It’s no surprise that the brand new Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library was packed on Saturday afternoon, Jan. 29. Covered with Vonnegut quotes, pictures of and by the man and various relics from the author’s past, the library is a well-deserved shrine that any Vonnegut fan will enjoy the moment they enter. (See the Slideshow at the bottom of the post for images from the day!)
Julia Whitehead, executive director of the library, was almost impossible to catch up with, as she flitted from one person to the next, answering questions and making sure everyone was enjoying themselves.
“It’s wonderful to know our efforts have created a place people appreciate,” she told me. “I hope Vonnegut would have been honored.”
She added that the people who came and were interested in the library seemed to share very similar interests, about helping the environment, helping their fellow man, and that she was glad the event was a way to both “honor Kurt and share ideas.”
“All of this brings back a lot of memories,” said one attendee, Marian Towne, as she surveyed the specific collection of relics that inspired Slaughterhouse-Five. She recalled for me her move to Indiana in 1975 and the discovery that this was Vonnegut’s place of birth.
The opening ceremony was just the beginning. A gala is being planned for April 16, and Whitehead and others are already planning an epic birthday celebration on Nov. 11 for Vonnegut. Not to mention, they’ve already started an outreach program with Shortridge High School, both Vonnegut’s alma mater and very much underfunded. A grant has already been given for the school to start their own newspaper.
It may not be as large and impressive as the downtown public library, but the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library is an essential destination Vonnegut fans to remember the genius who once graced this city and continue his legacy.
(Slideshow) Vonnegut Library Opening
Saturday was the official opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library, which started with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and went on to include speeches from Vonnegut's lifelong friends, a book signing and musical performances.
(Slideshow) Carmel Palladium Opening
The Carmel Palladium hosted their opening gala on Jan. 29 with the help of celebrity guests Chris Botti, Dionne Warwick, Neil Sekada, Cheyenne Jackson, and Michael Feinstein.
When Steven Stolen sent us word a couple weeks ago that he was performing Elvis Costello’s Juliet Letters, I just about fell out of my chair. I adore that composition by Costello, who worked with Brodsky Quartet in its creation. The fact that one of the best vocal artists in the city is tackling this complex, evocative work means a great deal to me. It’s a free show, too, presented Sunday at 4 p.m. at Trinity Church at 33rd and Meridian. Check out the interview with Stolen by Rita Kohn as well as the event information.
We’re also excited this week about the opening of Art and Soul 2011, the annual event that showcases extraordinary African-American artists. We’re so excited in fact, that next week, check out our cover story about Art and Soul visual artist, Lobyn Hamilton. The artwork and live performances go on all month long in the Artsgarden, so check out our coverage all month.
Also of empyrean interest this week is the opening of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library. The still extraordinarily-popular Indiana native author is honored with this library, just shy of four years after his death. So it… you know. There’s lots of fun in store on Saturday, from 12-5 p.m.
The popular Paul Mecurio returns to Indy, performing at Crackers in Broad Ripple through Saturday night. He used to be a Wall Street lawyer who did stand-up at night then left the lawyer biz for a career in stand-up. If you don’t like it, he can sue you! Mecurio has worked on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and has been featured on Comedy Central many times.
Speaking of funny, you must go to IndyFringe this weekend to see Screwged, featuring entertainment legend Wayburn Sassy and his vixen girlfriend Miss Didi Panache in a struggle between holiday spirit and old-man grumpiness. Wayburn and Didi wowed Fringe fest-goers last year — people LOVED them, I’m sayin’ and I hung out with the two, and they never broke character the entire time, on stage and off. They’re teamed up with Paul Strickland in a double bill, so you’ve got plenty of Fringe fun awaiting you.
The Palladium gets super-red-carpet fancy at their continuing festivities, celebrating the opening of the Center for Performing Arts in Carmel. The bigwigs come out on Saturday, from Chris Botti to Dionne Warwick to Neil Sekada to Cheyenne Jackson. Lots of performance, then you can do a pubcrawl inside, since there are five nightclubs housed within the Palladium roof. Five nightclubs!
