We have to lead off this weekend’s A&E top picks with an incredible show at the IMA: Hard Truths: The Art of Thornton Dial. This massive exhibit looks to be as compelling as last fall’s Andy Warhol show, and David Hoppe’s feature on it seals the deal for me. In it, he quotes from the curator of the show, Joanne Cubb: “They’re epic in their size, but also in what they offer. This incredible, dark beauty. This incredible mystery. Both a physical engagement and an emotional and conceptual one.” Dial’s history is fascinating. Born in rural Alabama in 1928, he spent a large portion of his life working as a welder, helping to make railroad cars for the Pullman Standard Company. This one’s sure gonna be something, folks.
For your stipend of laughs this week, you’ll want to make sure you see Jennifer Coolidge — Stifler’s mom from the American Pie movies, Paulette the beautician in Legally Blonde and its sequel or any number of hilarious characters in Christopher Guest’s movies, including Best in Show and A Mighty Wind. But she’s also Jennifer Coolidge: Standup Comic, and she’s in the midst of her first U.S. tour, appearing at Crackers, Thursday — Saturday. Read Marc Allan’s interview with her.
For even MORE laughs, you’ll want to attend the fourth annual Laff-a-Thon. For twelve hours, expect to be at the mercy of Indyprov, the local Emmy-nominated improv troupe, and the hilariots (yes, I made up that word just now) from ComedySportz, as they strive to keep you entertained. Each hour supports a different cause, from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation to the National MS Society.
The Red/Black exhibit at the Eiteljorg is getting rave attention here at NUVO as well as elsewhere, but another museum show has opened up that seems just as significant: You are There 1968: Robert F. Kennedy Speaks at the Indiana Historical Society. With new hologram technology that no other museum in the country has, the IHS will make you feel as if you are living in 1968, with actors portraying RFK as well as a few supporters. The historical moment explored is one of huge, national import: Robert F. Kennedy was here in Indy April 4, 1968, expected to make a campaign speech. Instead he had to share the devastating news that Martin Luther King Jr. had just been assassinated.
On stage, opening Friday is diaspora, by Half/Black Productions, adapted from poet Saul Williams’ “The Dead Emcee Scrolls,” a work that explores the life of a forgotten man. The show stars Jonah Winston — who is sure to be a powerful presence on the IndyFringe stage.
Speaking of Butler, Butler Ballet's annual Midwinter Dance Festival, Friday and Saturday, will feature Balanchine's Walpurgisnacht Ballet, originally performed by the New York City Ballet in 1980. Plus, five other pieces choreographed by Butler's own dance faculty will be featured, including a piece honoring the Indonesian tsunami victims by Susan McGuire and a piece by Marek Cholewa based on tales from India.
Want more dance? Cultural Explosion Dance Company's Broadway Goes Latin is coming to Indianapolis for one night only, presented by IntoSalsa. The program uses popular Broadway scenes and recreates them with a Latin theme. Musical numbers have been borrowed from West Side Story, Chicago, Dirty Dancing, Stomp, Big Spender and Grease. After-party is at El Meson Mexican Restaurant.
We love the Cabaret at the Columbia Club ‘cause it’s all swanky and cool, and top performers from across the country come visit. On Friday and Saturday, the “Queen of Cabaret,” Andrea Marcovicci, will pay tribute to the likes of Audrey Hepburn and Bing Crosby by singing their most famous silver screen hits — yup, just in time for Oscars weekend.
Speaking of, check out Ed Johnson-Ott’s Oscar predictions as well as local Oscar parties for your pleasure.
Yet another charity event this week: the annual Pack the House, wherein our resident USHL team, the Indiana Ice, takes on a competitor, in this case, the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Don’t miss Joe O’Gara’s story on the Ice’s Blake Coleman, who just may end up with the league’s scoring title this year.
If you’re hankering to join the Polar Bear Club, this event is good training — and good civic involvement: Polar Plunge at Eagle Creek Reservoir. The annual event raises funds for Special Olympics, and if you aren’t brave enough to jump into the water, you can always whip up the courage to go to the After Splash Bash at the Pike Freshman Center.
Finally, you know I’m excited about this one. Health by Design has invited Mia Birk, former Bicycle Coordinator of Portland, Ore., one of the country’s most pedestrian- and bike-friendly cities. Birk will talk about the bicycle lessons learned in Portland in two appearances on Monday. Plus she’s hawking her book Joyride, subtitled “Pedaling Toward a Healthier Planet,” something I do every day.
