vol. cxlvi, no. 31
Friday, March 11, 2011
U. planning residential overhaul
Housing to be renovated, expanded
By Shefali Luthra Senior Staff Writer
only one available, said Abby Schreiber ’11, BCA’s booking chair. “We were told that weekend or no weekend.” In an e-mail to The Herald, Schreiber wrote that the University chose the weekend a year in advance, while the dates of Coachella were announced only seven
Chancellor Emeritus Stephen Robert ’62 P’91 pledged $1 million to the student activities endowment yesterday and has promised to lead fundraising towards its $17 million goal. Robert called President Ruth Simmons yesterday morning to discuss the endowment, created by the Undergraduate Council of Students, after reading yesterday’s Herald editorial critiquing the lack of contributions to the fund, he said. The brainchild of Ryan Lester ’11, a former UCS student activities chair, the endowment was created two years ago in an effort to reduce the $178 student activities fee currently paid annually by undergraduates. Simmons provided the endowment’s first — and until now, only — donation, personally giving $100,000 soon after the endowment was established. “I thought, ‘this is ridiculous,’” Robert said of the fund’s stagnation. In particular, he cited concerns that with rising tuition and other auxiliary costs, the student activities fee might make it harder for students to “make ends meet.” “It’s just another little burden that it would be better if students didn’t have to carry,” Robert said. UCS President Diane Mokoro ’11 said she hoped Robert’s donation would jump-start the endow-
continued on page 2
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By Greg Jordan-Detamore Senior Staff Writer
In an effort to increase both the amount and quality of undergraduate on-campus housing, the University is renovating the building at 315 Thayer St. and considering several possible spaces for new residence halls which, while still years away, would be part of a “larger plan” for revamping the housing system, according to Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for Facilities Management. The basic design for the renovated building at 315 Thayer is complete, though some design details still need to be finalized, Maiorisi said. “We’re getting ready to hire a design-build company,” he said. Construction will begin in August and should be completed by the summer of 2012 so continued on page 3
Lydia Yamaguchi / Herald
Proposed residential communities would center first-year students in Keeney and on Pemboke Campus.
Communities may consolidate first-years By Joseph Rosales Senior Staff Writer
The Office of Residential Life has initiated discussion about possible reorganization and expansion of campus residence and dining halls. The ideas proposed include moving all first-years to either Keeney Quandrangle or Pembroke Campus, expanding the Verney-Woolley
Dining Hall, renovating the Sharpe Refectory and constructing new residence halls for upperclassmen. ResLife staff and Residential Council members said they hope to have more concrete proposals in time for the Corporation meeting in May. “We have had on-going, larger discussions about what the makeup of the residential community will look like,” said Richard Bova, se-
nior associate dean of residential and dining services. “We are simply in the beginning stages of those discussions with ResCouncil and others.” One of the main proposals on the table is the creation of first-year communities. All first-years would live in either Keeney or Pembroke, continued on page 3
BCA: Spring Weekend lineup limited by Coachella Festival By Miriam Furst Staff Writer
Despite skepticism from students, members of the Brown Concert Agency remain confident in their selections for Spring Weekend 2011. BCA’s Monday night announcement that Diddy-Dirty Money and TV on the Radio will headline
Student activities endowment to get $1M
Spring Weekend sparked mixed emotions in students. Reports of excitement, disappointment and speculations about the influence of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival were heard around campus. The Spring Weekend concerts fall on the same weekend as Coachella, scheduled for April 15 and 16. Serin Seckin ’11, BCA’s ad-
ministrative chair, said in a March 7 Herald article that many of the bands students requested on the BCA website were not available because they were playing at Coachella. The University decides the dates of Spring Weekend without BCA’s input. Due to scheduling issues like spring break and Easter, the weekend chosen was the
PW drama draws the audience in ‘Closer’
Nick Sinnot-Armstrong / Herald
PW’s “Closer” lets its audience examine the experience of a relationship.
news...................2-3 SPorts...................4 editorial..............6 Opinions...............7 Arts.........................8
15-minute fame Mini-musical festival features grizzly bears, political races arts, 4
The stage is softly aglow beneath deep red lights. Cigarette smoke wafts toward the audience. Viewers cannot help but feel like intruders as a scantily clad woman dances before an obviously emotional man. “Tell me something true,” he implores. “Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off — but it’s better if she is,” she cheekily replies. “Closer” — opening tonight at Production Workshop — begs the question: How well can people actually know their partner? Buried beneath the deceptions and secrets of relationships, one can never be sure who they are with and how far they are willing to go to discover the truth.
The exquisitely written play by Patrick Marber puts the intersecting lives of two couples under the audience’s scrutiny. There is the vivaciously vulnerable Alice (Nora Rothman ’13), sharp Anna (Madison Utendahl ’13), self-absorbed Dan (Justin Kuritzkes ’12) and insecure
Arts & Culture Larry (Sam Barasch ’12). Together, they experience extreme circumstances of love, lust, rejection and loss over the course of several years in London. “The exciting thing about theater,” said Director Sean Patrick McGowan ’12, “is that it shows you people at their darkest, most vulnerable … and yet shows you that that’s you
Alpert Medical School gets coal — find out why Diamonds & coal, 6
By Kristina Fazzalaro Arts & Culture Editor
up there.” The play puts its characters in extreme situations, but they never lose their humanity — audience members are sucked into the plot as twists and turns arise after every dimming of the lights. The improbability of the characters’ actions only heightens the anticipation and involvement of the audience in the play itself. As McGowan aptly said, “you get lost” in the play’s captivating storyline. “Closer” opens with Dan and Alice meeting on the streets of London after Alice is struck by a cab. The two tease and flirt: “I noticed your leg was bleeding,” Dan says. “Did you notice my legs?” Alice replies. More than a year later, Anna is continued on page 5
t o d ay
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2 Campus News calendar Today
7 p.m. Folk Music Night,
Sharaara: SASA Culture Show,
8 p.m. Wind Symphony Orchestra,
Fusion Dance Company Show,
Sayles Hall Auditorium
Alumnae Hall Auditorium
menu SHARPE REFECTORY
VERNEy-WOOLLEY DINING HALL LUNCH
Bulgur Stuffed Pepper, Onion Rings, Cavatini, Red Potatoes with Shallots, Vegetarian Curry Stir-Fry
Chicken Fingers, Vegan Nuggets, Sticky Rice, Rice Krispie Treats
DINNER Gnocchi with Arugula and Spinach Pesto, Bourbon BBQ Chicken, Chocolate Marshmallow Cake Roll
Sustainable Seafood Cavatelli, Red Potato Frittata, Asparagus, Chocolate Marshmallow Cake Roll
The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 11, 2011
UCS to collaborate on fundraising continued from page 1 ment, possibly inspiring others to follow suit. Ideally, she said, the money “wouldn’t be touched” until the endowment reaches the target of $17 million. “If the endowment actually comes to fruition, it would be a great testament to how Brown feels about activities and their importance in creating the fuller individual,” Mokoro said. Though she welcomes the gift, Mokoro said Robert’s offer to spearhead fundraising is more important. “Everybody’s really excited — like, beyond excited,” she said. “It’s one of those projects that has been worked on for years and years.” Robert said he wants to collaborate with UCS and other student organizations to raise the funds. He plans to solicit larger donations as well as whatever
contributions students can afford to give. “I love to see kids give, even if it’s a very small amount of money, because it gets them in the habit,” Robert said. Ralanda Nelson ’12, student activities chair for UCS, said the council will have to “pick up the pace” in the future to raise funds for the endowment. Nelson said future steps involve creating brochures to send to the donors Robert identifies. Next year, she said she expects UCS will hold phone banks to recruit potential donors, as well as have students speak in their hometowns about the importance of activities. Nelson added that UCS has previously met with the Office of University Advancement to find cities where the University has historically found fundraising success.
