ArtPlace America has awarded a $100,000 grant to the Harrison Center for the Arts for the City Gallery. The grant will allow the City Gallery and the Harrison Center for the Arts to combine resources and focus on northside neighborhoods under the King Park Area Development Corporation.
The funding will help curate, produce, and market over 30 place-based exhibits, festivals and community events, said Harrison Center for the Arts Founding Executive Director Joanna Taft.
ArtPlace, a foundation that supports strategic investments in art and culture to enhance community vibrancy, awarded the Cultural Trail $250,000 in 2011 to complete Swarm Street, which is still in development.
The Harrison Center for the Arts was one of 54 organizations to receive grants from a pool of 1,200 applicants.
The official announcement of the award will take place June 8 during the annual Independent Music + Art Festival.
We are embarking on an adventure of epic proportions. A 24 hour scavenger hunt organized by art collective Know No Stranger. Our team is comprised of three teens and myself; Matt and Madison, my twins, and Molly, Matt's girlfriend.
Here's the deal. There's money on the line. The entry fees become prize money for the winning team. We are in it for the fun, for sure, but we are here to compete. The party starts at 4:00 on Saturday at the City Market when we receive our packet and instructions. Please check here Saturday and Sunday for pics and live updates of our progress...
Berlin-raised cabaret singer Ute Lemper can knock out a songspiel with the best of em - putting across Brecht and Weill's brusque modernity with all due respect - but her style owes as much to jazz, as evidenced by growling blue notes and brilliant scat solos (I sincerely hope I'm quoted in saying that nobody plays the mouth trumpet like Lemper).
Lemper's Thursday night performance at the Cabaret ranged across Europe (with one overseas trip), starting from "Falling in Love Again (Can't Help It)," and working in songs by Edith Piaf, Jacques Brel and Astor Piazzolla as the night went on. She filled in the gaps between songs with vignettes from European history, including memorable riffs on a divided Berlin (complete with Angela Merkel jokes) and the bandoneon (a German-born that made its way across the sea to hasten the development of Argentine tango).
A convincing actress with a versatile voice that can be gruff and pretty at turns, Lemper did a nice job translating parts of given songs (either by miming or actually singing verses in English), while performing enough in the original language to acknowledge those willing to forgo their mother tongue for an hour or two. Tango popped up both before and after intermission (the show is titled Last Tango in Berlin), first via "Tango Ballad" from Threepenny, later in the form of two Piazzolla songs, "Yo soy Maria" and "Los pajaros perdidos."
The show closed with a nifty, spirited medley drawing again on Brecht and Weill ("Mack the Knife," "Alabama Song") with stops for Kander and Ebb ("Cabaret," "All That Jazz"). She indulged an audience request for Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas" as an encore, briefly protesting that it's "such a sad song," and besides, one of the guys in the front row of the audience (we'll call him Galen, for that was the name he gave) doesn't know French. It was, as she warned, a heartbreaking rendition of a song that needs no translation.
1) Lisa Freiman, presently the senior curator and chair of the IMA's contemporary art department, is leaving Indy to become the inaugural director of Virginia Commonwealth University's Institute for Contemporary Art.
Under Freiman, the IMA opened 100 Acres, its art and nature park; hosted the U.S. Pavilion at the 2011 Venice Biennale (with Freiman as commissioner); and helped to organize a series of remarkable contemporary art exhibitions, including the current show at the IMA by multi-media artist and activist Ai Weiwei.
In an interview with NUVO earlier this year, new IMA CEO Charles Venable noted that, at present, the IMA would no longer be devoting resources to projects like the Venice Biennale, arguing that such projects sap resources that would be better used to meet the museum's core mission to serve the central Indiana community.
Freiman will assume her job at VCU on July 1.
Here's a description of the Institute for Contemporary Art, from a press release distributed by the university: "Designed by Steven Holl Architects and anticipated to open in 2015, the ICA will be part exhibition and performance space, part lab and incubator and feather a series of flexible
programming spaces for the presentation of visual art, theater, music, dance and film. Situated at one of the busiest intersection in Richmond, the ICA will act as a catalyst for contemporary art programs of all kinds in the city and region. The ICA will be a non-collecting institution designed to facilitate the way artists are working today by accommodating the increasing lack of barriers among different media and practices, mirroring the cross-disciplinary approach at the VCU School of the Arts."
