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Arts Guide 2005: 30 under 30


Each year in our Arts Guide, we find artists, entrepreneurs and innovators in the cultural scene to highlight, focusing our attentions on those individuals under the age of 30.
Violet Aveline, 22, visual artist

Violet Aveline speaks softly, making contact with her hazel eyes. Her flower barrettes hold back little wisps of hair. She seems to glow. That might be because her first child is due in February. But, beyond that, she possesses a magical quality — which extends to her artwork. A painter, filmmaker and collage artist, Aveline’s work comes directly from childhood: Cowboys talk with each other. A pink child in a bunny suit looks back, frowning. A body of water circles a neon pink castle below the words “A moat to keep the commies out.” In a performance piece, she and her friends wore jumpsuits and horse masks made from paper bags, singing and twirling sparklers in front of a TV blaring a church service. “I have been trying to get people to feel a certain way, not so much manipulate, but to guide them,” she says. “I want people to laugh, not at me, but with me, at something with me, or to feel like a kid again. I remember feeling pretty happy most of the time when I was a kid. It was so much nicer to be able to believe in anything. “When you grow older you can’t believe you’re going to be president or that there still might be that last unicorn in existence. So that’s the downfall to growing up.” Although Aveline has shown work at the Bodner and Murphy Art Center and is part of the Hoozitz show Sept. 9 at the Harrison Center, she still refrains from referring to herself as an artist. She feels she still is studying. “There’s so much stuff I don’t know about. I’d call myself a reader or a worker at a coffee shop but not an artist,” she says. “I think I’m another student that really likes art. I am still trying to figure out what I want to do.” —Shauta Marsh

Kelly Beerbower, 28, visual artist

Kelly Beerbower has three stuffed animal heads — a boar, a mountain goat and a ram — hung on the wall above her television. “I’ve always been obsessed with anthropology, archeology, genetics and behavioral studies. Just the similarities between animals and humans and how we space each other apart,” Beerbower says of her art and décor for her studio at the Wheeler Arts Community. Her obsession is reflected in her work. On one of her silkscreened posters, Beerbower sits nude in neon yellow on a neon red elephant. The series continues with different colors and Beerbower sitting on different animals. “I used myself as a study, propped a laundry basket up on the table and straddled it,” she says. “I was a little worried when I dropped the film off at Cord. I can’t imagine what they thought when they developed that.” Beerbower has spent summers working with horses in Zionsville and volunteering at the Jack Leer Wolf Memorial, where she searched for road kill and chopped it up with an ax to feed a pack of seven wolves. She got too close to the wolves and had to leave the job behind. “I couldn’t handle the job anymore,” she says. “A female wolf had a stroke in her den and was dying.” These experiences have an obvious effect on her work. Some of her work contains phrases like “You maneuver like a cornered dog” and “As I promised tiny monsters.” Her silk screened shirts sometimes take an entire day to make. They are layered with color, each image divided into parts then layered over with different colors. Beerbower sells these shirts or pillows for $15-$45. You can buy Beerbower’s work at www.lovemarshill.com, at Rural located at 970 Fort Wayne Ave. and at the upcoming Wheeler show on Sept. 17. —SM

Rob Bola, 27, screenwriter

Rob Bola, a graduate of IU, grew up in Bloomington and has worked in local film in New York and Seattle, but it was in Indianapolis where he made his most significant contribution thus far: working on the script for the endlessly inventive thriller romp Fake ID, directed by Joel Umbaugh. “You think you know a lot of stuff, and then someone puts a camera in your hand and you realize you know nothing,” Bola says. “I hear people say, ‘I watch a lot of movies to educate myself.’ But there’s so many facets. It’s one of the most complicated arts. I’ve been doing it five years, and I could do it 50 more and keep up refining myself. That’s pretty much what Joel and I are doing. We’re always trying to improve ourselves, to top ourselves with the next thing.” Bola returned to Indianapolis and ended up hooking up with Umbaugh in preproduction on Fake ID as a script consultant. Before long, Umbaugh asked him to do a full rewrite. Bola started over from the beginning, redefining the characters and locations and rewriting nearly all of the dialogue. “I wish it was a process I could have more often,” Bola says. “I finished it a week before production began and neither Joel nor the producers said, ‘We can’t do this. We don’t have the time to figure this out.’ They said, ‘Pretty much we’re going to shoot the script as it is.’ And we believed in it, out of necessity if nothing else.” Indianapolis has been Bola’s home base for three years, and he doesn’t see himself moving anytime soon. “When I started filmmaking I searched for someone like Joel, and I ended up finding what I was looking for in Indianapolis,” Bola says. “We see moviemaking in the same way and trust each other and respect each other, and that’s what needs to happen. At least at this stage. I’m not under any delusions of grandeur that I’m some auteur. I don’t have a vision I’m trying to get out there. Our concern is to make entertaining movies. Hopefully, they’re sophisticated and challenging, but that’s our main concern. Neither of us is trying to get across an agenda. We don’t have an ideology. We’re willing to give up whatever it takes to make the movie better.” Next up for Bola is a suspense thriller with Umbaugh, Earshot. —Paul F. P. Pogue

Matt Buchanan, 24, poet

Matt Buchanan has all the makings of Clark Kent, except he doesn’t really save the world. By night, he moves boxes for Fed Ex in a blue T-shirt, blue workpants, black boots, no cape. By day, he sleeps, gets up, throws on a western-style plaid shirt, some black Chucks, writes poetry and works on his white 1966 Ford Galaxy. Oddly enough, telephones show up a lot in Buchanan’s poetry, just like Clark Kent thinking about making a change in the phone booth. Here’s an excerpt: “How great it is to have the phone ringing all the time! And not to answer it! O just a few misplaced understandings Miss Valentine. I think we should keep the things we’re saying. Move them around like boxes! And things in them! But what quiet evening did we hide inside? The one where you said, ‘it’s the beginning of realizing so much.’” Like most superheroes, he first relied on Bryan Adams songs to impress the girls. “In third grade I wanted to give a girl the lyrics. I remember writing them down: rewinding and pausing, rewinding and pausing,” he says. “Then, on my own, I wrote some real bad high school stuff. I think it’s gotten better.” Buchanan started his first two years at the Herron School of Art working toward a visual communications degree. Although he was writing the whole time, Buchanan really didn’t consider himself a writer until he took a class with IUPUI’s Hannah Haas. “She inspired me to switch to an English major. She and Terry Kirts have been incredible. They’ve helped me quit being scared to call myself a writer and take my work seriously.” Buchanan’s writing is similar to the work of prose poet James Tate. It’s thoughtful, smart and fun to read. First and foremost Buchanan is an observer, interested in the world around him. And, even when writing about himself or his relationships, the poetry remains selfless. Sort of like Superman. —SM

