Friday, May 31, 2013

Manly Mart: The Art Show for Dudes at Mahall's 20 Lanes

Manly Mart: The Art Show for Dudes
by Brit Charek

When my fiance came up with the idea to have a men's only craft show, I had a few problems with the idea at first.

First off, isn't that sexist? And second, organizing craft fairs is my thing!

Granted, he did get the idea from helping me organize Crafty Mart which is turning more and more into a team effort for us, so it wasn't that difficult to convince myself to stop feeling threatened by the idea of him having his own show. (The next Crafty Mart is taking place tomorrow, June 1. Click here for details!)

As for the issue of excluding women, I started talking to my friends in the crafty community about it. Is it ok to exclude people? Practically everyone was supportive, and the ladies I talked to are excited to come out and shop for the men in their life. There are plenty of shows that have themes and only except artists that meet certain criteria. For example, Collective Upcycle, a seasonal pop-up market in the Cleveland area, only accepts consignors that work with recycled materials. The Akron Zoo hosts an annual holiday market where artists make animal-themed or eco-friendly goods. Weirdfest at Devilstrip Dolly's in Akron only accepts vendors that are, well, weird. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that Manly Mart is not excluding anyone (ladies, you are welcome to come shop and there are plenty of shows in Northeast Ohio to vend at) but it's showcasing something special. In this instance, it happens to all things manly.

Manly Mart is appropriately located at Mahall's 20 Lanes, a kitchy bowling alley/bar in Lakewood with an excellent menu that can satisfy the manliest of appetites. At the show, there will be vendors selling the perfect gift for whatever man you're shopping for, whether he's a sports nut, a music lover or a video game nerd. Local businesses like The Cleveland Brew Shop and My Mind's Eye Records will be there, along with over a dozen manly men selling items they made with their hands.

Come out, do some shopping, grab a brew and bowl a few games! Manly Mart will take place from Noon-6pm on Saturday June 8 at Mahall's 20 Lanes at 13200 Madison Avenue in Lakewood. Following the event will be live music and then a comedy show! Click here to RSVP on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Roza Haidet of Rusty Chain Jewelry

Roza with her booth at Crafty Mart in 2012.

People in Your Neighborhood: Roza Haidet of Rusty Chain Jewelry
by Joanna Wilson

I hope everyone had a relaxing holiday weekend.  For many of us artists/vendors, this is the last week before Crafty Mart--one of the biggest and best arts & crafts shows of the season--which means it's time to take care of all of the details and last minute touches.  Another favorite artist of mine is Roza Haidet of Rusty Chain Jewelry.  Not only do I know Roza from Crafty Mart, but she's also a regular participant at Dance Dance Party Party-Akron (DDPP-Akron).  Click HERE to see a recent blog post about this local group.

I LOVE this Akron, Ohio necklace--I get asked about mine each time I wear it!

Roza makes her one-of-a-kind jewelry from copper, brass, and sterling silver.  Not only does Roza design the shapes herself, but she also cuts each one from sheet metal, and sands and files each piece herself.  After earning her BFA from Kent State in jewelry/metals/enameling, she decided to create her own affordable jewelry line as a way to express her own creativity and her sense of humor.

Roza is also known for her copper blimp necklaces.  You have to appreciate the sense of humor it takes to name your company "Rusty Chain" when working with metals.

Mr. Moneybags necklace includes a whimsical mustache and monocle.

Roza credits her artistic family as part of her source for inspiration and support for her jewelry line.  "... I have really awesome friends and family that helped me purchase the tools I needed [to work with metals]. My mom and I even built my work bench together!"  And, Haidet has been successfully selling her own line of jewelry throughout Northeast Ohio since 2007.  Roza even claims she's striving to have a few new pieces with her at Crafty Mart--I can't wait to see what she comes up with!

Another popular necklace with a sense of humor: Shark Attack complete with floating debris!

You can find Roza and Rusty Chain Jewelry at Crafty Mart on Saturday, June 1st in downtown Akron from 10am to 5pm at Musica.  Click HERE for the Crafty Mart website.

You can also check out Roza's on-line Etsy store, Rusty Chain.

***If you are out and about on Saturday, June 1st after CraftyMart, please check out Weirdfest's spring Carnevil show from 12pm-7pm, at DevilStrip Dolly's just east of downtown.  For the RSVP and more details, click HERE.  Keep Akron Weird!***

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chris Rutan of Rigmarole

Chris behind her table at Crafty Mart in 2012.