And... next weekend is First Friday — be forewarned!
See you out there.
(Slideshow) Your Go&Do Weekend 2-25
From a plunge in Eagle Creek to a new, epic exhibit at the IMA, you've lots to do this weekend.
Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow
Step right up to meet Penguin Boy, Jellyboy the Clown and the World's Strangest Strongman, all members of the Squidling Brothers Sideshow, which stopped by White Rabbit Tuesday night.
The 23rd annual Meet the Artists exhibit, a display of works created by locally prominent African-American artists, is on display at the Central Library now through March 26.
Curated by Anthony Radford, the exhibit is in honor of Black History month and includes works from a variety of artistic mediums including sculpture, woodcut prints and jewelry.
"The inspiration first came from an exhibit I saw 23 years ago by Jim Halliday," Radford explained. "At that time i was just getting my feet wet [in the arts world] and when I saw his work it really inspired me and impressed me."
Radford took this inspiration and transformed it into what is now an annual mecca for African American artists who were looking for a place to show their art.
It's a novel opportunity for the community since there are not any African American galleries or museums in Indianapolis, Radford noted.
This year's exhibit showcases works from artists such as Deloris Drane, Angela Fisher, Onye Ndika, Eric Shelton, Gevoris McCray and Radford himself.
Other pieces on display are contributions from Indianapolis youth, including the "Creative Mask" and a student writing display titled "In Their Own Words." All of these pieces can be enjoyed free of charge during the Central Library's regular hours of service.
On Saturday, Feb. 19, Indianapolis has the opportunity to mingle with the artists and enjoy a taste of the cultural entertainment the city has to offer at the Meet the Artists Gala Reception, which starts at 5:45 and last until 10 p.m.
In celebration of the event the Griot Drum Ensemble; Fighting Words Poetry; illusionist and magician Walter King, Jr. and the Nu Soul Theory Band will be performing.
Other highlights on the event include the chance to meet and greet with authors Paula Kuria, Aminah Iman, Al Smith and Alicia Fleming, who will be signing and selling their works. Portrait artist Glenn L. Walker and jazz CD vendor Robert E. Thurman will be in attendance as well.
The reception gala is an important part of the Meet the Artist exhibit. Radford has worked hard to ensure that Indianapolis is aware of the work the artists have created and hopes that the publicity will help spread the word about the talented artists that call Indiana home.
"Its important for people to come out and support the arts," Radford said. "We have raw talent across the board in this city and it needs to be recognized."
So ya like the arts, eh? You wouldn’t be looking at my widdle blog if you didn’t. So get active, kemo sabe, and I don’t mean simply supporting the arts by attending them. No, these days, ya gotta do more and this is the week to do it.
First off, on the local level, the Indiana Arts Coalition is having their annual Arts Day at the Statehouse on Monday, Feb. 21, starting at 1:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Storm the Floor,” to, according to the IAC press release, “to directly express our support of public funding for the arts to our state Senators, Representatives and their staff.” Scared? Why? It’s your right as a citizen to advocate for what you believe. Still scared? No worries. At 1:30, Emily Heimann, an attorney from Barnes & Thornburg, will be giving helpful hints about talking to legislators. The “stormin’” takes place till 3, and then other fun transpires, from the CALA (Community Arts Leadership Awards) Awards at 3:30 to a reception that follows immediately and runs until 6 p.m.
We have to start this week’s go and do travelogue by hawking the Meet the Artists event. This celebration has been going on for 23 years — thanks to founder Anthony Radford — and we honored this event with a Cultural Vision Award some ten years ago. The gala reception, hosted by Central Library is Saturday, Feb. 19, showcasing the current exhibit of prominent, local, African American artists. With everyone from magician Walter King the Spellbinder to the Griot Drum Ensemble to the Nu Soul Theory band, you don’t want to miss it.
IndyFringe had to turn people away last week from their Young Hamlet production, and they’re hoping for more of the same with the opening of 3 Arab Plays. These plays, incubated and presented first at Hanover College, are written by Middle Eastern authors, and this is a particularly interesting time to pay attention to all-things-Middle East. Hanover College has an excellent tradition of theater, so it’s sure to be an excellent production.
