28th Annual Art & Soul Celebration to showcase Black visual art and music

Four local artists are featured in the 2024 Art & Soul Celebration, with “We Are One, The Naptown Experience” as the theme. Art & Soul is the largest public program of the Indy Arts Council.

The celebration has kicked off Black History Month in Indianapolis since 1996 and helped expand the city’s awareness and appreciation of African-American art and music. Art & Soul, supported annually by Lilly Endowment. It opens this year on Friday, Feb. 2, with an art opening and performances at The Cabaret.
“The Art & Soul program experience will be curated to make everyone feel valued, celebrated and relaxed,” said Valerie Phelps, Art & Soul 2024 event producer. “The current ‘Naptown Experience’ is vast, and over the past decade or so ‘Naptown’ has become a term of endearment for our city.

“The grand finale will be a non-stop, power packed tribute sharing highlights from ‘the Avenue’ past to present, popular music and dance from the 40’s to now – in costume. The program will represent the African-American community as a whole, capitalizing on strength in variety, and serve as a cultural representation of where we are as a people in the City of Indianapolis,” Phelps continued.

For more than 25 years, Art & Soul has helped launch the careers of emerging Black artists in central Indiana. Four featured artists are selected annually to be spotlighted at Art & Soul events. In addition, the artists receive year-long career development support. 

This year’s artists are:

* Boxx The Artist, a visual artist who examines African Diaspora through acrylics, digital, public art, photography, and film.

* Dexter Clardy, lead singer of the Indiana-based, alternative R&B band Shvdy Rollins (formerly Huckleberry Funk). Clardy is also veteran of the Indiana University Soul Revue, famous for dynamic performances of R&B, soul, funk, and contemporary Black popular music.

*8 Austin Day, a seasoned Indianapolis-based dancer, choreographer and educator. Nicknamed “Sirlimitless,” founded ChoreoBlitz, a company aimed at challenging dancers with innovative programming and providing performance opportunities.
* jus Will, a spoken word artist who for nearly two decades  has been an indomitable presence on the vibrant spoken word scene. His literary debut, The Missedprint of a Poet, is a reflective masterpiece that echoes his journey and insights.

The 2024 ART & SOUL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS includes three events in February will feature a visual art exhibition and multiple music, dance, and theater events at different venues. A special thank you to this year’s performance sponsors Eli Lilly and Company and Mojo Up Marketing + Media.

Friday, Feb. 2: Art & Soul Kickoff, an open house-style event featuring a First Friday art exhibition opening at Indy Arts Council’s Gallery 924 and performances in The Cabaret (924 N. Pennsylvania St.) Free admission. Food & drink available for purchase.

From 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Gallery will debut work by Boxx the Artist and also display works from previous Art & Soul visual artists. No RSVP ticket required for the exhibition.

Performances which follow in The Cabaret are sold out.

Other Art & Soul events include a Featured Artist Music Showcase on Wednesday, Feb. 7, at the Jazz Kitchen, and a Celebration + Naptown Tribute on Friday, Feb. 23, at the Artsgarden. That free event will include live music, dancing, refreshments and vendors from 5 to 7:30 p.m.. A cash bar will be available. RSVPs recommended at EventBrite.

PHOTOS ABOVE: Art & Soul featured artists for 2024 are (l-r) Austin Day, Boxx the Artist, Dexter Clardy and jus Will.