Jocque Carey, 17, rapper

Perhaps the most remarkable thing about Indianapolis rapper and MC Jocque Carey of the rap group J30 (pronounced JAY-TRAY-O) is that he’s 17 years old. Wise beyond his years, Carey talks of being a “conscience rapper” in the tradition of thought provokers Eminem and Kanye West. Carey and J30 took part in this year’s Midwest Music Summit and like many other acts are trying to make it. Jocque established himself as an actor and performer in Indianapolis at the tender age of 8 with his involvement in the Asante Children’s Theatre. However, music is his first love. He recently worked with Indiana legend Rhymefest and now is ready to take J3O to the next level. He shared with NUVO a few thoughts about rapping, life and the Indianapolis hip-hop scene.

NUVO: Why was rap so appealing to you?

JC: Rapping allows me to express myself. My mom used to say, “How can you rap? Your life wasn’t that hard?” But I’d just laugh and say that it’s the best way to express what I feel.

NUVO: What do you think best sums up your philosophy on music?

JC: I’d say the phrase “Quit trying to hold us down,” which is a song on our album. It really represents how I feel about my ability to inspire people with my raps.

NUVO: You seem extremely tuned in to talking about social issues while still staying positive. Who was the biggest influence on you?

JC: My mom. She would always talk about conspiracy theories and about how some folks are out to get you. She gave me that edge to always be up on social issues.

NUVO: How do you feel about the Indianapolis hip-hop community?

JC: We have a vibrant hip-hop community but Indianapolis has yet to develop its own flavor. It’s not as supportive as it could be. We spend so much time trying to be Chicago or Dirty South that we forget that the Nap has a story to tell. I mean there are times when I’m playing my CD and someone else hears it and says, “Who is that?” Well, if I tell them that it’s my group then they just look the other way, but if I tell them it’s some brother from Chicago, then they’re like, “Man! That’s hot!” Some folks just can’t believe that there’s a lot of hot talent in Indianapolis. But it’s getting better. Look for Jocque Carey and J30 at the RCA Dome on Oct. 13 for the Red Cross National Youth After School Concert. Learn more by contacting cooboyent@yahoo.com. —Alphonso Atkins Jr.

Sarah Collister, 26, dancer

Sarah Collister is in her second season as a full member of Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. Sarah holds a bachelor of science in arts administration with a dance concentration from Butler.

NUVO: Why Butler?

SC: Marek Cholewa came as a guest artist to the pre-professional Alexandra Ballet Company in St. Louis [her hometown] and recommended I try Butler. I did, and studied with Cynthia Pratt, Norman Walker, Marek Cholewa and Michelle Jarvis and danced in Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Midwinter Festival. I then went to New York City for a year, danced with two small companies. When I came here, I did one Dracula before becoming a full member.


SC: I was introduced to Gregory by one of his former dancers, and I love his work. He’s supportive, encouraging, each show is a completely different entity, which I enjoy. Gregory is a lot of help with the challenges of different styles and characters. He gives us a lot from his research. Gregory’s mentoring is wonderful, very welcoming. I never felt like “the new girl.” The company was, “You’re here now, you’re one of us.”

NUVO: How do you prepare for your own roles, particularly Hunchback of Notre Dame, which requires at least five character and costume changes for you. And what about understudies for leads?

SC: I read the novel and tried to research the characters and the whole story first, and then my own parts. Costume changes become a routine, like memorizing lines. You have to be very organized. The company is so small, we don’t really have understudies. We all take that on, to be able to jump in and cover.

NUVO: Describe a typical dancer’s day.

SC: We have class in the morning. A different class every day for three to four hours: ballet, modern, jazz, character, African, Indian and so on. We work out and rehearse for a new program, with a short lunch break. Evenings are free when we’re not performing. I serve at two different restaurants, Buca di Beppo at Castleton and Broad Ripple Seafood Shop. It’s incredibly hard work [being a dancer]. You have to love what you do. If you didn’t absolutely love it, you couldn’t handle the discipline. —Rita Kohn

Carrie Claycomb, 25, visual artist

Carrie Claycomb is a studio artist at the Harrison Center, where her oils hang as descriptors of her varied journeys through poetic, representational, modern and symbolic terrain. She teaches ceramics “to kids and adults” at VSA Arts of Indiana and photography at the University of Indianapolis.

NUVO: Oils, ceramics, photography — why?

CC: I kind of have my hand in different things. [A pause, and a chuckle] I do do quite a bit. It all intertwines with what my personality is about. It’s so much fun to switch every day from one to the other. One job is very social; my art is very quiet. Photography is just for me. It’s simple, very feminine; [now] it’s more photographing segments of dresses. [A photographic work in the hallway is of a man’s shoes as he’s walking.] The intent is to exhibit for purchase. The next Harrison Studio show is Sept. 9. The new painting series is oils on wood. I’ve always liked shiny. I like how wood glows underneath — luminous. I love the poetic part; poetry I’m thinking of; as I paint words flow. In the background of my paintings are stories. Paintings take years and years to finish.

NUVO: Why VSA Arts?