2) The IMA announced yesterday that it has been awarded a $1 million grant from the Lilly Foundation to support a new initiative, "The Visitor Centered Approach: Reimagining the IMA," which will enable the museum to, over the next five years, "employ a variety of communication, engagement, and evaluation strategies to increase and
strengthen local and regional participation in museum programming."
During the aforementioned NUVO interview, Venable emphasized that the IMA needs to improve its techniques for gathering information on visitors, citing, in part, the inefficacy of current technologies used to calculate the number of visitors to a given exhibition. Venable is quoted in the press release as saying that the study "will greatly enhance the IMA's audience and community impact by helping us become a more visitor-centered institution - a museum that truly understands what motivates its many audiences and one that provides profound experiences with art by inviting our visitors to remember, to discover, and to imagine."
The grant will be used "to deliver exceptional visitor experiences in association" with the museum's upcoming Matisse exhibition, funding an iPad-based interactive catalogue and live performances "inspired by the 1947 artist book, Jazz."
The museum announced this March that it had eliminated 11 percent of its personnel, including eight open positions, 19 full-time positions and two part-time positions, in order to reduce its $22 million annual budget. Venable has noted his interest in lessening the museum's reliance on its endowment by, in part, increasing revenue derived from shows like the upcoming Matisse exhibition.
By 9:30 a.m., the line was wrapped around Meridian Market Place, the strip mall on just north of County Line Road on Meridian Street where the locally-owned comic store Comic Book University makes it home. They were waiting for the start of Free Comic Book Day, an annual event designed to encourage readers both new and veteran to visit their local comic emporiums.
The line expanded through the morning, like the waistband of the Incredible Hulk, until the doors opened at 11 a.m. and the first in line fired off faster than a speeding bullet.
The diehard fans darted between steel-wired stands lined with recent issues of the week, searching for their favorite titles. Free Comic Book Day swag was arranged around the register, waiting for searching hands to seek out new worlds and literary experiences.
Rob Skorjanc, the owner and lone for eight years of Comic Book University, stood guard over the register for some ten hours of Comic Book Store Day. A dynamic cast of friends and sponsors had worked the week prior to prepare displays and events.
Sponsors from Red Barron pizza offered free slices to all, curbing the hunger of those stuck in the rear of the line. Local comic artist Jackie Crofts and Jason Keith Phillips appeared to promote their upcoming releases, doing fan sketches and signing autographs.
Jackie Crofts' book, Nutmeg, is about two average junior-high students who, through a series of unfortunate events, get caught up in the world of drug dealing. Their signature ingredient? Nutmeg.
Jason Keith Phillips upcoming Dreklok is about an alternative world, called Airth, where animal people co-exist with both regular old humans and evil, deadly cyborg entities, named Tech-Sols, who run amuck causing deadly mayhem. The hero, Dreklok, attempts to rid the world of these psychotic robo-baddies.
There's still a long wait at 1 p.m. Even Mister Fantastic would've been baffled by the devotion of these fans.
For this fan, the best experience about the entire event was not the free, killer swag, but the people who remain behind after scoring that free stuff to treat Free Comic Book Day as a festival of sorts. Fans discovered new titles upon the recommendations of others, numbers were exchanged, friends were made - and, heck, even a couple of Nintendo 3DS owners exchanged data via a Street Pass.
Newcomers rubbed shoulders with vets. Eddie Schmidt, who began recently reading comic books, had plenty of fun - and picked up Marvel and DC's FCBD offerings, along with copies of IDW's Judge Dredd and TMNT (or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles).
Bob Sherley, a reader for more than 50 years, remembered the days when Stan 'The Man' Lee and Jack 'The King' Kirby' heated up the pages of Marvel. "There have been a lot of various changes over the years," noting that "dark" and "not-so-dark" subject matter balanced out each other in the days. "Right now I'm reading a lot of sci-fi, fantasy," he told me. "I'm looking forward to Marvel's Infinity event by [Jonathan] Hickman, it looks very interesting. It had a very [Neil] Gaiman look to it."