People in Your Neighborhood: Chris Rutan of Rigmarole
by Joanna Wilson

As we gear up for Crafty Mart on Saturday June 1st, I'd like to share one of my favorite artist vendors: Chris Rutan of Rigmarole. I first met Chris at a Crafty Mart event several years ago although my boyfriend was friends with her husband long before that.  You may have seen Chris' charming vinyl wallets in local retail stores around town.

Love this moustache card wallet.

Rigmarole also offers these complex folded paper origami star ornaments.

Rigmarole's vinyl wallets are designed and handmade by Chris (she does everything but design the papers).  Chris also folds all the origami stars herself as well as construct the packaging.  As if that's not enough, Chris also makes adorable hairpins and matching necklaces.

Chris says she plans to debut new necklaces at the June 1st Crafty Mart--necklaces not even available in her Etsy store yet!

And, Rigmarole's delightful matching hairpins.

With two young daughters and a husband, where does Chris get all the energy to do all this wonderful and detailed work?  Chris tells me "I love the process [of making things]…coming up with the ideas, fine tuning, designing the packaging, etc. My husband is a graphic designer, he does our packaging and branding. It’s always fun working with him."  She also mentioned something about a coffee addiction--which explains alot!

Chris is also a portrait and wedding photographer--above, she's snapping my photo at the Lockview.

Another source of inspiration, I know Chris keeps track of her global Etsy on-line store sales by placing pins in a world map.  When she reaches a new country or a new goal, she'll proudly make an announcement on her Rigmarole facebook page.  She's already made a sale in six of the seven continents--so if you know someone in Antarctica, help Chris out with the contact!

Again, Chris and her Rigmarole goods will be at Crafty Mart on Saturday, June 1st from 10am-5pm at Musica in downtown Akron.  Click HERE for the CraftyMart website.  There will be dozens of vendors at the Spring show--you don't want to miss out!

You can find Chris Rutan's links:
Rigmarole Design website which links to her Etsy shop and blog
Rigmarole on Facebook
Chris Rutan Photography
Crafty Mart event on facebook

Monday, May 20, 2013

Dance Dance, Party Party--Akron

Dance Dance, Party Party--Akron
by Joanna Wilson

You may have seen that our local group Dance Dance Party Party (DDPP) was featured on the front of the Life section in the Sunday edition of the Akron Beacon Journal yesterday.  Click HERE to see the on-line version of the ABJ article.  As one of the Den Mothers (organizers) of DDPP, I'm delighted to see that the Beacon staff writer Kim Hone-McMahan captured something authentic about our women's only dance program.  Watching what we do, Hone-McMahan saw that DDPP is about the simple, youthful joy of dance--it's really not more complicated than that.

Tired of the bar scene?  We're not a nightclub but we dance like we are in one.

For anyone that has yet to participate in one of our dance parties: we are a women's only group that gathers to dance in a dance studio.  It's not a class and there's no instruction--it's a free-spirited, do-your-own-thing dance opportunity for no other purpose but for the joy of it all.  We like to say we have three rules: no boys, no booze, and no judgement.  That means we're women who come to dance outside of a nightclub setting in a non-judgmental setting for any dance skill level.  DDPP welcomes all women to join us--we often have between 10 to 20 women participating, from twenty-somethings to retirees, and sometimes even a school-aged daughter accompanied by a mother who's come to dance.  We collect a $2 admission per dancer just to help us cover the studio rental costs.  While there are other Dance Dance, Party Party chapters all over the country--and all over the world--our Akron chapter has been going strong for four years and we're looking forward to the next four as well.

"No boys, no booze, no judgement--legwarmers optional."  Above, three of our DDPP-Akron regular dancers in their homemade legwarmers.

Our dance parties take place on the first, third, and fifth Friday of every month.  The dancers usually take turns each week providing an hour's worth of danceable pop music for our playlists.  On the fifth Fridays--which occurs approximately four times a year--we like to do something special.  Lately we've been dancing to popular dance movie soundtracks for those rare fifth Friday dance parties.  So far, we've danced to the soundtrack to Footloose and Dirty Dancing.  It just so happens that our next dance party, Friday May 31st is a fifth Friday of the month and we're scheduled to dance to the high-energy disco soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever

Eat your heart out, John Travolta!  DDPP-Akron is gonna show you how we do it--on May 31st.