“It’s something (students) told me they wanted, and I wanted to be accountable to Brown undergraduates,” she said. Mokoro said a successful student activities endowment could fund events such as Spring Weekend or mock trial trips, as well as eliminate extra fees students may currently pay to take part in activities. “I think the goal is to have it that any student can participate in any activity they want to without having to worry about the cost,” she said. Robert said he thinks student activities are “extremely important” in helping students learn from each other. “We go to enormous lengths to have diversity of the student body,” Robert said. “But you lose a lot of that if students don’t have activities and don’t have a place to convene.”
BCA maintains Diddy’s ‘still got it’ continued from page 1
months ago. Though BCA was initially concerned, the conflict ultimately did not pose much of a problem, Schreiber said. “Despite going up against Coachella, we’ve been really fortunate to get some amazing acts,” she added. While Coachella “took a chunk of bands out,” agents were able to inform BCA pretty quickly of artists’ availability because the festival’s bids are given out in early October, she said. “The fact is that some of the Coachella headliners are out of the question anyway for any college, not just Brown,” because of financial reasons, Schreiber said. In terms of the supporting acts, “there are hundreds of small, really cool, diverse bands to choose from,” Schreiber said, so Coachella did not significantly limit BCA’s
options. TV on the Radio played at Lupo’s in Providence in 2008. Eli Bosworth ’12 said when he first heard TV on the Radio was headlining Spring Weekend, he was disappointed because he and other upperclassmen have seen them perform already. But when he learned that they are set to release a new album — “Nine Types of Light” — just three days before their show at Brown, his opinion changed. “I remember the way they performed was very cool. They create a friendly atmosphere so it felt like it was in your living room,” Bosworth said. “They said thank you every time someone clapped like they really meant it, not just like a dismissive thank you,” he added. “TV on the Radio is a wonderful act that consistently puts on amazing shows,” Schreiber said. “Two years is a long length of time
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for a band that basically has been back in the record studio and is going back on tour,” she added. Though Bosworth said he is excited to have the chance to see TV on the Radio perform again, he is “pretty upset about Diddy.” Because Diddy’s album includes many featured artists who will not be performing with him on Spring Weekend, “it feels like we kind of hired a name,” he said. Diddy is a name, but not necessarily in the music industry, said Kayla Skinner ’12. “I’m not really excited about Diddy as a musician. The association that I have with Diddy these days is performer, fashion designer, even producer.” “We don’t only want to a pick a big name who doesn’t have any relevancy or currency right now,” Schreiber said. “In light of his new tour and his new album, Diddy was a perfect fit,” she added. Diddy has never played at a college campus before and Brown is the only college stop on TV on the Radio’s Tour, Seckin said. “We’re the first in line” to hear these artists “at a really good time in their careers,” she said. “We’ve watched Diddy’s recent performances within the last month or two on YouTube, and we’re really excited,” Schreiber added. “He’s still got it.” “He’s the man who wrote ‘Shake Ya Tailfeather,’ and I think the Brown community is forgetting that,” said Nate Shapiro ’12, who is in the Brown Hip Hop Club. “I think that obviously the best part of the concert will be when he gets on stage,” said Shapiro, “because of the expectations (students have) and the confidence Diddy displays.” “I am reasonably confident that it will be a lot of fun assuming he doesn’t only play new songs,” he added. “It’s our understanding that he’s going to play a lot of his old stuff as well as his new hits, and people are going to be dancing and singing along,” Schreiber said.
Housing Preview 3
The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 11, 2011
U. examines merits of changing housing options continued from page 1 creating a more centralized experience for first-years and leaving residence halls like Littlefield Hall, Hope College and Perkins Hall open for sophomores, said Margaret Klawunn, vice president for campus life and student services. “One of the things that happens when you’re a first-year student at Brown is that you feel like you’re either having the Keeney experience or you’re not Keeney,” Klawunn said. “What we’re trying to do is formulate some recommendations or proposals for discussion with students that would address some of the things we’ve heard from students don’t work particularly well.” Under the proposal, upperclassmen would not live in Keeney or Pembroke, and all current singles and triples in those residence halls would be converted to first-year doubles. In the past, upperclassmen have complained about living in first-year heavy areas, Klawunn said. The change would also be helpful for graduate students living in places like Miller Hall, who would be moved from singles in dorms to apartment-style living elsewhere. But not all students agree with the plan to consolidate first-year students in large residence halls. “Obviously there’s an appeal of putting classes together, but I don’t think housing should be homogenous like that,” said Mia Zachary ’13. “I know people say it’s a really bad place to live as a sophomore, but I have really liked living in Keeney.” Zachary said she lived in Wayland House last year and enjoyed the small community. “The fact it was such a small dorm made it easier to get close with everyone,” she said. “Keeney is so big, it’d be more difficult to adapt to your environment.” Leandro Zaneti ’12 is a residential counselor in Wayland and said there are both the positives and negatives about the proposed changes. “If done the right way, I think this could foster community among the freshmen class,” he said. “It could also be a negative thing. One of the things that I like about places like Littlefield, Hope and Wayland is that it’s a small community. You really get to know the people around you.” Zaneti also said having firstyears live among upperclassmen gives them access to older students beyond their residential counselor to talk to in times of trouble. “It could go either way, but if it does happen, it needs to have very considerate planning,” he said. “They need to consider all the different angles.” With the creation of first-year communities, sophomores would not have such limited options for housing, which Klawunn said she has also heard complaints about. “Right now, sophomores feel like they get what’s left over in the lottery,” she said. Klawunn said one idea would be
