2013 RAWards at Bartini's (Slideshow)
When Two Worlds Collide: Justin Vining and Jon Smith
New Day Meadery through Dec. 27
★★★★ (out of five)
Jon Smith and Justin Vining aren't the kinds of artists you'd expect to hit it off. Smith shoots pellet guns at light bulbs filled with paint or feathers and photographs their demise at high speed. Vining paints whimsical cityscapes and forsaken rural landscapes that allude to the accelerating loss of the family farm in America. What happens when Vining paints his landscapes on Smith's light bulbs? KABOOM, that's what! But you also see a vision of the world - coming apart at the seams - portrayed in an arresting way.
Toyin Odutola and The Highwaymen
iMOCA (Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art) through January 25
In Toyin Odutola's large-scale self-portrait, "The Paradox of Education," the artist stares directly at you, sizing you up. Are you comfortable among those with a different skin color than you? Are you comfortable in your own skin? This conceptually open-ended work manages - paradoxically - to provoke such specific questions, at least for this viewer. Aside from that, there's much to appreciate in these portraits (self-portraits and otherwise) on a purely aesthetic level. That is to say, the 29-year-old Nigerian-born Odutola can do a helluva lot with the art supplies she usually acquires from Walmart. She leaves the impression that she's bundling together luminous lines of black ink, charcoal and/or pastel, and then masterfully weaving those bundled cords together to create her mixed media on paper portraiture.
Odutola's work occupies iMOCA's second room through January; up front in the space are the Highwaymen, a group of 26 self-taught African-American artists who sold their art door-to-door (or out of car trunks) from the '50s to '80s. My favorite of these is an untitled oil on Upson board painting by Ellis Buckner. It's an astoundingly beautiful swampscape, lit by a crepuscular sun. The Highwaymen overcame many economic and racial barriers to create such art. Thanks to iMOCA, selected works can now be appreciated up close in Central Indiana.
Gallery 924 through Jan. 3
There are hundreds of works by 80-odd artists - each 216 square inches or smaller - in this show, but Brendan Day's work leaps off the walls for me in a really big way. One piece, "Rhuthmos" (watercolor and graphite), portrays five men in white robes. Maybe they just emerged from a sauna - or an inquisition. And then there's "In-Between," a watercolor of a worn-out landscape with a high tension power line cutting across the horizon. This is the type of neither-here-nor-there landscape that many of us find ourselves living in. Be careful, as you walk in this gallery, that Anila Agha's black, thorny installation "Unbearable Beauty" (acrylic on Hawthorne branches) doesn't install itself into your arm. Apparently, this is just the beginning of some much larger work coming down the line. Watch out.
Words of Art: Borshoff and Herron Annual Gallery Show
Harrison Center for the Arts through Dec. 27
Eric D. Johnson's monoprint "Wash on, Wash off" was created - just like all the work by Herron School of Art and Design artists on display - in response to a tweet. The text of this particular tweet: "So I've apparently become a soap hoarder." Johnson's work suggests the rhythmic, figure eight strokes that you might use in applying soap to your body. The particular soaps you use, depending on the brand, might foam up in a variety of colors. But it's apt to be the suds' final hurrah as they roll down your nether regions towards the drain.
Rehearsed readings by Butler Theatre majors and guest actors were followed by a Q/A session with audience members, actors, playwrights and directors.
Play readings are part of Butler Theatre department's legacy. I remember them in Robertson Hall's scrappy basement. I also remember readings at Broad Ripple Players in the 1980s, followed by Phoenix Theatre, Indiana Theatre Association's and Beckmann Theatre "New Plays." These ceased; IndyFringe picked up. Most recently playwrights gather at IndyReads to test scripts. So the circle comes round to Butler.
With script-in-hand, the emphasis was on words, with ideas brought forward by vocal and facial expressions and body language without reliance on movement, sets, costumes, props or lighting. The actors at Schrott strove to bring depth and breadth to the characters and their relationships.