Ladies, if you'd like to join us, this would be a great time to see what we're all about.  Our next dance party is Friday, May 31st at Martell's School of Dance (788 W. Market St
Akron, OH 44303) in Highland Square.  The music starts at 8pm and we only dance for an hour--so don't be late!  See you on the dance floor.

Check out our website:
RSVP on facebook event page:
Find DDPP on Facebook:  Dance Dance Party Party Akron page
Find DDPP on Facebook: Dance Dance Party Party Akron group
Twitter: @DDPPAkron

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Akron Empire would like to welcome guest blogger Dominic Caruso for this Q & A with local musician Jon Sonnenberg of Travelogue.  Last year, Dominic also wrote about Dolly Rocker Ragdoll--click HERE to see that post again and the Ultrasphinx/Bad Trouble split record release--click HERE to see that post again.  If you're interested in guest blogging or having your local band written about, please email us at AkronEmpire [at] gmail dot com.

Band Q & A with Jon Sonnenberg of Travelogue
by Dominic Caruso

In addition to being one of the nicest guys I know, Jon Sonnenberg is also one of the most creative and inventive people I know in the Akron Empire. An accomplished songwriter and musician, Jon records and performs under the name Travelogue. With Travelogue, Jon succeeds in creating music that is simultaneously classic, futuristic, and timeless sounding--usually in the course of a single song. As with all good rock and roll, Travelogue’s songs are filled with fascinating, often surprising sounds and textures, coupled with unforgettable melodies, rhythms, and harmonies. The music is atmospheric and cinematic, and features Jon’s dreamlike, contemplative vocal style. I recently asked Jon some questions about Travelogue, his background, his creative process, and his contribution to an exciting upcoming documentary film about modular synthesizers (I Dream of Wires) and he was kind enough to share his thoughts.

Jon Sonnenberg in the studio.

Q: I’ve read that you come from a musical family, was music a big part of your childhood? What did you grow up listening to?

A: Music was very much encouraged in my family. My dad plays the fiddle/violin/mandolin and my mom plays a little piano and guitar. I developed an ear for music early on. I remember hearing my mom playing a two part invention of Bach and I was able to figure out the left hand part and play along with her. This was pre-elementary school. I did not start taking formal lessons until I was in second grade. I took piano lessons through my first year of college, then studied music theory and electronic music as electives while I worked toward my electrical engineering degree (BSEE).

I was fascinated by sounds – especially electronic sounds. I distinctly remember being on the playground in the fourth grade talking to my friends Sean and Christian about a keyboard bass sound that I heard in a song that I wished my Casio could make.

I grew up listening to a lot of 80s pop music. The first record I ever bought was the 7-inch single of Hall and Oates “You Make My Dreams.” I was in second or third grade and had bought it off of my cousin. I still have that record. The first full length album I ever bought was The Cure Staring at the Sea, then Howard Jones Human’s Lib. Throughout the 80s and early 90s, there were certain bands that I started to collect: Clan of Xymox, The Smiths, Howard Jones, Human League, Fad Gadget, And Also the Trees, Legendary Pink Dots, Portion Control, and others. I still have a fairly large record collection and prefer to buy vinyl or CDs opposed to MP3s.

Q: What inspired you to start writing your own songs?

A: Throughout Junior High School, I had built a small collection of synthesizers in the corner of my bedroom. I would play around with them and learn how to cover songs and make the sounds that I would hear on records. By 1991, I had my first job and bought a multitrack reel to reel off of my friend’s older brother. He allowed me to make payments to him (which was amazing because the thing was very expensive for a kid just out of high school). It took a year to pay off. At the time, most home studios consisted of a 4-track cassette deck and headphones. This reel to reel was an 8-track and allowed me the clout to start recording friends’ bands as well as my own songs. The whole thing was a big learning process. It still is in many ways.

I approach music in a real experimental/question-answer type of way. I was never afraid to splice tape, reverse tape, speed or slow sounds to make something new and unworldly. Some of the recordings that I did during that time are rather unlistenable, but some I still think are pretty fun and inventive. The first album release that I ever made was a Christmas album called Christmas According to Jon, and I gave forty copies to friends of mine. There is a New York City cassette label that wants to re-release the cassette this October. I am really excited about that prospect.

Video for the Travelogue song "Reflections" by Michael D. Toth.

Q: What’s your creative process like? Do you have a scheduled time to create, or do you work when ideas come to you?

