Bull City Arts Collaborative—As bartenders at Durham's Piedmont restaurant, Jake Wood and Mark Cunningham went through boxes of Bev Naps on a weekly basis. But one day, inspiration hit, and the two drink slingers started thinking outside the box. "Drawing on Bev Naps is something everybody has done—some people jot down directions or someone's number on them and some people doodle on them when they're bored," says Cunningham. But where average folks might see a small, square Post-it note opportunity in the tiny napkins, Cunningham and Wood saw a ready-made canvas for accessible art. "I've always liked this idea of proletarian art where everyday people can get art for pretty cheap," says Cunningham. "I do these little paintings called 'Paintings for Easy Listeners.' They're small square paintings that go for $20 a pop, so I was already in the mind-frame of doing small, cheap art."
It was only a matter of time before Cunningham transferred his whimsical art to the ready and willing napkins. Cunningham and Wood soon opened a fresh box of napkins, and the two made a pact to draw on each and every one. Now these miniscule drawings, tallying in at a total of 500, have gone from the bar to the wall at Bull City Arts Collaborative, an art venue neighboring the Piedmont. Come check out the drawings, with subject matter ranging from anecdotes about bartending to portraits of politicians and basketball coaches, at tonight's opening reception from 6-9 p.m. And don't forget to stop by the Piedmont next door to toast the artists, who will, of course, be working behind the bar. —Kathy Justice
Because We Are Still Here (And Moving)
The ArtsCenter—Economic development is coming to Chapel Hill's Northside neighborhood—and Hidden Voices founder Lynden Harris has learned that's not necessarily good. "Most people in the larger community are saying this is a blighted area, where nothing is going on," she notes. "And if you don't understand the history of racism—how racism affects real estate, town planning and zoning, that's where it stays. You're left with a superficial look. You say 'That's great, it's all going to be torn down; what a good thing for the area.'
"People don't question: What happened here? What was here? Why isn't it here anymore? Why couldn't people afford to keep it?"
Because We Are Still Here (And Moving) is a multi-part project, attempting to document and preserve the historically black neighborhood where workers for the University of North Carolina lived. What started as a program for teens to discover their neighborhood's history two years ago expanded into a sociology class at UNC, a community mapping project led by Ph.D. students in geography and a study by faculty in community planning and design. "Then there was the idea for a walking tour. And then someone said, 'You've got to do a children's book,'" Harris chuckles.
A photography exhibit, with maps where community members can add their own stories about Northside's history, is on exhibit at the ArtsCenter.
This Friday, residents and performers will present three shows at the ArtsCenter, staging stories from the community's history, at 10 and 11:45 a.m. and 8 p.m. The tagline for the show says "Black history happened here, and it wasn't just a month. ... It's a world you never knew existed. And it won't last for long."—Byron Woods
Beauty in Distress: Photographs by Ami Vitale
Through This Lens Gallery—Award-winning journalist Ami Vitale takes us on a voyage with her photographs from Africa, India and elsewhere. Moving around the world as a reporter for National Geographic, Ami Vitale became acclaimed for her cultural documentation. A UNC alumna, she is coming back close to where she began, Durham, to show her work at Through This Lens. An opening reception runs tonight from 6-9 p.m. —Bruna Zacka
George Romero's Diary of the Dead
Carolina Theatre—For four decades, George A. Romero has made a living off the dead. The 68-year-old writer and director is celebrating two milestones in 2008—the 40th anniversary of his debut film, Night of the Living Dead, and the release of his newest film, Diary of the Dead, which premieres in Durham tonight.
Romero's films helped make zombies icons of modern horror, even though the word "zombie" is never uttered in the original film. After doing a large-scale production for his last film, 2005's Land of the Dead, Romero went back to basics for Diary, shooting it on a low budget with digital cameras in Pittsburgh. "The last zombie film I did just got too big," Romero says in a phone interview. "It lost touch with its roots. ... While Universal let me make the film I wanted ... it was a grueling experience."
So, Romero literally went back to the beginning, showing the start of the zombie plague from the perspective of film students shooting a cheapie horror. "I wanted to get back and see if I had the chops to really get down and do a guerrilla film with friends again," Romero says.
Like his other films, Diary offers its share of social commentary, in this case the rise of new media. Romero says he feels like "a painter experimenting with new brushes" with his new film and that he has "a hell of a lot more to say" about new media. "I'm still learning," says Romero. "The thing that really keeps me going is just trying to improve my handicraft."
He enjoys several of the current zombie films, including Shaun of the Dead and Fido, though Diary does take swipes at the running zombies from 28 Days Later and the Dawn remake: "It's as if first thing they did when they stood up and walked was go get a membership at a gym." —Zack Smith
Read our review of Diary of the Dead.
Love is Local Hip-Hop Show
Local 506—This may be an after-Valentine's Day special, but leave your hard feelings at home: Love is Local will draw seven MCs from across the state, like Tyler Hipnosis, Crash and K-Hill from Durham; Big Remo of Winston-Salem; and Kooley High reppin' Raleigh. Expect smooth lyrics flowing over the creamy or crisp beats on tap. DJ Forge hits the wheels at 10 p.m., and you'll only need $7 to check out some of North Carolina's best hip hop. —Dan Strobel
Pierrot Le Fou
N.C. Museum of Art—Since his 1960 debut, French director Jean-Luc Godard has earned a rep for creating certain cinematic puzzles in which all the appropriate pieces are present but somehow skewed and seemingly misdirected. Pierrot le fou, Godard's 10th production, is one such film. Here, Godard spins the New Wave story of a criminal couple on the run from the law into a brilliant commentary on French culture under the spell of Hollywood. Simply pop art perfection. The celluloid rolls at 8 p.m. for $5. Visit ncartmuseum.org for more info. —Kathy Justice
Tooth/ Legion of the Fallen
Jack Sprat—This coffeeshop and cafe continues to test the waters as an after-espresso, local-band venue. This weekend, it reaches toward two of the area's indie extremes: Legion of the Fallen makes passable Chapel Hill black metal, its massive jagged arches of guitar lines spiked by blast beats and relentless growls. Durham's Tooth cools its liquid metal into a viscous, dangerous form. With Edward Teach. Tomorrow, Jack Sprat turns toward the area's heart-on-sleeves indie imprint, Trekky Records, which presents Butterflies, the charming Greensboro band lead by the yearn of Josh Kimbrough. Deleted Scenes—well-penned indie-pop shuffles and weepers—is down from Brooklyn. Monsonia opens like a backdraft. All donations at 9:30 p.m. —Grayson Currin