Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Becoming a ReadUP tutor

Posted By on Tue, Nov 30, 2010 at 4:13 PM


A couple months ago, I became involved with ReadUP, a collaborative tutoring effort between United Way of Central Indiana (3901 N. Meridian Street) and local school districts. After filling out the application and passing a background check, I picked a school convenient to me, attended a short training session and got to tutoring.

Tutors are assigned two children to work with, one from fourth grade and one from fifth. What surprised and entertained me the most was the inflection with which my tutees read. I experienced some real adventure in books like Captain Underpants and the Invasion of the Incredibly Naughty Cafeteria Ladies from Outer Space (and the Subsequent Assault of the Equally Evil Lunchroom Zombie Nerds) (yes, seriously) and Bridge to Terabithia. Not bad for just over an hour a week.

ReadUP’s research indicates that fourth grade is a turning point in kids’ reading skills. It’s the time when students transition from learning to read to reading to learn. After a year of working with a tutor, it is ReadUP’s goal that the tutee’s reading level come up one grade level. ReadUP is in great need of tutors throughout their target schools; information about participating schools is available at www.ReadUPindy.org.

Persons interested in donating to or tutoring with the ReadUP program are asked to contact Julie Henson, the Americorps Volunteer Coordinator for ReadUP, at 317-925-READ or julie.henson@uwci.org. Learn more about United Way’s programs at www.uwci.org.

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Friday, November 26, 2010

Who you calling a diva?

Posted By on Fri, Nov 26, 2010 at 3:08 PM


When reading some of the guidelines for DivaFest, an annual festival of work by female playwrights, I was reminded of some feedback I got in a fiction writing class a long time ago. Somehow, I had managed to write a short story that featured little more than happy, skipping characters with nary a worried thought in their heads. I was glad for the writing workshop and the chance to make my work better, just as I’m glad to read that DivaFest is a collaborative process for its writers. I’d argue that the best thing you can do for a budding or established artist — aside from commission them to create and sell you something really, really expensive — is to encourage them in their creative process. But don’t forget the cash.

The folks at DivaFest help develop and stage work from new voices and established writers. Beyond actually writing the play, writers learn how to market their shows and work with audiences to get their feedback, among other skills. As frustrating as it can be to head back to the proverbial drawing board, the effort is worth the struggle when it results in something to really be proud of. It helps to put explosions in a piece of writing. Remember action and conflict. Something has to happen in those ten minutes. Problem solved!

Each year, five plays by Indiana women will be presented in the IndyFringe Theatre (719 East St Clair Street). Entrants submit applications for either 10-minute shows or one-hour plays. The festival takes place from March 17 to 20, 2011. For more information about the festival, including links to the applications, visit http://www.indyfringe.org/divafest. Entries are due by January 15.

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Janet Skinner's "Vibrant Views"

Posted By on Fri, Nov 26, 2010 at 2:15 PM

A couple years ago, I visited the IMA and, after walking around a while, found myself sitting in front of a large painting by Seurat. I was absorbing all the details that went into the harbor scene, all too aware of a blazer-clad guard who patrolled the room (lest my grubby fingers try and touch the pointillism, one supposes). Though I'm sure I could have stayed on that bench all day, I eventually moved on, taking my real or imagined cloud of paranoia with me. I like art that makes me think, that makes me want to block out time on my calendar so I can revel in the work being presented. AV Framing Gallery may have afforded me just that opportunity.

Though AV's owner, Sarah Adams, has closed the doors on the gallery's physical location, she is taking her frame shop mobile and her art gallery virtual. The first in what will likely and hopefully be a series of artists' shows is "Vibrant Views," a selection of oil and watercolor paintings by Janet Skinner. The exhibit opened (went live, I suppose) a few days ago and continues through the end of the year. (I like "Bitten," "Hideaway," and "To the Point" the best.) Just as I feel I would miss an actual book in my hands if I had a Kindle, I miss the First Friday sort of feeling with the crush of people holding wine glasses and meandering around a brightly-lit gallery while they take in the art. However, I appreciate the chance to flip back and forth between pictures, admiring details and the artist's color choices, without feeling watched. I hope this venture works out for Adams and artists alike; it's certainly innovative and introduced me to new, affordable work.

Learn more about Skinner's art at http://www.skinnerfineart.com.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

A visit to the International Festival

Posted By on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 at 1:11 PM

The Indy International Festival is flooded with culture and heritage. With the many different countries represented at last weekend’s event at the Indiana State Fairgrounds, it was easy to feel like a happy stranger in a foreign land.