A: It widely varies: sometimes it is a melodic idea that drives a song – maybe even from a dream. Sometimes it is from a sound or rhythm that I create in the studio. Sometimes it is inspired by environmental sounds (machines at work, a bird call, hospital noises, etc.).

I prefer not to work within a schedule, but sometimes it is inevitable that deadlines occur. My albums may or may not have deadlines, depending on who is wanting to release or distribute the results. I have also done music for films, video games, fashion shows, art galleries, books, and compilations.

I prefer to have a home studio set up because I can go to the studio at any time and work on music. If it were set up at another facility, I would lose the ideas in my head by the time I get dressed, get in my car, and drive to the studio. The less distractions, the more productive and focused I am.

A great clip of Jon's song "The Tiger in Winter" from Travelogue's 2012 album Fireworks, with a fascinating look into Jon's creative process.

Q: I really like the demonstration videos you make and occasionally post on your website--especially a recent one in which you basically derive a percussive sound from a recording of your own voice. To that end, I’ve heard that your most recent album, Fireworks, contains music derived from recordings of fireworks. Can you talk about that record? Is using found sound or field recordings of sounds a part of your creative process that you’ve often used?

A: Thanks! I recorded a forty-five minute set of fireworks going off at the local high school a few years ago. Originally, I just thought that I would use a couple of the sounds in my songs. But as I listened back to the recording, the idea of a whole record with these fantastic sounds opened up in my mind. I am now even considering starting a “volume 2.” I really love the sound of fireworks.

I have been more and more interested in field recording. Having a iPhone with some fancy apps really opened this door.

Here's the demo video I was talking about.

Q: You were recently interviewed on screen for an extraordinary documentary: I Dream of Wires, the Modular Synthesizer Documentary. What was that experience like?

A: I am very excited and honored to be a part of this. I love a lot of the artists and companies that were interviewed for the film and I am thrilled that I am not only included in the film, but made it to a segment of the trailer. [Filmmaker] Robert [Fantinatto] is a great guy and we talked a lot off camera about all sorts of projects that we have been involved in. I am excited for this to be released and am very happy for his accomplishment.

Find out more about Travelogue (including both 2012 albums, The Noise is Only Temporary, and Fireworks, and where to purchase Travelogue's music) at The Art of Travelogue.

Learn more at Travelogue's Facebook page.
Hear more at Travelogue's SoundCloud page.
See more at Travelogue's YouTube page.

Check out Jon in the trailer of I Dream of Wires, the Modular Synthesizer Documentary.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rust & Found Grand Opening!

Rust & Found is located at 111 S. Canal St. in downtown Canal Fulton.

Rust & Found: Grand Opening!
by Joanna Wilson

I've been coaxed to the southern boundaries of the Empire before.  You may remember my trip last spring to Toys Time Forgot in downtown Canal Fulton.  This weekend, I made another trip to Canal Fulton--this time for the grand opening of a new shop Rust & Found.

Stepping through the front door, the shop opens up with many eye-catching pieces.

The shop is the vision of Rebecca Dunn, an artist who scours local flea markets, garage sales, and auctions for items that she can turn into projects to put her own touches on.  Rust & Found is filled with household decorative items, furniture, accessories, and accent pieces that Dunn has transformed into exciting one-of-a-kind items for your home or business.  Most are mid-century pieces that have been altered to fit contemporary tastes.  Calling her own style "rustic glam," Dunn uses bold colors and patterns to paint or re-upholster chairs, sofas, tables, desks, chests, boxes and more.  There's also a touch of vintage/industrial style to many of her pieces that also includes lamps, tables, clocks, picture frames, coffee tables, benches, and so much more.

Bold paint and modern upholstery fabrics breathe new life into mid-century furniture.

I fell in love with this industrial saw blade clock!

There's even an entire hanging display of unique lamps and lighting fixtures--LOVE the pulley lamp (left)

In addition to household items, there's even jewelry to suit many tastes.

A number of her creations are also re-purposed objects such as old architectural ornaments that she turns into lamps or a bench constructed from wood and pipes.  There was also a charming dog food and water bowl that she crafted from an old camp stove--that clever item sold while I was still in the store!

I was also really impressed with this re-purposed vintage door that has two book shelves, a bulletin board, and a light attached at the top! 

Rust & Found hosts their grand opening this weekend, May 9,10, and 11th.  They will be open again only once a month--so there will always be fresh new items in the store each time you visit.  They will be open again next month: June 13, 14, and 15th.  Click HERE for the Rust & Found website "Show & Sell dates and times.  I'm really excited to see what she creates for the store when it opens again next month!

