This is the week when all the big arts organizations are rolling out their arts season galas and shindigs. If you were hoping for a little downtime, you’re gonna have to wait … til November. Because not only are the bigwigs bringing out the big shows, there are some smaller, but no less significant openings and events this week.
Let’s look at the big dudes first!
Brian McCutcheon: Out of This World at the IMA is composed wholly of new works commissioned my McCutcheon and tells a story that unfolds from the moment you enter the museum. The exhibition mimics a children’s book narrative as it explores the Mercury and Apollo space programs in relation to contemporary culture. The base of a flight path sculpture sits in the IMA’s Pulliam Family Great Hall. The sculpture’s curvilinear metal track outlines the imagined trajectory of a toy rocket. The launch pad is positioned on the IMA’s second floor, with the sculpture soaring three stories before landing in the McCormack Forefront Galleries. Sept. 9 - March 4. Check the IMA’s website for museum hours. Free.
Indianapolis City Ballet’s Young Stars of Ballet on Friday and Evening with the Stars 2011 on Saturday are duo highlights for ballet aficionados as top dancers from the best ballet companies in the country are gathering for these two outstanding productions. Add to this the fact that some of the hottest choreographers in the country are participant, and a significant treat is that Danill Simkin, who thrilled last year’s audience with his signature solo “Les Bourgeois,” returns to headline both Friday and Saturday events. Friday’s show is at 7:30; Saturday’s performance is at 8 p.m. Ticket prices vary.
He’s back and he still wants to drink your blood in a fresh but faithful adaptation of Bram Stoker’s 1897 horror classic in the IRT’s new show, Dracula. Dracula sets up shop in London, and only Professor Van Helsing recognizes his vicious intentions. Peter Armster directs and Wade McCollum takes on the role of Count D. in all his dark and seductive glory in this Indiana Repertory Theatre offering. Take in the tale that inspired Buffy the Vampire Slayer, True Blood, Twilight and countless other TV shows, books and films. Through Oct. 1. Times and ticket prices vary.
Greek Fest celebrates its 38th year in the Indianapolis area and third year at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Carmel. The Holy Trinity Hellenic Dance Troupe returns, beclad in colorful costumes, for 12 performances. Live music comes from the band Kosta and The Wave. Tours of the architecturally stunning Byzantine Temple are offered. And of course, there’s the food! Indulge in freshly prepared spanakopita, dolmades, calamari, gyros and saganaki, along with tray upon tray of such Greek sweets as loukoumades and baklava. 4-10 p.m. Friday; noon - 10 p.m. Saturday. $7 admission; kids 12 and under free.
Civic Theatre’s The Drowsy Chaperone, a tribute to the Jazz Age musical and its restorative effects, opens with the narrator, a musical fan known simply as the Man in Chair, seeking to relieve his sadness by listening to a recording of his favorite 1920s musical. The show then bursts to life, transforming the man’s bleak apartment into a sparkling display of colors, costumes and lights. This lighthearted and engaging romp debuted on Broadway in 2006 and won five Tony Awards, including Best Book and Score. The show represents the first production by Indianapolis Civic Theatre at the newly opened Tarkington Theatre at The Center for the Performing Arts. Sept. 9-24. Days and times vary. Tickets: $32 - $39.
On Saturday, the Penrod Arts Fair at the IMA gives you a look at all-things-arts&crafts while providing teasers for the upcoming performance arts season. Spend a late-summer day soaking up a life-affirming blend of eclectic art, live music, fresh food and (typically) glorious weather at this must-attend arts extravaganza. Celebrating its 45th year, Penrod attracts people from throughout the Midwest to the verdant grounds of the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Approximately 150 artists, an extensive children’s area, five music stages and one culinary stage, along with a couple dozen local food and drink vendors, make Penrod one of the nation’s largest — and best — single-day art fairs. 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. Admission: $12 advance; $17 day of event; kids 10 and under free.
On Sunday, the 2011 Quest for the West Art Show and Sale opens at the Eiteljorg. Fifty of the nation’s most prominent Western artists bring their best work to Indianapolis for a combination art sale and exhibition. The fixed-price sale will be held on Sept. 10, with the exhibition opening to the public on Sept. 11. Note that art not sold on the day of the sale may be purchased from the Eiteljorg Museum until the exhibition ends on Oct. 9. Be sure to check out the paintings of George Hallmark, winner of last year’s Quest for the West Artist of Distinction award. 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Monday-Saturday; noon - 5 p.m. Sunday. $8 for the exhibition; $250 for the Sept. 10 sale and reception.
On Monday, the Gala Opening Concert at the Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center. Maestro Raymond Leppard seizes the baton and returns to the Fine Arts Center’s Ruth Lilly Performance Hall for an evening of Bach, Haydn and Mendelssohn. Accompanying Leppard will be violinist Ariana Kim, soprano Kathleen Hacker and pianist Richard Ratliff, along with the University of Indianapolis Festival Orchestra. A pre-concert conversation with Leppard, focusing on his recently published memoirs, begins at 7 p.m. A highly renowned and accomplished performer, Leppard served as the music director of the ISO from 1987 to 2001 and currently is an artist-in-residence at the University of Indianapolis. The performance kicks off the university’s Faculty Artist Concert Series. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Free
Some of the more under-the-radar events include:
Kyle Ragsdale: Aliyah opens at the JCC Art Gallery on Friday. Experience the dreamlike, vibrant oil paintings of acclaimed local artist Kyle Ragsdale. The exhibition’s title, Aliyah, is Hebrew for “ascend,” and the artist encourages viewers of his work to consider ascension spiritually and figuratively in his paintings. Ragsdale maintains a studio at the Harrison Center for the Arts, where he also serves as the curator of the main gallery. The Texas native lists Bjork, Gustav Klimt and 1950s furniture among his influences. The exhibition begins Sept. 7 and continues until Oct. 24. Gallery hours vary. Free.
On Friday, Dirty Business at Epworth United Methodist Church kicks off Epworth’s series of films about the environment. Dirty Business explores whether coal, the largest single source of greenhouse gases, can ever truly be clean. Investigating the issue from coal-rich West Virginia around the world to China, the film uncovers the environmental and social costs of coal power. Produced by the Center for Investigative Reporting and narrated by Rolling Stone report Jeff Goodell, Dirty Business questions the effectiveness of “clean coal” technologies. The 90-minute film’s eye-opening conclusions may have you unplugging your appliances and reading by candlelight. The documentary offers hope, however, in its presentation of viable, renewable alternatives to King Coal. 7 p.m. Free.
We’ve been following the exploits of Katherine Ball, the current resident at Indy Island behind the IMA and her water testing event on Sunday is not to be missed. Been wondering if your tap water suitable for consumption? This is your chance to find out, with help from the current Indianapolis Island resident and the recent subject of a NUVO cover story, Katherine Ball. Join her in collecting and examining water samples from the IMA’s 100 Acres lake. Ball encourages you to bring your own water samples, collected from your home, a nearby stream or some other source, to determine their contaminant levels. Ball’s focus during her six-week residency is on finding biological solutions to environmental problems. 2-4 p.m. Free.
See you out there!