Cultural Convergence... or Madness? 

Indy's busiest weekend
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Indy's busiest weekend

Citizens, clone thyselves! Oh wait, that’s right, there are laws preventing such technology from developing here in the United States. Well, you’re in a pickle then, because without a doubt, this upcoming weekend is the year’s most boggling concatenation of events to take place, more or less, simultaneously. Irish Fest, Fiesta, Masterpiece in a Day and Oranje converge at the same time, creating a complex set of choices. And what about the other big-scale events, like Rocky Ripple’s Hohlt Park Arts Festival or Tim & Avi’s Salvage Fest or the Munce Art Fair or the French Market? Not to mention the season openers for a host of local theaters. What will you do? How many events can you attend?

Fiesta Indianapolis
Indiana’s largest Latino festival

Indiana’s largest Latino festival, Fiesta Indianapolis: Fun Without Borders, will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18, from noon until midnight at the American Legion Mall in downtown Indianapolis. Sponsored by Fiesta Indianapolis, Inc., Fiesta is free and open to the public.

A highlight of Fiesta will be performance on two stages by a diverse array of Latino music groups, including Mariachi Sol Tequilense, featuring Alejandro Radilla and mariachi musicians performing popular Mexican melodies; Ipanema, with Brazilian native Elizabeth Souza singing sambas and bossa novas; Sancocho, performing folk music and dance of the African Diaspora from Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Dominic Republic and Venezuela; Sumakta, combining the music from the Andes and African rhythms; Los Urbanos, interpreting the music from the golden age of Cuban jazz, mambo, cha-cha-cha and son Cubano; Sones de Mexico, an ensemble of Mexican musicians and educators from Chicago who play 25 instruments and maintain the tradition of the Mexican son, a large family of regional music and dance styles; and Diego del Real, also from Chicago, featuring salsa, cumbia, bolero, meringue, Latin jazz, pasodoble and more.

Also showcased will be two dance groups, Ensemble Folklorico and Ballet Folklorico, under the direction of Dolly Muniz, performing an extensive repertoire of traditional dances from all over Latin America, and an interdisciplinary performance art group, Carol Tharp Perrin and Rhythms of Life Percussion and Dance Ensemble. Presenting “People, Paint and Percussion,” this group will combine visual art, music and dance to create a composition of visual rhythms that are created live, and made into a work of visual art on canvas and choreography.

Vendors selling food representative of the cuisine of various Latin American and other countries will also be present. They include Machu Picchu (Peruvian), La Favorita (Mexican), Delicias Hispanas (Caribbean) and many others.

Also featured will be a cultural village, arts and crafts, booths and exhibits, and a beer garden. Special family-friendly activities will include exhibits from 23 different Latino countries presented by area high school Spanish clubs, games with prizes, muralists and storytellers.

This year, INto Salsa, a local dance academy, will provide dance lessons and dance demonstrations to the sounds of Los Urbanos and Diego Del Real during a dance party, which will take place from 7 p.m. until midnight.

Fiesta Indianapolis, Inc. is a 24-year-old non-profit organization that builds bridges by sharing Latino traditions and culture with Indianapolis and surrounding communities. With the festival as its primary event, Fiesta sponsors other cultural activities throughout the year.

According to Annie Hernandez, the Bryan, Texas, native who was recently hired as the first executive director of Fiesta Indianapolis, “We are really working hard to make Fiesta Indianapolis more than just known for our annual festival, which is our largest fund-raiser. We are actively seeking collaborations with other non-Latino community groups in order to build bridges and provide cross education about not only arts and culture but also sponsor activities throughout the year that spotlight social issues and offer solutions as well.”

Prior to the main event, Fiesta Kick-Off on the Canal will take place on Thursday, Sept. 16 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Indiana History Center Canal Plaza, 450 W. Ohio St. A part of the Indiana Historical Society’s Thursday night concert series, the event will feature Ruben Rodriquez y su Conjunto and Ensemble Folklorico.

