Best of Indy: Arts & Culture


New Art Collective

Until this past summer, The Droops had a posture problem. The Herron School of Art graduates were producing fabulous work on the bathroom walls at Milktooth and in Fountain Square clubs, but they weren’t standing up straight and demanding to be recognized. That ended with a blockbuster show at iMOCA in July, when large crowds admired their psychedelic, graffiti-inspired cartoon installations. Here, the six artists—who will have more work on display at Hotel Indigo in Columbus beginning in January—explain the meaning of several recent pieces.

After Midnight
by Ally Alsup
“This painting is about friendships—girlhood friends, boozy-college-night friends, friendships that I’ve lost and those I hope I never will. It’s about blindly loving friends and being shaped by the women around you.”



paul3x3Anomaly Responds to Me by Paul Pelsue
“This was inspired when we spotted a vehicle in Hamilton County that had a large decal reading ‘Anomaly Response Team.’ I began to wonder what that job would be like and what classifies something as an anomaly. I see this as a satirical view of a possible anomaly response situation.”



Sleep Talker by Ash Windbigler
“I’m an avid sleep talker who is obsessed with the past and my ancestors. I’m also a vivid dreamer who occasionally goes spelunking (in real life and dreams). I guess you could say that this painting is a self-portrait that illustrates where all of my imagery comes from.”


Adams3x3Here We Go Folks by Adam Wollenberg
“This is about the constant stress of the individual accompanied by the inevitable stress of the world, looming over the struggle for the American Dream; paradise is on the horizon like a mirage.”



Emilys3x3Ride On by Emily Gable
“Growing up, I sometimes held back participating in what others considered to be ‘boy sports.’ I was told, ‘You’re just too small and fragile.’ But I quickly realized I wanted to prove to everyone that I could do those things. I try to portray women in my work breaking barriers and stereotypes because that’s what drives me day to day.”


Brock3x3Out for a Drive, Never Came Back by Brock Forrer
“I thought a lot about the theme of the iMOCA show (Long Gone) when creating this painting. It was the first time in years that I had been able to work with my closest friends in a familiar environment. After somewhat aimlessly traveling and moving for the past few years, I drew on the ominous feeling of leaving home and not knowing when you’ll find that familiar place again.”


New Music Series

When NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts held a contest last winter for an opportunity to appear on the program, 66 bands from Central Indiana threw their hats into the ring. That number was music to the ears of local public broadcasting affiliate WFYI. With so much talent in the area, why not launch their own intimate music series? Small Studio Sessions, Take One. WFYI hosts national acts (Graham Nash) and local ones (Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band) performing stripped-down sets in its diminutive studio. Then the station posts the videos to its website on the last Tuesday of every month. Up-and-coming folk singer Sam Lee squeezes into the space on Dec. 29.

Exhibit Expansion

As if we weren’t already on board, the Eiteljorg Museum has expanded its holiday Jingle Rails model-train exhibit this year from the Clowes Sculpture Court into the hallways, where it now chugs overhead. Made entirely from natural materials such as sticks and moss by designer (and, alas, Kentuckian) Paul Busse, the miniaturized landscape slowly changes on the journey from Monument Circle to the American West. 500 W. Washington St., 636-9378

Theater for Millenials

A little late for curtain call when it came to programming to attract younger audiences, the Indiana Repertory Theatre finally filled the role with its Happy Hour shows. On the first Tuesday of a production, at 5:30 p.m., Sun King Brewing and New Day Craft pour their brews free of charge in the lobby. It’s a great opportunity to mingle with twenty-somethings and check out Kyle Ragsdale’s funky paintings promoting the plays  before the show. The Happy Hour soiree for The Mystery of Irma Vep takes place February 9. 140 W. Washington St., 635-5252

Underrated Lecture Series

Butler’s Visiting Writers Series gets all the attention, but the University of Indianapolis’s Lecture Series  speaks very well for itself. Think we’re all talk? Here’s proof from three recent speeches:

Photo courtesy of Steve Sands/WireImage
Neil deGrasse Tyson

“Thank you for reminding the speaker, who is an astrophysicist. I assure you, when stuff goes on with the sun, I’m all up in it.” [In response to an audience member noting the following day’s solar eclipse.] — Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of Cosmos. October 22, 2014.

