Articles

A&E: Be realistic: Eiteljorg show gets gritty

There are art lovers who will never, ever be able to embrace the kind of work represented in the very representational “Quest for the West” show at the Eiteljorg (through Oct. 5). Featuring Native Americans crouching at riverside, stalwart cowboys trudging through snow-covered silence, bucolic mountains, steadfast wolves (or coyotes-sorry, I’m from New Jersey), and anguished bronzes, much of the work seems to exist independent of the artists. Yes, they seem to have been there to capture the images, but…

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A&E: Sets appeal: At Phoenix, design matters

When it comes to the Phoenix Theatre, a first-class set usually indicates a first-class show. On its stages, I’ve witnessed everything from seemingly t h r ow n – t o g e t h e r raggedy to impeccably pro. But the strongest, most satisfying work I’ve seen there-including, now, “November” (running thorough Oct. 11)-has been presented dressed for success. Now, I’m not sure about the chicken-orthe-egg-ness of this. It could be that, when the powers that be have…

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A&E: ISO complements DK dancers

As with everywhere else, in dance audiences there are two kinds of people. There are those who read the program notes beforehand to discern the choreographer’s intent and/or to get an anchor firmly attached to interpretation before the show begins. And there are those who prefer to experience a work on stage without any prior introduction. I’m one of the latter-although I do go back to the notes afterwards to see if the intention was communicated. In the case of…

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A&E: Out of the Hopper: Drawings reveal artist’s process

When so much attention is focused on wo u l d – b e b l o c k bu s t e r exhibitions, it’s easy to forget that the Indianapolis Museum of Art mixes things up regularly with smaller shows. At their best, these offer more succinct pleasures-and they don’t require much of a time commitment. Truth is, if you spend more than a half-hour at one, you’re probably just being pretentious. Two new shows-lost a bit in…

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A&E

A&E The Fringe Connection It’s a challenge writing about IndyFringe, the festival that adds a shot of late-summer life to Mass Ave (Aug. 22-31). Part of the challenge comes from the fact that IndyFringe, unlike the plays, exhibitions and concerts I normally review in this space, exists in two forms-the macro and the micro. The macro is the festival itself-more than 50 companies and individual performers spread out over six stages. It involves art exhibitions (including one where you can…

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A&E: The Fringe Connection

It’s a challenge writing about IndyFringe, the festival that adds a shot of late-summer life to Mass Ave (Aug. 22-31). Part of the challenge comes from the fact that IndyFringe, unlike the plays, exhibitions and concerts I normally review in this space, exists in two forms-the macro and the micro. The macro is the festival itself-more than 50 companies and individual performers spread out over six stages. It involves art exhibitions (including one where you can ditch art and take…

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A&E: Schmart changes highlight “The Producers”

When you’ve seen many productions at a theater (and I’ve seen many at Beef & Boards) and you’ve also seen multiple versions of a particular show (I’ve witnessed two previous takes on “The Producers” in addition to both film versions) then, when the familiar theater and the familiar show come together, you can’t help but have some expectations. That’s not to say there’s prejudgment-just some assumptions. For instance, going into Beef & Boards’ “The Producers,” I figured it would take…

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A&E: Schmart changes highlight “The Producers”

When you’ve seen many productions at a theater (and I’ve seen many at Beef & Boards) and you’ve also seen multiple versions of a particular show (I’ve witnessed two previous takes on “The Producers” in addition to both film versions) then, when the familiar theater and the familiar show come together, you can’t help but have some expectations. That’s not to say there’s prejudgment-just some assumptions. For instance, going into Beef & Boards’ “The Producers,” I figured it would take…

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A&E: Searching for fair art

Most weeks, I use a pretty traditional definition of arts and entertainment when I decide what to review in this column. But that’s most weeks. This time, after a day-opening day-at the Indiana State Fair, I’m going to broaden my criteria a bit. Looked at with open eyes, the Indiana State Fair is one massive piece of performance art, with thousands of artists participating (most of them unknowingly). The kids in their band uniforms trying to pretend sweat isn’t pouring…

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A&E: On stage, the kids are alright

Last year, American Cabaret Theatre’s young adult production of “High School Musical” was, well, a very good high school musical. If you happened to be talked into going because your niece was in the cast, you would have had a surprisingly good time. This year ACT’s young adult “The Wiz” (running through Aug. 17) is similar. If this were a high school show, you’d be amazed at the vocal talent. If you approached it as children’s theater, you’d be impressed…