On the home grown front, you can’t get more exciting local theater than No Exit. No Exit grew out of the great tradition of John Green’s theater department at Butler. These kids were well-schooled in the chimerical arts of staging, and No Exit has kept that aesthetic on course. They’re opening a play by Sarah Kane, 4.48 Psychosis, Kane’s last play, in fact. She committed suicide after writing the play — I don’t know the causal relationship between those two things, but it's pretty compelling isn't it. I’ll be seeing 4.48 Psychosis on Saturday. For more on No Exit, see our stories on Michael Bachman and Georgeanna Smith.
In Bloomington, the Cardinal Stage Company is opening Romeo & Juliet, which I hope to catch this weekend as well. I’ll let you know what that’s like.
Do you like stories? We do. And our resident company, Storytelling Arts of Indiana regularly features all storytellers, great and small, from the local to the national. This Saturday, they’ll feature storyteller-songwriter Minton Sparks will share tales of small-town Southern life as she weaves together music, poetry and storytelling. A Tennessee native, Sparks draws heavily on her Southern roots to create her work, a practice that gave birth to her reputation as the love child of Flannery O’Connor and Hank Williams.
I spoke of pandemics earlier, and I wasn’t kidding… Nathan Wolfe, a Stanford professor, as well as the founder and director of the Global Viral Forecasting Initiative has dedicated his life to studying epidemic viruses, and will be speaking at Butler as part of the J. James Woods Lecture Series on Tuesday. He’s discovered a clue to catching viruses early by focusing on how HIV, SARS and West Nile all stem from contact with infected animals. Others have noticed his ground-breaking work: Wolfe is one of Rolling Stone's "100 Agents of Change" for 2009.
What would a go and do arts blog be without a freak show to catch? On Tuesday, the Squidling Brothers Circus Sideshow arrives at White Rabbit Cabaret, complete with the Slideshow Doll of Darkness, the Impenetrable Music Man and the World's Strangest Strongman. It will be a night of sword swallowing (get your mind out of the gutter), see-saws, hooks in flesh and men bending steel. Sounds ideal.
If you still have some gas left from all your go&do doings, then you’ll want to check out the Indianapolis Immigrant Experience discussion on Tuesday, that explores how the cultural influences circulating around Indianapolis is shaping our city.
Finally, husband and wife team David Finckel and Wu Han are teaming up with fellow musician Philip Setzer to regale audiences with two piano trios Franz Schubert wrote towards the end of his life. The two pieces are rife with Schubert’s romantic expression, and when the works are played by three of the world’s top chamber music artists, the show is guaranteed to please.
See you out there!
(Slideshow) Your A&E weekend, Feb. 18-20... and beyond
Now is the time to talk to legislators about arts funding. Arts Day 2011 will be at the statehouse Monday, Feb. 21, but rather than clutter the Atrium with booths, attendees will “Storm the Floor” in order to ask questions and advocate for the arts directly with legislators.
The Indiana Coalition for the Arts (ICA) has been hosting this event since 2006 to allow the public to combine forces and get legislators' attention.
This year the ICA has planned a meeting before the “storm” to further educate anyone in attendance on how to feel more comfortable speaking with legislators. Attorney Emily Heimann, of Barnes and Thornburg, will be presenting procedure in how to speak effectively to Senators and Representatives, as well as to their staffs.
“The more people in attendance the greater the impact,” Tetia Lee, president of the ICA, told NUVO.
By including this how-to meeting on the agenda, the ICA is hoping to attract a crowd that may have opted out simply because they were unsure of how to speak to government officials. Lee said some may find themselves tongue tied when speaking to their legislators, so the goal is to “build a comfort level.”
There are already 100 people registered for the event.
“People can go in a group from the same county or district,” said Lee. “They won’t have to go alone.”
Anyone in attendance is still encouraged to bring business cards and flyers. This will be an opportunity to meet and network with other individuals seeking a similar goal. The agenda for the day also includes the CALA awards that each year recognize Hoosier artists for their work in improving community through promoting arts.
This year's CALA winners are:
Arts Advocate: Sandi Clark, board member Lotus Foundation, Bloomington
Arts Administrator: Gayle Holtman, Executive Director VSA Indiana, Indianapolis
Arts Volunteer: Virgil Exner, Studebaker National Museum, South Bend
Arts Educator: Deena Laska Lewis, Artistic Director Children's Center for Dance Education, Evansville
ICA's Tetia Lee believes this event is the most effective way to thank legislators for their help as well as continuing to encourage and improve active support.
