Saturday, July 31, 2010

Fact-finding about Fuji

Posted By on Sat, Jul 31, 2010 at 9:44 PM

View of Mount Fuji from Satta Point in the Suruga Bay
  • Utagawa Hiroshige
  • View of Mount Fuji from Satta Point in the Suruga Bay

As I mentioned in a post some time ago, blogging for NUVO has afforded me the chance to check out a lot of arts events around town. In my relatively new capacity as the paper’s calendar editor, I am now privy to information about events as far in advance as next June. Want to know about cool stuff happening in the city? Chances are I can find something interesting for you to do.

My secret spy knowledge led me to an exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (4000 Michigan Road) on Saturday afternoon: Utagawa Hiroshige’s “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji.” I didn’t read the museum’s description of the exhibit closely enough; I thought it was going to feature 36 photographs of the Japanese mountain. Instead, the series is made up of 18 color woodblock prints that all feature mountain scenes. They’re really very pretty, but when you work up mental images of sunset or majestic snow peaks and other musical-inspiring scenery, a lack of photography can be a bit of a letdown. Again, however, the work is quite nice, it’s more than 150 years old, I got to see it for free, and I got to ride escalators to get to it (being easily amused has its benefits).

I’d like to know more than Wikipedia can tell me about the art. All the prints include small red banners with Japanese lettering at the upper-right and lower-left corners of the images and I’m curious as to what they all say. Perhaps it’s something historical, information about the scene itself, or some kind of caption. I suppose I could use this chance to learn a little Japanese… besides the kanji I’ve had tattooed on my person.

The exhibit is open through September 5, Tuesdays through Sundays in the Appel Gallery (third floor of the museum; check in at the front desk before heading upstairs). Visit the museum online at or call 317-923-1331 for more information.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

IndyFringe season heating up

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 3:46 PM

Christmas in August is how some people consider IndyFringe and I am in absolute agreement. Each year, for a ten-day span (this year it’s Aug. 20-29, Indianapolis is full of strange and wonderful folks, transforming Mass Ave with jugglers, magicians, musicians — guerilla theater performers of all kinds. The gifts are prodigious: surprises abound, spontaneity rules, art epiphanizes, friends are made.

Fringe nourishes the local performance groups — theater, dance, magic, comedy — while drawing dozens of other artists from all over the country and beyond.

The shows are edgy and fun, the artists themselves make money, and it’s easy to meet and hang out with the performers whom you admire at venues like the Rathskeller, Chatterbox and Chatham Tap (my faves, at least).

Last night, Pauline Moffat, Justin Brady and all the Fringe volunteers and potentates threw their annual Longest Dinner fundraiser, the unofficial opening to the Fringe season. A couple hundred revelers gathered for a slow food experience, a 3 course dinner, courtesy of as many locally-produced foodstuffs as possible — all while being entertained by Motus Dance Theatre and the mellifluous (and conflagrative) fire dancing by Molly Wyldfyre, among others.

There were rumors all along the table that Pauline Moffat must have a friend named Mephistopheles, since last night’s weather was absent of humidity or a thunderstorm. “How does she do it?” one attendee whispered. “This is the best evening of the whole summer, weather-wise!”

It was nigh on perfect, in fact.

Here are some things to know:

The Fringe program is now on-line at and you can get your print-guide to the Fringe in next week’s NUVO.

Watch for our upcoming coverage, previewing our best bets, on Aug. 18 and you can rely as you do each year on our comprehensive review product the following week, Aug. 25, to help you figure out which performances you'll need to show up early to get a seat.

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Vonnegut Library passes milestone

Posted By on Fri, Jul 30, 2010 at 10:21 AM

The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, a project in the works for over a year, has just received a $50,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment. The grant, which will be used to fund the Vonnegut library's strategic planning an development, marks an important step in the project's progress so far, the imprimatur of the city's — and one of the nation's — leading philanthropic organization.

"It is wonderful to have our efforts appreciated by an organization as respected as Lilly Endowment," said Julia Whitehead, the executive director and founder of the Vonnegut Library. Whitehead indicated that the Endowment's support has come in the wake of the project's having created alliances with local business partners and a base of active volunteers. She also noted the contributions of Kurt Vonnegut's son Mark and his sisters Edie and Nanny.

