Arts » Visual Arts

30 under 30

Innovators in the arts
Okay, there is one old man in this series of port

Innovators in the arts
Okay, there is one old man in this series of portraits. Designer and musician Arnie Benton is 30 years old. Otherwise, our headline is true. Why’d we do it this way? Each year, our Arts Guide reaches out to identify the creative engines behind the arts community. We decided, out of simplicity, to draw parameters around that search and confine ourselves to an age scale. The other reason for this approach is that the subjects of this story fight the stereotype of an Indianapolis unfriendly to people in their twenties. These individuals represent the tip of a hot iceberg; Indy is full of creative people. Welcome to their world. Arnie Benton, (30) Designer/Musician Arnie Benton is cool. He’s that guy at the family picnic who came with your older sister, and everybody hates him because he doesn’t say much and he has all these tattoos, and the whole time you’re secretly wondering how your dorky sister ever landed a guy like that. Then of course later it turns out she’d been with him for a year and a half and nobody knew it, until one day somebody spots a flyer on a telephone pole promoting a local band and Arnie’s on there, and wouldn’t you know it? Sis is singing backup. Oh, and they’re called “Elastic Wasteband” or something. Yeah — he’s that guy. By day he’s the designated Bleepjunkie (seriously, check his business card) at Innovative, a video/print/multimedia/etc. shop. By night he and Charles Shriner are Mr. Presto, purveyors of intense electronic/rock/punk/metal stuff. I met with him in mid-afternoon and asked him a few questions. Say, you’re in a band. What’s your favorite band? - Probably Nine Inch Nails. You also build websites. What’s your favorite website? - Probably Nine Inch Nails’. Oh. Do you have a “signature color”? - Deep wine red. How about a signature odor? - Burning sage. You graduated from Herron, right? - Yeah, I got a B.F.A. in Visual Communications. Remember any words of wisdom from any of your professors there? - “You suck; you should reconsider your major.” So that was when you switched to art? - No, that was an art professor. Oh. - He was right; I did suck. That was in winter, and I basically locked myself in my apartment and worked through Spring and Summer. By fall semester, I was better. If you came down with the gout, who would you want to replace you in Mr. Presto? - Mike D. Mike D? - Yep. With his bad self, running things. Sonic Foundry produces a group of industry-standard musicmaking software called Acid. Ever written a song on Acid? - Oh, sure. Great, so you’re familiar with the program? - No, never heard of it. Mr. Presto mp3s can be downloaded from Arnie’s design work can be found at — Colin Dullaghan Robyn Allen, (23) Arts Publicist Robyn Allen joined Ballet Internationale a year ago as publicity and ticketing manager. A math major at Southwest Oklahoma State University, she intended to be a teacher, “but I realized I didn’t have the patience,” said Allen. Instead, she pursued her love of theatre. “My first job was stage manager of an outdoor musical in Tulsa. I got to know ins and outs of production, including scooping poop from the live animals to keep the stage safe for actors.” Moving to an indoor venue she ended up at Tulsa Ballet. Her enthusiasm for supporting arts subsequently led to Indianapolis, where she’s enjoying a “gorgeous summer,” compared with Tulsa’s relentless heat. Carrying the comparison further, Allen adds, “Tulsa is an older, established town; extremely arts oriented. Indianapolis is so young, hip. People are not yet aware of the arts, so we’re working hard to make them aware of the world class reputation of Ballet Internationale. We have dancers from worldwide who are living here, paying taxes, adding to the culture because they want to be part of this company.” To counter “guys [being] scared of it,” Allen describes programs “to make ballet consumer-friendly, approachable.” At “subscription parties” ballet-lover hosts can share their enthusiasm with skeptical friends. BI dancers and staff attend and mingle with guests. “It’s very personal. People get a chance to experience the excitement of the dancers, to get inside the dancers’ world. They’re just normal people who have a passion to dance. “It’s the coolest job,” she concludes. “I get to ask questions, learn everything and facilitate connections between Ballet Internationale and the public.” “Jobs in non-profit don’t pay much,” sighs Allen, “but on the other hand you get to learn so much more of the business.” Plans for the future? “Get an MBA. And, by the way, I’m a great fan of Indianapolis.” — Rita Kohn Corinna Cohn, (28) owner of Otakurama Otaku: Fanboys obsessed with Japanese animation (“anime”) and comic books (“manga”). In Japan it’s a negative term, but like many insulting terms in the past, it’s being reclaimed by those attached to it. Hence the name of Indianapolis’ only specialty store dedicated to Japanese import animation and comics: Otakurama, at 5625 W. 38th St. Owner and founder Corinna Cohn has been running the place for 10 months, and it’s picked up quite a loyal clientele in that time. “People feel a real sense of ownership of the store. They feel like it’s ‘their’ place,” Cohn said. Cohn was inspired in her youth by the animated film The Last Unicorn, which was animated by many Japanese masters, some of whom went on to join the legendary Studio Ghibli. Years later, she was drawn fully into the Japanese animation scene by the film Akira. “I never realized animation could be used to tell a story like that,” she said. Otakurama has become a hub for fandom and artists. Cohn hosts organized classes during the week and an Artist’s Day the last Saturday of each month, where the city’s various Japan-inspired artists meet and trade tips. It was the lack of just such a meeting and shopping place in Indianapolis that nudged Cohn to open Otakurama. “If there were another one, I wouldn’t have opened this up; I’d just go there and shop. I started this so I’d have this kind of place to shop and hang out.” (More info at — Story and photo by Paul F. P. Pogue Fiti Futuristic, (24) Rapper/Minister When Zach Tannehill, aka Fiti Futuristic, takes the stage to perform at a nightclub, he has an ulterior motive besides merely entertaining the crowd. The 24-year-old hip-hop MC, who’s performed at many area bars including the Patio and Birdy’s, is also trying to educate