For more information or reserved tables, call 317-232-1882. For more information about Fiesta Indianapolis visit

What: Fiesta
When: Saturday, Sept. 18, noon-midnight
Where: American Legion Mall
Tickets: Free admission
Masterpiece in a Day
An arts dream come true

Imagine a neighborhood like this: painters on street corners brushing canvases at their easels, poets tucked in storefront doorways scrawling lines in their notebooks, actors strolling the sidewalks practicing their lines and musicians providing a soundtrack to it all as they lean against the brick buildings and play.

This must be some place far away, right? Paris, maybe? Try Fountain Square in Indianapolis on Sept. 18.

Masterpiece in a Day, traditionally located in this buzz-worthy arts district on the southeast side of downtown, is expanding to add drama and music contests to its longtime visual arts contest and 3-year-old writing competition.

The big draw — besides living in the dream of an Indianapolis arts neighborhood like this for a day — is the event’s $15,000 in prize money. Eight winners will earn $1,000 first-place checks. Second pays $500 and third $200 in each category. All competitions are free to enter.

Innovative local artist Phil Campbell, who owns the Murphy Arts Center in Fountain Square, started Masterpiece in a Day a decade ago. This year, he passes the event to an all-volunteer committee of artists led by Paul Baumgarten of Southeast Neighborhood Development (SEND), the event’s primary sponsor. SEND is a non-profit community development corporation located in Fountain Square.

“We think artists are going to be pleasantly surprised by the energy surrounding the event,” Baumgarten said. “We’re especially excited about the new competitions. Visitors to Fountain Square will have lots to see and do all day long.”

The drama and music competitions are especially unique as both are built on the idea of random parings of participants on the morning of the event. Actors will team up to find overheard dialogue in the neighborhood and hone it into a three-minute play performed on stage that afternoon. Musicians will do the same thing with original songs made and practiced in the neighborhood that day.

“The music competition is going to be really interesting. Since people are being paired randomly, the musicians will have to be creative and responsive to an unfamiliar situation. I am sure this will produce some fascinating pieces of music,” said Andy Fry, organizer of the music competition. “The limited amount of time will place the emphasis on ideas and feel instead of perfect execution. In that way, I think musicians of different skill levels will be able to work well together.”

At 3 p.m. — just after the writing and art contest creative period ends and judging has begun — actors and musicians will perform before the gathered participants. Judges for these contests will assign scores after each performance à la American Idol. Team members each win the full prize money for first, second and third places. The winners of the art contest (divided into representation and nonrepresentational categories) and the writing contests (split by poetry and prose) will be announced at the conclusion of the live performance part of the day. “We’ve had great participation in the past. And we expect even more this year,” Baumgarten said. “It’s not every day that artists, writers, musicians and actors can compete for such great prizes.”

In the art competition, this year’s judges are Mark Ruschman of the Ruschman Gallery; Fran Lattanzio, an art professor at Indiana State University; and Suzan Campbell, curator of western art, history and culture for the Eiteljorg Museum. The writing contest judges are local writers John Clark, Dan Barden, Jim Powell, Emily Watson, Terry Kirts and Elizabeth Krajeck.

Indy Men’s Magazine Editor Lou Harry, Butler drama professor John Green and IndyFringe Festival founder Kathleen Robbins will judge the drama portion. And newspaper music critics Steve Hammer of NUVO and Dave Lindquist of The Indianapolis Star will handle the music competition.

Everyone involved is excited about this big experiment of art created on the spot. “It is live, it is imaginative, it is participatory, it is a little on the edge and it is new,” said Robbins, who is also working as organizer of the drama contest.

Participants should register at the booth southwest of the fountain on Shelby Street between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. All must be at least 18 years old and be present at the 5 p.m. announcement of the winners in order to claim their prizes.