I checked in with Skorjanc the day after, his eyes still heavy with fatigue, but his spirits lifted by the success of the event. Customers a day late for Free Comic Store Day shuffled through the store.
"Comic books have been pretty cool and accepted for years now," he said. "One of the breakthrough titles to further this acceptance would have to be Walking Dead. When Marvel Studios released their first movie with Iron Man, it really did take the game of comic book characters and properties to a whole another level of popularity. The great thing about Free Comic Book Day is that people who either are new to the medium or who are consistent readers are exposed wide variety of the popular and hidden titles alike."
Was he satisfied with the turnout?
"It was tremendous!" he told me. "It's bigger every year; yesterday did not disappoint. Jackie Crofts, who works for Action Labs, and Jason Keith Phillips, whose Kickstarter coincidentally was on its last leg yesterday, fulfilled his quota for funds. So it really was an exciting event to be a part of."
And what are Skorjanc's top five titles as a reader?
"I would say, not in any order: Batman, Superior Spider-Man, Thor, Saga, and East of West."
OnyxFest 2013, IndyFringe's festival of new plays by African-American playwrights, heads into its second weekend today.
Each of the festival's three featured play will be performed once more - Kambui Abdullah's The Layover (May 10, 8 p.m.); TaMara E'Lan G.'s Reflections (May 9, 6:30 p.m.) and Shaun Sutton's Where the Water Runs (May 9, 8 p.m.).
Rita Kohn gave high marks to Where the Water Runs; here's her review:
Where the Water Runs
★★★★ (out of 5)
Where the Water Runs is a beautifully conceived and performed one-act play that builds terror scene by scene in the manner of a Hitchcock film yet redeems unmitigated hatred with unpredictable outcomes. The five young actors, aged 18-21, bring a firm grasp of theatricality and storytelling to this historically-based episode set on an ante-bellum plantation in St. Francisville, La.
While the slave-owner mentality pervades, human decency surfaces through unexpected twists. Definitely worth the hour of engagement with the Cincinnati-based troupe, The Tea Kettle Regiment. Superb acting by Sarah Vargo, Connor Lawrence, John Garrett Walters, Bartley Booz and Shaun S. Sutton, also the playwright, will haunt and elevate you. As always, lighting by Fringe staffer Patrick McCarney is on target.
Naptown Roller Girls: Hoosier Hostility, April 2013
The Warning Belles and Tornado Sirens took on teams from Chicago and Cleveland, respectively, on April 27 at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Here be all the carnage.
One complaint about the Stutz that I've offered up in the past is that in some of the studios - if you attend the open house on an annual basis - you'll see the same paintings hanging year after year. I've also noted that some of the less-inspired shows in the Stutz Art Gallery (the Stutz' showcase gallery) have shown the same work by the same artists over and over again. So I figured it was a good omen when I learned something new in the first studio I stepped into during the 2013 Stutz Artists Open House on Friday night.
That studio would be the home of Sofia Violins, the president of which is Todd Matus. I'm familiar with Matus' Litmus Gallery, in the Circle City Industrial Complex's South Studios where he's had some inspired shows there featuring others' work, as well as his own photographic prints. But I hadn't known that he's a violin maker as well as a photographer.
In the center of the studio - surrounded by an array of violins - Matus had several piles of his ink jet prints laid out on a work-table which he eyed nervously as patrons (sometimes a little recklessly) ruffled through them. He also had on display a book of photographs with accompanying text, entitled Broken Views: A Document of Eastern Europe, published by the University of Delaware Press documents his travels in Eastern Europe beginning in 1989. These travels centered in Bulgaria where he established business relationships with Bulgarian violin makers. But Matus's lens also focuses on locales much closer to home. He favors a documentary, realistic style, whether catching a crowd gathering in a Florence square from an odd angle, or revealing the play of light on scrub brush in a fallow Indiana field.
