown Song)” focuses on the aforementioned killer clown doll and the inevitability of it getting you--despite your suspicion that the doll is alive, evil, and after you, and despite all the delicate social maneuvering you’ve done to avoid upsetting your grandmother, who presented the clown to you as a Christmas gift. “Chicken Poofie” is a journey to the sisters punky side, with the infectious shout-along chorus, “No friends! No Parents! Only his dustbunnies!” The best track is “Ohio Man,” an inventive bit of songwriting which catalogs the exploits of the character of Ohio Man.  The song seems to have been created by stringing together leads from the police blotter: Ohio Man recovers 300-year-old stolen bible / Ohio Man hits brother over the head with cremation urn / Ohio Man changes his name to Optimus Prime. The effect is a blackly comic composite picture of a decidedly weird, and often violent Ohio Man. “The Dead Milkmen Song” includes support from the Dead Milkmen themselves, and fashions a wild pastiche with elements from numerous Milkmen songs. “Shrouded in Shadows” closes the collection with a message from one outcast teen to another about suffering the slings and arrows of other teens for failing to fit in. The details of the song elevate it beyond any typical teen moping: “I think your Sonic the Hedgehog drawing are baller / I hope you include me in your next fan fiction.” Being an outsider can be painful, but with “Shrouded in Shadows” ShiSho want you to know their not only on your side, they’re sticking up for you too.

Midge and Vivian at The Bomb Shelter, photography © Melissa Olsen,, 2013
With that Holiday time of the year approaching, The Sisters EP would make an excellent stocking stuffer for the music lovers on your list. Make it a double shot of ShiSho by including their holiday CD, Christmas for Your Earhole, (which will be available on the group's bandcamp page soon) and you’ve got a winter soundtrack filled with irreverent, danceable--and most importantly--fun, pop.

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Monday, October 21, 2013

The Tasting Room at Hoppin' Frog

The well-lit billboard sign above the complex of buildings at Hoppin' Frog Brewery on Akron's east side.

The Tasting Room at Hoppin' Frog
by Joanna Wilson

Congratulations are in order for Akron's brewery Hoppin' Frog on their most recent success!  Earlier this month, Hoppin' Frog won a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their barrel-aged B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher stout. (Click HERE for the link for the list of medal winners at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival).  Upon hearing this wonderful achievement, I headed over to the Tasting Room at Hoppin' Frog to taste and enjoy the local brews. 

I invited a dinner guest to join me at the east-side gastropub last week.  We weren't the only ones there eager to celebrate Hoppin' Frog's recent success.  When we ordered our dinners, it was a relief to see drink suggestions on the menu, perfectly paired to compliment our meals.  There were so many drink options, it was easiest to begin with the menu's drink suggestion and go from there.  I ordered the pork tacos--an excellent marriage of tangy pulled pork and cole slaw--that tasted even better coupled with Frog's Hollow Double Pumpkin Ale.  My guest enjoyed a meal of pasta along with an imperial stout, the barrel-aged B.O.R.I.S. the Crusher.  (B.O.R.I.S. is an acronym for Bodacious Oatmeal Russian Imperial Stout).  The barrel-aged beer has a complex and full, whiskey flavor that won us over.

Inside the Tasting Room at Hoppin' Frog, one can enjoy both dinner and drinks.

After dinner, we continued to enjoy the Tasting Room's ambiance and order a few more drinks.  I wanted to try something different from the pumpkin ale and so I tried the new Gangster Frog IPA.  I loved it--the india pale ale had a citrus flavor that hit the right spot.  My guest ordered the seasonal special Oktoberfest Froggy Style Lager.  I just love seasonal beers and these did not disappoint.  We capped our night at the Tasting Room with a sweet dessert--we shared a Frog's Hollow Triple Pumpkin Beershake.  Yes, a beer mixed with ice cream and it was everything I hoped it would be! 

Look for the entrance to the Tasting Room at the green awning.

The Tasting Room at Hoppin' Frog opened earlier this year and I was waiting for just the right incentive to check it out for the first time.  However, it won't be long before I return for more delicious food and brews.  Who will buy me my first round of Frosted Frog Christmas Ale?

The Tasting Room at Hoppin' Frog is located at 1680 E. Waterloo Rd., Akron OH (right across from the Airdock).
Hoppin' Frog Brewery website
Hours open: Tues & Wed: 5pm-10pm, Thur & Fri: 5pm-11pm, Sat: noon-11pm, closed Sun & Mon