Oranje 07: Indy's most sensual night of interactive art and music 

ORANJE: “An Interactive Experience of Art and Music”
When: Saturday, Sept. 15, 2007, 8 p.m.-2 a.m.
Where: 2323 N. Illinois St., Indianapolis, Ind.
What: 45 artists, 25 music acts, Indie Film Lounge
Cost: $20 (age 21 and over only)
Purchase tickets via www.ticketmaster.com, or at the door.

In its sixth year of sensual indulgence, Oranje has gained popularity as one of the Midwest’s elite events of its kind. This year, 45 artists and 25 musical acts will take over a 60,000-square-foot warehouse on North Illinois Street, providing an opportunity for Indianapolis to engage in a massive celebration of the creative arts.

There will be plenty of food and drink available from local vendors, and attendees can come early and stay late, or anywhere in between; the party rages on until 2 a.m. Last year’s event saw roughly 2,300 patrons, and as the size and prestige of the event has grown, the founding fathers of Oranje, Adam Crockett and Ryan Hickey, expect that number to increase exponentially.

Whether you want to take advantage of the unique interactive experiences offered by the artists, or just to knock back some drinks while rocking out to any of the 25 international musical acts, Oranje provides a sensory overload that Indy sees but once a year.

For additional info and a comprehensive list of artists and musicians, visit www.oranjeindy.com.

Erotic artist

Gina King

Like many children in suburban Indiana, Gina King grew up drawing rough, simple sketches of the comic book characters she idolized. However, as King added years to her artistic experience, the characters began to rebel against the confines of clothing — one undergarment at a time.

Her Web site features a sultry gallery of pin-up and erotic fantasy art that portrays industry-famous models at their finest, using a diverse range of themes and subject matter.

Along with some of the sexiest art in Indiana, her artistic method will be on full display at Oranje. In her rookie experience of the event, she will be bringing “interactive behind-the-scenes type stuff,” including new originals, in-progress sketches and even post-it notes of early doodling. Her booth at Oranje will present a unique opportunity to hear the stories behind the product, straight from the artist’s mouth — as she will be available for conversation and criticism from attendees.

The most scandalous of her paintings, which have never been exhibited in public, will be available for an Oranje-exclusive experience. “I have one that’s a close-up of the female genitalia — done photo-realistically — with a big belt that says “pussy” on the buckle,” King said. “Since Oranje is a 21-over show I’ll probably bring more of those.”

In a few months King will have a full-page illustration in Hustler magazine. The exposure is a taste of her true ambition. “I want everything,” she said. “I want books, I want to see my name everywhere … every type of merchandising and licensing you can think of.”

King’s found landlocked Indianapolis a stable environment for a profession traditionally dominated by the coasts. “I’m pretty comfortable in Indy,” she said of the city’s arts community. “I can survive on an artist’s income, because of the cost of living, and still get work all over the country from the Internet.” Furthermore, she actually credits her enthusiasm for her chosen genre to growing up a Hoosier. “There’s not as much pin-up around here as there needs to be,” she said, and as a result she has become one of the leading ladies in the industry and one of the most heavily-anticipated entertainers at Oranje.

Visit www.ByGina.com for an extensive gallery of art, as well as information on obtaining commissioned art. It’s her art on our cover thhis week.

—Andrew Roberts

Toys R her

Phyllis Chen

Phyllis Chen, a multiple award-winning classical pianist, started playing at age 5. “I always loved the way the piano felt under my fingers,” Chen said. “For kids, the piano is like a toy: You press buttons and things would happen. As a kid, that is what attracted me to the piano.”

Chen studied piano performance at Oberlin Conservatory, received a master’s degree from Northwestern University and is currently working on her doctorate at Indiana University. Ironically, she did not discover the toy piano until she was 22.

But Chen is not your typical concert pianist. She hosts her own radio program, The Toad’s Wart, on 99.1 WIUX-LP Bloomington and is a founding member of the new musical group International Contemporary Ensemble. ICE is dedicated to promoting innovative new work. The ensemble has performed in New York City, Chicago, Mexico, England and Russia.

Chen is also an active toy pianist. She has performed her original composition Suite for Toy Piano at the Extensible Toy Piano Festival in Worcester, Mass. She collaborates with Oranje artist Rob Dietz on multimedia performances. Earlier this year, the duo premiered Chen’s piece The Memoirist. The piece features three toy pianos, a laptop, sampling keyboard, bowls, a pillow and a stuffed bunny.