them about the word of Christ. “Christians have done a bad job being an example of Christ,” he says, “and that’s turned off a lot of people from stepping into church.” So he’s brought the church to them with his unique raps. They combine a solid, street-credible flow with a positive message on improving one’s life. While his lyrical stylings have been compared to Eminem, and he’s opened for acts such as KRS-One and performed in the Patio’s Battle of the Bands, his main attention is on his ministry, World Renewal International. He travels the country performing and ministering to people through his music and his positive example. He sees his main job as bringing the Gospel to where it’s needed most. And that means taking his music to bars and taverns not known for embracing a Christian message. While there, he very subtly delivers the message that has become his calling. “I let them know there are Christians out there who care, and also tell them they don’t have to be stuck in a rat race. They have a choice out,” he says. Next up for Tannehill: a production deal with a division of EMI Records, a new album and a nationwide tour. For more information: — Steve Hammer Heidi Gluck, (23) Musician This Manitoba native has risen quickly to the top of Indiana’s original music scene since moving here just a couple years ago. Gluck grew up taking piano lessons and singing with her mother’s country bands, then took up the bass around age 18. She left the University of North Dakota after her junior year, deciding to play music instead of studying it. A chance encounter on the road with Indianapolis singer-songwriter Vess Ruhtenberg brought her to the Hoosier state, where she now provides bass, vocals and keyboards in Ruhtenberg’s band, the Pieces, recently voted the city’s top act by NUVO critics. She also has played with the Bloomington-based all-female collective Lola. This month, however, Gluck is focusing on Some Girls, a new project featuring two veterans of the pioneering ‘80s band the Blake Babies, guitarist/vocalist Juliana Hatfield and drummer Freda Love of Bloomington. The trio’s debut album, Feel It, will be released Sept. 9 on Koch Records. Aside from bass, Gluck also contributes harmonica and lap steel guitar to the collection of sparse R&B-flavored rock. A six-week coast-to-coast tour will run through October, with a stop Sept. 26 at the Patio. Gluck looks forward to soaking up experience from her senior bandmates, with whom she toured briefly last year behind a Hatfield solo album. They don’t know each other all that well, she admits, but she doesn’t expect any cat fights. “We’re all really quiet,” she says. Looking back on the past three years, Gluck is amazed at the turns her life has taken. “I’ve just been realizing that,” she says. “Suddenly, I can actually say I’m making a living playing music.” — Scott Hall Matt Fecher, (26) Webmaster/music promoter When webmaster Matt Fecher bought the domain name and opened the site in April 2001, he couldn’t have imagined the impact his website would have on the city’s music scene. Five thousand registered users, tens of thousands of free CDs and dozens of shows later, his site has become one of the most important outlets for local musicians. “There’s too much going on in the city,” he says, “and we’re trying to open a bigger window into it.” More than 100,000 messages have been posted on its message boards, where musicians go to discuss shows, recruit band members and flame the living crap out of each other. The website’s effects are profound, if somewhat hard to quantify exactly. “I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count the amount of benefit shows and events that have been organized or conceptualized just in the last 6 months because of contacts or online interaction directly due to IMN,” Fecher says. “Many times I’ve walked into a club and seen 20-30 different people talking to each other, that wouldn’t have known each other otherwise, or knew that they had a common interest.” Recently, IMN joined forces with local filmmakers to produce a joint music and film CD. “If you put the CD in a CD player, it will play local music, and if you put the CD in a computer, an interactive menu will play local film trailers,” Fecher says. “To our knowledge, this is the largest collaboration between the film and music communities in Indy’s history and certainly a step in the right direction.” But Fecher’s ultimate mission is to open Indianapolis’ ears to the music talent all around them. “It’s a universal challenge, making people see a local show as a viable choice option along with movies, video games, and other forms of entertainment,” he says. “We need to continue working with local bands, promoters, fans, media and other outlets to make local acts as important as other things.” Matt can be contacted at — Steve Hammer Peter Dunn, (25) Improv Comedian Nobody thumbs their nose at local culture like Circle City Secrets, the comedy troupe whose improvisational soap operas delight in taking Indianapolis’ celebrities down a notch. Jim Irsay, Julia Carson and the Watson’s Girl are some of the figures recently covered by the outfit. Peter Dunn, one of the younger players in the group, has made his mark exploiting the comic sensibilities of stereotypes. “Sometimes you can’t be afraid to laugh at somebody,” said Dunn. “You can’t take yourself too seriously. The Julia Carson stuff? I don’t know if she finds herself funny, but we sure do.” A financial planner by day, Dunn has performed with the group since 2000. Because of his straight-laced day gig, Dunn thinks he brings a different perspective to the stage. He is most at home when the subject matter starts to make everyone else uneasy. If a laugh is available, almost nothing is off limits. “My dad, [when I was] growing up, always said there is a time to be funny and there is a time to be serious,” he said. “Frankly, I have found very few times in life where it is better to be serious. I mean, if you can go to a funeral and make someone who is bereaved laugh, they are going to feel better about things.” Politics, sexuality, religion, Saddam, Kobe. Whenever people feel strongly enough about a subject to stand on a soap box, Dunn is prepared to turn the soap box upside down. “I think if you can put a comic spin on what people are hearing in the news, it can shock them because they aren’t used to hearing people laugh about it,” said Dunn. “I love it when someone in the audience says, ‘Holy crap! Where did that come