The booths were set up in rows, making it easy to travel miles in mere seconds. Most of the booths were for Asian countries, with other countries thrown in the mix like Mexico, Sweden, Jamaica, Germany and more. Each country had its own way of showing its heritage. Most booths featured tables covered with an assortment of crafted items, whether food, jewelry or trinkets from that country.

There were items that had nothing to do with these cultures, though; hoodies with the Monster energy drink logo, U.S. military logo caps, rings, rosary beads, just to name a few.

The food, in abundance, ran the gamut from Jamaican beef patties and real Italian ice, to tastes of Egypt and China’s buffet. The Wine Garden had a clear view of the stage and featured a wide variety of beers and wines.

Speaking of the stage, I was able to see the Taiko drummers perform some pleasing and pounding music with a variety of drums, Irish river dancers in a synchronized choreography — with a couple mistakes — as well as Japanese fan dancers putting on a delicate show.

Throughout, a Chinese parade meandered the whole pavilion with participants wearing bright yellow and black suits, toting dragon costumes and puppets, and playing numerous instruments.

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Remembering to shop locally

Posted By on Mon, Nov 22, 2010 at 11:03 AM


Given the internet and its open, electronic doors to just about everything in the world, I’m guilty of readily adding items to my Amazon.com wish list instead of, oh, leaving the house and shopping locally. I know, I know — flog at will. The good news is that I’m continually finding out about great places to shop in Indy that keep money in the community and encourage me to go outside on an average Saturday. It means a commitment to wearing pants, but I think I’m up to the challenge.

One of my favorite places is Silver in the City (434 Mass Ave.). I’ve bought a number of presents there for coworkers and family, including a cooking guide with a section on preparing elk. (It was for a hunter; the elk fricassee flambé whatever recipe was a selling point.) I also purchased a teapot that I once gave to a friend with some loose rooibos tea from another local fave, Georgetown Market (4375 Georgetown Road). Silver in the City has sushi sets in elegant designs, candles that smell like a spice store, cloth tote bags, clocks whose numbers have been replaced by mathematical formulas, and photo albums with posed pictures reflecting a Hallmark card life and I have coveted them all. Last year for my birthday, I received a set of bowls that I deemed Too Nice for Cereal. I think it’s time they left their safe, forever home and made friends with my other dishes. How else can I encourage visitors to my home to visit SitC for their own set?

Visit http://shopsilverinthecity.com for a look at the store’s available wares and page through NUVO’s annual Shopping Guide (out on Wednesday) for more ideas about where to shop locally.

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Friday, November 19, 2010

Palladium pianists help premiere new hall

Posted By on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 8:30 AM

It’s been talked about, in the media and out, for months now: its promise for central Indiana lovers of the arts and its financing politics. The Carmel Palladium, the first of its kind in the U.S., is now “in rehearsal.” On Wednesday, Nov. 17, at an early 7 p.m. the American Pianists Association sponsored two of its Classical Fellows, Stephen Beus and Michael Sheppard, and a Jazz Finalist, Zach Lapidus, in a combined classical/jazz piano recital. But the nearly filled main-floor patrons (the Palladium’s upper tiers remain closed at present) were there more to experience the new hall than to hear specific performing artists. (All those I talked to were not Carmel residents; they had made the short trek from Indy.)

From a mix of facts and observations, I offer the following: The Palladium hall, as advertised, is a “true concert hall”; it has no proscenium and no curtains. The huge stage, curving toward the audience in its middle, is the largest I’ve seen locally. It is the only local venue which could conceivably contain Mahler’s monstrous (in terms of player/singer complement) Eighth Symphony, should the ISO or any other major orchestra wish to perform it there. Counting the main floor, the two-tiered rear balcony and the three-tiered side boxes which wrap from the rear all the way past the stage’s front, stopping on each side at a panoply of organ pipes, the Palladium seats 1600. For comparison, Clowes Hall seats a maximum of 2200 and the Hilbert Circle Theatre a maximum of about 1750.

The Palladium. Photo by Douglas Adams Photography
  • The Palladium. Photo by Douglas Adams Photography

There is no carpeting either in the hall or the lobbies; instead the hall presents a very attractive hardwood flooring, in the aisles and under the seats (a pleasant, varnish-like fragrance remains). The beige colored columns supporting the hall on its sides suggest a Greek architectural influence. In the lobbies the columns are almost white by contrast.

The series of Palladium events currently ongoing is primarily for “tuning” the hall acoustically. High above the stage and extending to the third row of main-floor seats (Row C) is the acoustic treatment structure: pipe-like square and rectangular frames supporting movable glass “reflector” panels at varying distances from the stage. Though no tuning was done during the recital, a “measurement” of the piano’s reverberation was presumably taken by an attendant coming onstage with a video screen during the performance. For that piano recital, the hall was too “live,” meaning the reverberation time was too long for a solo piano onstage. A large orchestra in its place would have toned it down. But this is only a present observation — not a judgment. That will come on Jan. 29, and thereafter, when the hall has been optimally tuned — and officially opened.