An undoubtedly major element in winning the Endowment's support was the willingness of law firm Katz and Korin to donate its 1,100 square foot ground floor space, previously used by the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art, in the Emelie Building at 340 N. Senate Ave., to the Vonnegut Library project. Architect Mark Demerly is donating his services in leading the effort to design the space to accommodate the library's various programs.

The Vonnegut Library is a nonprofit organization aimed at celebrating the literary, artistsic and cultural contributions of Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. The library is intended to serve as a cultural and educational resource center, functioning as a museum, art gallery, and reading room. The Library plans to open this November. For more information, go to www.vonnegutlibrary,org.

Kurt Vonnegut memorial Library, Kurt Vonnegut, Julia Whitehead, Lilly Endowment, Mark Vonnegut, Mark Demerly, Katz and Korin Law Firm, literature, Edie Vonnegut, Nanny Vonnegut

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

A literary and lyrical morning

Posted By on Sun, Jul 25, 2010 at 8:21 PM

Rusty Moe
  • Rusty Moe

On Sunday morning, I took myself a little out of my comfort zone: I went to church. Okay, I went to a church. My original plan to attend the service at The Church Within (1125 Spruce Street) before poet Rusty Moe and singer Tim Hoover performed was thwarted when I couldn’t convince myself to get out of bed at 9:00 a.m. Luckily, however, I was up not too long afterwards and at the church in time to meet a few people and to take in my surroundings before things got underway.

The people who were milling around while Hoover and Moe were doing sound check were all incredibly friendly and invited me to come back for a service in the future. I had attended the church a few times years ago when it was still on West 79th Street and was quickly reminded of its gay-friendly atmosphere. After spending years as an acolyte in the Episcopal Church, it was nice to find a place where I could be spiritual and accepted, all at once. If I can coax myself out of bed while the clock is still registering single digits, I would be glad to reacquaint myself with the parishioners and clergy.

Rusty Moe, whom I’d heard read a couple months ago at the Jewish Community Center, shared from his memoir Bright Wild Stone: A Contemplative Journal of Roots That Shape a Life. His tales were funny, starting with his post-treatment, nurse-irritating antics while recovering from a kidney stone, and moving, especially an essay about lucid dreaming about his beloved grandmother after her passing. Hoover, a talented tenor, sang a few songs in between readings, including Glen Miller’s Moonlight Serenade and Nancy Lamott’s Listen to My Heart. The latter, a love song, left Moe smiling at his partner. When Hoover finished singing, Moe patted his heart with his left hand, clearly touched. He placed his right hand over Hoover’s heart and together they stood for a moment as though no one was watching. A love like that is inspiring and left me feeling hopeful… a little like I’d gone to church after all.

A little Moonlight Serenade, courtesy of the Glen Miller Orchestra:

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Zens, swirls, and fragments of vinyl

Posted By on Sun, Jul 25, 2010 at 5:04 PM

A sample of Jennings Zens
  • A sample of Jennings' Zens

For the first time in the show’s seven years, I caught the Flava Fresh exhibition, an annual, juried multi-art exhibition of contemporary art created by local, regional, national, and international artists. The mixture of paintings and sculpture are now on display at the Indianapolis Artsgarden (second floor of Circle Centre Mall or 49 West Maryland Street). Especially nice were a Zen (a mask) by Flava’s founding artist, D. Delreverda-Jennings; two paintings of multicolored guitars by Lazarie Atkins; Carl Hazelwood’s depiction of Nina Simone; and Lobyn Hamilton’s re-creation of the cover of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which is made entirely from broken record pieces. The Artsgarden provides a nice setting — the space is open, light, and airy and fallen leaves from the trees throughout added a kind of poetry to the exhibit, especially the sculptures that were inside display cases.

Artwork by Lobyn Hamilton
  • Artwork by Lobyn Hamilton

The work will be on display at the mall until July 30 and then it will move to the IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery (420 University Boulevard) for the month of August. During that second exhibition, the show’s participants will gather a The Artists’ Table on Thursday, August 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., to sell art and crafts that aren’t part of the Flava Fresh show. The artists will also be on hand on Friday, August 27, from 4:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. for a meet-and-greet reception.