The winning visual art pieces will be displayed at Oranje on the night of the event and then at the Wheeler Arts Building in Fountain Square for a month. Participants will be able to preorder audio and video recordings of the drama and music performances and a book featuring winners of the writing contest and pictures of the art winners.

What: Masterpiece in a Day: art, writing, music and drama contests in a day
Where: Fountain Square
When: Saturday, Sept. 18, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Registration: It is free to enter. Visit

Like the fruit

Pals from IU in the late 1990s, Ryan Hickey and Adam Crockett, respectively SPEA and Hyper majors, “started talking a lot back then about getting involved in some kind of event, promotions either bringing in music or concerts or something,” as Crockett explained. Crockett moved to California and Hickey moved to New York after college, but ultimately they both found themselves back in Indiana selling real estate.

“So, it had been something that had been in our collective conscious for a while — doing some kind of event.” That collective conscious created an art event dubbed Oranje, now in its third year. FYI, it’s pronounced like the Floridian fruit though the “j” inclusion suggests something with a hoity-toity inflection.

“When we found ourselves back in Indiana, we were kind of looking for those creative outlets that the city offered, you know, what was going on culturally in the city, because we were involved on our respective coasts. And what we found was that there were a lot of good art events and a lot of great things going on in the city, but there was nothing that really appealed specifically to our generation and people with really progressive tastes in art and music … very contemporary art and kind of cutting-edge electronic music and rock music and things like that.” Crockett continued, “So we started to say, well, we could do something and put something together that would kind of hit that mark, you know, get those people that are being under-served by Penrod and Broad Ripple Art Fair and things like that.

“Behind why we are doing what we are doing is that we didn’t like that kind of wine and cheese gallery opening all the time,” Crockett said. “It is very much the same crowd all the time … and we wanted to present art and music together in a completely different light — something people have never experienced before in an environment they weren’t used to — really kind of take them out of their comfort zone in the purpose of making more of an impact.

“What we are trying to provide is a venue for artists and musicians who don’t normally have a venue in Indianapolis. We see it [Oranje] as providing a venue for those people and exposure for us, for the artists specifically, to a crowd of people who don’t normally come to art parties or whatever you want to call them because we bring such a large music element into it. We keep it very focused on contemporary and progressive styles of art and music so it appeals to a different kind of person than the person who comes to Allotropy, or the person who comes to Penrod or Broad Ripple Art Fair or whatever. So we kind of see it as a venue that benefits the artists themselves. That’s really why we do it. We tell all of our artists and all of our musicians this is an opportunity for you to market the hell out of yourselves. Be there and make an impact because people will be there and they will take notice.”

Thirteen bands and seven DJs will perform at Oranje. “Loretta, Lunar Event, en2 … and Cynthia Layne … and all these people who are doing something a little bit different in the music scene and who are all very much at the top their game so to speak,” Crockett said.

Hickey added, “We really take a pretty detailed approach to this as far as executive producing it so it’s not just another art show. So the energy is really there and so that everyone’s really into it and having a good time and presenting things that they might not do at other art shows. If you go to a normal art show you get an art crowd and you get art critics and people who think they know everything about art. And at this show you just get a crowd of people who like to get out and have a good time and who appreciate art.”

Oranje will also include independent film screenings from and performances by the Phoenix Theatre.

What: Oranje: “An Interactive Experience of Art and Music”
Where: 602 E. Washington St.
When: Saturday, Sept. 18, 8 p.m.-3 a.m.
Tickets: Tickets available through Ticketmaster, $12 in advance, $15 day of event.
Visit for more details. Must be 21 to attend.

Irish Fest
Food, fun, music and killer kilts

The annual Irish Festival, presented by Claddagh Irish Pub, is much more than a multistage forum for Irish music. It’s become, in its present, weekend-long format, an ambitious compendium of food, drink, crafts and booths along with exciting events. (See the Irish Festival’s eight-page insert in this week’s paper; or go to for more information.)

