A Theater Near You—A bit of red carpet glamour descended from an antique train car in Salisbury, N.C., last Wednesday. George Clooney, in a tweed newsboy cap, white shirt, black zip jacket and flared jeans, and Renée Zellweger, in sky-high Christian Laboutin heels and a rust-colored draped jersey dress, arrived for the third leg of their whistlestop tour to promote Leatherheads, Clooney's new film about the birth of pro football in the 1920s.
First, there was a trackside meet-and-greet with some of the more than 500 fans who had called in sick to work from teeny burgs across the state. Clooney and Zellweger signed their posters, DVDs, T-shirts, book bags and copies of People magazine's "Sexiest Man Alive" issue.
A press conference in the historic Salisbury train depot featured a football uniform and helmet from the film on an alarming androgynous mannequin, provoking good-natured abuse from director/star Clooney. Ignoring print reporters, Universal Pictures minders made sure that as many as possible of the two dozen TV stations from across the state got their sound bites for the evening news, as Clooney and Zellweger praised the South's historic architecture, the ambience they described as the "land that time forgot" and the barbecue on Salisbury's Main Street.
Zellweger smiled prettily as Clooney invoked the work of Howard Hawks and Preston Sturges as inspiration for his period romantic comedy. Quick-witted and charming, Clooney also turned serious, addressing the crisis in Darfur. It's a surreal experience to sit just a few feet away from such famous faces—and it must be noted—surprisingly tiny people with famous faces.
A beautiful spring day basking in the formidable charisma of the most famous movie stars I'll probably ever see ... I'm sure the movie is (dreamy sigh) great. —Laura BoyesOr maybe not. Read Godfrey Cheshire's review.
Lump Gallery—The cry of "Power to the People!'" never rang so true as it does in the premise for this show, curated by elin o'Hara slavick and Laura Sharp Wilson. Noting that the most everyday acts of heroism in the world are not only undernoticed but seriously unrecognized, the two artists set out to do something about it and began organizing gallery shows that, in their words, are dedicated to "name, recognize, honor and remember people who influence, inspire change, educate and amaze us in our wreck of a world."
While the concept for this series of exhibitions was rooted in a certain pessimism about our lethargic complacency, if you will, the tone for the show is brightly optimistic. The artists focus our attention on heroes of all sorts, famous or not, by providing a forum for their recognition and providing "glimmers of hope and resistance." What the artworks provide for us then are heroes of all stripes: the deserving and well known, the timeless and the almost forgotten, the civilian and the celebrity. It is to the curators' credit that they have embraced such open boundaries as the exhibition's inclusiveness is one of its most profound strengths. The show's greatest promise, however, is its stated goal: providing for all of us accessibility to the exceptional. —Dave DelcambreTonight's opening includes a reception from 7-11 p.m.
The Pour House—You won't be assaulted by any Polynesian nose flutes at shows from Raleigh's Old Habits. By confining themselves to a genre instead of awkwardly searching for a "new" sound, the quintet's songs—traditional bluegrass music unafraid to try something progressive—ring with sincerity and accomplishment. Tight vocal harmonies, deft banjo picking, high flying fiddle and mandolin, and rock solid guitar and bass: The instrumental interplay shines, and the group—a sharp spin on sounds long before spun—stands tall. Deceptively simple, really good. With Sweet By and By. The cover is $5-$7 and the show starts at 10 p.m. —Andrew Ritchey
Sadlacks—Like full-service gas stations and record stores, power pop echoes an age that's barely distant. However, Winston-Salem's Saving Graces delivers on its timeless appeal with ringing melodies and big vocal harmonies. Jangle pop and new wave converge in frontman Michael Slawter's tenor croon and sly wit. "Why don't we get drunk and fight?" he wonders on a track. Don't feel weird if you sing along at 7 p.m. —Chris Parker
The Illustrated Word
Flanders 311—Now here's a premise for a show: Assign a one-page essay as a little art world homework to a broad sampling of writers, then pair their work with some printmakers given the task of enlivening their words with visual enrichment, then stand back and let the literary and aesthetic fireworks begin. This is the basic idea behind The Illustrated Word as it treads into territory more typically associated with the fine art of illustration. Since, in this case, the end result of the artist/writer pairings are gallery artworks rather than a fleeting newsprint or magazine illustration, the collaborations allow for more intensely developed explorations and layers of meaning.
The teams have come up with some rich imagery, as might be expected given the variety of artists and ideas involved. Michael Meadors' "Bloodless" of 2008 strikes a classical repartee with Joe Fletcher's "Burial at Sea" essay, which combines surreal elements with the time-honored tale of a sailor returning home from sea to a loved one. A pared-down palette prevails in Marielle Prince and Delia Keefe's collaboration, which explores the essence of young womanhood in chromatic metaphors. The initial essay's many fertile and compelling themes are the impetus here for a number of surprising juxtapositions, and you'll be particularly rewarded if you go expecting the unexpected. —Dave DelcambreThe show opens tonight with a reception from 6-9 p.m.
Fedex Global Education Center, UNC Campus—Think that cutbacks in federal funding are scientific research's biggest obstacle? Tonight you can hear the story of government cutbacks' dubious spawn—private funding—narrated by New America Foundation fellow Jennifer Washburn. Slated as the keynote speaker of UNC-CH's annual Association of University Professors (NC-AAUP), Washburn is the author of University, Inc.: The Corporate Corruption of Higher Education, in which she outlines American universities' increasing connections and conflicts of interest with private funding over the last 25 years. The conference takes place in the—ahem—FedEx Global Education Center, and tonight's 7 p.m. address is free and open to the public, with a reception afterward. For more info, visit www.nc-aaup.org. —Megan Stein