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Food for thought, indeed: A look at Spirit & Place

Posted By on Fri, Nov 19, 2010 at 8:14 AM


The Spirit & Place Festival has ended for another November and will return in 2011 using “the body” as a theme. I’m already looking forward to the programming, as I often do with Spirit & Place, because I tend to find most of the talks/activities sound really interesting. I lucked out earlier this month with Robert Egger’s talk, have made plans to tour Saraga Market (3605 Commercial Drive) as I wasn’t able to attend Learning About the World at the Grocery Store on November 13, and will soon visit the Stutz Art Space (212 W. 10th Street) to take in Uncovered: Food for Thought.

My goal for this year’s festival was to attend Food, the Psyche, and Wellness, which met on November 11 at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Indianapolis (615 West 43rd Street). The promise of a panel discussion with artists and eating disorder professionals sounded so arty and healing in my head. In reality, I felt like I was at an academic conference — one presenter read from his paper and another read her PowerPoint slides to the crowd, including one that asserted that “No one WANTS to be fat!” Suffice it to say, I didn’t feel as enlightened as I hoped I might after the program ended.

I did enjoy, however, the artwork that poet and art therapist Liza Hyatt shared with the audience. The slides she presented came from a client who was struggling with anorexia and bulimia. The work began to reveal the deep pain behind one woman’s struggle with her eating disorder; of all that I had imagined would happen during the evening, a glimpse into someone’s journey towards wellness through art was what I was looking for.

Follow Spirit & Place at http://www.spiritandplace.org.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Indy LGBT Film Fest celebrates its tenth year of screening quality queer cinema

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 5:51 PM

Une lapine lesbienne
  • Une lapine lesbienne

The best thing I’ve learned from movies I’ve recently attended, including this past weekend’s celebration of queer cinema at the Indianapolis LGBT Film Festival, is that a great film doesn’t have to be more than a few minutes long. What might seem impossible to say with few words (scenes, action, costume changes, etc.) isn’t.

The films screened at The Toby at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (4000 Michigan Road) and the IUPUI Campus Center (420 University Boulevard). My favorite short of the weekend was "The Girl Bunnies," a stop-animation film about two female bunnies who write letters to one another via typewriter, quickly fall in love, and adopt chicken eggs to raise as their family. It might sound silly, but it’s ridiculously cute and hasn’t been far from my mind since I saw it. My other favorite was the feature-length opening night film, "Violet Tendencies." Violet, played by Mindy Cohn (known formerly as Natalie on “Facts of Life”) searches for a love that ends up being right in front of her. To get a smidge sappy, it was a nice reminder that love is all around us in many forms and no matter your label — gay, straight, bi, trans, questioning, bunny — we all want it. /violinsandmoodlighting

If you missed Indy’s festival, head for Bloomington in January. The annual PRIDE Film Festival will take place from January 27 to 29 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater (114 East Kirkwood Avenue). The schedule of films is currently being decided; check http://www.pridefilmfestival.org for more information.

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Tokyo String Quartet opens two series

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 1:31 PM

Ensemble Music Series
IVCI Laureate Series

3 1/2 stars

UIndy Christel DeHaan Center
Nov. 10

In this era of a depressed economy, it clearly helps, costing less, for two music series to sponsor one concert. So what better way to bring about the awaited return of the highly acclaimed, 40-year-old Tokyo String Quartet? The International Violin Competition of Indianapolis, fresh from conducting its two-week Eighth Quadrennial marathon in Sept., joined with Ensemble Music on Wednesday evening, opening both the former’s Laureate series and the latter’s touring chamber series. Only two native Japanese players remain on the quartet’s roster, second violinist Kikuei Ikeda and violist Kazuhide Isomura. The “Laureate” connection is furnished by Canadian first violinist Martin Beaver, sixth-place laureate in the 1990 competition. Cellist Clive Greensmith, a Briton, completes the ensemble.

The Tokyo provided a program of lovely quartet music, with the short cacophony of a nearly 100-year-old serial work by Anton Webern thrown in. But there were two Webern works played; the first one, Langsamer Satz (“Slow Movement,” 1905) — an epitome of lovely, lyric, tonal post-Romanticism — would be enjoyed by anyone. Whereas his ensuing Six Bagatelles for String Quartet, Op. 9 (1913) produced a number of shrugged shoulders from perplexed patrons who “didn’t get” it. One of the earliest 12-tone efforts from the Second Viennese School, the six pieces were merciful in their brevity, each lasting less than a minute, some just a few seconds. For those attempting to justify these notes leapfrogging every which way, face it: The emperor IS naked, and this music must be studied by score readers before it can begin to have meaning. A listening audience just doesn’t respond (despite their polite applause), and I’m one of them.

