Fine arts make a fine date

Students at Western are always complaining that there’s nothing to do in Cullowhee, but that’s not really the case. There’s plenty to do; you just have to be a little more open-minded here than in most other college towns. Take the Fine and Performing Arts Center which just recently opened. On the surface, this modern architectural monstrosity seems like another pointless waste of money and space. The outward-leaning windows and absurdly high awnings practically scream “This building is just for show.” For several months, I found myself skirting the building, mumbling obscenities under my breath. They just had to build the stupid thing right there, in the middle of my short cut between Belk building and my favorite parking spot. But lo and behold, there is actually something inside of the building-something which might be useful to students. I know, shocking. What am I talking about? It’s those weird little doodads called art. Now, I normally wouldn’t advise anyone to get more than the minimum amount of cultural exposure necessary to pass art appreciation, but this is a special case. If you’re sick of driving into Sylva, scarfing down something from a fast-food restaurant, and then catching one of the three riveting movies at the Quinn for the billionth time, try mixing it up a little. Culture is like an x-ray; you don’t want to do it too often, but every once in a while is a nice change of pace without significantly increasing your risk of cancer. Summer is the best time to try this particular kind of change, too. There’s hardly anything else to do (the Quinn not withstanding), and the Fine Arts building is host to a cacophony of weird little exhibits and plays right now. Plays? That’s right; some of the “fine art” in there is live action/comedy/drama/sketch. Think “Mad TV” with fewer fart jokes. For example, on Sunday, June 18, at 3:00, “War Bonds: The Songs & Letters of World War II” debuts. Music, cabaret, and headline news from the period are weaved together to give you the flavor of war that reshaped the world. On Sunday, July 2, at 3:00, the center presents “Hal Holbrook in Mark Twain Tonight!” Politically incorrect and funny as hell, Mark Twain is still one of the best comedians to ever have lived. Hal Holbrook will bring it to life for you in a way no history book ever could. And on Sunday, July 30, at 3:00, come on down for “Laughing with the Legends,” a comedy sketch that introduces you to Elvis, Lucy, and Liberace in the spirit which they’re still remembered. Get a taste of the fast, fun fifties and see why your grandparents still won’t shut up about the era. An hour before each of these shows, there will be a gallery talk held in the Fine Arts building with messages from the artists on display. For those artistically-inclined, this is a great opportunity. For other people like me, it’s a great excuse to recycle my prom clothes and dig into my stash of monocles. There’s nothing that quite says “class” like a little circle of glass on a chain. I plan to wear at least three. If you’re looking for something quieter to do over the summer, the gallery is finally pulling much of its art collection out of storage. A lot of these pieces were gathered during the construction of the Fine and Performing Arts Center and haven’t been unveiled before. If you’re further along in your relationship or just want to try something extra-daring, these pieces will get you talking about something other than school, friends, and food. Trying to explain the rainbow with a big “X” across it is always good for two hours of “meaningful” conversation with a significant other. Finally, if all else fails, check out the work of your fellow students. Starting June 23, the first graduating class of the new Master of Fine Arts program will be producing their own solo thesis exhibitions as part of the graduation process. If you know anyone in this program, or think you might like to signup yourself, now is the time to check out your competition. At the very least, you can cheer on your fellow students-preferably in a sedate, appropriate way which does not involve beer bongs. Save the beer bongs for the after party. For more information about these offerings, contact the museum office at (828) 227-3591. The museum is generally open from 10:00 to 4:00 Tuesday through Saturday. However, remember; the best stuff is usually on a Sunday afternoon.