Independent Music + Art Festival
The Harrison Center Saturday, June 12
The cause of uniting the so-called “fine arts” of Indianapolis with local music took a giant, and entertaining, leap forward on Saturday with the Independent Music + Art Festival at the Harrison Center. Painters, sculptors and other artisans displayed and sold their works to the accompaniment of some of Indianapolis’ most interesting musical acts. And a few of them even did double duty. Artist Kyle Ragsdale, whose work was displayed inside the Harrison Center, also took the stage with his group Emory Salem.
While the music itself was fine, the real joy at this event came from seeing the two almost mutually exclusive groups — artists and musicians — co-mingle in a way not often seen here. There were some problems in translation, meaning some of the artists were puzzled by the work of the musicians and vice-versa, but the vibe overall was great.
I’m not qualified to render an opinion on Ragsdale’s art, but Emory Salem performed an intriguing set. Backed up by a Macintosh that held the drum tracks, the two-piece group performed flawless, dreamy pop songs that seemed inspired by 1980s pop music. It was a genuine and welcome surprise.
All of the groups I saw perform in my afternoon/early-evening stay did a good job. The Spud Puppies, led by virtuoso guitarist Greg Ziesemer, played a set of (mostly) traditional bluegrass. This band always does an excellent job and is at its best in an outdoor setting.
Heidi Gluck of the Pieces performed a set that showcased her angelic voice. Accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she played a variety of old and new songs and had the audience transfixed. That’s not an easy thing to do to a sun-drenched crowd, but Gluck is just that good a performer.
The highlight of the afternoon had to be the performance by Undefeatable Beats, which is more or less the house band at United States of Mind. They’re one of those bands that seems more like a political movement than an actual group, because the lineup seemed pretty dynamic. Several rappers and percussionists joined with the voices of Kate Lamont and Sarah Graub to make Undefeatable Beats, whose songs varied from straight-ahead Fuglees-style hip-hop to more tribal-like percussion numbers. They hit paydirt with “Fallujah,” an ode to oppressed people worldwide.
Inside the Harrison Center, a few dozen visual artists displayed their work. It ranged from abstract sculpture and paintings to more traditional portraits, all of which made the same kind of statements of independence, freedom and self-expression as the musicians outside were making.
Individually, artists and musicians face a hard road to acceptance by their respective audiences. But when they join forces, as they did on Saturday, they are indeed undefeatable. Hopefully, there will be more of this kind of collaboration in the future.