CC: When I graduated from the University of Indianapolis — BFA in studio painting after switching from art therapy: it has come right around — VSA Arts needed a studio technician. That melted away and I was thrown into classes. It has grown and I have grown. There are several teachers. I usually teach clay. For the first six months I taught but then several started working in an open lab on their own. We can accomplish so much with our students to build their self-esteem. We give access to arts and all the things that come with art. Most don’t get it in schools. VSA students let you be in the moment. It’s all about the moment, catching it, living it. That’s the U of I philosophy.

NUVO: Talk about the transition from student to professional artist.

CC: It’s hard. I’m just getting over being spit out of college where I was doing art for art’s sake. Dark and menacing doesn’t go over well [for sales]. At first I tried to paint to sell or be commercial. I’m burned out on group shows. I’m always planning this great big solo show. It takes quite a while to plan a show. It’s hard to branch out when you have to hang a show here every two months. Three of us share this space. It’s fun to see how it’s evolved but it’s high maintenance to keep up with open studios. —RK

Dustin “Von Dust” Cooper, 17, pinstriper

Seventeen-year-old Dustin “Von Dust” Cooper is a second-generation hot-rodder. While other teens his age run around with iPods and text messages, the lanky Avon youth resides comfortably in the 1950s, essentially techno-free. Dustin’s ’50s is not some costume-party Fonzi sock-hop nonsense. He drives his customized 1955 DeSoto Firedome (powered by the original factory hemi) every day, including to classes at Avon High School and Ben Davis Vocational School. He is a member of the Cluster Busters Car Club and spent the summer working in Gasoline Alley on the build crew for a 1949 Ford truck that will attempt to break an obscure world speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats this fall. He’s so far into the ’50s, his father John said, that he can barely be troubled to check his e-mail once a week. Dustin communicates artistically with the world via dagger and One Shot — insiders’ parlance for the specialized brush used by pinstripers and the preferred brand of sign paint. Pinstriping itself is an ancient style of decoration. The late Kenneth Howard, better known as Von Dutch, raised it to an automotive artform in the 1950s. Yeah, him — the one whose name graces the trendy clothing. Hence Cooper’s Von Dust professional handle. “Four years ago I wanted to learn to pinstripe,” Dustin said, and an older local hot-rodder stepped up to the plate. “He gave me a brush and showed me how to mix up some paint and how to pull a line.” Then only 13, Dustin practiced for about a year. Then he got serious. “I started out doing toilet seats and selling them at shows,” he said. “One guy said, ‘Hell, you might as well stripe my car.’” So I did. Overall, along with small projects, Dustin estimates he’s striped about 25 cars, as well as his family’s refrigerator, stove and storm doors, and the upholstery in his own DeSoto back seat. Von Dust’s skill with laying on the One Shot has attracted a good deal of hot-rod media attention, and a clothing company called Public Nuisance Garage (pngarage.com) has picked up two of his designs to print on shirts. —Chris Pfouts

Richard Edwards, 21, musician

Richard Edwards is a songwriting prodigy. He’s been playing in and around the Indianapolis bar scene since he was 17. His first album, I Was an Astronaut, released under the name Archer Avenue, won praise from the Village Voice, which ranked it higher than the 2004 releases from Papa Roach or Ja Rule. Now heading up his new band Margot and The Nuclear So & So’s, Edwards is gaining even wider praise as they tour the Eastern states. Major labels are starting to take notice — you should too.

NUVO: What’s your process for creating music?

RE: I usually write a record with a theme in mind. Archer Avenue is about high school coming to an end and not being sure of what you were going to do next. The Margot record was more about people scattering and going their separate ways. I guess it was about high school ending and feeling abandoned.

NUVO: Is too big a deal being made of the fact that you’re a young songwriter instead of just a songwriter?

RE: When people say, “He’s good for his age,” I’d bitch to my friends about it. But now I feel like I have a head start. There are a lot of great songwriters in Indy. To be considered at the same level this early on is a big jump-start. A lot of songwriters write some of their most important work when they’re young.

NUVO: Is it easier to write about feeling melancholy?

RE: I write my best after I come out of a really sad period. I’m more reflective after I’ve come through a rough period. Songwriting is finding the little happy moments within all the sad times.

NUVO: How’s the CD being received on the road?

RE: It’s selling really well, but the exciting thing is that for the first time in my career it’s obvious that the labels know about us. I’m actually in New York right now because a label flew us out for a meeting. We’re ready to do a new CD. We’ve already started writing new material and we just need to find out so we can get back in the studio. —Wayne Bertsch

