Commentary CHRIS KATTERJOHN: A world-class weekend in Indy

September 17, 2007

The weekend of Sept. 7-9 was nothing short of world-class here in Indianapolis.

I'm not even taking into account the Thursday before, Sept. 6, which featured the Start with Art luncheon in the Convention Center, attended by some 1,200 people.

The luncheon kicks off the fall arts season and celebrates the importance of the arts-a theme that will run throughout this column.

Later in the afternoon and evening on Sept. 6, our city was the focal point of NFL hysteria and site of the league's opening game, when the Super Bowl banner was unfurled in the RCA Dome and the home team started its season with a convincing victory.

That, of course, had nothing to do with the arts. But it was world-class.

The next night, the weekend started for me and certain members of my family with dinner downtown at Elements-in my mind one of the city's top two or three restaurants. I'd stack its menu and execution up against anything I've found in Manhattan.

What the people at Elements do with food has to be considered a form of art. Not to mention that the restaurant regularly displays the work of local artists. Right now, paintings by Michelle Marocco adorn the walls there.

The next day brought Penrod, the day of arts and music on the grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

I didn't make it to Penrod, but that night I attended a unique art show and sale at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. In its second year, Quest for the West featured 165 original works from about 50 of the nation's leading Western and Native American artists.

If you've never attended a bona fide art show and sale, let me tell you it's a unique experience. The paintings and sculptures are all priced beforehand, and no negotiations are allowed. Prices ranged from $1,200 to as high as $58,000.

Registered buyers-many of whom hailed from outside Indiana-had about 90 minutes to look at all the art and drop their individualized purchase slips into boxes next to the pieces they were interested in purchasing.

Names were then drawn at random, with the first person chosen earning the right to purchase or give up that piece. Obviously, you could put your slip in for as many pieces as you liked.

After the sale, the evening concluded with an awards banquet that featured the finest gourmet dinner I've ever had at an event, courtesy of Eiteljorg's vendor, Kahn's Katering. Kudos for a job well done.

On Sunday, my weekend wrapped up with the openingnight gala for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, what has become a tradition in my family thanks to the generosity of my mother.

The evening again was proof positive that the ISO is as good as any orchestra in the nation, maybe the world. This year, the musicians were complemented by the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and special guest Angela Brown, a home-grown opera singer who has become world-renowned.

The symphony sounded finer than I've ever heard it, but for me the highlight of the evening was an encore, a cappella performance by Brown of the traditional spiritual "Lord, How Come Me Here." Her booming voice filled Hilbert Circle Theatre and brought the house down. (For a review of the performance, see Lou Harry's column on page 53.)

After the music, dinner was served in an elegant setting under big tents on Monument Circle. Following an excellent meal, the evening was capped by some dynamite fireworks.

As the fall arts season gets under way, I encourage you to partake. If you're living in a hole or just don't get out much, you need to know that this city provides worldclass food, world-class art and world-class music. It's all there for the taking.

Katterjohn is publisher of IBJ. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to ckatterjohn@ibj.com.
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