from?’” — Steve Carr Josh Johnson, (28) Full-time artist Rust, old photos and weathered materials all weave their way into Josh Johnson’s work and life. In fact, his favorite thing to wear is a vintage gray wool pinstripe suit. Johnson just loves old stuff, an attraction that translates loudly into his artwork. At once gritty and whimsical, his work is testament to what can happen when a precious spirit falls in love with the cast-off, throwbacks and discarded things others leave behind. “I’m really tired of streamlined and digital this and polished that,” says Johnson. “It’s all very old to me. I like the warmth of imperfection.” As a painter, sculptor, illustrator, cartoonist or teacher, Johnson earns his keep in a variety of ways — all of them artistic. And he’s created some interesting characters along the way, from a rusty family called the Spindletons to a floppy eared bunny featured in his yet unpublished though brilliantly illustrated and composed children’s book. Always the artist, Johnson’s brief biography, found on his website, says: “When I was five I drew with fat pencils. Then I discovered erasers. I have since developed artistically, erase less, and appreciate what once were mistakes. These days I live with two cats and make art when I’m not washing dishes.” Here’s hoping Johnson invests in a truckload of paper plates to avoid as many dirty dishes as possible. To learn more about Josh Johnson and his world, visit his website at — Miss Joni Josh Kaufman, (27) Jazz Singer There may be a shortage of male vocalists on the Jazz scene, but one of its new bright lights is Josh Kaufman. Kaufman, who hails fom Lake Wales, Florida, has been attending IUPUI and graduated this year with a degree in Philosophy. It is startling to hear Kaufman sing because he is such a late comer to jazz. He said that it was hearing Harry Connick Jr. in 1998 that made him want to sing jazz. Kaufman began to hang out at the Chatterbox on Wednesdays where Dick Dickinson let him sit in with his group. After that, he discovered the recordings and voice of vocalist/trumpeter, the late Chet Baker. Baker’s voice set the tone as Kaufman’s major influence. Like Baker, Kaufman’s style is cool, laid-back and — he admits — romantic. To hear Kaufman sing with such poise, feeling and sophistication beyond his years is startling. — Chuck Workman Michelle Goldsby, (28) American Indian cultural liason Full-time theatre is Michelle Goldsby’s goal, “but to support myself, I have to have a back-up.” A recent theatre graduate from Indiana University, she has a “rounded foundation as a stage hand, directing and acting.” Newly named artistic director of the Indiana American Indian Theatre Company, Goldsby’s “back up” is serving with the American Indian Center as their cultural liaison, and with the Eiteljorg Museum. “Theatre is something I have to do,” states Goldsby. “If I don’t, it eats at me. God gives it to you as a gift. If you don’t use it, he’ll take it away and give it to someone else. I’ve been acting since five years old.” At age four, dressed in her brother’s suit, Goldsby publicly recited John F. Kennedy’s speech, in its entirety, with its now-famous admonition: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Goldsby took those words to heart. She’s been civic-minded since. “I found I have the voice to touch people, but teachers said I had to make a choice between theatre and dance,” at which she was equally proficient. Choosing theatre, she has ranged from her first grade appearances in Mother Goose, Alice in Wonderland and Babes in Toyland, to her most recent role in The Vagina Monologues. With her Indiana American Indian Theatre appointment, Goldsby merges heritage with calling. American Indian from both sides of her family and growing up in northern Indiana isolated from others of American Indian descent, Goldsby developed a commitment to giving voice to people who tend to be marginalized. Her plans include building relationships with the theatre community on all levels while bringing more visibility to IAITHCo as a professionally managed non-profit with a full season. “We open Shadow Speakers of Night Sky Stories, Nov. 7, 8 and 9 in the Black Box Theatre at Pike Performing Arts Center, as part of the city-wide Spirit&Place Festival. The plans for a multi-generational, multi-racial company are taking shape.” And yes, she concludes, laughing, “this script calls for dancing and acting.” So much for being forced to make a choice. — Rita Kohn Mina Keohane, (23) Composer/Bandleader She was raised in Fr. Walton Beach, Florida, where she studied classical piano. As a teenager she played keyboards, percussion and sang in local rock bands. After high school she attended the renowned Berklee College of Music. It was during her studies at Berklee that she realized her passion for composing Contemporary Music. Eventually, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Jazz composition. Her writing shows a diverse range of musical influences as she blends the sounds of Jazz, Pop, Rock and Hip Hop. Her compositions and arrangements are fresh, exciting and reflect a new concept in approaching and performing jazz. Keohane moved to Indianapolis last year after meeting Brent Wallerab and Mark Buselli who impressed her with their ability to play her musically sophisticated compositions and strongly improvise within their framework. She has recorded her first CD, Doppelganger!, of all original Jazz/Pop-Rock compositions that are innovative and exciting and marvelously played by some of Indy’s best jazz performers who make up the Mina Keohane Group. — Chuck Workman Joshua Lingenfelter, (28) co-founder, IndianapolisFilm.Net Film, it is said, is the most collaborative of all media, and one of the most ambitious film advancement projects in the city is very much a collaboration: IndianapolisFilm.Net. As webmaster and media relations spokesperson for the site, Joshua Lingenfelter has become the public face for and its works, but he’s not the only mastermind. Producer/directors Jeff Cook of Pengin Productions and Tino Marquez, Jr., of Bunk Films are the other co-founders, and together they have established a forum and information clearinghouse that is quickly on its way to matching the other great Internet achievement of Indianapolis arts, IndianapolisMusic.Net. To that end, Lingenfelter and company are working closely with IMN’s Matt Fecher and heading forward with joint projects, including local film work at upcoming IMN showcases and