The audience talked about the entertainment values of "readings," along with giving feedback to help assist the playwright decide to revise or leave the script as is. And audiences gave thumbs up for some of the scripts. These stripped-down performances reminded one of radio drama, podcasts and Readers Theatre, a genre that flourished after WWII but gave way to more lavish productions.
Andrew Black returns to Indianapolis with Cornflower Blue, a delicately touching slice-of-life brief between a girl, her mother and a visitor from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, set in a hospital. What would be your fervent wish if you were a teenager with a terminal illness? Would it be a wedding planned to the smallest detail? How would you as a parent react?
I've seen Jim Poyser's Spots before; the satire was edgier in this interpretation, allowing us to understand more fully how pervasively advertising has entered into daily conversation, even during our most intimate moments.
Historian Stephen H. Webb developed his Traces magazine article about Harry Hoosier into a one-man play. The Barren Fig Tree provides a metaphor and a conundrum: Is renowned 19th century preacher Harry Hoosier our namesake?
Elsie & Frances & Fairies is based on a 1920 London magazine article. Tom Horan takes us into the story of two girls "finding fairies" in 1914, how they overcame derision and gained support from Arthur Conan Doyle, for whom "the discovery" has personal meaning. Do we scoff or believe?
With Under a Tree at the End of Time, Dan Sherer creates an atmospheric family drama that opens with a father shooting his daughter, and spirals us back into what propelled this atrocity. Dysfunction materializes as we listen to "what people choose to say and tell."
"Unstuck in place and time," David Hoppe's Dillinger is set in the kitchen of a woman cooking. Exploring the concept of fame, is Indianapolis-born Dillinger reinventing himself for a new generation?
Gari Williams' Castle Gardens, set in Fall 1941, has the feel of Twyla Tharp's Movin' Out in its exploration of WWII's effects on one community and one family.
As the first scenes of two-act plays, both of the above tantalize.
Matt Benedict's Outside Providence was the most problematic of the scripts. At the center is Shakti, the Hindu mother goddess who is the source of all creativity, energy and/or power and whose energy enters into anyone who worships her. Benedict frames his play as a telephone conversation between a talker and listener; but the talker's words are interrupted by Shakti's exceedingly long ruminations and commentaries. Clarity was elusive.
I read Lou Harry's full-length script because I had to be elsewhere. Lightning and Jellyfish, set in the '80s in a New Jersey boardwalk rock-and-roll poster shop, time travels out of a realistic episode to explode into a future based on the a choice made by 17-year old Angela. In the season of Dickens' Christmas Carol, Harry's cautionary tale is gripping on many levels.
Disclaimer: David Hoppe is a contributing editor and columnist at NUVO; Jim Poyser worked for NUVO from 1996-2013.
But wait, there's more inside of iMOCA. Two shows: in the front room, The Highwaymen, featuring work by 26 Florida-based African-American landscape artists who created over 200,000 works over 35-plus years, selling them door to door and from the trunks of their cars. And in the back, The Constant Struggle: Toyin Odutola, featuring ballpoint pen portraiture by a 28-year-old Nigerian artist named by the visual arts experts (maybe they are?) at Forbes magazine a "30 Under 30" art and design up-and-comer. Odutola talked with Interview magazine this week; note the first paragraph mention of iMOCA as the host of her first museum exhibition. And here's more on the Highwaymen, from NPR.
Now for a few other good bets:
Stutz holiday open house
The Stutz is opening up this First Friday for what it calls a "holiday version of its annual open house," featuring open studio hours for 30-some artists, an exhibition in the Raymond James Stutz Art Gallery including giftable small and large works - and starting from 7 p.m., the bicycle selection ceremony for reCYCLE pARTS II, a juried art show coming up in May 2014. Artists will draw numbers, then select an entire used bike that piques their interest; all art in the show must be created using three pieces from said bike.
Stutz Business Center, Dec. 6, 5-9 p.m.