We’ve got a lot of film festival action this weekend, too, from Shorts In January, a back-to-back screening of four films from three Indiana-based filmmakers: Josh Etter, Matthew Beikes and Joe Leavell. Then there’s the LGBT PRIDE fest in Bloomington, featuring Closing night party where erotic attire is encouraged.
This town is getting so busy these days with events, even on a Monday, you’ll have a bit of a conflict, since bicycles and literature go together so well:
Michael Dahlie is Butler’s first Booth Tarkington Writer-in-Residence. In addition to that, he recently won the Whiting Writers Award, a $50,000 prize that recognizes 10 young writers each year for their extraordinary talent and promise. And his novel, A Gentleman’s Guide to Graceful Living, won the prestigious PEN/Hemingway Award in 2009. Holy shit is this guy heralded or what? So you’ll probably want to see what all the accolades are about and attend his reading.
The other Monday movie event is Ride the Divide, about The Tour Divide, which traverses over 2,700 miles along the Continental Divide, is considered to be the most extreme bike race on the planet. You can watch the film with all your biking buddies.
Speaking of film, I’d be remiss if I did not mention Peter Weir’s The Way Back, which I stumbled onto this past weekend, when I was going-and-doing myself. Check out my review.
Gotta mention this as well: Continuing on stage this week is the IRT’s Diary of Anne Frank. Our reviewer, Josefa Beyer gave it a whopping 4.5 stars. Check out her review.
See you out there!
(Slideshow) Go & Do: your arts weekend, Jan. 28-31
Art, soul, bicycles and Elvis Costello, what more could you ask for, especially in the proverbial dead of winter?
IU Auditorium, Bloomington
For decades the Cleveland Orchestra (not the “Cleveland Symphony,” nor does the orchestra use an acronym) has been viewed as among the top five orchestras in the U.S. The late George Szell was credited with bringing the orchestra to its present stature, having been its longest music director (1946 — 1970) among the seven since its founding in 1918. Moreover, when Szell assumed his position, Cleveland was the sixth largest city in the country, just below Los Angeles in city population.
Things changed radically for Ohio’s largest city in the 20th century’s latter half; it not only lost far more than half its city population to surrounding suburbs, but its entire metropolitan area failed to grow along with most other population centers, much of its manufacturing base having moved elsewhere. Cleveland’s metropolitan area population now ranks it at 26th in the country while Cincinnati’s is at 24th, making the latter No. 1 in Ohio. For comparison, Indianapolis is at 34th and Columbus (Oh) is at 32nd (city-limit populations skew the results, putting Indy far higher than it should be when considering the larger community it can draw from — and making Columbus Ohio’s “largest” city).
The point of this population diatribe is its effect on the Cleveland Orchestra’s drawing power and donor support. It still maintains its world-class status and strongly desires to keep it, but it has suffered perhaps more than its share of financial setbacks, especially since our 2008 economy meltdown. For example, a strike a year ago — fortunately quickly settled — prevented the orchestra from its planned IU residency. Its appearance this Jan. 24-26 came from last year’s rescheduling — a most fortunate event for IU and those of us able to make the drive to Bloomington.
The orchestra’s current music director is Franz Welser-Möst, who in his nine years with the group has once again raised its stature as a world touring/residency ensemble. He brought his players to IU with selections designed to show off their prowess — and the artistry of guest pianist, Pierre-Laurent Aimard. The program: Wagner’s Overture to Tannhäuser, Béla Bartók’s Piano Concerto No. 2 and Richard Strauss’ behemothic tone poem Ein Heldenleben (“A Hero’s Life”). Let’s start with Möst’s podium work:
I felt that the Tannhäuser Overture — with Wagner’s “Pilgrim’s Chorus” book ending the piece, making its use excessive — was taken too slowly and without any real verve, especially the central “Venusberg” section. On the other hand, Möst had the proper measure of the Bartók and Heldenleben, imparting much energy to the orchestra in both. Aimard sailed through the concerto’s monumentally difficult piano part in complete harmony with his colleagues without missing a beat (or perhaps even a note). Compared with many other conductors, Möst employs an economy of arm motion, keeping an easy-to-read beat while not signaling all entrances, — and not needing to.