Chen has seven toy pianos, two concert grands, one baby grand and the rest are variations of upright pianos. The oldest piece is from 1902 and has metal rods and metal hammers. (The modern toy pianos have plastic hammers.) “All of the toy pianos are slightly different, because the tuning depends on the length of the metal rods,” she said. “There are slight variations between pianos, which really invite a microtonal element. … It’s hard to play with tuning on modern pianos without electronics, so this is one of the toy piano’s greatest charms.”

—Nora Spitznogle

Fidelity as a testament

Kay Grimm

At the age of 40, Kay Grimm read a book about installation art, and instantly realized she’d been creating it all her life. For years she coordinated youth-development programs, which beautified communities with landscape art — until Bush got elected and her funding was slashed to the bone. Nearly put out on the street, she quickly became one of Indy’s premier installation artists, and has been living off of her art ever since.

A self-described “veteran” of Oranje, Grimm will be constructing a thematic 30-foot-high, bare-skin-only photo booth. For about $7, patrons can have a professional-grade black and white photograph of as much (or as little) of their bare skin as they desire. And for the closet exhibitionist, Grimm promises to delete your photo, if you request, right in front of you — or with consent, your photos will be collected in the portfolio of local photographer Susan Spicer.

Grimm has been with Oranje since its inaugural year, and she explains her fidelity as a testament to both the appeal of the event, and the popularity of her work. Part of her attraction to the event comes from the competition among artists to be the “torch to their moth,” by presenting the biggest and brightest exhibit in the house. “Subconsciously, the competition is through the roof,” she said. “You want to be the most creative person in a room full of creative people.”

The bare-skin photo booth has become a crowd-favorite at Oranje, but this year the main event will not be revealed until the doors open. It may or may not involve hundreds of feet of bubble wrap.

Competition pays off in dividends for the audience, for everyone from Oranje virgins being mesmerized by the sensory overload to the five-year pros, anxiously salivating for this year’s new batch of surprises. “People just like to experience it,” Grimm said. “The demographic is people who want to be out of the box, and don’t know how to get there.”

Traditionally, as sobriety takes its leave, interest has slipped toward the musical acts and away from the artists. But Grimm is always there until the bitter end, and embraces the merging of old and young attendees as part of Oranje’s lure.

“This event allows you to be so free,” she said. “That whole event is about thinking out of the box — it’s all about people’s reactions.”

While her experience lies primarily with installation art, Grimm began collecting “found” objects six years ago, and in 2004 she was awarded an Individual Artist Project by the Indiana Arts Council. She used the grant to publish Ind!visible, a sequential, photographic documentation of the objects she found — and the people of Indianapolis they represent. She’s also working on a book, tentatively titled Kids in Bloom, an account of the beautification projects she’s engaged in, and the lives they’ve changed.

Her installation and landscape art can be found on Massachusetts Avenue, at John Marshall Middle School, Trader’s Point Creamery in Zionsville and throughout the city.

—Andrew Roberts

“Dude, I want to do that!”

DJ LeahAnn

Halloween 2002 held several milestones in the life of Indianapolis DJ LeahAnn. At the age of 25, that evening was the first time she had ever been to a club, as well as the first time she ever drank alcohol.

Having grown up in a rather conservative Christian environment meant she was sheltered from a lot of things. She wasn’t allowed to drink or dance. So LeahAnn’s first club experience was quite the unbeatable “first time.” She stood in the V.I.P. box above world-renowned trance DJ Tiesto at mega-club Vision in Chicago, Ill. “I was just enthralled by him controlling the audience,” LeahAnn says. “I was like, dude, I want to do that!”

LeahAnn’s next step into the electronic music scene came about from e-mailing Indianapolis electronic promoter Slater Hogan via his Musique Boutique Web site. She wanted to know about club events in the area, and he referred her to Seth Nichols and DJ Mack, who had been doing events at the old Eden (now Seven nightclub). She began frequent conversations with Nichols, who would talk to her online all day from the store he operated, Evolving Records.

“That’s how I found out all about electronic music and eventually, fell in love with him,” LeahAnn says.

Two months after the Tiesto show in Chicago, LeahAnn purchased all the equipment she would need to DJ via eBay and drove all the way to North Carolina to pick it up, with Nichols joining her for the ride. “We look back and consider it our first date,” LeahAnn remembers. “We got married July 24, 2004.”

Leading up to their marriage, LeahAnn was already involved with Evolving Records. The store provided a perfect space for her to practice mixing music, and Nichols was there to make suggestions and coach her along the way.

Now Indianapolis has become home to two of LeahAnn’s favorite events: the Mini Marathon and Oranje.