The ICA website has lists of legislators that attended the past three years, as well as a list of sponsors. You can also register at the event on that site as well.
I’m still recovering from the skate-rink slipapalooza of trying to catch everything I could during First Friday last week. See my slideshow this week for more on the ice. If you didn’t get to everything — how could anyone in one evening? — then get out there and see the exhibits this month. Check out our web site for scads of visual arts reviews, most of which contain slideshows to further titillate you.
In the mood for MORE visual arts? Our top pick this week is the Eiteljorg’s Red/Black, an exhibit that explores the interwoven history of the Native Americans and African Americans as both friends and enemies. Opening day is Feb. Feb. 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., replete with a bunch of events.
If you missed her opening lecture on Wednesday, you can still see Darlene Delbecq’s wonderful photography (see the slideshow, dude), presented by the Franklin College Fine Arts Department, it will be held in the Elba L. & Gene Portteus Branign Atrium of the Johnson Center for Fine Arts, 101 Branigin Blvd.
In the performing arts this week, opening Friday is Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre’s Fiesta. Drawing heavily from Mexican and Puerto Rican influences, the performances will reflect Hispanic culture and heritage; think exciting and fun!
A reprise of a popular Fringe show, Boy in the Basement will be staged on Saturday at White Rabbit Cabaret. Here’s the plot: When a thief attempts to burglarize an apartment while the four roommates who live there are inside, chaos ensues. Rather than turning the hapless thief over to the police, the four women - described as the hippie, the cynical sexpot, the dominatrix, and the Christian pig farmer’s daughter - decide to hand down their own form of punishment with each of them dreaming up ways for the thief to make amends. Like I said, this one was a hit at Fringe last summer.
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is bring back their popular Going Solo Festival, featuring one-person performances in a rotating format. This festival was popular with us last year because it featured a play by one of our own, David Hoppe: After Paul McCartney. This year, the shows are Neat, a sequel to Pretty Fire, performed at last year's festival, is a vivid tale of a not-so-typical teen; Fire in the Garden goes through the complexities of becoming a father for the first time; and In Acting Shakespeare explores a Shakespearean actor's relationship with old Billy S. himself.
This is just the goods opening this weekend, like I said you’ve got numerous visual art exhibits going on all month. I’ll select out a couple, simply because they have gotten a lot of attention in NUVO, for exemplary reasons. Make sure you make it to the Artsgarden to see Lobyn Hamilton’s work, and also get to the Murphy Arts Building to see Christos Koutsouras; he’s all over the building, from iMOCA to Big Car to Mount Comfort.
See you out there.
(Slideshow) Your A&E weekend, Feb. 11 & 12
Take advantage of the thaw this weekend to get out and see some great events.
If it’s the first Friday of the month, which this is, then you already know you’re booked. As always, galleries open their doors by end of afternoon, and you can wander from place to place throughout the downtown area, feasting on free food, drinking free wine and making free friends.
This First Friday is marked by the return of Christos Koutsouras, an accomplished, internationally-respected artist who’s spent the past few years on the West Coast. On First Friday, and running throughout the month, we get to see what Christos has been up to; he’s been so prolific in fact he’s pretty much taking over the entire Murphy Arts building in Fountain Square with his work, at least iMOCA and Big Car.
Read Dan Grossman’s excellent profile of Christos.
Our other big visual arts story this week is a profile — again by Dan — on Lobyn Hamilton, who’s the featured visual artist for Art and Soul, an annual celebration organized by the Arts Council. His work will be on display at the Artsgarden, so your First Friday itinerary must include a stop at the hovering spaceship at the intersection of Capital and Washington.
Those are the highlights, but jeez louise, the First Friday line-up is mind-boggling. Last month, the temps were around 20, so I biked the event, but this Friday… well, I can’t promise that if it’s in the single digits. Isn’t that weather bitter and vicious and remorseful and monstrous and horrific and apocalyptic and fair game to describe with anthropomorphic terminology? March, though, let’s ALL be out on our bicycles, promise?