In September, the exhibit will move to the College Avenue branch of the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library (4180 N. College Avenue). The artwork will be on display until January 2011. The public will have another chance to meet the artists on Friday, October 8, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

For more information about Flava Fresh, contact D. DelReverda-Jennings at

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Friday, July 23, 2010

New digs, new voices

Posted By on Fri, Jul 23, 2010 at 11:49 PM


I’m always happy to discover new places to hang out and to hear new voices, so Friday’s poetry reading at Calvin Fletcher’s Coffee Company (615 Virginia Avenue) that featured Brett Elizabeth Jenkins and Christopher Newgent was a treat. Calvin Fletcher’s features plush seating, books to make the mind hum, and a selection of original works for sale, including pottery, messenger bags, and photography by local artists. I was especially taken by a basket of community knitting whose yarn was provided by the nearby Mass Ave Knit Shop (862 Virginia Avenue). The surroundings were homey and it was keen to be in a place that donates its profits to the Fletcher Place neighborhood and organizations throughout the city. I only had apple juice while I was there, but it was nice to know I helped someone a little bit.

Both poets shared great stuff. Newgent shared work from his forthcoming manuscript The Lion and the Lamb. “The Lioness” offered up “I talk to you. I hear back heartbeats and oceans. I wonder if you’re ever coming back.” He read a few poems about war and shared “we moved simply in awe of what we could do” and “in pictures of war, there are always children.” The innocence in “…my son sleeps beneath a tree like a caption” made me smile and I loved his description of winter as “…the world a wet silhouette swallowed in the belly of a ghost.” Jenkins made the crowd laugh from the start when she read a poem about the job skills she possessed: “I can probably hold a lot of spatulas at once.” Much of her work, like Newgent’s, was quite touching; from “Woe is Me and You,” “Woe is how you move your hips” and the entirety of “December 21st, 2002”: "It’s said it takes seven years / to grow completely new skin cells. / To think, this year I will grow / into a body you never will / have touched.” I really liked all of her work but “in my dreams, I build arks to carry us away” was especially lovely.

Jenkins has work forthcoming in Pank and decomP. Newgent runs Vouched Books, which supports and promote small press literature. (I noticed Andrew Scott’s Modern Love among his works.) Between the nonprofit coffeehouse with the comfy seating and the new voices, I think I tapped into something pretty great.

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Sunday, July 18, 2010

A variety of visuals

Posted By on Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 7:39 PM

Circles in Space by Jeannine Allen, one of the artists featured at the Harrison Center for the Arts
  • "Circles in Space" by Jeannine Allen, one of the artists featured at the Harrison Center for the Arts

The great thing about Indy is that there are so many opportunities to see and make art. Here are some venues I hope to visit before the end of the month:

The July show at the Harrison Center for the Arts (1505 North Delaware Street) is “Old and New,” a showcase of artists who have exhibited at the center before, as well as folks who are new to the gallery. You can view images from the show here. Pictures from students involved with The Viewfinder Project are also on display. I recommend checking out the Viewfinder website; there are some great photos there.

If you feel like making some art, you might consider attending Adventures in Watercolor: Landscapes for Beginners on Wednesday, July 21, at 6:30 p.m. The class is free and meets at the Zionsville Library (250 N. Fifth Street). Artist Paula Scott-Franz will teach the basics of watercolor painting techniques with a focus on landscapes, nature, and the elements. Participants will also experiment with useful watercolor special effects to create a memorable painting. Call 317-873-3149 for more information or visit

On Saturday, July 24, the Art Fair on Mass Ave will take place outside of Art Bank (811 Massachusetts Ave). The event, emceed by Dick Wolfsie, runs from 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and is free and will feature arts, crafts, live entertainment, children's activities, jewelry vendors, a fine art silent auction, hot dogs, lemonade, popcorn, and barbecue. Donations are appreciated and will help raise funds for children to go to the zoo, the State Museum, and the Eiteljorg. Call 317-624-1010 for more information.