CDs. The site’s operators are also working to get local filmmakers more exposure via presentations at the Greenbriar Cinema Grill, a DVD of local film, and interviews on Indy’s Music Channel. All part of an overall plan to bring together and help publicize the filmmakers of Indianapolis. “This film scene is so much bigger,” Lingenfelter says. “There are so many filmmakers we don’t even know about because they’re not involved in our organization. That’s another reason we’re trying this project, to get people to know what’s out there. It’s a good scene, and as it gets bigger, the quality of the films is just going up.” — Story and photo by Paul F. P. Pogue Penelope Kline, (25) Illustrator For a visual artist, Penelope Kline is pretty noisy. She laughs loud; she yells loud; she even dresses loud. With her flowered platform sandals and spiky blonde afro puffs, she towers well over six feet. Yet somehow, she draws quiet. Her illustrations, usually line-drawn with a Rapidograph .25 and then painted in watercolor, rarely span wider than a few inches. But there’s something going on in there that somehow exceeds the two dimensions. The colors and the expressions puff up from the page like domed tops of very full glasses, breathing out and sucking in at the same time. It’s kind of weird. Right now she’s inspired. Thanks to Communication Arts,, and the great gracious bounty of Borders, she exists in a state of perpetual awe, shame, and urgency — the cyclic triad familiar to all artists who are still improving. The works she’s doing now, some unlikely synthesis of all the things she’s seen and all the things she hasn’t, may be fairly labeled as quiet — they aren’t big honking murals or “challenging” social critique. What they are, then, are resonant murmurs. You lean in, make out what she’s saying, and it stays with you from then on. A quick Penelopian reference sheet: • Draws because “It’s easy and I like seeing what the pen does.” • Hates mayonnaise. Won’t draw it. • Would move in to Dolphin Papers in Fountain Square if they’d just put in a cot. • Rides an ‘83 Honda 750; always wears her helmet. • Thinks her mom is cooler than she is because “She’s kind in unkind situations.” • Draws a mean spice jar. Penelope’s work can be viewed at — Colin Dullaghan Jo Legner, (29) Visual Artist/General Manager of Dolphin Papers Looking up at a 5-by-8-foot paper mosaic self-portrait of Jo Legner nude, I decide I want to be her best friend. Not because she’s one of the most beautiful women in the city — with her tattooed body and black Betty-Page bangs — but because she’s strong, smart, and wearing kitty ears. “Most of my influences come from anime and the Cartoon Network,” Jo says. Her mom was an artist and her dad a keyboardist for the 70s band Trigger, which once opened for AC/DC. “So we were always doing the Bob Ross thing when I was little,” Jo says. Much of her artwork is sexual — not nasty sexual, but happy sexual. Jo has painted a blue bunny-woman with perky breasts posing in a carrot field, a catwoman in a bustier and thigh high boots holding a tiny red mouse. She’s made adult coloring books depicting various sexual positions and mermaid nesting dolls. “Sometimes people think I’m nasty and get mad at me because I’m putting it out there. But sex is just a fun, natural thing. All my paintings up until now are about being happy and having sex.” With a girlish enthusiasm that shows through her work, Jo paints/collages/draws girls who are happy and coy. So I’m not surprised when she divulges that she was a cheerleader in high school. “You know,” she smiles, “the weird, dark-haired cheerleader that sat alone and read books.” Now if I can just talk her into letting me put that huge paper mosaic in lay-a-way ... — Shauta Marsh Maurice Murphy, (20) Actor Indianapolis has its own reality TV prospect in Maurice Murphy. He auditioned for American Idol in Atlanta, one of 5,000 people vying for the coveted competition spots, and was selected as one of the top 200 to audition in Hollywood. He also auditioned for the current Real World series and made it past the first, second and third rounds — one step away from being on the show. Murphy is a junior at Millikin University in Decatur, Ill., and spends his summer in Indy with his family. He says he only gets to do local theater once or twice during the summer: This year, he played Coalhouse in Footlite’s Ragtime and was the lead in the IndyFringe fund-raising production of The Pied Piper of Hoboken. A graduate of North Central High School, past productions include Godspell and The Wiz at Footlite and Damn Yankees at Civic Theatre. Don’t look for him to be coming home for Thanksgiving, because as of Sept. 2 he will be studying abroad in London till December. Oh … and he has the strangest message on his answering machine that I have ever heard. — Lisa Gauthier Quincy Owens, (26) Painter “Abstract Expressionism never really died, it just never got finished,” says Owens, whose work builds on the action painting of Jackson Pollock and the color fields of Mark Rothko but adds the repetitive imagery and social commentary of Pop Art. “They all said their work was impersonal,” he says. “I involve myself and society in my work. I don’t want people to feel detached from it.” The Rushville native often uses recycled silkscreens as canvases, incorporating the existing image into the new piece. He usually begins by pouring and dripping paint, using a squeegee to form blocks of color or an etched trowel to create a textured background. He then adds successive layers of detail. “In the first layers, I let the paint do the work for me,” he says. “All of it is multilayered, physically and psychologically.” Owens took a few years away from painting when he and his wife had their first two children, but now he’s plunging back into the work. His shows this year have included recent events at the Lamp Fine Art Gallery and the Harrison Center for the Arts, with more coming up Sept. 6 and 20 at the Wheeler Arts Community in Fountain Square, where he keeps a studio. The recent addition of a third child isn’t slowing him down. “Now my family drives me, because I have to make it as an artist,” he says. “I know it’s what I want to do with my life.” — Scott Hall Jeanette Patterson, (23) Juggler and Contortionist “You can be a good juggler and a bad performer, or vice versa” says Jeanette Patterson, founder of Indy Jugglers, a group comprising performers and hobbyists, ardent to amateur. “It can take a while to learn