It's the 11th go-round for Toys, Primary Gallery's exhibition of toy-inspired work that's often but not necessarily playful or funny and charming.
Primary Gallery, opens Dec. 6, 6-10 p.m.
Purportedly back by popular demand at Gallery 924 is TINY, a show made up of hundreds of original pieces, each 216 square inches or smaller, most available for $100 or less.
Gallery 924, Dec. 6-Jan. 3 (opens Dec. 6, 6-10 p.m.)
The color of the month is grey; the film of the month is Grey Gardens, the Maysles' (about whom we are mad) documentary about the eccentric, lovable perhaps tragic mother-daughter shut-in duo of Big Edie and Little Edie, related to Jackie O. Expect plenty of grey oddities in the Harrison Gallery and Annex. Plus: INDIEana Handicraft Exchange in the gym, Jed Dorsey in City Gallery and Borshoff and Herron's annual show in Gallery No. 2.
The Harrison Center for the Arts, Dec. 6, 6-10 p.m.
Director for 30 years of Editions Limited Gallery, the now Winston-Salem-based Marta Blades returns to Indy this week for a solo show showcasing her work this year.
Arch at Chatham, Dec. 6, 4-9 p.m. and Dec. 7, noon-6 p.m.
Celebration of Nature
And here's one more gift-centric exhibition: Eagle Creek Park's 26th annual Celebration of Nature, featuring photography, woodcarving, oil and watercolors by local artists and inspired by the natural world.
Earth Discovery Center at Eagle Creek Park, Dec. 7-15
Samuel E Vazquez: Our Romance Cannot Last
Graffiti artist turned abstract expressionist Samuel E Vazquez says his upcoming IUPUI solo show will be his last in Indy.
IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery, Dec. 4-Jan. 3 (opens Dec. 4, 6-9 p.m.)
This season also marks the fifth anniversary for The Cabaret, which has found a home at the Columbia Club after briefly stopping by The Connoisseur Room in its quest to find an appropriate venue for New York-style dinner and drinks cabaret (as opposed to ACT's musical theater-centric programming).
Megan Hilty, whom you may know from the dubious NBC show Smash or Broadway musicals Wicked and 9 to 5: The Musical, opens 2014 on Jan. 18.
Londoner Meow Meow, "part cabaret and part Phyllis Diller with a bit of Piaf thrown in," says The New Yorker, will make good on her cancelled 2013 appearance April 11 and 12.
Three other Broadway stars are on the bill: Stephanie J. Block (like Hilty, of Wicked and 9 to 5 fame), Tony winner Laura Benanti and Chester Gregory, in a tribute to Jackie Wilson.
The Cabaret already did quite a bit of jazz programming, but this year they're making it more official with a "Jazz at the Cabaret" series, featuring gypsy jazz singer Cyrille Aimee, many-time Grammy winner Karrin Allyson and the Hugh Hefner-endorsed James Torme (son of Mel).
Details from the press release follow:
AN EVENING WITH MEGAN HILTY
Presented by The Lacy Foundation
January 18, 7:00 PM & 9:30 PM
Hilty! Megan will wow with an evening of Broadway showstoppers, along with selections from her brand
new album It Happens all the Time. On stage, Hilty starred in Broadway's Wicked and 9 To 5: The Musical, as well as City Center Encores! Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Audiences also know her as Marilyn Monroe/Ivy Lynn on NBC's SMASH, which earned her a Grammy nomination for "Let Me Be Your Star." Hilty can currently be seen alongside Sean Hayes in NBC's Sean Saves the World.
Price: $65, $75, $86, $95
CHESTER GREGORY: THE EVE OF JACKIE, A TRIBUTE TO JACKIE WILSON
February 14 & 15, 8:00 PM
The Cabaret celebrates Black History Month with Broadway star Chester Gregory in his award-winning show The Eve of Jackie. Gregory reveals the sometimes tragic side of the man who recorded over 50 hit singles from 1957-1975 from "Lonely Teardrops" to "(Your Love Keeps Liftin' Me) Higher and Higher" and inspired generations of entertainers from Elvis Presley to Al Green to Michael Jackson. Gregory's Broadway credits include Sister Act, Hairspray, and Dreamgirls, to name a few. Other credits include The Jackie Wilson Story, Hairspray the Movie and performing for Michael Jackson.
