Kyle Ragsdale Paints the IRT’s New Season

The local artist created a canvas for each of the nine 2014–2015 shows.

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A painting promoting the IRT's October show, 'Red,' about Mark Rothko. Image courtesy Kyle Ragsdale
A painting promoting the IRT’s October show, ‘Red,’ about Mark Rothko. Image courtesy Kyle Ragsdale

When Indy artist Kyle Ragsdale lived in Fort Worth, Texas, years ago, he admired an innovative partnership between a local painter and the area’s Shakespeare in the Park company. The painter created a canvas for each of the Texas troupe’s shows, a clever marketing stunt and an inspiring collaboration. This season, Ragsdale gets his own chance as the Indiana Repertory Theatre hired him to create an original work for each of the IRT’s nine plays in 2014–2015. And his style couldn’t be more appropriate. “I tend to paint dramatic, mysterious paintings anyway,” he says.

Executive artistic director Janet Allen agrees that Ragsdale was an ideal partner for the IRT. In an official statement, she praised his “theatrical” work: “It was fascinating to see how an artist reacted to our art.”

Ragsdale had contributed to the Silent Auction of the IRT Celebrity Radio Show in the past, so they were familiar with his style. Last December, Allen came by the Harrison Center and pitched the idea. “I realized we were both excited about the project,” Ragsdale says.

First, Ragsdale read all the books behind the upcoming season’s shows. Then he headed to the studio to sketch out the nine paintings. The first one already is making the rounds in advertisements for The Two Gentlemen of Verona, opening Sept. 16. All of them can be viewed at the IRT’s website. And don’t worry if you can’t afford to shell out hundreds of dollars for the originals—some of the pieces will be reproduced in the IRT’s gift shop, made for sale in the form of gifts and notecards.

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