to renovate Perkins into suite-style living for sophomores, while giving them the option of living in Perkins, Littlefield and Hope as well as Wriston Quandrangle and Graduate Center in the housing lottery. If the first-year community proposal is implemented, the dining halls would be upgraded to accommodate the increased traffic, Klawunn said. “If we’re looking to improve the residential experience for students, the dining halls are certainly a part of what supports that,” she said. The V-Dub would be expanded because of the greater number of first-years on Pembroke campus, while the Ratty “has been in need of renovation for a while,” Klawunn said. Steve Maiorisi, vice president for facilities management, said the mechanical and electrical systems in the Ratty are the same ones that have been in place since it was built in 1950. “There’s a tremendous amount of renewal that needs to be done,” he said. There have also been talks of constructing new residence halls on the periphery of campus for juniors and seniors, Klawunn said. The Corporation already approved renovation of 315 Thayer during its February meeting. Bova said he is excited about the renovation of 315 Thayer because student input was key to the design of floor plans for the building. “We’re creating the exact type of living that students are asking for,” he said. “Think of Vartan Gregorian Quad, but better.” Klawunn said ResCouncil has been discussing these ideas as a result of student input and complaints about their housing situation. “The aim of all this is to do some renovation of our existing residence halls, and so while we’re thinking about renovating existing residence halls, we’re trying to address some of the things we’ve heard from students,” she said. But Klawunn said possible changes are not yet concrete. “It’s very much in the recommendation and discussion stage.” — With additional reporting by Greg Jordan-Detamore
Thayer dorm renovated for 2012 continued from page 1 students can move in that fall. The University will have more oncampus beds when the renovation of 315 Thayer — currently part of the auxiliary housing system — is complete. The renovated building will house about 60 students, Maiorisi said. It currently has 32 residents, according to an Oct. 4, 2010 Herald article. Though the building is now divided into towers like Caswell Hall, the floors of the building after the renovations will be unified in a more traditional hallway style. The building will be composed of suites containing living rooms, kitchenettes, bathrooms and single bedrooms, according to a preliminary floor plan. Current plans call for the first three floors to have two suites with four bedrooms, one suite with five rooms and one with two. The fourth floor will likely feature a combination of suites and singles. The basement will have a large lounge and kitchen, plus laundry facilities. There will be an interior elevator and ramps that will make the building wheelchair accessible, Mairoisi said. The renovated building will also feature bicycle parking. Carolyn Maiorana ’13 currently lives in the basement of the building. “It’s a nice place to live,” she said. But “I feel our apartment has had way more issues than the other ones in terms of leaks” and other problems, she added. “There’s definitely a lot of work that needs to be done here,” she said, noting that the building needs improvements to be “up to par with Brown dorms.” New dorms near New Dorm
Overcrowding in on-campus housing is no secret. According to a Feb. 7 Herald article, about 50 students are being housed in temporary housing such as converted lounges and kitchens, leaving many dorms short on common spaces. The Corporation discussed the housing crunch at its February meeting, Maiorisi said. Though no new dorms are currently planned, the University is looking for a place to relocate the Office of Continuing Education from its current location so the Office of Residential Life can be moved to the Office of Continuing Education’s
Herald file photo
Renovations to 315 Thayer St. will provide about 60 on-campus beds.
space, and the first floor of Wayland House can be converted to student housing, Maiorisi said. One possible location for a new residence hall is the parking lot on Brook Street next to Barbour Hall. Another is the site of the East Side Mini-Mart, which is Brown-owned property, Maiorisi said. That area would not be a bad location for a new residence hall, Charlotte Wilhelm GS said, as long as the displacement of parking spaces is addressed. “I think more new dorms are very necessary,” said Tasnuva Islam ’11, a resident of Young Orchard Apartments. “It’s good that they’re thinking about it.” Megan Lin ’11, another Young Orchard resident, said the location is “not inconvenient.” “I really like living down here,” she said. But she worried about what might happen to businesses around the East Side Mini-Mart if new residence halls were placed at that site. The parking lot behind 315 Thayer and the vacant spot on the south side of Lincoln Field are other
potential locations for a new dorm, Maiorisi said. Another possible location could be on the parking lot to the east of the 315 Thayer building, Maiorisi said. Maiorana expressed concern that a new dorm east of 315 Thayer would be “disconnected” from the rest of campus, the way she feels Perkins Hall currently is. “It’s definitely going to be spreading Brown out more,” she said. One complication to the proposals is that there are restrictions on where Brown can place future buildings. “At the time that the Power Street parking garage was built, the University agreed to a deed restriction on that property to limit the height that any building on that site could be developed,” Maiorisi wrote in an e-mail to The Herald. “There’s an institutional zone in which the University has rights to develop for higher education uses,” Maiorisi added. “If we propose to expand beyond that zone, we need special permission from the Providence Zoning Board.”