Price: $25, $35, $45, $55
STEPHANIE J. BLOCK: THIS PLACE I KNOW
March 7 & 8, 8:00 PM
Tony nominated, Stephanie J. Block has established herself as one of the most relevant and versatile voices in contemporary musical theatre. She stared on Broadway in Wicked, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, Anything Goes, 9 To 5: The Musical, The Pirate Queen and The Boy From Oz (opposite Hugh Jackman).
Most recently, Stephanie stared in the Off-Broadway musical Little Miss Sunshine based off of the Oscar-nominated film. Stephanie is sure to "wow" with songs from her vast Broadway career as well as from her solo album, This Place I Know.
Price: $35, $45, $55, $65
TIERNEY SUTTON: AFTER BLUE, THE JONI MITCHELL PROJECT, FEATURING MARK SUMMER AND SERGE MERLAUD
March 19, 8:00 PM
In her most daring and revealing project to date, five-time Grammy nominee, Tierney Sutton, pays homage to the revered pop singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell. Sutton puts her unique stamp on Joni Mitchell tunes going back to "Both Sides Now" and "Big Yellow Taxi" to more recent numbers like "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines," "Be Cool," and "Don't Go to Strangers."
Price: $25, $35, $45, $55
MEOW MEOW: FELINE INTIMATE
Presented by Bingham Greenebaum Doll
April 11 & 12, 8:00 PM
The bustier-clad, vampy, sexy and slightly deranged chanteuse "drags cabaret kicking and screaming into the 21st century" (Time Out NY). Her purr-fectly unique, post-post-modern brand of kamikaze cabaret has hypnotized, inspired and terrified audiences worldwide. Expect nothing less than sequins and satire; witty wicked Weimar; 60's French pop; Brel, Brecht and Kitt; mayhem and magnificence.
Price: $25, $35, $45, $55
April 23, 8:00 PM
Internationally renowned, Cyrille's vocal stylings are synonymous with musical genius. Her culturally rich background has supplied her with the driving force of Dominican rhythm and the incredible swing of the French Gypsies. Born in Fontainebleau, France, Aimée's introduction to jazz was the result of the fortuitous location of her upbringing in Samois-sur-Seine, where the legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt once lived. At the young age of 27, Aimée has already released five CDs internationally, was winner of the Montreux Jazz Festival Competition and a finalist in the prestigious Thelonious Monk Vocal Competition.
Price: $25, $35, $45, $55
KARRIN ALLYSON: ROUND MIDNIGHT
Presented by Morris Machine Co., Inc. & Chris Morris
May 2 & 3, 8:00 PM
After a dozen releases on Concord Jazz over the course of two decades, and three Grammy nominations for Best Jazz Vocal Album along the way, the versatile vocalist/pianist still believes that the emotional connection that takes place in a small, quiet club during the late hours is one of the best parts of the jazz experience. Explore the warmth and depth of an artist who engages with a range of music from Gershwin and Porter to Duke and Thelonious. The evening will feature songs from Karrin's vast career as well as from her newest release, Round Midnight.
Price: $25, $35, $45, $55
JAMES TORMÉ: LOVE FOR SALE
Presented by Morris Machine Co., Inc. & Chris Morris
May 16, 8:00PM
The Cabaret celebrates Jazz History month with the son of the legendary entertainer Mel Tormé. James Tormé brings classic jazz to a new generation, infusing older classics with contemporary influences, and haunting newer songs with his timeless throwback renditions. Having grown up hanging out with jazz legends such as Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Buddy Rich, and more, it is no surprise that his debut jazz album Love For Sale reached #2 on iTunes Jazz and #3 on Amazon Jazz. Come find out why Jazz FM says, "If you get a chance to see James Tormé you should beg, borrow, even steal a ticket."