Three stages present a host of bands, nationally- and locally-known, and there’s always room to dance — right in front of the acts. Take the hint, Danny-boys and girls, and get on up there!

Irish Fest chairman Terry Sweeney says he expects this year’s event to top the 15,000 people that attended last year. What’s Sweeney looking forward to this year? One: the First Annual Irish Festival 4 Mile Run and Walk. On Saturday morning, festivities will begin at 8:15 a.m. Participants run through downtown streets to the sound of bagpipes and have the opportunity to shop at the Irish Market and listen to Brigid’s Cross perform immediately following the race. (Runners can pre-register at or pick up race brochure and entry forms at The Running Company locations.) Two: The ongoing Irish Toast Contest. For the past handful of weeks, contestants have been vying at local pubs and clubs for the chance to compete in the finals, where the winner gets two free airplane tickets to Ireland. Semi-finals will be held at 8:30 p.m. on Friday; finals on Saturday at 9:30 p.m.

Top music picks

The Fenians A quintet hailing from Orange County, Calif., The Fenians mix their Celtic with rock, folk, bluegrass, jazz and world music. They’ve produced five CDs since their inception in 1990, including their brand new Every Day’s a Hooley. Expect wildness and musical muscle with maybe the occasional traditional ballad to boo-hoo to.

Off Kilter From Orlando, Fla. Recognize the city? Been to the theme park there? You might have seen this hard-driving band play. Any band that can play a theme park five days a week has sure shown us their mettle. They haven’t just played for Goofy aficionados, they’ve appeared on VH-1 and at the Miss America Pageant. Wearing their bikinis, we hope.

Gael Force A favorite at Irish Fest. Get up close and feel the power. Fronted by Patrick O’Kane from Derry City in Ireland, the band is based in New York City. This is one of those Irish bands with electric guitar — and you know what that means. Rocking Celtic music to the beat of bodhrans and other percussion, buoyed by bagpipes and fiddles. A must.

Brigid’s Cross Traditional and contemporary Celtic music performed with fiddle, bodhran, guitar and three-part vocal harmony. Listen for stuff you know along with original tunes, including some sing-alongs! BYOV: Bring Your Own Voice. The locals Hey if you don’t catch them regularly around town, here’s your chance to see Hog Eye Navvy, the Irish Airs, the Irish Lads & Lasses and a selection of pipe bands.

Other activities

Saturday: Sheep Herding Exhibitions at 1, 3 and 5 p.m. See authentic sheep herding with border collies. Stop by in between exhibitions to pet the sheep and dogs.

Sunday: Celtic Mass at 11 a.m. at the Claddagh Irish Pub Stage. Gates will open at 10:30. People coming to the Mass or arriving prior to 11:30 a.m. can gain free admission if they bring a canned good per person to donate to Gleaner’s Food Bank.

Sunday: Second Annual Kilted Mile at 2 p.m. Participants, dressed in kilts, will run a 1-mile course on New York Street at the north side of the festival site, with bagpipe bands providing motivational music. Awards given to top three finishers and for the following: Bonniest Knees, Hairiest Legs, Best Dressed Kilt and Least Likely to Finish.

The entire festival: The Irish Market features more than 25 vendors selling merchandise from Ireland and cultural exhibits which include information about the history of Ireland, the Great Famine, origins of popular Irish songs, family genealogy, notable Irish women and local Irish and Scottish organizations.

What: Ninth Annual Indy’s Irish Festival
When: Friday, Sept. 17, 5-11:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18, 10:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, noon–7 p.m.
Where: Military Park
Tickets: Weekend Pass: $20; One-Day advance sale ticket: $8; One-Day ticket at the gate: $12; children 13 and under: free (advance ticket sales: Claddagh Irish Pubs, Fifth Third Bank branches, O’Malia Food Markets, Border’s Books and Music Café, O’Brien Automotive Family Dealerships and Killybegs Irish Import Shop)

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