Sophie Faught, 18, jazz musician
From grade school on, Sophie Faught knew she had a passion and that passion was music and that music was jazz. I first heard Faught when she was 13 and a freshman at Franklin Central High School playing bebop jazz on unbelievable tenor sax with innovative ideas beyond her age. I remember asking her at the time who her favorite tenor saxophonist was. She told me Hank Mobley, who was Miles Davis’ saxophonist in his ’50s quintet. In school, Faught is an A student. She plays piano, has studied classical music and composes and arranges music. Harry Miedema, director of jazz studies at the University of Indianapolis, took her under his wing, carefully tutoring this sax prodigy. During high school, she was performing with the U of I Jazzhounds band and played guest appearances at the Jazz Kitchen. At 16, Faught was leading her jazz quartet two evenings a week at Pauley’s and took that group to the Indy Jazz Fest in 2004. She has won numerous honors for her unique skills playing jazz. Faught graduated from Franklin Central this year and will be a freshman at Indiana University’s Department of Jazz Studies under David Baker. I asked Faught what is her goal or dream. “I want to play with the best musicians I possibly can and my dream is to play jazz for the rest of my life,” she smilingly stated. With her youthful charm and poise, one would never guess that this slender teen-ager turns into a fire breathing jazz performer when she picks up her tenor saxophone and wails like a jazz artist twice her age. A new star is definitely rising for Indy’s jazz legacy. —Chuck Workman
Krystal Ford, 21, musician
Krystal Ford started playing violin in the fifth grade at Eagle Creek Elementary School. Since then, she has become a subject of considerable praise. She is currently going into her senior year at Butler University, where she had planned to major in pharmacology until she really fell in love with jazz. Violin was always her instrument of choice; she played for four years in the Pike High School Orchestra. During high school, Ford was a member of the Metropolitan Youth Orchestra and was a runner-up in the 2001 Prelude competition. Ford ‘s reputation among local jazz lovers came to the forefront after she began performing with keyboard player Jay Majors’ group in 2003. “I met Jay Majors through his son P.J. at a barbeque,” Ford recalls. “P.J. told me he played drums and his dad invited me to come out and sit in and play on one of his gigs and I have been with him ever since.” The Jay Majors Hookup group has developed a sizeable local following. In 2004, they won a local competition held by the famed Apollo Theatre in New York and won their first round of competition there, but Ford had to drop out and return to college. She likes traditional and straight ahead jazz. Some of her favorite violinists are Regina Carter for her sound, Noel Pointer and Jean Luc Pointy for their electronic approach, as well as Stefan Grappelli and Joe Venuti. “I want to be recorded before I leave the country in a few months,” she says. “Butler offers a study abroad program and I am going to London to study jazz at Middlesex University. I am in their jazz program. I really want a jazz violin teacher and I think I need to get better before I graduate in May and start gigging.” Ford has studied harmony and theory and loves to compose. She has definite plans for her future. “I definitely want to have a band, jazz rhythm section with a sax or trombone and travel. I especially want to make a CD of all my original music.” —CW
Matt Graber, 28, actor, director, artistic director
Matt Graber first got involved with theater while in high school, and has been pursuing it ever since. He moved to Indy in 2002, after receiving his MA in theater from Indiana State University, and in 2003 directed Clive Barker’s History of the Devil at Theatre on the Square. Some other appearances: He acted in Matthew Socey’s Medea as Ageus and was Paris in Rough Magic’s Romeo and Juliet. He directed and produced his own show, Sex Acts, at the University of Indianapolis’ Studio Theatre. After a brief stint away from Indy to recoup from a car accident, Graber returned and started the Arden Theatre Company (he is the producing artistic director), which debuted at the Old Centrum with Transylvanian Clockworks in 2004, and was in Alan Shepard’s Bit Parts — among other projects. Graber was involved with Shepard’s extended version of Bit Parts (Two Mufukas, Some Sex and a Crab) as part of the Fringe Festival and directed Much Ado About Nothing for Shakespeare and More at the beginning of August. “As you may have noticed, a lot of projects I’m involved in, Alan is as well. I like to say he’s Robin to my Batman … but really he’s my associate artistic director and one of my best friends, so I try to work with him whenever I can.” When asked what it is about theater that he finds alluring, Graber says, “I think that a lot of things in our lives these days are contrived. We go through the motions without thinking and that’s sad. No one takes the time to look deeply at him or herself or to even know themselves. I do theater that I feel will shake people a bit because for that moment they aren’t just reacting to something the way they think they should. They are really there, in that moment ... they are themselves. I’m not saying that things in theater can’t be contrived, laughs can be baited and even a standing ovation sometimes can be disingenuous ... but like David Mamet said, if an audience gasps, that can never be contrived. I want to help people see themselves, be themselves for a couple of hours at least.” For now, Graber plans to stay in Indianapolis to be near friends and make a difference here in Indiana. “It’s sad that some people in this town think you must be mediocre because you haven’t gone to L.A. or New York. Well, I’ve worked with plenty of people from both, and geography does not a great artist make.” Graber sees the future holding many different projects, and “long term we would like to find a permanent space for Arden and continue to give local actors/writers/directors a place do their work and for us to do ours.” —Lisa Gauthier
Brian G. Hartz, 26, actor, producer, director

Brian G. Hartz has been involved with theater since he was very young. He says, “The first time I remember thinking I might have a knack for it was when my third grade class did You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown. I played Charlie Brown. Believe me, an 8-year-old wearing a rubber bald cap is a weird sight. But I took it very seriously — probably too seriously.” Though not a theater major when he attended IU (he studied English and economics), Hartz participated in several of the school’s productions. “I got my theater education on stage, which is the best classroom there is.” After graduation, Hartz worked for the Bloomington Playwrights Project (www.newplays.org), a little company in Bloomington dedicated entirely to performing new plays and nurturing new playwrights. Hartz recalls of the experience, “I spent most of my waking hours there, and the money was a joke, but that season was a crucial crash course in zero-budget theater. When I left there, I could do everything from hanging lights to planning fund-raisers — and knew how to get it done with no money yesterday.” In 2003, Rough Magic Productions debuted with Hartz directing/producing Romeo and Juliet — A Crime Story, a re-setting of Shakespeare’s play amongst the Chicago Mafia of the 1940s. “That production brought together so many of the most brilliant theatrical talents I’ve encountered so far in this town, at just the right time in their development and in just the right place. The result was electric — a Shakespeare that crackled with life and exploded onto the stage; the way it should be experienced.” Hartz has exhibited his many talents locally, not just in a directing capacity but also as an actor and, recently (in Bug at the Phoenix Theatre), as a sound designer. Hartz describes his draw to the theater: “I admit it, I’m a sucker for the instant gratification of having my audience right in front of me. I revel in the immediacy and the ephemeral nature of the medium. A few people come together at one time, in one place, to invent a little fantasy that evaporates as soon as the lights come up. There’s a tacit agreement that everybody will pool their imaginations to create something that takes them outside their current experience — like a consensual collective dream, or like children playing.” Hartz has work endeavors that will be keeping him in Indianapolis, but what he sees himself focusing on in the future are more collaborative pieces. “As for myself, I’ll be out there and active in Indy theater as long as I’m in Indy, if only because I can’t help it. There are many more unhealthy addictions; at least an addiction to making art does some good for someone beyond myself.” —LG