“At Oranje, you’re hanging out with the most cool crowd Indianapolis can muster,” she says. “Everyone’s interested in music and art and having a good time. It’s not about being the best there or the best dressed.”

—Jack Shepler

Amplified emotional response

Tim Gray

Tim Gray left the vibrant arts community of San Francisco for Indiana in 2003 — and as a professor of architecture at Ball State he has become a catalyst, spreading the influence of his Californian experiences across the Midwest.

He currently resides in Carmel with his wife and two children, while quietly fighting an uphill battle to protect the agrarian structures of Carmel and downtown Indy with his designs. His sculptures are centered on “the importance of place over rational thought.” He explains this concept as a subconscious emotional response that an individual experiences when entering a structure. “The poetics of design is the connection of beauty with an emotional response; with your gut,” he said.

While Carmel is becoming increasingly aggressive in its expansion as a would-be metropolis, the rural buildings that characterize the Hoosier landscape are being bullied out of town by the dime-a-dozen real estate developers. By installing sculptural art in the most simple of antiquated structures, Gray hopes that his audience will feel an amplified emotional response to their surroundings, and come to identify their experience of everyday structures as part of their identity.

“There’s a lot to be proud of,” he believes. “That said, I think the city struggles with the sense of identity, or place. There’s a lot of real beauty to the landscape. The sun setting over a cornfield, the rhythms of the agrarian landscape as it changes from season to season — these are all genuine. I seek to celebrate what’s unique about this place.”

He explains that architecture is being able to see and interpret the environment in a creative way.

“And that’s the poetics of architecture,” he said. “That’s the art that comes from your gut, not your head; and that’s what I’m really interested in.

“Indy is a great success story,” he said. “I see it growing, and it’s central to the identity of the city to have an arts community that’s active. I’m happy to be a part of it.”

—Andrew Roberts

Bringin’ the funk

The Twin Cats

The Twin Cats — so named for twin brothers and founders Adam and Seth Catron, on drums and guitars/vocals — are a live, improv funk band that have made a name for themselves as of late with an active live schedule of eight to 10 shows a month. Other members include bassist Cameron Reel, keyboardist Phil Geyer and saxophone/flute player Nick Gerlach. Gerlach spoke to NUVO about the band’s development.

NUVO: How have things gone for the Twin Cats with such an aggressive live schedule?

Gerlach: Things have grown exponentially. We went from playing the Rock Lobster and local shows, and now we’re playing on a more regional level. We do Louisville and Chicago once a month, and we’re getting into festivals.

NUVO: How has your sound developed?

Gerlach: We’re obviously very funk-based, with some rock and jazz in there, but really, we just like to make people dance. We play about half-instrumental and half-lyrical. Our language is a really driving rhythm section. Adam and Kevin, our bass player, are as tight as any rhythm section I’ve ever heard. And Phil, our keyboard player with all the toys in the corner, adds a lot of color to what we’re doing.

NUVO: You’ve started playing along with the Mudkids as of late; how’s that working out?

Gerlach: It’s a lot of fun, and it makes us tighten up our work musically. We frequently bring in special guests to our shows. It’s exciting for the people to watch, and it’s good for the group.

NUVO: You’ll be sharing the stage with a lot of other groups during Oranje; any expectation of some jamming along those lines?

Gerlach: I’m hoping that there’s going to be some collaboration between those groups. There are a lot of guys up there who know each other, a bunch of creative people on stage and in the crowd. We’ll see how it goes. People will get their money’s worth, I’m sure.

—Paul F. P. Pogue

Rock, pop and … Arabic

Lynda Sayyah

Pop singer Lynda Sayyah has been a part of Oranje as fashion show director for three years, but this marks her first time singing for the event.

NUVO: You don’t make a secret of the fact that your family is not happy with your career choice.

Sayyah: My father is Arabic, and my mother is German. My dad is a great guy; he always treated me like a great daughter, but there were these cultural clashes while I was a child. I had a curfew until I got married. I couldn’t go to prom. I couldn’t go date. My dad never let me perform until, actually, never.

NUVO: How has this upbringing affected your music?

Sayyah: They’re very judgmental. They’re constantly worried about what other people are thinking. They’re worried about shaming the family. That’s what a lot of my music is about — the judging. It was hard growing up like that, but it gave me a lot of inspiration. My family and I are not doing well. They don’t like my career choice.

NUVO: What kind of musical influences do you bring to your work?