4 Sports Friday
The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 11, 2011
Spring (Weekend) in the NBA’s step McGonagill ’14 nabs
By SaM Sheehan Sports Columnist
Alright, look. I swear I was going to write a hockey column this week. But then I didn’t. I tried to write one for a little bit, honestly. I even put together some good titles. There was “Tampa Bay’s resurgence has attendance peaking as dozens now attend home games,” but I realized that was too long. I then went with “San Jose begins posting suicide hotline numbers around the city as fans brace for another soul-crushing Sharks loss this postseason,” only to realize that was even longer. At that point, I tried to turn it into an exploratory piece, titling it “If the Flyers team bus explodes, is it a tragedy or a ‘tragedy?’” Then I recognized writing that could implicate me when I poison the team’s catered meal. I’ll need to make a clean getaway. So here we are again with a basketball column. But I’ve got a neat little gimmick this week. Don’t you worry. As some of you may have heard, the Brown Concert Agency managed to snag us Diddy and TV on the Radio for Spring Weekend this year. I also know that there are a lot of haters out there who are grumbling. Personally, I think BCA did a great job, given that we got screwed by the Coachella music festival this year. Cheap, good bands that we usually nab are all there, so getting a big name like Diddy and a great live band like TV on the Radio is a good start. As a matter of fact, I realized that every Spring Weekend we’ve had over the past three years has been pretty good — for those of you doing the math on my status as a junior, I took a year off. I also realized that there are some pretty good parallels between those performances and the NBA teams that look to make the playoffs in the East. See where I’m going with this? Let’s take a look. Boston Celtics — Snoop Dogg in 2010
Both of these parties are OGs. But while Snoop’s an “original gangster,” the Celtics are just “old guys.” But the thing about both of them is even in their advanced age, they still bring the fire. That, and they both have a fascination with green. Get it, a weed joke? No? Moving on. Chicago Bulls — The Black Keys in 2010
I think everyone knew that both the Bulls and The Black Keys were going to be big — we just didn’t realize that it was going to happen so quickly. All of a sudden, the Keys are sub-headlining the aforementioned Coachella, and the Bulls are “tightening up” the race for the top seed in the East. Oh, come on! That was comedy gold! Whatever. Miami Heat — MGMT in 2010
Both were expected to have phenomenal performances. And while neither has really done anything terribly, fans are looking at each other near the end and saying, “Wait, is this really happening?” Though I guess if you want to split hairs, on the one hand you have a band refusing to play their most popular track until they get a double encore, and on the other, you have a bench-less group of “friends” crying in the locker room and listening to “Fix You” on repeat. Orlando Magic — Of Montreal in 2009
When people look at either of these, they have to admit, “I have no idea what’s going on.” Think of Dwight Howard as the music, solid and anchoring. Think of Ryan Anderson, Jason Richardson and Gilbert Arenas as the crazy costumes. They could be helping, but I can’t really tell. Atlanta Hawks — Vampire Weekend in 2008
You were really excited and impressed for them when you saw them early on. Now, you can’t help but feel bad for them and the magic they lost somewhere along the way. Remember the good old days, when they played “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” or when Joe Johnson actually played hard? You
know, before they got paid too much money. The Hawks are like watching the movie “Titanic.” It looks like it’s going well, but there’s an iceberg out there. New York Knicks — Lupe Fiasco in 2008
In both cases, you have friends avidly telling you, “They are really good! You’re gonna totally agree with me when you see!” But they’ve been telling you this for years, so you are starting to get annoyed. When you actually do see them, you are really impressed, but don’t want to admit it. You say things like, “Superstar didn’t sound great live,” or, “You can’t get anywhere with Jeffries and Turiaf as your centers”. My housemate has been singing a parody of Wiz Khalifa’s “Black and Yellow” that he has dubbed “Stoud and Melo” while he watches Knicks games. I may kill him. Philadephia 76ers — Girl Talk in 2008
You were pretty sure that, given the circumstances, you weren’t going to have fun. Getting jammed into Meehan as a rain location or coming off a season where you were a draft lottery team will make even the most avid fans skeptical. But both the overachieving Sixers and the never-miss Girl Talk brought it, and everyone was pleasantly surprised. Think of Evan Turner as that object you felt in that guy’s pocket when you brushed up against him to get closer to the stage. Your imagination thinks there will be nameless horrors involved, but really it’s just a solid NBA player or a cell phone. Indiana Pacers — Deer Tick in 2009
I refused to see either of these.
Sam Sheehan ’12 just successfully got through this column without making a Charlie Sheen joke. It can be done. Talk sports with him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @SamSheehan.
Ivy rookie of the year By Sam Rubinroit Sports Staff Writer
Sean McGonagill ’14 does not look like a first-year when he is on the basketball court. He ran Brown’s offense this season as if he had done it for years, with a calm confidence uncommon even among upperclassmen. “I don’t think that’s something you gauge — you either have it or you don’t,” said Head Coach Jesse Agel. Apparently coaches around the Ivy League agree. They named McGonagill Ivy League rookie of the year this week. McGonagill was the team’s leading scorer in Ivy League play, averaging 14.6 points a game, good for fourth in the conference. He set a Brown first-year record with 147 assists, third all-time among Brown players and third in the conference this season. Despite needing 20 stitches in the middle of league play after diving for a loose ball in practice and colliding with a teammate’s knee, McGonagill averaged
the most minutes on the team and was the only Bear to start all 28 games. “It makes our job as coaches a lot easier because he is like a coach on the floor,” Assistant Coach T.J. Sorrentine said earlier this season. “He is just always trying to make the right play. I don’t think we’ll need to say a word to him for the next three years because he’s going through it all as a freshman this year.” McGonagill came to Brown in the hopes of earning playing time right away. Last season, the Bears were forced to use Matt Sullivan ’13, a natural shooting guard, to fill a void at the point guard position. “The big thing I looked at in my decision was being able to play as a freshman,” McGonagill said. “I considered Brown strongly because they needed a point guard, and it was a good opportunity where I could come in and contribute right away.” Agel said he knew before McGonagill set foot on campus that he continued on page 5
Gymnastics’ season-high earns Bears first victory By Sam Sheehan Sports Staff Writer
The gymnastics team grabbed its first win of the season Sunday at home, vanquishing two-time national champion University of Bridgeport and neighboring Southern Connecticut State University at the Pizzitola Center. In a meet the next day in Durham, N.H., the Bears scored a season-high 193.675 points but were edged out by Central Michigan University and the University of New Hampshire. Team co-captain Chelsey Binkley ’11 and Carli Wiesenfeld ’12 capped off an impressive week of gymnastics, taking home the ECAC Specialist of the Week award and the ECAC Coaches’ Choice award, respectively. “Coming out of Ivies last weekend, we all felt like we had something to prove because we knew we could perform much better than we did,” Wiesenfeld said. “Using that as motivation really helped us.” In front of a raucous home crowd Sunday, the Bears jumped out to an early lead over the rest of the field. Bridgeport tightened the gap to two points heading into the floor exercises, but Bruno took care of business on the floor, holding off the Purple Knights for the big win. Michelle Shnayder ’14 played a key role in securing the victory by tying her career-high in the floor with a first-place 9.825. Binkley also tied a career-high, scoring 9.700 on the bars, good for second place. The Bears dominated the all-around competition, with Emily Lutfey ’13 and Wiesenfeld placing first and second with scores of 38.425 and 38.025, respectively. Other standout performances included Julia Meyer ’13 and Wi-
esenfeld on the beam, who each scored 9.650 to tie for second place. Lutfey produced a 9.700, fifth-place effort on the vault, and Katie Goddard ’12 had an impressive 9.700-point,seventh-place finish on the floor exercises. Taline Lahcanski ’14 also scored a career-high mark in the floor exercises with a 9.625, tenth-place performance. The Bears kept the momentum rolling in Monday’s meet at Durham, shattering school records on beam and bars and posting their highest total score of the year. But their 193.675 combined effort was not enough to overcome Central Michigan and New Hampshire, as the two schools scored 195.700 and 195.225, respectively. Lily Siems ’12 was a huge part of Bruno’s record-setting bars performance with her career-high 9.825 routine. “To see her succeed and get the highest score on bars this weekend was incredible,” Wiesenfeld said. “She’s such a motivation for the rest of the team and helps keep everyone pushing towards the goal of making nationals.” Wiesenfeld was the top scorer on the team’s record-setting beam effort. Other top scorers included Shnayder, Meyer and Madeline Benz ’14, who all scored career-highs in the beam. Kasey Haas ’13 also scored a career-high in the bars with a 9.800, eleventh-place performance. “Right now, our team is just focusing on staying healthy and being consistent,” Wiesenfeld said. “Those things go hand in hand when you’re successful.” The Bears return to action this weekend when they travel to Ithaca, N.Y. Saturday to take on Cornell.