Tyler Herald, 24, chef

Zeal isn’t exactly the attitude most 24-year-old guys have toward kitchens. But most 24-year-olds aren’t Tyler Herald, and few guys his age have amassed the impressive resume he has. A longtime Muncie resident who in high school made up the lunch specials at his mother’s restaurant, Stirling’s, Herald took a circuitous route to his first executive position at downtown’s new ultra lounge, 6. Sports — first football, then golf — drew Herald to Beloit College in southern Wisconsin, far from the gastronomic capitals of America. A dynamic professor inspired him to major in history, and he dug in with the rigor of a serious scholar. But it was to food that Herald was ultimately destined and, after graduation, he enrolled in the intensive 15-month program at Portland, Ore.’s Western Culinary Institute. On top of a 7 to noon daily schedule, he worked as private chef for corporate CEOs and Portland Trailblazer Damon Stoudamire. In Portland, he fell in love with the diverse produce from local farmsteads, and he helped out in scrupulous kitchens like Craig Baker’s Echo, where almost everything was regional and organic. His prodigious skills landed him a six-week internship at North Pond in Chicago, working under Bruce Sherman, a Food & Wine Best New Chef of 2003. When he got the call from the owners of 6, he quickly whipped up eight signature dishes, including his flatbread pizza, the dough for which rode in the seat next to him on his flight to Indiana. No wonder he got the job. Follow this guy around local markets and watch him grill a farmer about why he removed the greens from his beets. Step into his spacious, pristine kitchen, and see him beam over a box of heirloom tomatoes. Signs he’s posted inform the wait staff about the day’s fish special. “Questions?” he writes, “Ask Tyler.” This is no corporate chef schlepping out bland victuals to satisfy the masses. After just a few promising months, he’s retooled the menu, including more locally inspired dishes such as Indiana sweet corn fritters with a roasted-tomato rémoulade. He may be working at a restaurant named 6, but his tasty, well-articulated plates are quickly earning this enthusiastic chef some perfect 10’s. —Terry Kirts

Cleo House, 28, poet

I scream life into these lyrical exercises, inflating alphabetical artistry into spirits like GOD because he created by spoken word. I’m a poet. I decided to introduce this paper to this pen and they united in matrimony holy but they are considered freaks and so from its worth this piece is birthed. I’m a poet. Dark Knight

Cleo House’s poetry speaks volumes of his appreciation of the English language. The 28-year-old Indianapolis native’s love of poetry is an extension of his love of the stage where he built an impressive resume as a resident artist, performer, director and playwright with Indianapolis’ Asante Children’s Theatre. At his core, the recently married former rapper (who often goes by the moniker “Dark Knight”) loves to live, laugh and learn. He sat down with NUVO for a lyrical joust.

NUVO: You’re a talented and well-rounded performer. What drew you to poetry?

DK: Poetry allows my soul to sing. If I’m not creative, I’m not completely living. With words, you can speak them correctly or put your own spin on them and make poetry who you are. Spoken words created the world.

NUVO: You were originally a hip-hop artist right? Did that lay the foundation for your appreciation of language?

DK: Actually, I was a poet long before I started rhyming. I always loved words. Even when I was a kid. I could never get over the power of words. One of the stupidest things people ever taught me was that sticks and stones would break your bones but words would never hurt you. That’s a lie. Words can hurt! That’s why you’ve got to be careful what you say. Poetry is powerful.

NUVO: What theme dominates your poetry?

DK: Love. Definitely love. Of all types and all aspects, good and bad. The love of people, love of food, love of crime, everything.

NUVO: Who has had the most influence on your poetry?

DK: My family, James Officer [president of Midtown Writers], DAS EFX, The Notorious B.I.G and, of course, Ms. Asante. She helped me bring a lot of stuff out. I’m a better man because of her. Look out for Dark Knight’s upcoming spoken word release Just A Messenger. —AA