Flava Fresh, an annual, juried presentation of contemporary art featuring local and regional artists, runs through July 30 at the Indianapolis Artsgarden. This is the event’s seventh year; artists include Jerome Webster Chambers, Heath A. Holland, Kevin James Wilson, Kimberly Harwell, Lobyn Hamilton, Lillian A. Herbert, and D. DelReverda-Jennings, the event's founding artist and independent curator. The Artsgarden is located at 110 W. Washington Street (inside Circle Centre Mall).

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Spoken word roundup

Posted By on Sun, Jul 18, 2010 at 6:38 PM


Monday, July 19: Metric Mondays, which features an open mic, local spotlights, nationally-known poets, alternative acts, music, comedy, and a poetry slam, meets at Locals Only Art & Music Pub (2449 E. 56th Street). Event begins at 8:00 p.m. Cover is $5. Must be 21 or older.

Tuesday, July 20: Poet Lylanne Musselman kicks off the Irvington Poetry Series with a reading of her work starting at 7:00 p.m. Musselman is an Irvington resident, a writing teacher, and an award-winning poet who is well known around the city. Her most recent chapbook is A Charm Bracelet for Cruising. The reading will take place at the Irvington Library (5625 East Washington Street).

Wednesday, July 21: The Literary Ladies will be discussing The House on Mango Street, a coming-of-age novel by Sandra Cisneros (and one of my favorites from the lit courses I took during college). The group meets at 7:00 p.m. at Bookmamas (9 Johnson Avenue).

Thursday, July 22: Kafe Kuumba at The Way is an open mic at Scott United Methodist Church (2153 Dr. Andrew J. Brown Avenue). It’s sponsored by the Midtown Writers Association and meets from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Contact James Depp at 317-895-4919 for more information.

Friday, July 23: Brett Elizabeth Jenkins and Christopher Newgent will read their poetry starting at 7:30 p.m. at Calvin Fletcher's Coffee Company (615 Virginia Avenue). Check out a sample of the poets' works here.

Saturday, July 24: The Indianapolis Writer’s Group, which is open to all writers, meets at New Century Publishing offices (1040 E. 86th St., Suite 42A) at 10:00 a.m. Call 317-663-8741 for more information.

Sunday, July 25: Poet Rusty Moe and musician Tim Hoover will present Bright Wild Stone: A Life in Words and Music, beginning at 11:30 a.m. Moe will read short sequences from his memoir while Hoover weaves in songs that punctuate the text. Meets at The Church Within (1125 Spruce Street). The performance follows the service.

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Saturday, July 17, 2010

And the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay goes to... me!

Posted By on Sat, Jul 17, 2010 at 11:04 PM


Years of interest in filmmaking found me at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (4000 Michigan Road) on Friday afternoon. The Indianapolis International Film Festival (IIFF) hosted three workshops in the museum’s Multipurpose Room that discussed film editing, directing, and screenwriting. The sessions were facilitated by Chris Jacek, Dan Hall, and Kate Chaplin, respectively. While the first two sessions were interesting and informative, complete with information about the film industry and clips from well-known and independent movies as examples, I clicked most with screenwriting.

Chaplin, an award-winning independent filmmaker, delivered information in a rapid-fire and humorous style, giving advice that spanned the beginning of the writing process to the finish. I learned that there’s screenwriting software, including Celtx and Final Draft, the latter which can automatically generate a reports about the number of times profanity is used in a script. (I’d like to run some of Quentin Tarantino’s scripts through that filter, especially since Chaplin told us an innocuous word like ‘crap’ is considered a swear word.) She discussed script lengths (e.g., 90 pages minimum for a feature-length film), explained some of the terminology used in scripts (such as VO for voiceover or OS for off-screen), how to copyright a script (register it with the Library of Congress), and recommended a number of books where we could learn more, including Paul Atgentini’s Elements of Style for Screenwriters: The Essential Manual for Writers of Screenplays.

The wealth of information during the hour-long workshop was frankly a little bit intimidating, as was realizing I was out of my element in a room full of young people who already had filmmaking experience, but it was also exciting. Making a film requires a lot more work than I have fully realized — Chaplin told me that it takes an hour to shoot one page of a script, not including the time it takes to set up and strike lighting — but I’m happy to know that I’m still interested in pursuing a longtime passion. My film might be short, silent, and never seen outside my living room, but I’m a step closer to making it.