Arts & Culture 5
The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 11, 2011
Brownbrokers plan for ‘Closer’ pulls viewers into action fewer musicals in future continued from page 1
continued from page 8 a musical.” It’s “great that Brownbrokers gave us the chance,” Rosenfeld said. Last year, Brownbrokers presented seven mini-musicals. Board member Alp Ozcelik ’13 explained that “producing seven meant we couldn’t pay attention to every musical equally,” so they planned to produce fewer this year. They were pleased to receive just two submissions, and “liked them both.”
It is “supposed to be just fun” rather than stressful, he said.
“Second Lady” — A clever script and successful production form a wonderful show.
“Grizzly Man” — Despite a fabulous lead, the production lacks coherency.
McGonagill ’14 sets school basketball record continued from page 4 would see plenty of floor time as a first-year. “I watched him play all throughout summer, and he took a tremendous amount of responsibility for his team’s success,” Agel said. “When it came down to it and he had to make the big play, the right
Sports pass or the right shot, he just kept doing it. He left no doubt in my mind that he could come right in and make an immediate impact.” Agel often draws comparisons between McGonagill and Sorrentine, a player Agel recruited during his time at Vermont and who went on to earn America East rookie of the year and player of the year honors, as well as an All-American honorable mention after his rookie season. “The first thing I saw was a kid who is incredibly focused on becoming a very good basketball player,” Agel said. “He sent an im-
mediate flashback to when I was recruiting a young high school kid named T.J. Sorrentine. It was a tremendous comparison in terms of the work ethic.” Another Bear honored this week was Tucker Halpern ’13, who earned honorable mention on the All-Ivy team. Halpern was the team’s second-leading scorer in league play, averaging 12.6 points per game. “He just has a world of talent,” Agel said. “If you see how much he’s improved from year one to year two, we’ve really got something there. The sky’s the limit for him.” Looking ahead, with McGonagill and Halpern at the helm, the Bears are optimistic about their chances and are already preparing for next season. “We’re looking forward to a big year,” McGonagill said. “We really want guys to be ready when the time comes. It’s only eight months away, and if we go at it strong during the offseason, we’ll be ready at the start.”
photographing Dan for the cover of his book, which tells Alice’s life story — the two have been together since that day. Despite his commitment to Alice, Dan finds himself largely attracted to Anna. She snubs his attentions, responding to his question if she would like children one day with a deadpanned, “Yes, but not today.” But it is clear that Dan will not take no for an answer. Irked by her denial, Dan poses as Anna in an internet chatroom where he meets Larry. The two exchange a sexually charged conversation, ending with a planned meeting at the aquarium the following day. By chance, Anna is there, and the two embark on a romantic relationship. Four months later, all of the characters are together to celebrate the opening of Anna’s photo exhibition — a portrait collection of strangers. Dan persists in his pursuit of Anna while Alice and Larry share a flirtatious moment. The love-rhombus takes shape. The actors come together in each scene to provide memorable, addicting performances, with the ladies of the night stealing the show from
their male counterparts. Utendahl’s Anna is particularly impressive — her execution of the script is impeccable, with just the right amount of bite to her bark as she parries with her contending suitors. The emotions she exudes are realistic — at one point the audience can clearly see the tears in her eyes (true emotion her co-stars sometimes lack) — and she is able to switch back and forth with ease from one charged conversation to the next. Rothman also puts in a strong performance as Alice, portraying her character with just the right mix of strength and vulnerability to keep the audience on bated breath as they anticipate her next move. The male actors are also strong but pale in comparison to their female partners. Kuritzkes’ Dan doesn’t ensnare audiences as much as he should. Barasch’s Larry starts off slow in the first act but finishes the night with several spectacular scenes in the second. The lighting enhances the show to no end — telling the story as well as the script does. Subtle transitions in color transport the audience to various locations without the set
ever changing. The lights are also rigged to go off concurrently with Anna’s snapshots, a fun, impressive addition. The set itself acts as a museum of the character’s personal effects, with props placed strategically on platforms and stands around the main raised stage. Actors are also stage hands, picking up objects and carrying them into the scene with ease, transforming each thing’s meaning as the play progresses. The staging area also serves as the backstage, with actors changing costumes and waiting for their cues right before the audiences’ eyes. The effect is a good one. The audience feels completely involved in the action. “Closer” is a marvelous play on its own — the script is witty and intricate in its exploration of the human psyche. McGowan’s production is well-executed, rounded out by a creative set and lighting and fantastic acting — audience members will be drawn in closer and closer with each line.
Twist and turns know no bounds in this enthralling, well-acted drama.
comics BB&Z | Cole Pruitt, Andrew Seiden, Valerie Hsiung and Dan Ricker
Cloud Buddies! | David Emanuel
Dr. Bear | Mat Becker
Dot Comic | Eshan Mitra and Brendan Hainline
6 Editorial & Letter diamonds & coal
The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 11, 2011
Coal to BCA Spring Weekend pick and indie rock band TV on the Radio. We did not expect to be watching TV during Spring Weekend, but it looks like now we will be.
by erik stayton and e van donahue
A diamond to Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services Margaret Klawunn, who met with the owner of Colosseum nightclub March 3 and reported, “We reviewed some of the things that had been problems with the Wednesday nights at Fish Co. and some of the ways that we were concerned about a continuation of anything that might raise some of the similar problems.” We’re glad University Hall agrees $4 beers have got to go. A cubic zirconium to University of Rhode Island Professor Scott Molloy, who said “I think it’s the best thing that ever happened to labor in a long time, because instead of the usual Halloween costumes and subterfuge, this stuff is right up front.” So even if union members all lose their jobs, it sounds like they’re at least invited to Sex Power God. Coal to the Alpert Medical School for considering giving iPads to all first- and second-year medical students. On a related note, the University is considering giving BuDS workers Nintendos and the faculty might all get ponies. A diamond to Gov. Lincoln Chafee ’75 P’14 who proposed taxing textbooks to close the state’s budget gap in his address to the General Assembly Tuesday night. Brown students had been running out of excuses, and “the governor taxed it” beats the heck out of “my dog ate it.” Coal to Professor of Political Science Mark Blyth, who, when asked if he had noticed that the bell atop University Hall had not been ringing, responded, “Which bells?” What, had you been Blyth-ly ignoring them? Coal to the embattled president who has ignored calls for his abdication and entrenched himself despite open revolt. Sorry, John Maeda of RISD, it may be time you took your services elsewhere. We hear Egypt’s looking. A diamond to Sunday’s convocation of the inaugural class of the IE Brown Executive M.B.A. Program, which pairs the University with a for-profit Spanish business school to grant master’s of business degrees, largely through online learning. Looks like Diddy’s not the only one with dirty money.
quote of the day
“He’s the man who wrote ‘Shake
Ya Tailfeather,’ and I think the Brown
community is forgetting that.