to respond to the crowd, to overcome that fourth wall. It doesn’t come naturally.” The Indy Jugglers, who have members proficient in a number of the circus arts besides juggling, perform as often as they can find the opportunity. Patterson doggedly hounds festivals, day camps and other events to solicit business. “Summer camps,” she says, ticking off a list. “We performed at the 500 Festival this year and the city hired us to perform at Canal Fest over the Fourth of July. We’ve also been doing some street performing at City Market recently.” Patterson started juggling as a high school student, after reading the book Juggling for the Complete Klutz. But it was in New Orleans, while attending Tulane University, that, like the ubiquitous Emeril throwing garlic in a pan, she kicked it up a notch. “I met some jugglers who we better than me,” she recalls. “You can learn a lot from someone just by watching them, by seeing how they do things.” Patterson, who can manipulate up to five objects, started touring with a three-member troupe, juggling and performing as a contortionist. “That came well after juggling,” she laughed. “I saw some people who were good at it and I decided to try it. I picked it up really fast actually.” Slack rope, like tight rope except for the obvious and titular dissimilarity, and passing, juggling patterns that involve two or more persons, are additional specialties. The love of performing is something that graduation and a move back north couldn’t shake from her system. The Indy Jugglers provide an outlet for the exhibitionist in her. “It’s hard to separate juggling and performing,” she says. “The reaction of the crowd is such a payoff, but it’s also fun just to come and hang out with the other jugglers and practice new stuff. These guys are all my friends.” —Steve Carr Brian Priest, (25) Freelance artist/college student He lived in a giant red ball all through August. People would visit the J. Martin Gallery where the red ball was, pick out raw materials — maybe some wire, a toy rubber bug, a baby food jar — from the metal baskets full of the stuff, and then slide the materials through a slot in the side of the sphere. From there, Priest would stick the items together like a living, breathing art machine. He charged his visitors $20 a pop. “To me, art is like flowers,” Priest said as he leaned out of an opening along the bottom of the ball he built originally for a corporate function. “Sometimes it gives beauty for a couple of days and then you are ready to get rid of it. For $20 you can toss it and not feel bad.” A surrealist at heart, Priest thrives on the adrenaline of urgency. Forget logic. Forget “making a statement.” Forget contrived irony. Priest’s work is tangible free association. His sculpture, his installations, his paintings, his collages, his handmade image books are about the ways that light and dark, rough and smooth, safe and deadly, natural and artificial rub together and spawn something new, something chilling. Priest hopes to start an art subscription service, charging people a couple of hundred bucks for a year’s subscription. He’ll send a piece of art to them every other month. “The function of art needs to change,” he said. “Instead of charging $500 for a piece that art lovers like me can never afford, I’d rather make art that is getting into people’s hands.” He even had an idea for moving his red-ball art-home out to the people. “This thing is like a little kiosk,” Priest said. “I’d like to drop it right into the middle of Greenwood Park Mall and see what happens.” — Jim Walker Shawn Roche, (26) Photographer Shawn Roche is not a jerk. Even though he just got back from shooting an eight-page fashion spread in the Valley of Fire national park/Indian reservation, with a million dollars worth of clothing and wall-to-wall models, he’s not a jerk. Even when you hear the tales of serendipity and decadence, and tour “The Compound,” his 1500 square foot shooting space/darkroom facility (with soon-to-be-completed skateboard ramp in the garage), and flip through his upcoming book, a collaboration with Paul Moschell called Stories From The Second Story, even then — you won’t hate him. This is because Shawn has something fairly unusual for a gifted young artist: gratitude. He’s smart, yes, and brimming with talent, naturally. But he’s also lucky, and he feels lucky. Well, luck may not be the right word. He feels fortunate. Blessed, maybe. And he sees his latest string of successes not as an affirmation of his worth nor as mere happenstance. To Shawn, it’s an assignment. “Things are starting to go my way,” he says. “And I think that’s just so I can give back.” That’s why he takes younger photographers with him whenever he can, like to shoot Russian circus performers on Washington Street. That’s why he’s opening The Compound to any and every Indianapolis photographer who wants to use it. That’s why he insisted this article include the following names of people he appreciates: Gregg Whitaker, Tony Clevenger, Tod Martens, Steve Hill, Larry Endicott, Bernie the Herron prof, Drew Endicott, John Bragg, and Mike Vaughn, (“There’s a group of amazing talent here in Indianapolis” says Shawn). Oh, and Curt Chuvalas, and Penelope Kline, and Linda Takaha, and Melissa Hennesey, his future rep. He thanks them all. That gratitude informs his work, infuses it with curiosity and kindness no matter what he’s shooting. It’s also why nobody ever flinches when Shawn ambles up to them, ancient Rolleiflex in hand, and bluntly says, “I gotta shoot you, man.” Contact Shawn at See his work at — Colin Dullaghan T. J. Reynolds, (25) poet, etc. T.J. Reynolds has arrived young to a bit of artist’s bliss. Part of that happy place is literal space, United States of Mind, a spot at 40th and Boulevard where T.J.’s several inspirations take shape in comfortable surroundings. A co-owner, he calls it a “Drum Shop/Poet’s Café/ Community Center.” Such eclecticism is the rule with Reynolds. He teaches drumming and hip-hop to kids at charter schools and at the Y. His band, The Undefeatable Beats, performs regularly at USM and elsewhere. He’s an on-and-off-again Arts Education major at Herron, and his lively paintings hang like tapestries behind his place’s stage. “My drive is to always be expressing,” he says, “encouraging others to do, finding new ears.” While he didn’t make any conscious decision to do so, “the hip-hop oral tradition got me into poetry.” And so he views expression as a “movement,” something to