Tormé brings classic jazz to a new generation, infusing older classics with contemporary influences, and
Price: $25, $35, $45, $55
LAURA BENANTI: IN CONSTANT SEARCH OF THE RIGHT KIND OF ATTENTION
June 6 & 7, 8:00 PM
Celebrating the release of her brand new CD, Live at 54 Below, Tony Award winner Laura Benanti, bares all in an evening filled with amusing stories, mesmerizing melodies and a dab of self-deprecating humor. This kooky and sexy Broadway and TV star will feature an eclectic range of music from the Great American Songbook to popular songs of today.
Price: $35, $45, $55, $65
June 27, 8:00PM
Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Susan Werner and her music defy category. She has cultivated a reputation as a daring and innovative songwriter who boldly endeavors to weave old with new to create altogether new genres of music. She has recorded sixteen albums with projects ranging from jazz to country, and even gospel. With her grace, wit, and pure genius in capturing the human experience in music, Werner delivers it all.
Tickets: $25, $35, $45, $55
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra surprised and delighted its audience during its "Student and Teacher Appreciation" concert with the special announcement that student tickets have been lowered to $10 for concerts within the classical, pops, family and Happy Hour concert series (the latter presently $13). Students with valid I.D.s can now purchase these tickets at this new set price for performances beginning in Jan. 2014.
A $10 student ticket price is part of the ISO's overall campaign to increase student attendance at concerts and engagement with the orchestra. In any given season, approximately 4,000 tickets are purchased at the student price; the ISO is hoping to increase that number by 20 percent.
"Inviting students to experience the ISO's programs and activities is essential to the ISO's effort to make the orchestra accessible to a broad segment of our community," said Gary Ginstling, CEO of the ISO. "It's a high priority for us to be a relevant and affordable entertainment option to our young people in school and on campus."
The $10 student ticket price will be valid for all concerts within the Classical Series, Pops Series, symFUNy Sundays and Happy Hour at the Symphony. Exceptions apply for premium-priced concerts, such as Joshua Bell on June 5-7, 2014, and for tickets to Yuletide Celebration and Symphony on the Prairie.
As it turns out I found myself interviewing IMA CEO Charles Venable just a few days after my visit with my daughter, for a feature I was writing on the Matisse exhibit.
Then I told him about my trip there with my daughter. I asked Venable if I'd be able to continue taking Naomi there without having to pay a general admission fee (a significant expenditure for me at my income level). He said the question is being discussed at the highest levels in the museum.
A little background: the IMA had a free general admission policy from 1941 until 2006, when it instituted a $7.00 fee for nonmembers. In January 2007, the museum returned to a free general admission policy, with the exception of special exhibits, that remains in effect to this day.
At any rate, here's what Venable told me:
"I don't know what the outcome is going to be. But the board is definitely going to be doing a study and really taking stock of what does it mean to be free in a world where virtually everywhere else you go in Indianapolis to an institution, you pay - at the Children's Museum, the Eiteljorg, and on and on. What is the value of being free? Who actually takes advantage of that? Who wouldn't be able to afford a ticket otherwise? I think it's a wise decision on the part of the board at this moment in the history of the museum to take stock and really look at that. I don't quite know the timing. I don't know the outcome, but it's something that will be evaluated."
In the contemporary arts gallery, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun's large-scale surrealist paintings drew my attention. In several paintings, animal-like heads (think totem pole) attached to long, spindly, colorful bodies roam Pacific Northwest landscapes; the spirit caretakers of the land. In others, heads in the same style, but pink-skinned, and devilish, are transposed hauntingly onto the bodies of oil company executives.