In some of the corridors it was difficult to move, due to the robust attendance at this event, but I did happen to make it without incident to my next stop: the studio of Raymond James Stutz Art Gallery curator Elise Schweitzer. She greeted me with the news that she will be leaving Indianapolis. Beginning this fall, she will be working as an Assistant Professor of Art at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia.
Schweitzer can partly take credit for the Stutz Art Gallery expansion and has already curated some great shows in the space. If you caught her solo show at Gallery 924 last November, you already know that she's an excellent painter. She likes to paint huge canvases depicting contemporary American settings with classically inspired themes. On display in her Stutz studio were some examples of this work. "Garden Party" depicts wedding parties turned into complete chaos by marauding centaurs. Another shows a dead parachutist fallen to earth splayed out Christ-like on his parachute in a suburban backyard. Painters like Schweitzer demonstrate that you can still use traditional mediums, as well as skill and classical training, to make your mark in the world of contemporary arts. She will be missed. But I don't think the work that she has done at the Stutz - whether curatorial or artistic - will be soon forgotten.
I also paid a visit to the studios of the 2012-2013 Stutz Residency winners - Lauren Kussro and Heather Stamenov. These two young artists are a study in opposites. Let's begin with Kussro. Looking on her worktable was one of her favorite mediums: a strip of sturdy suiting interfacing used by tailors. She was cutting designs into it with an X-acto knife. Kussro is inspired by the repetitive patterns one finds in life forms such as barnacles, coral, and flowers. The walls of her studios are full of photos of such forms; she uses such photographs as references to create natural patterns on her manufactured mediums. But she is not copying these forms verbatim. Rather she is using these references the way a musician might use the sound of a mountain stream or the blowing wind. Her meticulous sculpture and installation work can work equally well hanging on a wall or hanging down from the ceiling as a lampshade. She has found something of an ecological niche in the art world by making work that can endow our ubiquitous manmade environments with a sense of the organic.
Meticulous is not the first word you would use to describe Heather Stamenov or her studio, the floor of which was splattered with dried paint. The life forms that interest her as subjects, at least in her explosive current work, are adolescent girls (using photographs of groups of girls as references). Her oil on canvas work depicts groups of girls at sleepovers, having pillow fights, engaged in impromptu cabarets, and creating general havoc. They're large, wild canvases. As strange as it may sound, Stamenov creates a sense of realism with boldly expressionistic strokes and thickly applied layers of paint. These paintings seem to have been created almost overnight in a burst of exuberant energy. Only one, "Summer's Over, Bitches," has been around long enough to actually have a title. In my favorite among these works you see one girl lifting up another dressed in a tutu in the bed of a moving truck. The truck is travelling towards Chicago; along the horizon you see the turning blades of windmills; the girls in the truck almost seem to be mimicking them with their flailing limbs. The clusters of windmills in Northern Indiana happen to be a favorite subject of photographer Ginny Taylor Rosner, who had her windmill photographs on display in the Stutz Art Gallery.
It interests me that such different artists would use images of windmills in their work. Who doesn't look up at the windmill's twirling blades and hope that their number might be multiplied to power our energy needs well into the future? Art reflects such concerns and questions. It's as varied as the people who make it. It can tell the truth and it can lie. It can enrage and provoke into action. It can look for new inspiration in the wind or bury its head in the sand.
The vibe at this 20th Anniversary Open House was inspiring and bode well for the future. In the shifting crosscurrents of the Indianapolis arts scene, the Stutz Artists Association has sometimes struggled to find its place. However, the Stutz has never seemed more relevant to me since I started attending these Open Houses five years ago.
A diminutive figure materializes downstage right, walks diagonally towards upstage left, mesmerizing the audience as we collectively realize 'a star is born' riveting our attention in the manner of Garbo and Monroe. Pre-teen Nia Owens thus made her stage debut in the midst of Kenyetta Dance Company's austere "The Secret Slaves," choreographed by Lalah A. Hazelwood.
Spotlight has for 19 years been featuring the best of Indianapolis' performing arts and calling attention to the impact of HIV/AIDS among us from farm to town to city. According to materials from the event program, "At least one case in every county; 249 new cases in Indiana reported in first six months of 2012; 1 in every 625 residents is affected; the greatest growth is among Indiana's African-American population."