As for the orchestra itself, it remains the gem I hear from it on so many (mostly Szell) recordings: its violin section projecting a golden sheen and a bigger sound than I’m used to. With Heldenleben especially, I heard its six sections while anticipating that all ensembles would enter right on cue, with beguiling sweetness or crashingly rapid figurations, as the moment demanded — and I was never disappointed. Special merit goes to Cleveland concertmaster William Preucil for his outstanding solo work in “The Hero’s Companion” section. Ohio’s now second largest city still possesses a world-class orchestra.
But there remain a few caveats, perhaps mostly to do with the IU Auditorium venue. Compared with what I’m used to here — both at the Circle Theatre and Clowes Hall, the Cleveland had difficulty getting its big sound offstage, its overall decibels reaching my ears (and I was sitting in the main floor’s front tier) being notably diminished. In fact, the cello section, sandwiched between the second violins on the far right and the violas in the center-left, was sometimes inaudible, and always too soft. At the opening of the Bartók slow movement, the entire orchestra was barely audible, until Aimard made his piano entrance. Though the Auditorium is quite large, seating around 2700, its acoustic was nearly non-resonant, with its hall packed to being nearly sold out. Perhaps the stage layout Möst used works well at his orchestra’s home venue, Cleveland’s Severance Hall.
I point all this out to prepare local symphony-goers for the Cleveland Orchestra’s scheduled concert appearance at the Carmel Palladium on Sunday, May 22 at 3 p.m. From all indications, the Palladium’s acoustics are likely to flatter the orchestra. Order your tickets early.
Franklin’s Artcraft Theater, one of Indiana’s oldest picture-show gems, will soon be spinning its reels in the name of local film. On Saturday, Jan. 29, the historic theater will host Shorts In January, a back-to-back screening of four films from three Indiana-based filmmakers, presented by 3Wizemen Productions.
When asked about the status quo of local indie films in general, Corey Miller, the director of Shorts In January and an affiliate of 3Wizemen Productions says, “I feel very hopeful about it. I think we have a community of people who are very supportive of our local events, musicians, and artists.
“The beauty of this collaboration in filmmaking is that it draws together not only the communities of the Franklin area, but the communities and supporters of the filmmakers, and cast and crew of each of the films involved.”
Left For Dead, written and directed by Franklin, Indiana native Josh Etter, is the story of three college friends who are traveling cross country while being stalked by a psychopath due to a case of mistaken identity. Produced and filmed in Franklin and Bean Blossom areas, Left For Dead stars Kevin Grow, Matthew Allen, Annie Lamoureux, Brad Ebach and George Duffey. The film features original music from professional composer and educator Virgil Franklin, and two local Indianapolis bands, New Addiction and Eyes on Fire.
The Date, directed by Indianapolis local Matthew Beikes, stars Rhonda Tinch-Mize and Raymond Kester. A woman in the latest string of very bad dates suddenly finds herself re-examining what she thought she knew about relationships.
Das Spiel, also directed by Matthew Beikes, stars Don Becker and Rick Bittle. Two men are on a dangerous chase through busy downtown streets.
In The Deathroom, directed by Greenwood native Joe Leavell, stars Chris Spurgin as an American reporter who realizes, after being captured by a South American government, that his captors do not let him plan to leave. Based on the short story by Stephen King.
The doors to Shorts In January will open at 6:30 pm with the show starting at 7:00 pm. $5 covers your admission to the whole shebang. For more information, visit www.3wizemenproductions.com
To list the great films by Peter Weir is a boggling enterprise. He first came onto my personal radar as an art-film maker, a la Picnic at Hanging Rock and The Last Wave, movies I saw in my own personal coming-of-age in college.
He’s gone on to make a dozen or more films to critical acclaim, like Dead Poets Society, Witness and the entertaining but fatally-flawed The Truman Show. And then, of course there’s the heart-breaking Gallipoli, which I somehow did not manage to see until the summer of 2008, 27 years after its release.
His most recent film, released in 2003, was Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, starred Russell Crowe.
So it’s been seven years or more, and suddenly a new film by Weir has sneaked its way onto local screens.