Steven Jones, 25, musician
Held up at gun-point after a gig recently, Steven Jones did what most would consider prudent: He handed over his wallet. However, and this is what perhaps sets the 25-year-old Indy native apart, he regrets it. “I wasn’t in the moment. I just let it happen,” he says. It might help to know that he’s a trained boxer. Tallish, streamlined and erect, a combination of poise and caution, Jones practices Zen meditation three times a day to help keep his mind focused on the present. Jazz, he says, is about “being in the moment to be able to adapt to whatever comes up.” Such “moments” in recorded jazz initially drew him to the music, and still drive him. “That perfect moment where there’s a phrase being played and everybody’s just in sync.” But Jones’ moments may be different from most people’s; he has congenital Retinitis Pigmentosa, a degenerative visual condition that placed him in the Indiana School for the Blind from age 4 to 18. Despite the handicap, Jones drives (with restrictions) and is a pencil-sketch artist of some acclaim. Starting piano lessons at 7, he didn’t get serious until ninth grade. That’s when he met ISB jazz-band director Greg Erbeck, who cottoned to Jones, exposing him to classic jazz pianists and inspiring him to work hard enough to get accepted into Indiana University. But after three years at IU, Jones felt the musical growth he needed was on the bandstand. So he quit, moved back to Indy and started jobbing. He now plays five nights a week, with various combos, including a Wednesday night stint at the Jazz Kitchen with Rob Dixon’s Triology. Although he calls his style “apologetic“ — “I try to make up for my mistakes, basically, develop them into something better” — he is respected by the city’s best jazzers. A CD is pending, two tunes for which are in the can: a Herbie Hancock-inspired “Lambert Sky,” for sextet, commemorates halcyon days at the blind school and “A Song For Clarence Havvard,” for piano and soprano sax, is Jones’ response to the murder of his cousin a few years ago. “I tried to write a song that felt like Clarence.” But, there’s no hurry to complete the project. “Lambert Sky” took three years to write. “I’m slow, but I’m not making a CD just to get a CD out. When I record something, I want to like everything that’s on it.” That Steven Jones will, in time, find his “moment” seems inevitable. —Jeff Reed
Danielle Laffey, 24, arts marketing
When Danielle Laffey began working as the development and marketing manager for the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA) less than a year ago, she knew little about art. “I had always been a creative person,” she says. “I sew some of my own clothes and purses, make picture frames. But other than a couple of college art history classes, I really didn’t have an art background.” After graduating from Purdue University, she worked at Weiss Communications as a PR and marketing associate. A board member at Weiss asked her to join iMOCA. “I’ve found that people involved in the art scene want to have really cool experiences,” she says. “They tend to look to art to define and discover who they are.” With iMOCA, she helps set up shows and acts as a liaison between the public and the museum. Although Laffey does not decide which artists show at iMOCA, she understands that it isn’t just art that draws people in, it’s also about making it an experience. She pays attention to the details — right down to wine for the openings. Last fall, she chose Radio Radio for the softcore rock-opera Nausea II. “I was thrilled with the way it turned out, we had to turn people away at the door,” she says. Laffey soon realized that an art background isn’t necessary for understanding or appreciating art. When setting up for Out of Place Two, a well-known art patron asked her what she thought of a piece of art. At first, Laffey was afraid to give her opinion and paused trying to figure out what he wanted to hear. “Finally, he told me it didn’t matter if I liked it: ‘Artists just want an audience, some kind of reaction,’” she says. “In my other job, if people hated the work, we failed. Here, it’s just not about that. Some people love what we do. Some are appalled. That’s what art is about.” —SM
Anna Rae Landsman,27, visual artist
Anna Rae Landsman limps into the room with a big white brace on her leg. “Bicycle wreck,” she says. She puts down bags of yarn, old books, bright neon silkscreen paints and a large box covered with small pieces of brown paper all sewn together. Each square contains pictures formed by thousands of tiny holes making shapes. Christmas lights fill the back of the box. She plugs it in and shapes appear: fences, a pregnant woman. “Lately I’ve been trying to mimic the thought process through books and other written images,” she explains. In the past, her work revolved around ghosts, the question if the spirit exists and what it means to be a good person. She uses any material she can get her hands on: masking tape, glass, cardboard. Her homemade books are made from grocery bags, pieces of metal with words scraped inside underneath her painting. At times she uses yarn, silkscreen paint, old broken jewelry. Also a poet, she often incorporates text in her work. She’ll take Trader Joe’s bags with ripped edges on one side and then paint ghosts with white faces. It gives her work a sense of fragility. Every time you look you notice a new detail. “I don’t ever go blindly into my work. I have an idea. But I like it to come together at the last moment,” she says. “I was born up north near the dunes. But it was also very industrial. So I guess I have these dualities. I find beauty in rusty train cars and city stuff. But also in nature.” Her choice of supplies for her artwork also reflects her disdain for consumerism. She rarely buys supplies for her artwork. Most of the time she simply reuses things. “I was an anarchist for a moment. But then I was like ‘a group of anarchists that have rules?’ It’s kind of hypocritical,” she says. “But they are really sweet people. After I left, the group brought me spicy pickles.” —SM
Ju-Fang Liu, 28, musician
Ju-Fang Liu, born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, is the current principal double-bassist of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. She began her study of this giant of the violin family at age 9. Liu effectively leads an entire section of musicians older and more experienced than she. Having grown up in Taiwan, Liu attended Indiana University, where she earned BM and MM degrees, and studied with Bruce Bransby and Lawrence Hurst. She was principal double-bassist in Miami’s New World Symphony and has been a member of orchestras in Kansas City, Owensboro and Evansville before landing her position with the ISO in 2003. She has also performed in summer festivals at Aspen, Marlboro and Tanglewood and has been a guest soloist with the Louisville and New World orchestras. Now a resident of Woodruff Place, she bicycles each day between her home and the ISO’s Symphony Centre. Fortunately, she doesn’t have to carry her instrument with her. Liu was a recipient of one of 12 of this year’s Governor’s Awards for Tomorrow’s Leaders, a statewide initiative to bring attention to excellence and achievement among a broad, diverse group of young leaders in Indiana. She enjoys downtown, the new Indianapolis Museum of Art and is a member of the International Society of Bassists. Asked how she feels about leading seven other double-bass players with longer time credentials, Liu said, deferentially, “I am very fortunate to be the leader of this particular bass section; we are a great team. And I feel very much blessed that my colleagues and I are able to make a living doing what we love.” In her leisure time, Liu enjoys jogging, badminton, table tennis, reading, cooking and learning/playing jazz. Her parents, two brothers and a sister reside in Taiwan. —Tom Aldridge
Phillip Lynam, 29, painter
“I always drew and painted. It was something I got attention for doing,” Phillip Lynam says of his interest in visual arts. Overseeing the Star Studio at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, he has the opportunity to inspire a new generation. After graduating from Ben Davis High School in 1994, he received his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and MFA in painting from the University of Maryland. “I taught design, painting and drawing at three schools in the Washington, D.C., area and would drive from one to the other,” he says of his role as gypsy professor at such schools as Montgomery College and Maryland College of Art and Design. “Basically, what I wanted to do was a full-time tenured track professorship, but they’re not just handing those out apparently,” the soft spoken Lynam laughs. He and his wife, Mirjam, moved back to Indianapolis (“Closer to family, farther from traffic”) in August of 2003. Their son, Ian, will turn 1 this month. “I started working in the security department at the museum because I needed a job with benefits. It actually was a really good way to sort of learn how the place worked.” He moved over to the exhibits department a year later and has been with the Star Studio since the museum reopened this year. “There are several ways the IMA reaches out to families with the studio programs and family days programming, but Star Studio is a unique place within that context because it’s a spot where we’re exhibiting work, and not kids artwork,” he says of the educational gallery. “It’s contemporary, challenging artwork that, framing it with activities that are geared toward families and children, gives them a way to … begin discussing the art. If it works right it ought to have a role in how kids can experience the rest of the art in the museum as well.” Lynam adds, “Anytime that I can have young people having a good experience with contemporary art and not feeling that it’s something they are alienated from, in the long run it’s good for everybody.” Visit www.philliplynam.com to learn more about Phillips’ artwork and www.ima-art.org to learn more about Star Studio and family programming. —Mary Lee Pappas