“Rip them off. Use them. Don’t naysay the past. Before you can think out of the box, you have to start with a box.” [On the value of appreciating and not rejecting the creative traditions that came before you.] — Twyla Tharp, Emmy- and Tony-winning choreographer. March 15, 2015.

“The United States should put money into basic research. Why did AIDS funding go up? Activism, engagement, pressure. And it was the right thing to do, too, because that would become the leading infectious killer of young adults in American cities, just as predicted.” [On the moral obligation to fund research even on diseases like Ebola, which currently pose little threat to the industrialized world.] — Paul Farmer, physician and humanitarian who founded Partners in Health. October 6, 2015.

Intimate Opera

The fat lady hasn’t sung for the Indianapolis Opera after all—but she did lose some weight. After canceling last season’s final show, the group returned this summer with smaller-scale performances. Abandoning Clowes Hall (2,170 seats) for the Schrott Center (450 seats), the organization experimented with surprise hits such as The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, based on Oliver Sacks’s book of neurological curiosities. Next up? Opera’s Rising Stars on January 30. 610 W. 46th St., 283-3531

Fruit-Loopy Idea

Talk about out-of-the-box programming. Cereal Cinema—a collaboration between the IMA, Athenaeum, and Indy Film Fest—screens a family-friendly movie at 10 a.m. on the first Saturday of every month, complete with a cereal bar. The flicks tend to be sugary (Home Alone plays on December 5). But it’s great to see IMA curator Scott Stulen’s wacky ideas targeting kids.

Casual Classical

The Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians play in street clothes. Food trucks surround Hilbert Circle Theatre. Patrons munch on stromboli while listening to Stravinsky. The ISO’s Lunch Break series  was such a success last year that they brought back the casual, noon-hour, $5 concerts for an encore this summer. In February, they’ll announce the next round. 45 Monument Circle, 639-4300

Old-Timey Portraits

art and culture tintype portrait

Love old pictures of your ancestors? With a 19th-century camera and a coated aluminum plate, local photographer Dale Bernstein can transport your likeness to a time before Instagram and selfie sticks. During his tintype portrait sessions, Bernstein fires off just one shot of each subject. But what he creates in that one flash is magic. After processing the plate in a darkroom and rinsing it, he places it in a frame filled with a fixing chemical. And, much like a Polaroid, the image develops right before your eyes. The end result is a profile picture that will be the envy of all your Facebook friends. Bernstein has group portrait sessions planned for December 11–12.

Exhibit with Style

Two former models who helped inspire the Indiana Historical Society’s excellent exhibit That Ayres Look remember what ayres.bestit was like to be the face of Indianapolis fashion. Runs through Aug. 6, 2016. 450 W. Ohio St., 232-1882

Joanie Voyles

Hired in 1964
“I remember the cocktail dress I wore for a Fort Wayne store opening. It was a black velvet dress with a poufy sleeve—an Oscar de la Renta, I believe. I’m hunting for a dress to wear to my granddaughter’s wedding, and even though I’m several sizes larger, I’m still looking for something like that dress.”

Nancy Fernandes
Hired in 1961
“It was very prestigious to be an Ayres model. I was an ingenue. When the short skirts came in, I remember thinking, I will never wear skirts that short. And, of course, we did!”

New Comedian

After two sold-out performances at the Palladium in July, Pat McAfee swore he was punting on any future comedy evenings. Thankfully, that was a fake. The hilarious Colts kicker will host a variety show at Old National Centre on New Year’s Eve. (As if he needed any help, McAfee has invited America’s Got Talent runner-up Drew Lynch to join him on stage that night.) The truth is, McAfee has been making us laugh since his drunken freestyle in the Central Canal his first year with the team. The only difference now is he’s trying to.  502 N. New Jersey St., 231-0000