Released in 2010, and just now showing (and probably not for long, given the paucity of movie-goers the night I attended), The Way Back tells the “inspired by true events” tale of a group of prisoners who escape from a Siberia gulag during WWII — and walk 4000 miles to freedom.
You read that right: 4000 miles.
I knew nothing about the film, save for the fact that it starred Colin Farrell and Ed Harris, which is usually a pretty good indication of watchability. And the film does not disappoint; in fact it’s enthralling. Now, it befuddles at times: the escape from the gulag is confusing; and a pivotal scene toward the end concerning the make-up of the escapees is botched, and there’s the necessarily-hasty march-thru-time passage at the end, so it’s not a perfect film by any means.
But it is essential viewing, whether you’re a Weir fan, a WWII enthusiast or simply following the extraordinary careers of Harris or Farrell or, in the lead role, Jim Sturgess.
Colin Farrell is mighty good in this film, his best performance since the under-appreciated In Bruges. He plays Valka, a criminal who ends up the gulag in Siberia, despite his tattooed support of Lenin and Stalin. He’s as menacing a character as he’s ever played, and keeps the tension of the film going, even as the “good guys” have made their escape and are facing the “bad guys” of 4000 miles of inhospitable landscapes.
Ed Harris is brilliant as well, playing an American imprisoned by the Russians, because they “don’t like foreigners.” He’s an outcast, being the only American, and watching his growing bond with the Poles (led by Jim Sturgess in a starring role) is touching to behold.
Sturgess is terrific; my first encounter with his talent. I in fact thought Weir, who plays on such a global scale as a director, had simply found one of Poland’s most accomplished actors for the key performance. Sturgess is indeed a Brit, who’s starred in Across the Universe and 21.
And then there’s Saoirse Ronan (Atonement, The Lovely Bones), who stars as the Polish girl, Irena, whom the escaping men find along their way. Irena ends up tying the desperate men together into a community by getting them to share their personal narratives. As the movie unfolds, it does so more deeply, because of Irena, and how she causes the men to become more deeply involved with each other.
The journey takes a toll on them all, especially Irena. In fact, this film has to have employed the most expert make up artists in the business. The trek across the desert is mesmerizing and painful — and due to the realism of the make-up, not a little horrifying.
The Way Back is a stark reminder of a totalitarian time in our recent history, where millions were imprisoned, murdered, ripped from their everyday world. It’s a tale, too, of courage and perseverance, as inspiring as anything you’ll see this season.Check local showtimes using the movie listings search or by clicking here.
Here it is still just January, and we’re already bursting at the proverbial seams with stuff to do. Sure, it’s the Palladium’s fault, but IndyFringe is swinging into high gear, as well as the theater season in general.
This is the Grand Opening Week for the Center for the Performing Arts and if you haven’t heard about this ramshackle, economically-challenged little burg north of Indianapolis called “Carmel,” it’s time you paid it a visit — the new center is a great motivation to do so. We promise this will be a fun series of events, beginning with a ribbon cutting ceremony on Saturday, Jan. 22 and culminating with a Classical Concert on Jan. 30.
David Hoppe interviewed the Center’s Artistic Director, Michael Feinstein, and you can check it out.
Here’s a run down of what’s a-happening this weekend.
Ribbon cutting — Saturday, Jan. 22; 11 a.m. — 12:20 p.m.; don’t bring your own scissors, because they will have one on hand. Ribbon cutting is followed by the first public performance to take place on the Palladium stage: Carmel Brass will present a free concert. Next, from 1-6 p.m., the Community Day extravaganza will present local music and dance groups on the Palladium stage.
A free Open House happens the next day, from 11 a.m. — 6 p.m., featuring tours of the Palladium and performances by Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre, New World Youth Orchestra, the CSO String Quartet, Indiana University Jazz Group and the Purdue University Glee Club.
If we tell you now what’s happening the following week (Jan. 29 and 30), it would ruin your new year’s resolution to “be here now.” Check out our coverage next week for those la-la gala events.
Speaking of the Center for Performing Arts, the now century-old Civic Theatre will EVENTUALLY be moving to their new home, The Tarkington Theater at the Palladium, but for now, they are continuing to perform at their theater on the campus of Marian College, where they will present The Last Night of Ballyhoo (written by the great Alfred Uhry, author of Driving Miss Daisy), a 1997 Tony Award-winning play, opening Friday, Jan. 1.