I’d say check out:
Indy Indie Artist Colony’s “Just Desserts” show, entirely composed of works showcasing desserts and candy. Phil Campbell’s gallery is still in its infancy, and his IDADA party last Wednesday made it clear that his new space is really catching on. Don’t miss it!
“Horizons” features the work of Jennifer Kaye Laughner, whom many of you may also now as a FOOD artist, as well as an ART artist. The marvelous space, wUG LAKU’S STUDIO & garage, is exhibiting her work, and if you haven’t been to Wug’s gallery, you’re missing one of the more surreal experiences First Friday has to offer.
If you’ve been reading my weekly arts blog, then you know how much I love the Harrison Center. Hell, they could hang the work of someone, say, the Star’s Gary Varvel, and I’d still show up! Oh wait! They DID show the work of Gary Varvel! Anywho, the Harrison is great fun, no matter what’s on the walls, because it’s just a massive party, complete with kids running around everywhere. This month they’re featuring the work of Carolyn Springer whose show “Elemental” explores her interpretations of the connections between Japan and the United States — by using the elements as her guide. Also presented that night are exhibits by Tim Lisko, Eric Wallentine and panda(ology).
As of last year, Gallery 924 has become an essential stop along the First Friday tour, and this month, they’ve got Doug Calisch’s work to draw you in. If you don’t tend to watch the slideshows I post with these blogs then you are missing it, because one look at Doug’s work and you’ll want to be there.
There’s plenty more to hawk, but we’re running out of “space” even though the internet is theoretically infinite. I’d be remiss, though, in not suggesting you go to SpaceCamp in the Murphy Building on Friday. I learned about SpaceCamp at Phil’s IDADA party (mentioned above) and was immediately smitten. It’s going to be the kind of happenin’ art exhibit where YOU get to be the art, and by that I mean that one piece, by Igor Toshevski, declares that whatever happens in a marked-off area in front of the gallery is art. I’m so there, I’m so art.
There are plenty of other great arts events this weekend, an indication that we are really kicking into the Go & Do season. I’ll highlight just a few.
The talk of the town this weekend will be the double fun associated with the great African musician, Fela Kuti. The Cultural Cannibals, DJ Kyle Long and Artur Silva, known for the beatific dance parties, presenting an HD broadcast of the National Theatre of London's FELA!, a stage celebration of the Nigerian musician’s life, on screen at the IMA’s Toby Theater. A Club Hyde dance party follows, downtown, 20 W. Louisiana St. (connected to Blu). DJ Kyle will be spinning with Phil Money from NYC; Money was a resident DJ at Basement Bhangra with DJ Rekha for many years and plays multiple genres of international music. Also expect a performance by Nigerian MC Akil who will do a short tribute to Fela — some of you might remember him performing live at Urban Element last summer. I sure do, he was friggin’ spellbinding.
We know you all love to rock out to the Naptown Roller Girls, and if their bout with the St. Louis' Arch Rival Roller Girls ain’t enough, their male counterparts, the Race City Rebels, will be battling the St. Louis Gate Keepers the same night, same place. Doors open at 6 p.m. at the Convention Center, instead of the Girls' old home at the Pepsi Coliseum.
As if that wasn’t enough, the theater season is ratcheting up with the opening of Goldie, Max and Milk at the Phoenix, a play that follows Max, a single mother facing serious threats to the custody of her four-day-old daughter. Help then comes from the unlikeliest of sources — Max’s lactation consultant! This comedy opens on Thursday, Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. and runs until Feb. 27.
Plus, you’ve got IndyFringe presenting a play called Young Hamlet, which is based on Shakespeare's earliest script of the play (written while in his 20s). If you’ve going to theater regularly over the years, with the great mainstays like the Phoenix, TOTS, Butler and the IRT, then by now you know that IndyFringe has regular performances now, sometimes Fringe-related shows, sometimes not. This one is presented by Hoosier Bard Productions and the IUPUI New Oxford Shakespeare.
Whew, if I write more I won’t have the energy to do any of this great stuff!
See you out there.
(Slideshow) Go & Do Feb. 4
First Friday activities highlight a weekend of fun and frivolity, that includes a tribute to the great Fela as well as a stage exploration of the life of the young Hamlet.
[A+E] Festivals + Parties
[A+E] Written + Spoken Word
[A+E] Comedy, Theater + Dance
[A+E] Film + TV, Festivals + Parties
[A+E] Theater + Dance, Written + Spoken Word