— Nate Shapiro ’12, on Diddy See bca on page 1.
t h e b r ow n da i ly h e r a l d Editors-in-Chief
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le tters to the editor Editorial sparked endowment gift To the Editor: Chancellor (Emeritus) Stephen Robert ’62 P’91 just called to tell me that he saw the editorial about the Student Activities Endowment and has decided not only to contribute $1 million to this fund but also to lead the fundraising effort to secure additional gifts.
I have informed (Undergraduate Council of Students President) Diane Mokoro ’11 of this wonderful news since UCS has steadfastly championed this idea. My thanks to the BDH for bringing additional attention to this need. President Ruth Simmons
Nixing catalog ignores curricular effects To the Editor: We want to thank The Herald for its thoughtful editorial about the value of the printed Course Announcement Bulletin (“Leaving the paper trail behind,” March 8). Your careful, historically informed approach is a breath of fresh air in the wake of your predecessor editorial board. Adding your arguments to those made by (Associate Dean of Biological Sciences) Marjorie Thompson ’74 PhD’79 P’02 P’07 P’09 P’12 P’14 in her letter (“Eliminating course catalog a mistake,” March 3), it is clear that some real benefits to the printed CAB remain. We hope that the administration will engage in a meaningful dialogue with students about the effect that the change might have on enjoyment of the Brown’s curricular riches before making the change final. For many of us, the New Curriculum is Brown’s greatest asset, and I can only assume that opposition to any explicit change in the curriculum would
be overwhelming. But even seemingly innocuous changes to the way that things are done should be carefully scrutinized for the effect that they might have on students’ effective use of the curriculum. As leaders of the student push-back against some aspects of Banner’s implementation, we learned just how hard it can be to get the administration to understand the potential curricular effects of changes that it perceives as administrative or procedural. When Ira Magaziner ’69 P’06 P’07 P’10, Elliot Maxwell ’68 P’06 and others sat down to lay out the framework for a new philosophy of education at Brown, they dedicated page after page to nitty-gritty details that might have been cast aside by less shrewd student activists. This extraordinary attention to detail played no small part in the ultimate success of their project. Let’s not forget how important the little details can be. Matt Gelfand ’08 Drew Madden ’10
C O R R E C T I O N S P olicy The Brown Daily Herald is committed to providing the Brown University community with the most accurate information possible. Corrections may be submitted up to seven calendar days after publication. C ommentary P O L I C Y The editorial is the majority opinion of the editorial page board of The Brown Daily Herald. The editorial viewpoint does not necessarily reflect the views of The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. Columns, letters and comics reflect the opinions of their authors only. L etters to the E ditor P olicy Send letters to email@example.com. Include a telephone number with all letters. The Herald reserves the right to edit all letters for length and clarity and cannot assure the publication of any letter. Please limit letters to 250 words. Under special circumstances writers may request anonymity, but no letter will be printed if the author’s identity is unknown to the editors. Announcements of events will not be printed. advertising P olicy The Brown Daily Herald, Inc. reserves the right to accept or decline any advertisement at its discretion.
The Brown Daily Herald Friday, March 11, 2011
Busting the myths about card-swiping Sarah Yu Opinions Columnist It has been a few weeks since I stepped down as a cashier supervisor for Brown Dining Services, and I am still feeling the gaping hole in my life that comes from not having this huge responsibility and time commitment. I find it strange that I no longer receive emergency phone calls in the middle of the night, no longer teach students to count coins and no longer run back and forth between Josiah’s and the Gate to fix machines and customers’ attitudes. I hate to sound uncool in a publication with such a large circulation, but something needs to be said about being given the opportunity to actually have a really useful part-time job as a student. In a dorky way, it feels good to be trusted enough to handle cash, train new cashiers and work toward creating new policies to make on-campus dining better, even if these responsibilities cut into my Friday nights. It was difficult for me to read Sissi Sun’s ’12 column (“V-Dub machine crisis,” Oct. 22) in its entirety. From what I can gather, her article narrowed in on three main assertions — the card-swiping machine is past its prime, BuDS student workers have no work ethic and the BuDS student man-
agement is enigmatic, invisible and ineffective. I agree with Sun’s criticism of the Verney-Woolley Dining Hall card machine, but one minor concern about the University’s electronics is hardly worth an entire opinions column. What made it so difficult to reach the end of Sun’s column was that her legitimate claim about the need to update some Dining Services equipment became progressively under-
The majority of BuDS student workers are in close proximity to student or professional managers as they do their jobs. For cashiers and cart workers who may be on their own for most of their shifts, supervisors regularly conduct checkups to ensure that things are running smoothly. It is definitely not acceptable for cashiers to hold up long lines in dining units by talking extensively with their friends and to prioritize homework and texting
To students who complain loudly at long lines at the V-Dub or attempt to pull every trick in the book to use more than two meal credits per day at Jo’s, I urge you not to automatically assume that there is something intrinsically faulty with the student management. mined by her lack of thorough research about BuDS and student employment and management. In order to write with sincerity, I will draw mostly on my own experiences working with cashiers at Jo’s, the Gate and the Ivy Room to explain my arguments. I wish to make no generalizations about how all BuDS units function, but I trust that my fellow student managers and supervisors are as invested in doing their jobs well as I was and would agree with me on most points.