bring people into as participants, “an army” for art. Cogent and convincing, T.J. is an apt spokesperson for the powers of art. To a full house of poets and listeners aged from twelve to eighty, he introduces a late Friday night reading at USM with a poem: “It’s good if what you say makes you a little nervous; that makes it more than lip service.” At home on the stage, his written work remains rhythmic and soundful on the page: “My wishes for kisses from this miss is so dismissive, perhaps it’s the way she listens to my poetry. So knowingly, controlling me ...” He says, “I intend to write with urgency, to affect people with words because I know I’ve been affected.” And Reynolds believes this urgency can affect the community as well. He wants the activities that happen at USM to be important to its neighborhood, especially its children. A small poem of his says: “I work with children / so I’m happy / and broke.” T.J. plans to release both a book and a CD before the year is out. In the more distant future he hopes to “read less often, but for more people,” and expects his work to develop into shows with plot lines and music. Most of all, he wants “to stay inspired.” It’s hard to imagine that will be a difficult goal for one who so obviously can inspire others. — Jim Powell Rachel Rutland, (27) Dancer Starting her seventh season with Ballet Internationale, Rachel Rutland-Maryanovskaya is into rehearsals using muscles and positions she had set aside during a summer of working with the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre and appearing in their August program, “It’s All Greek to Me,” at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. Classically-trained, the Columbus, Ohio, native is a graduate of the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. She has danced professionally with the Makarov Ballet Company in St. Petersburg and the Colorado Ballet. Why do modern dance? “Because it’s very different. You do get a chance to stretch yourself in a different way. It’s difficult. You feel you are starting from square one, dancing with bare feet. You have to push yourself to physical limits and beyond. You have to look like a modern dancer when you’re used to looking like a ballerina. It’s like being multilingual in dance.” Rutland’s outgoing temperament is particularly suited to portraying character roles in ballets where “emotions are let out. But you must stay true to the style and emotion,” which covers traditional folk dancing across every continent. Thus, explains Rutland, the more intense Hancock aesthetic fits in well with Eldar Aliev’s attention to character. As Ballet Internationale’s artistic director, Aliev builds the season with an eye and ear to the city’s changing demographics. Though heavily Russian-trained, the company of dancers will be addressing Hispanic themes and dancing to Latino choreography while not overlooking the interests and aesthetics of younger audience members who are not so steeped in classics. Rutland’s soloist roles in the ballets, La Sylphide, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote and The Creation of the World, are examples of her virtuosity. For this new season, the choreographers are still observing dancers during rehearsals and fitting their work to the strengths of individuals. She’s looking forward to whatever is assigned. “Dance is such a fine art form,” says Rutland. Her wish is for dancers to be paid in the same salary range as are people in sports. That brings a hearty laugh from her fellow dancers. — Rita Kohn Alan Shepard, (27) Producer/Director Alan Shepard’s first mention when asked about his career highlights is the Performing Your Life shows. Unique in that they primarily use non-actors who share real moments of their lives, they are a challenge and risk for a producer/director. He has put on two Performing Your Life shows in the last two years here in Indy, both at Bookmamma’s. “The first one I did in college truly turned my life around, and the way I look at theater. There’s nothing more dramatic than the truth and people sharing their experiences with others. That’s what separates theater from all other art forms: the actors and audience in the same space trying to figure out how the world works and making a connection.” Shepard, an IU graduate, is one of the lucky ones: His day job is theater. “Between the Children’s Museum and interactive theater I’ve done pretty well financially and that enables me to do the risky theater at night.” Shepard has appeared on many local stages, including Theatre on the Square, the Lilly Theater at the Children’s Museum, the Little Tiny Theatre (Bookamamma’s), the Brown County Playhouse, the Indiana Repertory Theatre in the Bonderman Playwriting Symposium, the Wheeler Arts Center and “a few others I can’t remember.” Shepard got into theater in high school. “Then I quit and played music, but musicians made me crazy, so in college I went back to theater. Basically all I did in college my first year was have sex with anyone I could, then I started doing theater and it brought me focus and discipline. I still had a great deal of sex, though, not that there’s anything wrong with that.” Now Shepard’s down time is filled with movie-going, poetry/play readings and “anything where people are being creative.” — Lisa Gauthier Chizoma (Chi) Sherman, (29) poet Chizoma Abenaa Sherman’s first name means “God loves you” in Nigerian. Her middle name, from the Ghanaian, adds “a girl born on Tuesday”. The names’ joining of the spiritual and straightforward suggests the poet’s sincere persona. Born in Kinshasa, Zaire, to Peace Corps parents, Chi has lived in Indianapolis since age eleven. Now she’s finding ways to connect herself creatively with the world, starting with the place she considers her hometown. She has begun working in a new job as Administrative Assistant in IUPUI’s English Department, where she knows her way around. She’d started school in 1991, but “spent seven years screwing up.” Finally, Sherman has recently graduated with added minors in both creative writing and women’s studies. The job puts her degree to work, but it’s her writing that offers Chi more personal satisfaction, especially when it connects her to others. “It’s a really good feeling to share what’s true and have people think it’s deep.” Much of her poetry — and more recently prose — has dealt with her bi-racial background. “I’ve been amazed that so many different people can relate.” Her poetry is often lyrical and