Learn more about Kate Chaplin and her films at her website. The IIFF runs through July 25. Visit for more information.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

IMA extends 100 Acres along White River

Posted By on Fri, Jul 16, 2010 at 2:05 PM

The Indianapolis Museum of Art if using a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment For the Arts to commission a sequence of installations by Mary Miss, an internationally recognized artist whose work is known for the ways in which it blurs the boundaries between sculpture, architecture and landscape design.

"Flow (Can You See the River?)" will consist of several stopping points along the White River and Central Canal, extending from Broad Ripple to White River State Park. The IMA characterizes the work as utilizing "mirror markers" that will amount to "modest interventions in the landscape." The installations will include site-specific commentary aimed at calling visitors' attention to natural and human features visible from the various vantage points, from wetlands and floodplains to sewer outfalls.

"Flow's" intention is to call attention to the role the White River watershed plays in the city's life. It is the first work commissioned under the IMA's 100 Acres aegis, since the art and nature park opened at the end of June.

"Flow" should be unveiled in its finished form in September 2011.

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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sanders wins Indiana Authors Award

Posted By on Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 4:12 PM

It's hard to imagine an author who has written more eloquently or with as much insight about the sense of place as Scott Russell Sanders. It's no wonder that the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library Foundation has selected Sanders to be the recipient of the 2010 Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award.

This the second time the award has been given. Last year, James Alexander Thom was the first Indiana writer to be so honored. The award brings a $10,000 prize with a $2,500 grant to be given to a library of the author's choice.

In more than 20 books, Sanders has plumbed what it means to live in the American Midwest, particularly in his part of it, Bloomington, where he has distinguished himself as a professor at IU. But Sanders has also established a reputation as being one of this country's finest writers about humans and our relationship with the natural world. His work came to prominence in an era that's likely to be known as a golden age for American nature writing; Sanders can be thought of as the Midwestern counterpart to such authors as Barry Lopez, Terry Tempest Williams and Wendell Berry.

A master of the personal essay, Sanders experiences the world through a deeply ethical lens. For more information about Sanders' work, visit And to learn more about the Indiana Authors Awards, go to

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Sunday, July 11, 2010

Welcome to the world of Pflum

Posted By on Sun, Jul 11, 2010 at 9:10 PM

Is that a chapbook in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Richard Pflum (R) poses with fellow poets Jeff Pearson (L) and JL Kato (M)
  • Is that a chapbook in your pocket or are you just happy to see me? Richard Pflum (R) poses with fellow poets Jeff Pearson (L) and JL Kato (M)

The July offering of Evening with the Muse, a monthly poetry event sponsored by the Writers’ Center of Indiana (812 East 67th Street), brought Richard Pflum (rhymes with "plum") to the microphone. A devoted fan of Pflum’s played a quick tune into a harmonica to move the animated audience to their seats. It’s a call to action that I’ve never experienced; I think it works even quicker than flickering lights at the theatre.

Pflum, a recent winner in the Moving Forward contest, shared a number of poems from his collected works, which include A Dream of Salt and A Strange Juxtaposition of Parts. I was quite impressed by his villanelles, a style of poetry which continues to mock me with its use of repetition and rhyme. Pflum made it seem easy, which is always wonderful to realize when you know how difficult something is. For, ahem, some of us.

The poet, who recently turned 78, inspired me to get back to my canvases and acrylics when he read “The Painters,” his winning poem from the aforementioned contest. You can read it in its entirety here. If I print any part of the poem here, I’ll ruin it for you, especially since the last line is my favorite. Go read it. I’ll wait.

(Jeopardy! theme)

Wasn’t that amazing?! Tongues! So evocative… and kind of dirty. Huzzah!

I liked several of his other pieces, including “Valentine’s Day Blues” (“Love… it’s the only thing I’m really afraid of”), “Paper House” ("The demented mailbox opens its brassy mouth to feed”), and “Sad Fireworks” (“The sky won’t tell us what we need to know”). I only recently discovered Pflum’s work; I’m glad it will be preserved as part of the Cultural Trail.

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