over serving customers. I can assure Sun that I have personally issued verbal and written warnings to students in violation of these policies. I have also written commendations for workers who have provided exceptional customer service, are willing to help out above and beyond their official duties or are never late. If patrons of Brown eateries ever feel the need to ask for clarification on BuDS policies, compliment or criticize a student worker or make recommendations about menus and policy for the future, there is
always a student supervisor present in the dining unit who would be happy to address any customer concerns. At the Ivy Room, the supervisors’ photos and names are even posted on the bulletin board next to the cash register, so an instant customer-supervisor friendship can be forged to eliminate any awkwardness. In answer to Sun’s query about the composition of BuDS student management, unit managers’ names and e-mail addresses can be found on the Dining Services website. For those who are faint of heart with technology, face-to-face interactions can be had at the Student Management Office, located conveniently underneath the Sharpe Refectory and adjacent to the women’s bathroom. Dining Services is an impressive and massive business run by professional managers in close collaboration with students. To students who complain loudly about long lines at the V-Dub or attempt to pull every trick in the book to use more than two meal credits per day at Jo’s, I urge you not to automatically assume that there is something intrinsically faulty with the student management. Instead, why not try talking to some of us — or even working with us — before you pass judgment? Sarah Yu ’11 knows that cashiers can be very therapeutic listeners for stressed customers but will notice if you try to steal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Why do our parents think we are crazy? By Susannah Kroeber Opinions Columnist I recently had a brief conversation with a group of parents whose kids were either recently admitted to college or not far behind. One mother in the group expressed horror at the fact that college students do not date anymore. She recalled how much time she had spent dating in college, going to movies or dinner with men she had dated, and seemed astonished that no one described their actions as “going on dates” or “dating.” These parents lamented the “hook-up culture,” the lack of commitment youth today have and the inability of contemporary teenagers to form real attachments, with this behavior persisting into adulthood. They decried Facebook, texting and the Internet as the causes of this antisocial behavior. I am sure that there are people who have suffered from Internet addiction and consequently felt nervous about person-to-person interactions. I am sure that there are college students who would rather text than date people they are interested in. I am sure that there are teenagers who would rather Facebook-stalk their peers than spend time developing interpersonal relationships. I am now going to make the claim that this is a minority of teenagers and young adults. Most people I know want to hang out with their friends or people they view
as potential significant others. I know some people who hook up with people they do not really know, but I think most Brown students would agree that most people hook up with people who they do know, oftentimes people they are interested in “dating.” Even more shocking to these parents than the hook-up phenomenon was the fact that we — the young sinners of American universities — do not seem to date. None of them seem to realize that the stereotypical dating activities, such as going to the movies, have become much
jures up images of 1950s drive-in movie theaters and diners and waitresses on roller-skates — which are not to be confused with roller-blades. You might recall them from that box of ancient stuff in your parents’ basement or attic — rather than having in-line wheels, the wheels are arranged in a rectangular configuration. On top of that, there is the fact that many college students, particularly Brown students, are wary of lots of relationship terminology. There are those that resent boyfriend and girlfriend as descriptors. Some hate these words be-
To most of us, dating seems archaic. It conjures up images of 1950s drive-in movie theaters and diners and waitresses on roller-skates.
more expensive in the last 20 or 30 years. At the Providence Place Mall, it costs $10.25 for a movie ticket. Multiply that by two, then maybe you each get a snack and a drink, and you could easily be up to $30. Throw in dinner and you have just made a significant investment in a relationship that may dissolve later that evening. And then there is the word “date.” To most of us, dating seems archaic. It con-
cause they seem to refer to young children rather than maturing teenagers or adults. Others hate these words because they place one in a gender binary or suggest an opposite-gender partner. And it’s not like we have come up with a very good solution. “Partner” is also a term of our parents’ generation, and often connotes older people or is just too ambiguous — I once had someone tell me that I was a little young to have a business
partner. “Significant other” is just plain laughable and has far too many syllables. But just because we have not come up with very good terminology does not mean that our generation does not engage in behavior analogous to that of our parents’. College students are not just hooking up — it seems that there is a lot of ambiguous hanging out. College students might also just decide not to call their love interest their boyfriend or girlfriend. It seems to me that we are much more willing to live with greater ambiguity and fewer labels. To all parents: This is not a bad thing. And to counter all of the insinuations that this generation is more promiscuous than previous generations, a recent Centers for Disease Control report has shown that sexual activity among youth has actually gone down in the last 30 years. So, what are our parents hiding from us? My interpretation of the anxiety parents feel when they send their kids off to college is that they remember what they did in college and feel like it must be worse now, even though this is far from true. The fact of the matter is that we are much more willing to deal with ambiguous relationships and are eager to find and use new labels that are less gendered, more inclusive and more accurately describe how we feel about our relationships. Why is this so bad? Susannah Kroeber ’11 is taking suggestions for alternative words for significant other. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Daily Herald Arts & Culture the Brown
Friday, March 11, 2011
Fusion offers panoply of dance 15-minute musicals
lampoon politics, bears
By Sophia Seawell Contributing Writer
Fusion, Brown’s oldest student-run dance company, was founded in 1983 by Paula Franklin because she “felt there was a need for more student choreography on campus,” according to the group’s website. And Fusion’s Annual Show, taking place this weekend in Alumnae Hall, held true to its name and purpose at a dress rehearsal Wednesday evening — its members fused together a variety of music genres and dance styles to form a show that will keep the audience on its toes. Fusion used to have two directors in charge of choreography, but was “restructured last year to make it more equal,” said Alyssa Thelemaque ’12. Now the company focuses on “giving everyone a space to choreograph.” Because the training level of members ranges from students “who have been in professional ballet companies, who have had no formal training or who have only done hip hop,” Thelemaque said, this hands-on approach to choreography has interesting results. The company’s unique combination of styles came across clearly in the rehearsal, which included everything from breakdancing to ballet. There is “no unifying theme” to the show, said Thelemaque, other than to showcase the diverse talents and skills of Fusion’s dancers. The range of dances not only keeps the show feeling fresh and fun throughout, but also makes it accessible. The audience will recognize and sing along to most of the songs — which is encouraged by the company. Whether you’re a “Gleek” or a Kanye West fan, Fusion did an excellent job of using pop culture to create a show that will be relatable to students. A variety of music succeed-
By katherine sola Senior Staff Writer
Yu Ting Liu / Herald
Fusion melds dance and song categories into an exciting performance.
ed in creating different moods which were “a reflection of how everyone’s semesters have been,” according to Joelle Murphy ’11. Each student had an opportunity to choreograph a piece. “It was a cohesive exploration of emotion,” she added. Dances varied in mood throughout the show — some were serious and emotional, energetic and playful or fun and sexy. Lighting and costume choices were used throughout to subtly, but appropriately, support the theme. For example, a piece set to Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason” played off the idea of a love triangle, with a male dancer and two female dancers in men’s shirts — a fun but not over-the-top interpretation. Not all of the interpretations were equally successful. At times, the way lyrics were translated into choreography was predictable and the incorporation of acting detracted from the performance. On the other hand, these pieces
provided a pleasant break from the more abstract dancing. One constant throughout the show was the dancers’ positive energy. It was evident that Fusion’s members knew how to work together — and thoroughly enjoyed doing so. For example, during “Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi?” dancers had genuine smiles on their faces the entire time. “We’re performing for an audience, but we also want to have fun and learn from each other,” said Dan Lurie ’11. “We’re very close,” Murphy added. Throughout the show, audience members will experience laughter, goose bumps and awe. Upon leaving the studio, they will be just as excited about the performance as the dancers are about performing.
Impressive dance moves set to diverse music combine for a unique experience.
