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.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Recap: NOTO Summer Fashion Show

Recap: NOTO Summer Fashion Show
by Brit Charek

A few weeks back Joanna gave us a preview of NOTO Boutique's annual summer fashion show-- click here to see that post again. When she asked me to attend the event with her, I was beyond excited, and it is now on my don't miss list for next summer!

The theme of the show was "Vintage Americana" so the models were adorned in NOTO's summer collection: classic sportwear with a modern twist with accessories by local artists.

The show took place at the Trolley Barn downtown, a covered but still mostly outdoor venue-- perfect for summer evening weather. Before and after the show there was food for sale from local restaurants including favorites like Urban Eats and Nuevo, and NOTO's signature cocktail, the refreshing Notini, was being served as well.

After the show, all the clothes and accessories were available for sale at a make-shift mall filled with local vendors. Some of my favorite items were handknit scarves by Little Birdie Design Studio and accessories from Glam and Grace.

If you missed out on the show, don't fret! You can always check out NOTO Boutique at 76 South Main Street downtown. They are always hosting cool events, like this Vintage event next month featuring local blogger Dina of Dina's Days. Hope to see you there! 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Archie the Talking Snowman Book Project

Archie the Talking Snowman at Chapel Hill mall.

Book Author Seeking Your Input on Archie the Snowman and other Akron-area Christmas Attractions
by Joanna Wilson

As many of you know, by day I work as a book author.  Recently I co-authored the history/nostalgia book A is for Akron and I've also written Christmas entertainment books including Tis the Season TVMy current project is a new book about Akron’s favorite holiday tradition, Archie the Talking Snowman.  Remember when I wrote the Akron Empire post about Archie returning to Lock 3 in 2012?

Part of my effort to compile this local history involves looking for people willing to share their stories and experiences of Archie.  Your experience could have been as a child, as a parent bringing your children to Archie, as an employee, as a volunteer, or even as one of the people who provided Archie with his voice.  I'm collecting people's stories, memories, and descriptions to add to the book--and I'd love to include your story.

Archie the Snowman as he looked in 2012 at Lock 3.

As a child, were you too shy or afraid of Archie?  Please share your funny anecdotes as well.  I would like to hear stories with Archie that took place between 1968-2003 at Chapel Hill Mall, as well as newer stories after Archie’s return in 2012 at Lock 3.  I am also looking for people willing to share their personal photographs of Archie or themselves with Archie from these two periods. 

Additionally,  I am seeking photos and memories from:

-- the original O’Neil’s and Polsky's downtown holiday window displays
--photos and experiences from the Dec. 11th, 2011 Ride-Along event in support of bringing back Archie
--any stories and photos about O'Neil's Talking Christmas Tree and talking Raggedy Ann doll, and Polsky's Tom the Talking Horse.
--photos of Santa Claus's arrival, riding atop an elephant at Chapel Hill Mall during the 1970s-1980s
--photos and memories of the life size Nativity that sat on the O'Neil's marquee downtown
--photos, memories and stories about the Christmas attractions at Summit Mall, Rolling Acres, Belden Village, State Road Shopping Center, Arlington Road Shopping Center, and Akron Square.
--any other images relevant to Archie and Chapel Hill's Christmas attractions that you’d love to share!

Archie at Chapel Hill.

Though most of us are enjoying the air conditioning and watching summer baseball games, I'm writing the book this summer.  I'll continue writing it through the summer, however my deadline is August--long before many of us begin reminiscing during the holiday season.  I'd love to include your experiences--so please contact me soon.  If you have any questions about this project, please feel free to email me.  Send your stories and your photos to:

Click HERE for website with the description of the project.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Punk Rock Show--June 13th, 2014

One Days Notice/Sink the Ship at the Vortex on Friday June 13th
by Joanna Wilson

Coming from kind of a punk rock background myself, I appreciate the DIY ethic of punk and making a space for yourself in this world.  When the punk rock band One Days Notice from Cleveland contacted me about their upcoming show in Akron, I immediately appreciated their boldness and devotion to taking punk rock seriously.  One Days Notice shared with me a little bit about themselves and their philosophy.

One Days Notice--photo by Beth Truxall of To the Moon and Back Photography.

Jesea, Chris, David, and Justin of One Days Notice have been under the same line-up since 2010.  Though they cite The Offspring, Blink 182, Story of the Year, Sum 41, Rise Against, Jimmy Eat World, Bad Religion, My Chemical Romance, Goldfinger, and Green Day as some of the bands they are inspired by--you can definitely hear The Offspring and pop music as influences.  When asked if they are more at home in the studio recording or performing live, I was told they prefer the less structured, improvised nature of performing.  And, having a great time.  I don't doubt that.

Their most recent release is When Dinosaurs Get Drunk, an album from the fall of 2013.  I asked the band what they were most proud of about this release and they shared with me that they got to make the album they wanted to make--it was an experience exactly like what they wanted, how they wanted it.  Lucky for us, they are currently writing their next album and hope to be in the studio with it by the end of this summer.  I also asked them what punk rock means to them--and their immediate response, "Do exactly what you want, all the time."  Who doesn't love the 'no rules' ethos? 

How can you check out this ambitious Cleveland punk band?  This Friday, June 13th they are playing here in Akron at the Vortex (on Brittain Rd.) with the Akron band, Sink the Ship.  Support local music and who knows, this band could be your life.