Our players fell short of their vaunted reputation only in their opener (not the first time that has happened): Mozart’s Quartet No. 21 in D, K. 575, the first of his final three dedicated to the King of Prussia. Taken more as a rapid run-through, the beauties inherent in this late work seemed glossed over, the Tokyo lacking a coherent, balanced delivery. Some of Beaver’s notes were inaudible as though all performers feared opening up to the “forte” sections.

But with the ensuing Langsamer Satz, the group transformed into a cohesive, balanced, strongly projecting ensemble, making one wish Webern had stayed with this early style — whereby he could have had an audience as well as musicians and music majors. But he didn’t and the Six Bagatelles resulted, along with many ensuing works remaining incomprehensible.

The Tokyo players capped the evening with the last, and finest, of Robert Schumann’s three string quartets, that in A, Op. 41 No. 3. From its beginning “sighing” motive (likely inspired by the identical opening of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata in E-flat, Op. 31 No. 3) through two middle movements to its lively rondo Finale, we heard the best of what is “Schumannesque,” played as a perfectly matched ensemble.

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Vonnegut Library takes flight

Posted By on Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 12:58 PM

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CHAIRish the Children auction

Posted By on Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 4:11 PM

The Herron School of Art and Design has turned thirty-one chairs into different works of art for the annual "CHAIRish The Children" Auction. Starting back in 2002, students from Herron have used their creativity and imagination to transform children and adult chairs into works of art to be auctioned off to benefit abused Indiana children. As a bonus, Donald Brown, running back for the Indianapolis Colts, will be attending the event as this year’s honorary chair and will be a special guest. The chairs will be on display at the Artsgarden and available for bidding online now through Nov. 18 at www.villageskids.org. The auction and reception will take place during the “CHAIRish The Children” event at the Indianapolis Artsgarden (110 W. Washington St.) Friday, Nov. 19 from 6- 9 p.m. For more 273-7575 or visit www.villageskids.org or www.pcain.org or www.herron.iupui.edu.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Submissions now open for The Indianapolis International Film Festival

Posted By on Mon, Nov 15, 2010 at 2:36 PM

One more reason why it’s cool to live in Indiana — submissions are now open for the 2011 Indianapolis International Film Festival, hosted July 14 - 24 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. No matter if you’re an amateur, an Oscar award winner, a B-movie horror director, or a rom-com producer—you’re invited to submit your work to this annual event in the Indy arts scene.

Submission fees have been lowered this year, in an obvious attempt to make getting your work out into the cosmic void more affordable. Key deadlines in submitting are:

• Early Deadline: January 1; $25 fee
• Regular Deadline: March 1; $30 fee
• Late Deadline: March 15; $40 fee

Feature length films in any category are eligible for the festival's $1,000 Grand Jury prize—the 2010 Grand Jury Prize winning film was Michael Weithorn's A Little Help, starring Jenna Fischer. Other films featured in 2010 include Academy Award-winning short film The New Tenants and opening night film Barry Munday, which hit theaters this October. Films interested in submitting must utilize Withoutabox.com (http://www.withoutabox.com/login/4101), an online tool that connects festivals and filmmakers.

Craig Mince, the Indy Film Fest President, said of the open submissions, "This is going to be a very exciting year for the festival and for our audience. There are so many great films and filmmakers that we want the people of Indiana to experience, so we are making it more affordable than ever to submit a film this year."

Films chosen for the 2011 festival will be featured in three major categories:
• American Spectrum, celebrating the best in American cinema. Films must be produced or co-produced by at least one (1) U.S. citizen.
• World Cinema, recognizing the best in international works. These films may be co-produced by a U.S. citizen(s) but at least one (1) producer must be a citizen of a nation other than the U.S.
• Matter of Fact, reserved for thought-provoking documentary filmmaking from the U.S. or around the world.

Lisa Trifone, the Festival Managing Director, notes that "we're evolving as a festival, and this year we want to push the envelope. After seven successful years, we've proven ourselves to be a viable film festival in Indianapolis where filmmakers are eager to feature their work."

In addition to seeking films for submission, the festival is also accepting applications for the Screening Committee now through Dec. 1. If you’re interested in volunteering or supporting the Indy Film Fest, you can contact the festival at info@indyfilmfest.org.

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