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A&E: Booker blitzes downtown

It is likely that “Chakaia Booker: Mass Transit,” the 10-piece exhibition running through April 1, will invite a greater negative reaction than the two previous public art shows that dotted downtown. Unlike Tom Otterness-with his rounded smileys masking money-is-evil messages-and Julian Opie-many of whose “Signs” could have served as, well, signs-Booker creates work that is abstract, defiant and unpolished. The pieces-constructed from tires-aren’t pretty, they aren’t funny, they aren’t slick and they don’t seem aimed to please. As such, they…

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A&E: Icarus rises after ISO program

This week, a visit to Symphony on the Prairie yields an unexpected treat. Plus, tips for making the most of your evening on the lawn. The crowd was already thick when I arrived a good hour before show time for the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra’s “Glorious Fourth” concert at Conner Prairie. And so rather than squeeze my blanket onto one of the small patches of available space, I opted to sacrifice sight-lines, staking a claim instead at the upper fringe. There,…

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A&E: Chinese art from within and without

This week, China art at the Indianapolis Art Center. And a famous scroll finds itself in remarkable company at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Anyone who has set foot into the Indianapolis Art Center has bumped into the name Fehsenfeld. It is, after all, half the moniker of the center’s Churchman-Fehsenfeld Gallery. And so I think some skepticism was to be expected when I heard that one of the two artistic worlds showcased in the Indianapolis Art Center’s “Two Worlds,…

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A&E: Reel relic Tibbs keeps the drive-in dream alive

In this column, I usually write about content, not containers; arts software, not the hardware; the creative stuff, not the bricks and mortar. But in the case of the drive-in movie, context is everything. The specifics of what’s on screen aren’t nearly as important as where you are. The magic is in the air, not the flickering images. And it’s been that way for 75 years this month. On June 6, 1933, the first drivein theater opened in Camden, N.J….

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A&E: Crowds make good stuff even better

While I try not to be swayed by an enthusiastic crowd, this week it was difficult not to be influenced by my fellow audience members. Their passion, their support and their we’re-with-you-ness seemed to boost performers to greater heights everywhere I looked. And while a passionate crowd won’t ever convince me that a play or concert is a satisfying one, if I’m already enjoying a show, it’s that much better when everyone else seems to be too. This weekend of…

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A&E: Honk if you like community theater

As someone interested in contemporary musicals, I’m thrilled that Buck Creek Players annually offers at least one show unlikely to be staged anywhere else in town. It has given voice, for instance, to such obscurities as “Parade,” “Violet,” and “Side Show.” Next season, it continues the trend with the local premiere of “Grey Gardens.” Could Buck Creek do better at the box office with yet another “Joseph” or “Annie”? Probably. But company Director D. Scott Robinson is more ambitious and…

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A&E: Locals conjure up monthly magic

When IndyFringe, the eclectic latesummer theater fest, launched, I hoped it would have ripple effects on the yearround arts scene here, perhaps inspiring fledgling theater companies to try lowcost Fringe productions and then move out from under the festival umbrella to stage full shows on their own. What I didn’t expect was that, thanks in part to the Fest, we’d now have magic on stage throughout the year. Taylor Martin-an IndyFringe staple whose on-stage characters include Colonial magician Rodney the…

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A&E: Musical milestone reconsidered at the IRT

At the beginning of this IRT season, Peter Amster directed “Our Town,” in which a knowing narrator gave a worldly perspective to the follies and joys of a young couple in love. As the season closer at the IRT, Peter Amster directs “The Fantasticks,” in which a knowing narrator gives worldly perspective to the follies and joys of a young couple in love. This time, there’s music. I don’t say this to trivialize either production. Rather, these additional levels are…

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A&E: Welcome lace fans

Hear the word “lace” and you’d be justified in thinking of such terms as “delicate,” “elegant” or, if you were in a whimsical mood, even “doily-esque.” Hear “knitting” and you are likely to imagine a grandmotherly woman working on a shawl. That assumes, of course, that you haven’t already been to the Indiana State Museum to see the new exhibit “Radical Lace & Subversive Knitting.” Hear those words after visiting and you’re likely to have other ideas. The exhibition, organized…

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