On Friday night, A Tribe Called Red made the most of their hour and a half set with their infectious mix of native song recordings and club beats. For most of the set, the mixed native and non-native crowd danced club-style. For the last song, a moving circle formed on the dance floor, everyone taking bouncing steps in time. A communal energy was palpable. As Tribe's DJ NDN later explained to me, that was a "round dance song": the native people in the crowd formed the circle in response.
The 1491s showed several of their YouTube videos along with a discussion and Q&A on Saturday afternoon. Most videos offered send-ups of Native American stereotypes. For example, "Slapping Medicine Man" treats his patients with slaps across the face and reprimands like "Quit drinking!"
While the whole idea of Native American comedy sounds fresh to my non-native ears, troupe member Ryan Red Corn says it's really not. "Some of the jokes that we have are old uncle jokes that have been around for like 50 years." Red Corn says. "All it is is we have the mic now, and nobody stands between the microphone to the
distribution point. "
Sharing his newly written stories, he chuckled along with us enjoying ruminations on rain, dumpsters, umbrellas and the reactions of people to a seemingly inconsequential event that suddenly looms large. One new story, "Being in a Racket," gained momentum as he conjectured on what's bad, good and just 'hmm.'
Poet Allyson Horton entertained with observations - personal, social and universal. Ben Winters reflected on the semantics of "mystery novel," considering how well-crafted fiction of all stripes has an inherent mysterious quality, making us "want to think about it, wonder about things," to probe beyond the surface.
Sharing from The Last Policeman Winters touched on the central issue of "why people do things that seem unimportant" while awaiting an apocalyptic event.
Susan Neville took us on her quest 'to know and uncover." Reading from Fabrication: Essays on Making Things and Making Meaning, she led to connect with the makers of things and thus respect the labor and ingenuity going into the stuff we use up without a thought.
Virtuoso folk fiddler/jazz and classical violinist Mark O'Connor elegantly traversed multiple genres Thursday night at Clowes Memorial Hall. And in so doing, he aptly represented the range and excitement of programming during the venue's first fifty years.
With the Butler Jazz Ensemble he delightfully winked at the humor Fred Sturm injected into his take-off on Miles Davis, the grassroots tinged "Kind of Blue(grass)."
Then, with Butler's Percussion Ensemble O'Connor, he drifted us along our rivers via Bela Fleck's sweeping "Big County."
The genuine treat came in experiencing O'Connor improvise spontaneously as the Butler Symphony Orchestra played written music in his ground-breaking, five-movement composition The Improvised Violin Concerto. At the intersection between classical and jazz, the piece invites us to imagine forays through fire, into air, under water, across earth and within faith.
But wait, there was more. Choreographer Gustavo Ramirez Sansano created a premiere work, "En Camino," for Butler Ballet set on O'Connor's "Surrender the Sword" (yes, the music was familiar because you first heard on the PBS documentary Liberty! The American Revolution).
Sansano takes inspiration from the theme and Emerson's directive to abjure the paved path, and to "go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
With multiple variations, relationships and situation, one individual initially led the way, then others joined until, ultimately, an open avenue blazed forth to a new song, "Wonderful, Wonderful" (composed by Edwards, Meyer and Raleigh and sung by Johnny Mathis). Hopefully we get to experience this work again so as better to grasp its full intent.
The celebratory evening included proclamations by Mayor Ballard and Gov. Pence.
A few updates: PUP has installed 9 of its PUPstops, with 22 more in the works. That puts PUP 11 away from its goal of installing 42 of the bus stop "benches" made from repurposed Bush Stadium seats.
The organization was an Indiana Innovation Award Winner; video below. (They won a NUVO Cultural Vision Award earlier this year, of course.)
And PUP is offering a new handbag: The Clerk.
That's all we've got. Check out our cover story on People for Urban Progress if you haven't already.
[A+E] Theater + Dance
[Music] Punk + Metal, Festivals + Parties
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, Beer + Wine, DJs + Dancing
[A+E] Festivals + Parties
[A+E] Classical Music