Amanda Norman, 27, visual artist
Amanda Norman, a graphic design major at Anderson University, calls herself a “conservative artist and liberal Christian.” “In high school I made art that was pretty but meaningless. But now, I feel everybody was given a gift. You’ll feel empty if you don’t use it, even if it isn’t always nice.” In one eerily beautiful piece, Norman used a picture of a pregnant woman from the neck down holding a frame on her belly. There, Norman placed another picture of an elaborate tombstone with the word “baby” carved on it. “I’m not saying that abortion is good or bad. I just want people to question things,” she says. “I think some Christians are too critical. I had a few girls pull me aside after looking at that piece, at times, crying. I told them no matter what they were raised to believe they were not going to hell for making that choice. “Jesus was a radical. He wasn’t closed off from the world, hanging out with people he thought were ‘safe’ then telling other people they were going to hell.” Currently, Norman’s passion is woodcuts. Her woodcuts are rich and lush, at times looking like red seeds blown by the wind into shapes of flowers. She enjoys the process of making these pieces. “I have my structure with the design work I do, the woodcuts are my chaos,” she says. “I have a hands-on approach to things. I like working on the computer but I also have to build things.” While Anderson University may not be the first school to come to mind in terms of studying art, the Christian mission of the university hasn’t cramped Norman’s style. “It made it possible for me to experience God’s grace and make peace with myself,” she says. —SM
Chieko Oiwa, 27, dancer
“Chieko Oiwa and her soft skirt rippled effortlessly through Le Corsaire,” commented New York Times’ Jennifer Dunning in her review (April 6, 2005) of Ballet Internationale’s New York debut at the Brooklyn Center at Brooklyn College. For BI’s December 2004 Los Angeles debut, LA Times staff writer Lewis Segal praised Chieko’s Sugar Plum Fairy. Her beautiful technique is every critic’s talking point, with her fouettes sending them into ecstasy. Chieko’s grace and speed combine for a series of breathtaking and exquisite turns, be they combined with a rond de jambe, “circle of the leg,” in the air, à terre, where the female dancer on pointe is supported by the finger of a male partner, or as a rapid-fire unsupported succession of turns, as seen in Swan Lake. Critics seeing Chieko in a particular performance praise her in that instance. Yet, in an overview of her six years in Indianapolis, what equally emerges is a nuanced actress of many roles. Chieko, born in 1978, joined the BI Corps de Ballet in 1999 and was promoted to principal dancer for the 2004-’05 season. In between, she stopped the show with her comedic Chinese variation in BI’s 2001 Nutcracker. Earlier, in September, Chieko was elegant and seductive partnering with Ogulcan Borova in The Paquita excerpt that’s equal in virtuosity to Lance Armstrong’s seventh Tour de France. In 2002, Chieko paired to loving perfection with Alexei Tyukov for the French-inspired Grand Pas Classique. As Myrtha, queen of the Wilis, in BI’s 2002 Giselle, she was chillingly evil. A half year later she delighted as the beloved Tinkerbell in a fun-filled Peter Pan. In 2004, Chieko hit her stride as a star with stellar performances as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, Lucy Westenra in Dracula and Medora in Le Corsaire, four widely different character and stylistic roles. The Nagoya, Japan, native has won handsful of awards worldwide. —RK
Brose Partington, 25, sculptor/furniture maker
“We work with the curators and the designers,” Brose Partington said of his role behind the scenes with the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s exhibition staff. “The designers have shows laid out the way they want them to be. They have it all measured up, how many paintings they want in a space. We install or build the walls to their specifications.” Currently, they are installing 300 objects for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s International Arts and Crafts exhibition that opens Sept. 25, in a 10,000 square foot gallery space. “We’re helping the couriers install work. We have the cases in, but still have to put fabric in them. Everything has to be sealed tight and pass conservation’s standards.” A furniture maker and sculptor, Partington has a degree in sculpture from Herron. “I started Herron not knowing what I wanted to do and then I took a sculpture class and fell in love with it because the professors were great,” he said. “I spent a lot of time outside as a child and playing around ponds. I loved mowing the lawn and putting designs in it with the tractor, walking along the levy and building forts with my brothers and sisters. It was great to hide, be alone and gather your thoughts with no one being able to find you the rest of the day,” he said of why nature was a major influence in his kinetic metal and wood sculptural work. “Just being outside and watching things move. I like to make sculptures that are changing and not too repetitive. “And my dad was a clock maker. He taught me a little about mechanics,” he added about his father, artist Michael Partington. His stepmother is ceramicist Soyong Kang. Getting his ideas to fruition is a part of the process. “There are different motions I want to do every time I want to do a new sculpture, and I’ll read a little bit about it. You have to feed your head and make things up to make it work. “I’m trying to lead my work into more sculptural furniture and I’m about to start a project which is a kinetic piece of furniture, so it’s definitely moving toward the sculptural side. I’ve always loved wood. It influences me a lot. Just finding and looking at a piece of wood gives me ideas.” www.brosepartington.com. —MLP
Jason Pierce, 28, designer/collage artist
While you’re reading this article, Jason Pierce is probably creating art. Like his musical counterpart Robert Pollard of Guided By Voices — for whom he designs album covers — Pierce is one of those people who never seems to run out of ideas, or ever fear that such a thing might happen. This may be why he lets his work go for such low prices. At a recent show in the Big Car Gallery, I saw numerous passing shoppers do double-takes when they got to Pierce’s pieces: “$125 … $350 … $250 … $21 … $21?” Pierce explains his bargain-basement pricing model (his Web site, mperfectdesign.com, cheerfully advertises “cheap cheap design”) by pointing out that he isn’t making a living off this — he also manages both Luna Records stores — and by reasoning that he’d rather do lots of work for peanuts than once-a-year high-dollar commissions. “Really, if someone likes my stuff I want him to have it,” Pierce says. “Besides, 40 bucks buys a nice sushi dinner.” This policy can be puzzling to other artists, particularly those who release only a few pieces at a time, artificially restricting production to avoid deflation in perceived value. This widespread creative Greenspanning makes Pierce something of an oddity, but he maintains that “It feels just as good to sell a piece for $20 as it does for $200,” adding that “too many times I’ve wanted to purchase something cool and not been able to because of price.” In his work, Pierce strives for “Vintage Modernism,” design that feels new while provoking nostalgia. The work on his Web site suits this nicely, and Bob Pollard called Pierce’s latest piece “the most psychedelic thing [he’d] ever seen.” “I’ve only recently gotten to use a lot of my ideas on new projects,” he says, and you can tell in his voice that he’s just excited to get them all out. Once he does, he’ll probably sell them for cheap or give them all away, and that’s OK — with boundless inspiration and no reason to hold back, he can afford to. Look for Pierce’s work at mperfectdesign.com, lunamusic.net and on the wall at my house. (I happened to have 20 bucks on me.) —Colin Dullaghan
Karla Reyes, 26, editor