The call for action was answered this year, as others. Spotlight announced $367,000 net raised - with administrative expenses of roughly $25,000, more than 93 cents of every dollar donated from the event goes to grants for HIV testing and treatment as prevention.
More than 20 performance on one night provided a dazzling array of what's available almost every other night all around greater Indianapolis and at schools as part of outreach programs. Of special interest was the riveting and rollicking Wildwood: Moving Picture Play, created by Know No Stranger, a collective of artists overflowing with creativity.
The Fourth Wall appearing for their second Spotlight, again proved one can dance and cover the range of emotions while simultaneously playing a flute, trombone and percussion instruments; they made us laugh and admire their precision.
The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra opened with the reminder from Candide that "the best of all possible worlds" is for us to grasp (if only in our own gardens); Indianapolis Childrens Choir directed us to "Stand Together" to accept the challenges; and Bobdirex Productions led us to take Spamalot to heart and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" (even if we may want to delay that "terminal breath.")
Old favorites dazzled with their best talent including dance, music, performance art, spoken word and theatre. Individuals, businesses and corporations come together to sponsor and underwrite the performing companies and cover all other costs. The Jazz Kitchen catered the VIP reception.
It's Saturday afternoon as I write this. Last night I heard American Pianists Association finalist Sara Daneshpour play Chopin's Concerto No. in E Minor, Claire Huangci in Prokofiev's well known Concerto No. 3 in C and Eric Zuber in Rachmaninoff's ever popular Concerto No. 2 in C Minor--in that order. The celebrated Gerard Schwarz conducted the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in an exemplary manner throughout. All the keyboard work displayed last night was nothing less than stellar--top o' the line. The remaining two, Sean Chen and Andrew Staupe play Bartók and "Rach Three" respectively tonight, with the jurors' pick for APA Fellow immediately afterword.
To pick one person as the "best" out of these three sensational artists in their 20s requires a hefty amount of qualification in citing their various nuances -- plus being under the gun in all these contests, competitions, awards, whatever their appellation--with the thought: There has to be one winner or APA Fellow. Previously for the APA it was two. In the 1990s it was three.
So with that in mind as being axiomatic, I offer the following observations: Huangci's Prokofiev appeared to be favored by the audience; some said their minds were blown. Yet, as I observed earlier in her Premiere Series recital, she tended to cover her rapid passage work with excess pedaling. And in this case these figurations were too soft to be clearly heard over the orchestra. I wanted to hear more of these notes articulated, but they were all too often meshed over. We knew she had the chops in her loud passages; her breathless work leading to the concerto's final cadence--one of the most uniquely inventive in the concerto literature for loud, jubilant closings--was breath-taking.
Daneshpour's account of the Chopin displayed, by contrast, a near perfect legato throughout, her notes strung together like a silken string of pearls. She, too, was occasionally covered by the orchestra, but less so than Huangci. Though this has nothing to do my appraisal, her finger and arm motions were absolutely balletic, she sometimes turning her hands sideways in "climbing" up the register. Though the Chopin is filled with repeated, decorative filigree, Daneshpour managed to get different shades of feeling; she gave the concerto a sense of continual motion.
Zuber's "Rach Two" seemed surprisingly different from his Premiere Series playing, and opposed to the keyboard work of the previous two women. He attacked the concerto with strong, rather steely hands which tended to dominate many phrases. Though he played all the notes as fast as called for, I heard very little legato, which continued through the third movement and the famous "Full Moon and Empty Arms" theme everybody knows. He appeared to be offering the ISO a contest for loudness, and he was often winning.
Before last night, I had picked the APA Fellow to be either Daneshpour, Chen or Zuber. I now withdraw Zuber from that list. Stay tuned. April 19-20; Hilbert Circle Theatre
[A+E] Sports + Recreation
[A+E] Festivals + Parties
[A+E] Classical Music
[A+E] Festivals + Parties, DJs + Dancing, Rock, Hip-hop
[A+E] Sports + Recreation