Centennial Nights highlights art, music and community
Roughly 300 Central Michigan University students and Mount Pleasant community members were caught "Dancing in the Moonlight" during the live artistic showcase Centennial Nights.
"Centennial Nights: Welcome Back" initiated a new year on Jan. 13 at Centennial Hall, located in Downtown Mount Pleasant. The venue consisted of two rooms: the "live room" that kicked off its four-group set list with a live cellist at 9 p.m., and a "vibe room" entertaining with hip hop, dubstep, house and other genres.
Centennial Nights first debuted in Mount Pleasant on Sept. 29. The Jan.13 showing was its fourth appearance in the area.
This evening was headlined by Cosmic Knot, a Michigan-based "gypsycore" band who's sound is a collision of psychedelic-illustrated jazz and "stellar funk lines," said lead-guitarist Tom Walls. The included Walls strumming his instrument as he roamed into the crowd, which was then overtaken by the fumes of smoke machines and a special light show.
Other acts comprised of trap and dubstep artist EDERZ, alternative folk group Crystal Images, hip hop and dubstep DJ Morris Code, indie-folk rock band Pining and various others.
The show's producers -- Lake Orion junior Spencer Roberts, Ludington junior Jesse Weier and Chesea senior Chris Stewart -- came across the band Pining during a talent exhibition at The Dreamer Coffee Shop.
Pining was co-founded by Onondago senior Ty Bugbee and December 2017 graduate Joshua Stutsman.
The two roommates described their five-piece band as a half and half mixture of musical preferences. Their stage presence mixes jazz, rock-and-roll oldies and indie-folk.
"We're all very indifferent with the large genres we dabble into again and again," Stutsman said. "Overall we just love all music."
Bugbee said performing at Centennial Nights productions is equal to coming home.
"This was one of the first places we were ever invited to play out, so every time we're back its like a bunch of friends coming together," Bugbee said. "We've been able to watch this event grow and the relationships that are made and to also grow along with them as a band."
Stutsman said their priority on stage is to have a good time and to expand that joy onto the audience.
The evening also featured several different art venders and live artists, who provided visuals out of painting, sculpting, print making, clay spinning and spray painting.
The event's art director, Katrina Marberger said all artists are invited to exhibit their work, no matter its context, genre or platform.
Each Centennial Night consists of a charity art raffle earning an average of $80 monthly. Money collected went to the Sally and John Goodrow Fund, an outreach program in Mount Pleasant aiding residents and families in need of emergency assistance.
"This is an inviting place for people who like to create and are longing for a safe place to share their artwork to the world," the Shelby Township senior said. "It's really all about combining talents, interests and becoming one big collaboration. It's offering something to everyone."
Marberger is majoring in studio art at CMU. She said her passions and long hours spent in Wightman Hall made way for her to meet other artists to attend and be featured in Centennial Nights.
Megan Ferguson, a December 2017 graduate, is a regular art vendor for the event and returned to CMU to check up on the program.
"For me, art was all about connecting with individuals in the community and learning more about the natural resources that we are surrounded by, whether that's the Chip River or going back to my hometown," the Grand Haven native said.
Ferguson said the event was all about connectivity.
"I met a lot of people here that I would have never met before, and they have offered me a place of happiness and also I've been able to reconnect people I haven't met in a couple years," Ferguson said.
Marberger was also at the event selling flower pots and wax burners as part of her collection of nature-inspired masterworks. She uses items such as bark and leaves as her sources for inspiration and craftsmanship.
"There's a lot of people who want to get to experience festivals but unfortunately may not have the means to do so," Marberger said. "Some festivals are extremely expensive and far away and may not appear as an option," Marberger said, adding that the event was reasonably affordable to attend and basically right in CMU's backyard.
For Saint Clair Shores sophomore Ashley Bourlier, the Jan. 13 show was her first Centennial Nights.
"I've never been to a show like this before, it's very free spirited and I like how everyone has so much individuality," Bourlier said. "People aren't afraid to be themselves and they're not afraid to just be in the moment."
The next Centennial Night will be held Feb. 23. Guests are encouraged to RSVP on the Centennial Nights: February event page.