Karla Reyes is editor-in-chief of BELLA, a full-color, 34-page, free monthly magazine.

NUVO: Why did you found a Spanish language magazine in Indianapolis?

KR: I saw a need in the community [for women of Latin American heritage] not to forget the beauty of their culture. I came in 1986 as a first-grader. Until ninth grade I was the only Mexican kid in my class. It was very rare to have Mexican friends or access to anything about our culture. My sister and I looked around and saw the American Girl was not us. It was only around 1995 that the Indianapolis Mexican population increased. But still, we felt everything was targeted for the blue-eyed blonde. BELLA’s mission is to empower mentally and physically the Hispanic woman. Entirely in Spanish, it is the No. 1 source of information for women ages 13 to 65-plus. Features include beauty, fitness, scholarship, nutrition, fashion, careers, relationships. It’s written on an eighth grade level so any IPS student has something interesting to practice Spanish on. BELLA is approved for use in IPS high schools. I wanted a magazine that unified us, for readers to hear monthly “you are capable of everything.” My nieces inspire me. I want to be a role model for them.

NUVO: When and how did you found BELLA?

KR: December 2003 we started with a team of five, including my sister and me. It was hard to sell advertising at first. All we had was a cover. We decided no advertising of tobacco or alcohol products. Our first issue came out April 2004. Since then we have been able to change and shape women’s lives. Sometimes it astounds me how much I can do. Being an entrepreneur is tough. It’s a non-stop shop. I am doing everything I learned at Ball State, where I graduated with a public relations major and Spanish minor. I’m very versatile. I also do marketing for iMAGEN TELECOM. Right now all I have time for is karate — yellow belt — and being active in Junior Chamber of Commerce and Public Relations Society of America.

NUVO: When and where is BELLA available?

KR: BELLA comes out the 15th of the month. We distribute to all Mexican groceries, iMAGEN TELECOM outlets and public libraries. We have a circulation of 10,000. —RK

jTravis Russet, 25, architect/designer

“When I’m designing, I want the architecture to speak to the client. When you go into places you should feel the dialogue between the space and its user.” —jTravis Russet jTravis Russet has worked on numerous projects in cities across the country including Indianapolis, New York and Los Angeles. The young visionary and Ball State alumnus feels a sense of connection with architecture because of its ability to manipulate space and build a dialogue between structures and those who use them. NUVO recently had an opportunity to ask a few questions.

NUVO: What influences your design style most?

JTR: Theory. I’ve been most influenced by the theories of space and how people interact with space. It’s a process for me.

NUVO: What happens in that process?

JTR: Often, I struggle with a blank piece of paper. Most of the time, when I design, I go through a series of conversations with the client. I hope to get a manifestation of the client’s ideas blended with my own style. As an architect, I have an opinion of what should be the design and clients have others. I can be stubborn at times, but the client’s wants are the final goal.

NUVO: What drives the creation of new spaces?

JTR: Composition. It’s a combination of looking to people’s natural movements and capturing the storylines of a space in your design. Buildings are not just containers for function, but they can be catalysts for dialogue and inspiration.

NUVO: Architecture has been in the news recently with the conversations surrounding the Millennium Tower in NYC. What’s your take on that?

JTR: That project has really uncovered the dirtier side of architecture and design politics. There is a lot of ego and money involved in projects such as that one. I think what they arrived at for memorializing Ground Zero will be very good.

NUVO: Many designers have a dream job that they would like to do. Do you have any dreams of a masterwork?

JTR: I would just like to build something that I’m happy with. That’s the ultimate goal. Something I’m truly happy with. —AA

Adrian Stanley, 28, visual artist

Adrian Stanley is laughing. “For some reason, my work seems to involve a lot of battle scenes, pure Victorian mannerisms versus white trash. Most of my images come from a notion of pride either breaking down or the origin of it.” Stanley began making books when she worked at Dolphin Papers. “Ed Funk [the store’s owner] opened up how versatile printmaking could be and taught me how to run a press,” she says. “After that, I began silkscreening in book form, making clothing, and stenciling on bags and purses with odd things. It was a release for me outside of Herron.” Although Stanley has shown a lot of her clothing and purses at the Bodner building, where she shares a studio, she now wants to concentrate on bookmaking and letter pressing. Her books are progressive, each image moving from the next, telling a story. “When you make a book there’s so much history, and when you have a conversation with someone at times you get bored,” she says. “When someone reads your book they get a glimpse into you, your conversation never revealed. A book will live long after I do.” Stanley’s work is available at www.lovemarshill.com, Rural located at 970 Fort Wayne Ave. and at the upcoming Wheeler show on Sept. 17. —SM

Matthew Tippel, 29, marketing manager
An internship with Indianapolis Opera, in 1998, while a student at Butler University, grew into a full-time position and a change in career goals for Matthew Tippel. A piano and voice major — he’s a tenor — he moved into arts management as a result of his positive experience with IO. He satisfies his original intent for performance as a member of the West Newton United Methodist Church choir and as


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