Facebook event for One Days Notice/Sink the Ship at the Vortex
Facebook page for the band One Days Notice
bandcamp page link for One Days Notice

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Rockeverywear FashionTruck Launch Party at Crave Downtown

Rockeverywear FashionTruck Launch Party 
by Brit Charek

You may have already seen the Rockeverywear FashionTruck around-- at Crafty Mart, Oddmall or even after a late night at Thursday's Lounge, but this Sunday, June 8th from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Rockeverywear is hosting a public launch party to introduce the City of Akron to the FashionTruck.

Ryan Weiss started his eccentric hometown based clothing line in an Akron garage in 2005, and after nearly a decade of growth, he saw a need to show a greater love to the city that had supported him, thus became the plan for the FashionTruck.

Modeled after a food truck, but instead delivering Rockeverywear apparel and art, as well as being a mobile center for showcasing other great local artists and musicians, the FashionTruck came to fruition thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign. The truck itself is wrapped in vinyl graphics designed by Ryan, and is stocked with Rockeverywear merchandise, an XBox 360, two flat panel TVs, and a custom Rockford Fosgate sound system with interior and exterior speakers.

Weiss sees the launch of the Rockeverywear FashionTruck as an opportunity to thank his city, while giving him greater accessibility, and to begin the expansion of Rockeverywear, taking his love of Akron and local handmade goods to a greater audience. 

This event is "for everyone whom we've connected with in the community, the community of Akron that has given us so much support in getting this project off the ground," says Weiss. "We want to take this opportunity to spend the day celebrating with you in the launch of Akron and Rockeverywears' own FashionTruck! So please, bring your friends and family and spend the day partying with us." 

The party will take place outside of Crave, 57 E. Market St. Akron, OH 44308. Along with the launch of the FashionTruck, the event will include live music by local artist DJ Kidd Genius, RetroDog food cart, vendors, games, raffles, an XBox 360 tournament, as well as access to the bar at Crave.

For more info, check out their Facebook event page or Rockeverywear's webpage.

Rockeverywear FashionTruck Launch Party
Crave, 57 E. Market St. Akron, OH 44308
June 8, 2014 from 12:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Monday, June 2, 2014

4Cats Art Studio in Kent

Akron Empire is excited to welcome aboard guest blogger Chris Rutan. Joanna wrote a post about her and her Etsy store and small business, Rigmarole, last year. (Click HERE to see that post again!)

Chris is a wife and a mother of two little girls. She owns a photography business and enjoys taking part in the local art and craft scene. Check out her photography website and her online Etsy Shop to see samples of her work. 

4Cats Art Studio in Kent
by Chris Rutan

One day my husband and I took a walk around downtown Kent with our two little girls. Even though we live less than ten minutes away, we had not been to Kent since they began building the new Acorn Alley retail and dining center. I can go on and on about all of the new happenings that are popping up around downtown Kent, but one business that really caught my eye was the 4Cats Arts Studio. There, right before my eyes, was a window front full of vibrant colors and canvas paintings accompanied by a big red sign that read “4Cats Arts Studio, Art is Good.” Having a background in art myself, I felt like a kid in a candy shop while cupping my hands around my eyes to peer inside. I knew I HAD to sign my creative three-year-old daughter, Lydia, up for art classes.

What I love most about 4Cats Arts Studio are the artist influences. They don't simply teach crafts, but instead they focus on creating art that incorporates the influential styles and techniques of Monet, Van Gogh, Warhol, Michelangelo, O'Keeffe, and many more. Even the studio decor gives a nod to the artists we all know and love. They have a dedicated painting room called the “Pollock Room” which is covered from ceiling to floor with multicolored drips, strokes and spots that didn't make it onto the canvas. The 4Cats silver painted bathroom is Andy Warhol inspired given that he covered his own studio in tin foil and silver spray paint. Speaking of Warhol, you will also find giant Campbell Soup cans housing art supplies placed around the studio's floors. I also can't forget to mention the goldfish Pablo and Matisse whose tank sits right on the front counter. When I drop my daughter off for class, I'm not going to lie, I have a really hard time leaving all of the eye candy behind.

The "Pollock Room"

My daughter Lydia is in the 3-5 year old spring session mixed media class. The class sizes are small (about 6 children per class) which makes for a more intimate experience. Lydia has done two giant canvas paintings, various ceramic projects and when I came in to pick her up at her last class, she was sketching out her next sculpture idea on a piece of paper with an oil pastel. Her class is once a week but the other six days of the week she asks me if she's going to art class that day. 4Cats Arts Studio's tag line is “The best, most fun art studio ever!” and Lydia and I don't disagree.

Lydia's in-progress canvas painting

4Cats Arts Studio is located in Acorn Alley in downtown Kent right on Main Street and is curated by Joelle and Michele. They offer a variety of art classes for both adults and children. There is no age limit. A few of the many classes they offer are printmaking, mixed media, pixel art, and ceramics. You can sign up for workshops, summer camps and seasonal session classes. They even do birthday parties! (I think I may have MY next birthday party there! Who wants to come?)

If you are looking for a fun and creative atmosphere with wonderful and friendly instructors for your child (or yourself), I would highly recommend 4Cats Arts Studio because, simply put, it's “The best, most fun art studio ever!”

4Cats is located at 144 E Main St in Kent.
(330) 677-8575