Rust & Found is located at 111 S. Canal St. in Canal Fulton
(330) 280-1548
Rust & Found website:
Rust & Found facebook link

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

the virabrations project.

the virabrations project.
by Brit Charek

the virabrations project was founded in 2013 by former Akroners Kelly McHood and Caitlin Boyle after deciding to take part in Off the Mat, Into the World’s 2013 Global Seva Challenge. "In Sanskrit, 'vira' means brave or heroic, and vibrations are something that we all emit." The goal of the organization is to "tap into our brave vibrations and stand up for causes that we believe in" through activism, yoga, and awareness to help change detrimental issues on a global level. 

This year, their goal is to raise $40,000 to directly aid in alleviating the infringement of rights Ecuadorians and the Amazon are currently facing, in addition to raising awareness about this cause. 

On April 8, Ecuador’s second largest oil pipeline burst leaking 250,000 gallons of oil into the earth. Photo courtesy of OTM: Ecuador Oil Spill

I asked co-founder Caitlin Boyle (who is currently living in Germany while her boyfriend is on tour with Akron area rock band Simeon Soul Charger) why the Akron community should care about what's going on in Ecuador. "We are passionate about Ecuador and the Amazon Rainforest because what happens there," she says, "and what has been happening over the last forty or fifty years, greatly affects the entire world."

To learn more about the virabrations project or to send a donation, please visit their website at

To help them to reach their goal, Boyle and McHood are reaching out to artists to donate handmade items and services to be auctioned off online. If you are interested in donating an item or a service, or have any questions about the process, click here to learn more or email them directly at All entrees should be in by June 1. Akron Empire will remind our readers when the online auction begins and what Akron area goods and services will be available to purchase.

Kelly McHood and Caitlin Boyle, co-founders of the virabrations project.

"A crucial aspect of the virabrations project is to build our local and global communities through activism and awareness. By connecting with our local communities, both in Akron and in Germany, we are able to make positive global impacts," says Boyle. "When so many spread awareness about urgent issues such as environmental destruction, oil dependency, and oil consumption throughout their own local communities, positive, global shifts are bound to occur."

To learn more about the virabrations project, check out their website and keep up with them by following them on Facebook.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Hower House

The view of the front entrance of Hower House on Fir Hill.

Take a Tour of Hower House
by Joanna Wilson

If you're like me, you've driven by Hower House many times over the years and wondered about the elegance of the original residents.  The property which now belongs to the University of Akron is on the National Historic Landmark registry.   Last Saturday, a friend and I decided to take the guided tour and discover for ourselves what an interesting place we have right here in our own hometown.

The Hower House has three floors of fine furnishings.

The house was built in 1871 by John Henry Hower, an Akron industrialist.  Though no photographs are allowed on the inside of the building, there are three floors of gorgeous furniture and fixtures filling 28 rooms.  The first floor includes a dining room, music room, library, and other spaces.  The second floor features several bedrooms, and the third floor has a large ballroom of sorts--a room clearly intended for entertaining.  Three generations of the Hower family lived in the home for one hundred years before the mansion was gifted to the University of Akron in 1970.

The Carriage House has been open for two years to visitors.

In recent years, a new building behind the home has been renovated and opened to visitors.  It is the Carriage House which houses several of the Hower family's vehicles which includes several restored horse drawn carriages.

The mansion is filled with Victorian furnishings that the family collected from all over the world.  It's fun to scan the titles of the books in the library and imagine one of the Hower's reading a Victorian novel while sitting on that grand front porch.  And, I have to admit how excited I was to see  Spode dinnerware displayed in the cabinet in the dining room.  I've seen enough Antiques Roadshow to recognize the English pottery company's reputation for fine china.  

If you enjoy surrounding yourself with Victorian-style decorations, you must check out the Cellar Door museum store located in the basement of Hower House.  They sell a wide variety of notions that reflect the Victorian era including books, tea sets, clothing, knick knacks, and toys.

Hower House is located at 60 Fir Hill, Akron, OH 44325--just off E. Market.  Free parking is accessible from S. Forge Street.
Hower House website:
(330) 972-6909
Admission: $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $2 for students
Guided Tours: Wednesdays-Saturdays: noon to 3:30pm (February-October)
Self-Guided Tours offered November, December, and holidays