evocative, aiming for description that draws emotional response. In the prose poem “Twenty-nine” she writes, “Teach yourself to be an insomniac. Trade sleep for creativity. Deep condition your hair at 2:00 AM, doze off during an Orange Clean infomercial. Wake to phone sex girls with satin voices. ... Fall asleep as sunshine leaks through the vertical blinds.” Not tied to aspirations of literary stardom, she enjoys “writing more casually” now that she’s graduated, and letting her progress “come naturally.” But with her two chapbooks, Amative (2002) and beneath the skin (2003) has come an urge to have her work heard and she’s been a featured reader at most of the local poetry venues. A CD is in production for release in 2004. Chi has “no burning desire” to leave Indianapolis, enjoying the notion that here “it gets quiet around ten.” Besides, another benefit of her going public here has been validation that people are connecting to her work: “a couple of times, some stranger has pointed me out as ‘the poet.’” — Jim Powell Artur Silva, (27) Professional Artist “To become an original painter in your twenties is a difficult thing. You are so distracted by so many other things. It takes people so long to get real with their art,” Silva said. Born in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Artur Teixiera da Silva started painting at age 16. “It’s been eleven years of being serious and consistent with my art, creating a coherence even through the progression. A part of everything I have ever seen in my life – it’s in the work” he explained of his sharp colors and media inspired paintings. Already known for his work in Brazil, Silva came to Indianapolis by way of New York City. “I came to New York to be a professional artist.” He initially sold his work on the street in Soho. “By being on the streets, on the sidewalks and walls, people would direct me to galleries.” In 2001 he had a solo show in NYC. “We moved shortly after Sept. 11,” he said referring to his wife Jeanette. “It got us very stressed out. New York can exhaust you.” Indianapolis was a natural choice, close to Jeanette’s family. Silva will teach drawing at the Indianapolis Art Center this fall. “When I first learned to draw it was very eye opening, so it will be good to pass on.” His studio is a tiny space, dubbed the cave, at the Harrison Center for the Arts. He was pursued by Editions Limited where his work is now represented. The IUPUI Cultural Arts Gallery offered him a solo show, which runs Sept. 4 to Oct. 3. (Editions Limited is located at 4040 E 82nd St. 842-1414). — Mary Lee Pappas Katie Smith, (24) Actor and playwright Another relative newcomer to the Indianapolis theater community is Katie Smith. Smith moved from Bloomington to Indy with her husband in 2001. That year, she got a contract job at the Children’s Museum and appeared in The Ugly Duckling. So far, she has done two shows at the Children’s Museum’s Lilly Theatre, as well as James Still’s He Held Me Grand at the Indiana Repertory Theatre (“It was amazing working with James Still. So many people I got to meet. It was very positive as a first professional show.”). She has also performed with the Children’s Theatre Institute and did two shows at Theatre on the Square. Recently, she directed The Lady’s Not For Burning, the inaugural production of Loose Cannon. Her involvement with Loose Cannon stemmed from her desire to direct. “I wanted to direct more and, as a young person, it’s difficult to get gigs.” Directing Lady opened up opportunities for Smith. “I write plays as well, and since then I was commissioned by Brownsburg High to write their fall play. “Hopefully, Loose Cannon will be a forum for my own plays and other local artists — an opportunity for new things that have not been produced before.” Smith works at the Children’s Museum as an interpretation supervisor. “I work in the CFAX gallery. Art galleries, work with interpreters, with [exhibits like] Titanic and Good Grief.” Coming up with Loose Cannon, Smith is excited about the spring performance of The Tempest, which will be directed by Jeff Casazza from the IRT. Also, Loose Cannon is sponsoring a dance troupe, Motus, this winter, founded by Katherine Kasper. For down time? “I love movies and love going to theater, and hanging out with my husband, whenever I get to see him!” — Lisa Gauthier Emily Watson, (22) poet Emily Watson has a keen sense of direction and it keeps her headed for Indianapolis. At a young age Emily knew that she wanted to do something involved with art and education, but not classroom teaching. She interned at the IMA in high school and eventually worked as the Coordinator of Educational Resources while pursuing her degree in Art History at IUPUI’s Herron School of Art. There she minored in Creative Writing and Professional Writing, good preparation for her new job as Program Manager for the Writers’ Center of Indiana. Watson’s work with writing began when she edited her middle school literary journal. She remains drawn to the processes of working with others’ writing to bring it to the public. She describes her job as “translating individual vision into community programming to let people experience a product. And you can see that people enjoy it — it feels more valuable.” She’s at work on the quarterly Las Voces program of Hispanic poetry and the upcoming Writers’ Center Festival, also on ideas for children’s and young adult classes to add to the WCI curriculum. About her own poetic endeavoring, Emily is most modest: “I’m not sure I’m dedicated enough to be a poet.” But poets grow slowly, and she has several pieces of work published, if “only” in IUPUI’s genesis, NUVO’s Writers Here at Home Contest, and the Writers’ Center’s Maize. Not surprisingly, her poetry most often finds its heart in ideas about art. In “Red Kimono to John” (based on John Sloan’s “Red Kimono on Rooftop”) she writes: “why would you want to see this / out of your studio window? / The dirty backsides of warehouses, / meatpackers smoking on fire escapes, / worn-out seamstresses gabbing and taking in a little sun.” Dedicated poet or not, Watson promises complete dedication to the city, her family here, and her recently purchased house. And dedication to create artistic “opportunities for Indianapolis to do it ourselves.” Certainly, she keeps her eyes open for such possibilities. In “Squeegee Man” she sees: “Squeegee man dips his instrument / into a low trough / and curls cold, blue cleaning fluid / across a glass landscape.” Emily