Speaking of theater, Wendy Kesselman’s new adaptation of The Diary of Anne Frank, coming to the Indiana Repertory Theatre. In the title role of Anne Frank is Chicago-based Rebecca Buller, whose impressive experience as an actress includes: The Seagull at the Goodman Theatre; All My Sons and Dolly West's Kitchen at Timeline Theatre Company; The Cherry Orchard at Strawdog Theatre Company. The production opens on Friday, Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m. We’ll have a review for you next week.
Speaking of stuff that happens on stage (yeah, I know I’m stretching the “speaking-of” conceit here): IndyFringe is presenting its first annual Winter Magic Festival, in conjunction with Taylor Martin’s Indy Magic Monthly. This weekend, five enchanting and enchanted acts will grace the Fringe stage, starting with veteran legend Robert Sode’s A Touch of Magic at 6 p.m. Surreality, a show by magician/humorist Barry Rice, follows at 7:30, leading into 9 p.m.’s Random Amazingness with 21-year-old up-and-comer TRIGG. Evansville, IN native Brandon Bagget, a comedy illusionist, rounds out the evening at 10 p.m. The Keepers of Magic, a Kentucky-based group of tricksters will get your Saturday afternoon started at 1:30; encores of all the acts will continue throughout the weekend. Kid friendly!
Sticking with the performing arts, the beloved Andre Watts returns to the Hilbert Circle Theatre to play his signature work — Beethoven’s “Emperor” Concerto. After intermission, Carlo Rizzi will lead the Orchestra through a performance of Berlioz's “Symphonie fantastique,” the wildest trip in all of music. You can see these performances Friday, Jan. 21 and Saturday, Jan. 22 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $33-75.
Also on stage this week is Winterreise, which classical music reviewer Tom Aldridge has pronounced to me a dozen times and I still can’t quite get it. Vin-ter-REE-zay? Butler music faculty Kyle Ferrill and Kate Boyd will present Schubert’s final masterpiece, Winterreise, which translates to mean “winter journey.” Good timing, eh? The performance takes place at Eidson-Duckwall Recital Hall on the campus of Butler University (4600 Sunset Ave.) Admission to the event is free.
When it comes to the visual arts, we are starting to gear up for the best First Friday ever! (I’m just engaging in hyperbole here.) Really, it’s going to rock! (It probably will.) But in the meantime, we have lots of great exhibits up and running, including this new one where local painter Wiley E. Dummich will lead a tour of his abstract colorist work at 1:30 p.m. this Sunday, Jan. 23, in the lobby of Clowes Hall. His work, on display through Feb. 11, is featured as part of Art @ Clowes, a rotating exhibit that features works by Hoosier artists. The shows, including the tour in question, are free and open to the public during regular business hours, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Finally, and this the forbidden part: The Herron School of Art and Design's Basile Gallery will feature filmmaker and activist David Wojnarowicz’s controversial film A Fire in My Belly on continuous loop from Jan. 21 through Feb. 5. The 1980s film was created as a reaction to the death of Wojnarowicz’s lover due to AIDS. The film features the image of ants crawling over a crucifix, a scene that had been used in a Smithsonian exhibit called "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture," which dealt with culturally challenging images. The scene had been removed as part of complaints on the part of the Catholic League. Herron is displaying the video to allow student and community members the opportunity to connect with the work and stimulate discussion in the arts community.
Go on, don’t let the cold keep you home. See you out there.
(Slideshow) Your A&E weekend, Jan. 21-223
See something new, something magic and something forbidden this weekend.
Straight out of Bloomington, Indiana, the PRIDE Film Festival will present its 8th annual cinematic celebration of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered communities at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater, Jan. 27 — 30.
Every year, PRIDE extends a motley collection of programs for anyone interested, be they bi-curious film buffs or arrow-straight passersby who can’t resist the fun. Live performances, lectures, public participation events, and films — all in the name of acceptance, awareness, and an appreciation of diversity. The goal here is celebration — of art, of culture, and of community.