Political races and man-eating grizzly bears may not be traditional comedic fodder, but this weekend, Brownbrokers’ MiniMusical Festival — taking place at the Underground — turns tradition on its head in two 15-minute musicals, “Second Lady” and “Grizzly Man.” “Second Lady” tells the story of how Sen. Mike Straight and his wife find themselves while attempting to maintain “American” values. Sam Rosenfeld ’12 co-wrote the script and the music with Carolina Barry Laso ’13 and Phoebe Nir ’14. Michael Gale ’14, who plays Mike Straight, said his character was “sure of himself, and cocky” but with the “folksiness of Sarah Palin.” He said he had enjoyed doing a 15-minute musical because it was “not a huge commitment, but you still get to see a good product.” The point of the musical was to show “the absurdity of American politics” with “lots of little puns,” Rosenfeld said. Director Emily Kassie ’14 praised the writing, saying it was “hilarious and poignant at the same time.” She said directing a 15-minute musical is fun, but “puts on a lot of pressure.” The short three-week production time meant the cast and crew stayed excited about the process. Rosenfeld said the first version of “Second Lady” was finished in a week for TAPS 0960A: “Musical Theatre Songwriting” — a class in which both mini-musicals were developed — and they started reworking it into a mini-musical about three weeks ago. The end result is a production full of twists and turns, with a comic approach to serious issues. “Grizzly Man” was inspired by the documentary of the same name about bear activist and enthusiast Timothy Treadwell. Treadwell spent
13 summers living among grizzly bears in the Alaskan wilderness and was eventually killed by them. It was co-written by Laso, Rosenfeld and Alex Yuly ’12, a Herald editorial cartoonist. Director Sam Koplewicz ’11, a film enthusiast, has introduced a multimedia element to the production, interspersing documentary footage with the music of the production. Caroline Martin ’11 uses her opera vocal training to play Treadwell, and called getting into the role “a really fun process.” Her alto voice is actually not far from a man’s, so “it’s worked out,” she said. Martin is a member of the improvisational comedy group Starla and Sons, and improvises throughout the musical. “I get scared when I’m really cemented to the script,” she explained. “Caroline is an exceptionally talented actress,” Koplewicz said. “She’s not only not white, but also doesn’t have a penis” — which might make connecting her to footage of Treadwell difficult at first, but her acting ability overcomes this discrepancy. Five students play bears — complete with ears — reflecting the way Treadwell toed the line between the human and animal worlds. Bear Jennifer Molyneaux ’11 said the five actors “got into things that felt bearish.” During rehearsal they would “pull up random bear videos and actually mimic it.” Yuly said that when co-writer Sam Yamborvitch ’12 suggested writing a song about the documentary, “something about the idea resonated with all of us.” As Koplewicz explained, the original documentary is “so over the top that it’s almost waiting to be continued on page 5
Professors portray, perplex at RISD exhibition By Suzannah Weiss Arts & Culture Columnist
Attention all skeptics who doubt the existence of teachers outside the classroom: Proof has arrived in the form of the 2011 Rhode Island School of Design Faculty Biennial. For the 200-plus RISD professors showing their work, teaching art is not enough — they also take its practice very seriously. The exhibit, located in the RISD Museum’s Chace Center galleries and Gelman Student Gallery, is difficult to digest. First of all, it’s a lot to take in, spanning two floors of the museum. Second, some of the pieces demand to be viewed with a furrowed brow — not for their thought-provoking nature, but for the mental exertion required to make any sense whatsoever of them. And because one strange object — Jerry Mischak’s “Brush Off ” — incorporates cat fur. When Magritte painted the famous words “Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” he was warning media consumers
not to mistake representations for reality. Personally, I like art that tricks its viewers into thinking it is real, that sucks them into another world then spits them out ruthlessly. Reference to something in the world — a thing or an idea — makes art relatable. It is one thing when the medium is the message, and quite another when the message is nothing but the medium. Maybe I just don’t get it, but that’s the conclusion I came to after twisting my brain and shifting my eyes around the most vacuous works, which all seem to be “Untitled.” Jack Massey’s “Untitled Drawing” is a pattern of straight graphite lines on a black surface; Ellen Petraits’ “Untitled” doesn’t look like anything but resembles faint brown scales on worn white paper; Paddy Ginther’s “Untitled” is a childlike crayon scribble drawing on paper evidently ripped from a notebook. I’m torn. When a work of art looks like it could have been done by a toddler, it usually in fact could not have been. Some artists are like gymnasts — their success makes
the feat look easy. So, I try to avoid the hackneyed “my baby cousin, or grandchildren, or golden retriever, could have art in this gallery according to these standards” complaint. But using crayons is kind of asking for it. I don’t mean to cast my criticism too broadly. The exhibit also contains the talent one expects of RISD faculty. The strongest pieces are the ones that lend themselves to practical application — like the innovative furniture and nifty jewelry — make statements or educate. Jan Baker hung religious relics from old-fashioned hoop skirts with the tongue-in-cheek title “Skirting the Issues.” Marie Cieri’s “Impressionistic Maps of the Katrina / Rita Diaspora” — a map of the United States created on a computer and featuring ink arrows and other shapes tracking the routes of evacuees — experiments with one way to coherently imagine the unimaginably incoherent. Dan Wood modified a newspaper article about Obama’s “Inauguration,” ironically highlighting not the arrival of
the new president, but the departure of the old in a helicopter. My favorite piece was Chris Buzzelli’s “M-44.” At first glance, the oil painting looks like it belongs in a storybook. A closer look reveals that the subject matter is far graver. In the foreground, a friendly-looking wolf inhales a toxic chemical planted underneath it by a tiny, skeletal human figure. The scene vaguely recalls the famous tableau of Romulus and Remus suckling at the teats of their adoptive wolf mother, except Buzzelli’s character is releasing a deadly substance rather than receiving a life-giving one. M-44s, the painting’s description explains, are devices implanted in the ground to protect livestock by killing predators. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services spends over $100 million annually on these “indiscriminate killers,” the description reads. Other memorable works draw their appeal strictly from their aesthetics. “Saiga Rift (Pronghorn)” by Jacob Feige depicts a moose either killing or grieving over a deer
amidst brilliant greenery with surreal lighting in oils and alkyd. “Black Window” by Jim Peters blends oil paints, digital photography and glass to create an image of a room that is eerie yet inviting, with delicate sheets on a bed against a tattered wall and a cracked mirror. It feels as if one might break through the image’s glass surface, the way the photographed woman on the bed appears to be falling through the mirror. This representation, though not veridical, is easily mistaken for reality. So if you find yourself in the RISD useum between now and March 20, stop by the second floor. Who knows — the works that meant nothing to me may mean something to you, especially if you have comprehensive knowledge of art. But you can’t say you weren’t forewarned: For some pieces, don’t hurt your head and eyes looking for a message that is simply lost in the medium. Unless that message is about cat fur.