Sayyah: I grew up listening to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey all the time. Power vocals were what I was into. Then Christina Aguilera came out when I was 12. I was already around that music, but my dad and my family were listening to the Arabic music as well, so a lot of my sounds are Arabic-influenced. That’s probably where I came from — listening to all that music and loving it. When I was a child, I was always [into] the arts, the choir [and] the plays.

NUVO: What’s your stage show like, and what can we expect at Oranje?

Sayyah: I’m not a choreography kind of person. I’m a high-energy kind of person — a lot of belly dancing combined with head banging, if that makes any sense. A lot of Oranje is material I’ve recorded in the last three weeks. I’ve been recording nonstop. So it’s going to be a lot of new songs. I’ve mixed Arabic music with rock and pop and club. It’s really weird. It’ll be all new material, no covers, things people have never heard before.

—Paul F. P. Pogue

Dark romanticism

Danz Poeta

Jamie Vitreaux of Danz Poeta (electro-industrial/EBM project) spent many formative years in Indianapolis as a member of Nimbus and Form 30. A few years ago, he decided to go in a more electronic direction, and Danz Poeta was born. On the albums, he’s a solo artist; on stage he plays with Eugene Kennedy and Pierre Jackson, who provide keyboards and some guitars. Since forming the project, Vitreaux’s opened for such well-known electronic acts as Razed in Black, The Crüxshadows and Combichrist.

NUVO: How would you describe your sound?

Vitreaux: For Danz Poeta, it’s darkwave with a little bit of EBM and futurepop. I’m very influenced by ‘80s synthpop but also the whole darkwave/EBM movement. What’s happened recently is I’ve started another project called Reduction Front, which is more electro-industrial — hard EBM. Redemption and salvation come into my music. Existentialism — creating to know you exist through your creation. A lot of interpersonal relationship sort of stuff. There’s an overarching theme of dark romanticism in general.

NUVO: What’s the difference between your recorded and live work?

Vitreaux: Live, the mixes are heavier and more stripped-down, so in that sense it’s more like Nine Inch Nails. We add guitar and extra keyboards. Generally, my singing is a lot more aggressive live. The Oranje show is going to be a domination of the Reduction Front and Danz Poeta music; it’ll be half darkwave and half electro-industrial. So it’ll be a little schizophrenic. If we have an hour or more, I may throw in a lot more stuff from the first album. But I’m a lot hotter on my new stuff right now. We’re debuting almost half a set of new material.

NUVO: What’s the scene like for electronic music in Indianapolis?

Vitreaux: Because of where we’re located, it’s hard for an electronic band to really get noticed in a town of rock bands. Indianapolis is a very neutral place for me. It’s not really where I draw my inspiration; it’s where I’m comfortable living. I draw my inspiration more from European influences.

NUVO: How have you grown as an artist since your first album, Pray for Rain?

Vitreaux: Pray for Rain was a learning curve for me, too. There was room to grow, but at some point you have to call it done and get it out there. There are going to be remixes forthcoming. That’s the great thing about electronic music; you can take your music and remix it and re-release it.

—Paul F. P. Pogue


It is hard to hang an easy-to-explain cliché on Motosota’s sound.
Ambient, experimental rock seems to be the tag most often attached to them. “Plain and simple, it is instrumental rock, in that we have no vocals and play rock music,” Brian Jarecki said. “We try to navigate through all possibilities and influences without any limitations. We enjoy challenging ourselves and those listening to our music, and [we] try to keep things interesting for everyone. Each band member brings their own influences and elements to the table when we write, making the end-product possibilities endless.”

The band formed in 2004, after Jarecki posted an ad on IndianapolisMusic.net looking for something “new.” To his surprise, he received a fair amount of replies. The current lineup includes Jarecki (guitar and electronics), Jerry Snook (Fender Rhodes, flute and bass), Marko Zientara (drums) and Brandon Rucker (bass). They all share writing and composing duties.

Rucker joined the band after the first year, which coincided with their first Oranje performance. “It was an honor to play the show as a relatively unknown and off-the-cuff-hybrid sort of band with no real following,” Jarecki said. “It really invigorated us and injected new life into the band when we first heard the news. I cannot think of a better event to have in this city, and this has always been our most anticipated gig and gives us outstanding exposure.

“With the excitement also comes some sadness, as we will part ways with another original member, Jerry Snook, who will be moving to Minnesota this summer,” Jarecki continued. “We are hopeful for the future of the band. We have started working on new material and may be adding two additional multi-instrumentalists, one of them being a vocalist, which will be a first for us. We hope to integrate some of the early trip-hop elements into our future work. We look forward to the future of this music and the never-ending directions to which we may explore.” ‘

—Nora Spitznogle

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