Danielle McClelland, Executive Director of the Buskirk-Chumley says of the festival, “PRIDE is important because it simultaneously helps people in the audience and on the Steering Committee gain a stronger sense of identity and makes the legitimacy of that identity more visible to the rest of the community.
“I thought from the beginning that the film festival concept would work well to bring together Bloomington residents and students, who each have thriving gay, trans, lesbian, and bi-sexual/queer communities, but who didn't seem to cross-over very often, and rarely seemed to me to come together to ‘build’ something as an ongoing project.”
The theme of this year’s film fest is LBGT life, energy, and family.
This year’s highlights include:
The PRIDE Video Shoot Out, which invites area filmmakers to film and cut thematic shorts during a weeklong production period, all having a common line of dialogue and prop. These shorts will be screened on opening night.
Closing night party — Erotic Attire Encouraged — The LGBT event of the year, this extravaganza transforms the Buskirk-Chumley Theater and the street in front into a club atmosphere that would make big cities jealous.
Pre-Festival events including a screening of 8: The Mormon Proposition on Jan 10 at the Unitarian Universalist Church; the 1920 silent cross-dressing film Hamlet on Jan 23, shown with live musical accompaniment at the new IU Cinema; and the documentary Stonewall Uprising shown free on campus at Indiana University.
IU GLBT Alumni Association Homecoming Events organized around the Festival provide an entire weekend of socializing for local and returning alumni from all over the nation.
Here are some synopses of just a few of this year’s films:
Bloomington (USA, 83 min.)—A coming-of-age drama about a former child actress attending college who ends up becoming romantically involved with a female professor. Their relationship thrives until an opportunity to return to acting forces her to make life-altering decisions.
Remember Me In Red (Mexico, 16 min.)—Emotions run high as Fidelia arranges her best friend Alma’s funeral only to have Alma’s parents arrive from Mexico and insist that their son be buried as male. Alma’s friends pull together to honor both the parents’ wishes and those of Alma herself.
My Name Is Love (Sweden, 20 min.)—Love and Sebastian meet each other by coincidence on a romantic Swedish summer night. Because of their shared secrets, an innocent flirt soon turns in to a dangerous liaison.
Hammerhead (England, 14 min.)—Oddball Boris tries to reunite his parents on a shark-spotting trip off the North Yorkshire coast, but his biggest enemy, his mother’s girlfriend Lilah, is along for the ride.
What better place to be on a cold Saturday morning, than to build a snow labyrinth beneath the site-specific sculpture, Team Building (Align), at the 100 Acres: Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park. From 10 a.m. to around noon, about sixty of us packed snow into plastic receptacles, creating blocks of snow to use to erect the walls.
Conceived by Heidi Fledderjohn, Anne Laker (of the IMA) and Tom Streit, the morning was an experiment of sorts, as there was no hard and fast approach to building the wall — as the organizers were a bit surprised at the paucity of snow. However, with clever strategies concocted, the labyrinth was finished by noon.
That above it hangs a sculpture called Team Building”\ was entirely appropriate. Note that the shadow cast by the two rings become one during the summer solstice.
Laker, Streit and Fledderjohn invite you all to visit, walk the labyrinth, and think up your own fun ways to celebrate winter, rather than hide from it, indoors.
(Slideshow) 100 Acres snow sculpture
On Saturday morning about five dozen folks collaborated on a snow labyrinth in the Art and Nature Park.
Other Glee-ful winners were Jane Lynch, Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the now-iconic Sue Sylvester. "I am nothing if not falsely humble," Lynch said as part of her acceptance speech, which also included a thank you to the writer who created the character and writes all of her lines. Lynch said she no had no intentions of giving him the award, however.
Best Supporting Actor accolades went to Chris Colfer in his role as Kurt, a high-school student who has been the victim of bullying through much of this past season.
If you've never seen the show (or even if you have) here's a video of Murphy breaking it down:
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, DJs + Dancing, Rock, Hip-hop
[A+E] Sports + Recreation
[A+E] Sports + Recreation
[A+E] Visual Arts + Museums
[A+E] Written + Spoken Word, Current Events