Arts & Culture

The Fatted Calf String Band

April 12, 2008

Not a single member of The Fatted Calf String Band is "terribly thrilled" with the demo they recorded in guitarist and fiddler Brad Baute's living room last year. And they offer little more than a noncommittal yawn when asked if and when they might record again soon. That's because The Fatted Calf String Band, not unlike all the unrecorded "old-time" bands of the pre-Library of Congress folklorist explosion of the 1920s, is an adventure better experienced live, in shoes made for kicking up dirt.

Indeed, for over a year now, with evangelical ardency, the band has been moving hippies and hip, head-nodding taste makers alike to dance to the venerable tunes of their great grandmothers' songbooks. From Southern Appalachian fiddle-driven jaunts to a Lotus Dickey tune that was once a square dance staple in the hills of southern Indiana, the band has honed an expansive repertoire of old-time songs to airtight perfection.

Looking like John Boy Walton's hipster cousin from the city, Baute says the band started when he got together with fellow punk-turned traditional fiddler and guitarist Joel Lensch and porch-playing banjoist Chris Mattingly in late 2006. Bloomington's recently deceased beloved multi-instrumentalist Evan Farrell played upright bass for the outfit briefly before Alex Mann took over in January of 2007.

April 5, 2008

Downtown gallery visitors experienced all types of art, from multi media, to photography, to oil and water-color paintings during last weekend's Downtown Gallery Walk.

The nonprofit Thomas Gallery on College just north of Kirkwood, is a not-for profit gallery, where the artists put on their own shows and all proceeds go to the artists. Mary Connors and Kurt Larsen were the featured artists this weekend for Gallery Walk.

"Acrylic on canvas and water color on paper are Connors' favorite painting mediums," says Tom Gallagher, the owner of Thomas Gallery.

March 1, 2008

Unrequited love, artistic failure, death, and--comedy?

It might seem odd, given the first three themes, but comedy is undeniably present from the start of The Seagull, the IU Department of Theatre and Drama's latest production of Anton Chekhov's 1895 classic, when Masha comments, "I'm in mourning for my life" to Medvedenko, the schoolmaster who is desperately in love with her.

Chekhov's play, though centered on the depressing aspects of the human experience, also points out the humorous -- and often ridiculous -- elements to even the most painful moments in life. And the IU production, which opened this past Tuesday at the Ruth N. Halls Theatre at the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center, highlights this well, thanks to the cast and set design.

The Seagull is the final MFA thesis project for several of the students involved in its production -- including director Erik Friedman, actress Allison Moody (Arkadina), scenic designer Chris Wych and lighting designer JoJo Percy -- and all should be pleased with the result.

February 23, 2008

Two recent benefits for members of Indianapolis's blues community were three positive things: 1.) an outpouring of solidarity and compassion for "its own" when they developed major medical problems (and corresponding expenses); 2.) significant and helpful philanthropic fundraisers; and 3.) outstanding displays of blues talent and musicianship. They were displays of Indianapolis's blues community at its best, outpourings of love, artistry and devotion from fans and artists alike.

February 16, 2008

Betsy Stirratt feels your pain. "Parking on campus is very frustrating," she agrees. And while she's not exactly proposing that anyone break any laws, the IU School of Fine Arts (SoFA) Gallery director did recently say -- out loud -- that, "Many people find they don't get ticketed on Friday nights when they park in the main library lot, probably because a lot of events are happening on those evenings."

Opening receptions for the SoFA Gallery exhibitions, featuring works of students and faculty, as well as that of regional and national visual artists, for example, tend to be held on Friday nights. With a slew of provocative exhibitions on the horizon, Stirratt would like to see more folks from the community visiting the SoFA Gallery, for Friday receptions and otherwise, even if that means maneuvering around parking headaches and the invisible but daunting divide, that in the imaginations of many, segregates the townies from the gownies.

February 16, 2008

Cardinal Stage Company is doing it again. And this time, the star is -- a goat.

On Feb. 22, O Lovely Glowworm, or Scenes of Great Beauty, will open at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. It is sponsored by Cardinal's 2007-08 season sponsor, Irwin Union Bank, and is a part of Arts Week, an IU community winter arts festival.

According to the news release for the production, O Lovely Glowworm is "the outrageously funny and profoundly moving story of a goat desperately trying to figure out who he is, where he is and why he is."

February 16, 2008

In 1962, the view that anything could be art was at its peak in the art world. Artists would use unconventional materials -- metal scraps, buttons, cardboard -- whatever they thought would express their ideas best.

In that same year, the Indiana University Art Museum (IUAM) received four works of art that fell into this category. These works, including one other piece received in a different year, are on display as part of the IUAM's "New in the Galleries" exhibition titled The Art of Assemblage.

Ned Puchner, a graduate student in art history and the curatorial assistant for Western Art after 1800, prepared the exhibition. It was partially inspired by the New York Museum of Modern Art's 1961 Art of Assemblage exhibition. He said the works are "an excellent group, indicative of the range of works categorized under the terms 'neo-Dada' or 'assemblage'."

February 9, 2008

I drove to the Musical Arts Center (MAC) last Friday evening with high expectations. I walked out several hours later disappointed.

My disappointment had little to do with the show itself. A Wedding, Pulitzer Prize winning-composer William Bolcom's adaptation of Robert Altman's 1978 film about a high-society wedding, was first staged at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2004. It's Bolcom's third project with IU Opera Theater. His other collegiate premieres, McTeague (1996) and A View from the Bridge (2005), achieved critical acclaim with IU Opera Theater.

Overall, it was enjoyable, and even though the supertitles ruined every single joke for me, I laughed often thanks to the performers' talent and execution.

Murray McGibbon: The African Tempest Project

February 9, 2008

This installment of “Alternative Conversations” features IU theater professor Murray McGibbon. In the summer of 2007, he took six theater students to his native South Africa, where they collaborated with a South African university on a production of Shakespeare's The Tempest, which McGibbon called The African Tempest Project.

Amber Kerezman interviewed McGibbon for this story package.

Links to "Alternative Conversations: The African Tempest Project"

- STORY: Shakespeare in South Africa

- PHOTO ALBUM: The African Tempest Project

- VIDEO CONVERSATION: The African Tempest Project -- Part 1

- VIDEO CONVERSATION: The African Tempest Project -- Part 2

- VIDEO CONVERSATION: The African Tempest Project -- Part 3

February 9, 2008

Murray McGibbon sits on a plush beige sofa, surrounded by native African Zulu masks that scream of far away places. The 2 p.m. sunlight streams in on the native South African and IU theater professor as he discusses The African Tempest Project.

The project, he says, "was a hands-on workshopping of Shakespeare's play within a South African context."

McGibbon's receipt of a Lilly Endowment New Frontiers grant enabled six students from IU and 14 from the University of KwaZulu-Natal to produce The African Tempest Project this past summer in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa.

And it all might happen again. If more funds are granted through the Lilly Endowment, IU will return the favor, housing several South African students while rehearsals for The Tempest are underway in Bloomington.

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