Watson seems to understand, as artists do, that there is art waiting to be found in everything. — Jim Powell Jessica Weiser, (26) Singer/songwriter Jessica Weiser is that rarity among young professionals. After leaving the city to seek her fortunes in New York, she recently returned with an agenda of not only furthering her own career but also helping other aspiring artists. After recording three successful independent albums, and playing all over the East Coast, she wants to share her experiences with other artists. “I would love to work as a mentor or consultant to artists in the local scene and help them produce their own albums and tour and develop a national following, as I have,” she says. Not that it’s easy to do. “There aren’t that many folk/rock female solo artists or female-fronted bands here, so I think that it has been somewhat difficult for me to fit in and find where I belong,” she says. “At the same time there are a few people, bands, and artists who have been really helpful to me and want to help me succeed here. I still think there are a number of untapped resources and lots of potential in this city.” With a background in marketing, promotion and web design, she’s been assisting some national artists and will shortly begin working with some local artists. All of this business hasn’t affected plans for her fourth album; she’s working on material for an early 2004 release. Meanwhile, look for her at an acoustic-music venue near you. — Steve Hammer Shawn Whistler, (24) Actor/Artistic Director Shawn Whistler has only been an Indy resident for two years. In that time, he has stood center stage in the January 2002 Naked Man in January play at Theatre on the Square and, more recently, has launched Ganas Theatre Productions where he serves as its artistic director. Pretty impressive — and gutsy — for such a short span of time. He directed the first Ganas production, Bus Stop, at the City Market, which was very cool. Other local credits include the ACT Out Ensemble, The Artist’s Studio, Grand Effect (formerly Pickles Productions) and the Indianapolis Arts Chorale (tenor). Whistler has a BA in economics and international studies (specializing in Latin America), that he received from Wabash College in 2001. Now he works ticket sales for the Indiana Repertory Theatre and part-time for Circle City Bar & Grille. Combined, these jobs take up about 65 hours a week — before you include the time he spends in theater. “Growing up on a farm 45 miles west of Lafayette, Ind., there wasn’t much of anything to do besides cow-tipping,” Whistler says. However, his elementary school put on a yearly musical. “I remember one year getting to hold cardboard cut-out guitars, slicking my hair back, wearing a Mickey Mouse jacket and singing some ’50s or ’60s style song. I was way cool back then! In a sense, theater keeps alive that ‘coolness’ I felt when I was a child.” What little time Whistler has left after work and theater is spent reading more plays, researching into graduate school programs, or playing volleyball and tennis, or swimming. — Lisa Gauthier David Whitfield, (19) captain of the Naptown Rydaz The future of sporting events: Cyberathletes. High-tech competitors on the bleeding edge of a new format that promises to rocket to infinity and beyond. Video gaming is becoming a spectator sport. Industry observers say that before long we’ll witness stadiums full of people watching massive holograms manipulated by players on the sidelines. After all, no sport is truly live anymore; we’re all watching it at home or on the Jumbotron. Cybersports are authentic in their very fakery. And at the forefront of this movement in Indianapolis is a digital tribe that has emerged to rack up an impressive series of wins: the Naptown Rydaz, captained by David Whitfield. “Other clans were like, wow, there’s competition in the city now! And they formed clans to rival us,” Whitfield said. Their current goal is to qualify later this year to compete with the Cyberathlete Professional League, the gaming equivalent of being drafted into the big leagues for the serious prizes. Whitfield and his players take a strictly professional approach, with hours of daily practice and scrimmaging. They’ve already made their names with numerous companies that have sponsored them by providing cutting-edge gear and equipment. “It’s very much like the professionals. E-sports,” Whitfield said. “We practice intensely, and we’re learning to use all the strengths of our clan.” They are far from the only ambitious and talented gaming clan in the city; one of their goals is to press Indianapolis’ profile onto the national scale for all cyberathletes. “We want to send the message that we are here and this state is VERY competitive.” (More information: — Story and photo by Paul F. P. Pogue Alyona Yakovleva, (27) Dancer A military wife, whose husband is currently posted at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Alyona Yakovleva is becoming fluent in English and transferring her classical training to dancing with the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre. She’s also teaching her specialties: ballet and character dance, and premiered her first GHDT choreography at the August program at the Indiana Repertory Theatre. “Alyona came last October, and has adapted well,” said Gregory Hancock. “Her choreography for Pygmalion was very contemporary, geared to partnering and counter point. She was generous in saying it was influenced by this company. She’s very happy.” “I just do my best,” explains Yakovleva, for whom the adjustment is as much economic as it is aesthetic. Dancers are not paid living wages in Indianapolis, in contrast with other countries where it’s standard procedure to subsidize the arts and support artists. “Without my husband, I can’t do it.” Being careful with expenditures is the major challenge, she admits. Prior to being transferred to Indianapolis, Yakovleva, a native of St. Petersburg, Russia, was teaching in South Korea at the Universal Ballet. Fluent in Russian, Yakovleva uses both French and English to teach. Ballet steps and positions are, of course, set in French, she illustrates. Character dance describes a personality. “Every national dance has a different character. You must learn it, remember, keep it. It becomes part of yourself.” When English words escape her, her expressive eyes and gestures communicate. “Everyone is helpful. Kind.” — Rita Kohn


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