The January arts scene: First Friday openings plus active stages

AT THE CIRCLE CITY INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX: The Schwitzer Gallery will host street artist Kwazar Martin. The show, Kwiz, honors his grandmother Liz, and will feature Martin’s canvas acrylic and aerosol work, both in portraiture and in highlighting his original character, “TSA Kway,” in graffiti stylings. “I just hope it serves as inspiration for those who come from a background similar to mine,” said Martin, an Indianapolis-native. “Elizabeth Palmore is my grandmother. She would encourage me to stay on course and always chase my dreams. Everything she’s ever told me is still with me to this day, long after she’s passed.”

The Schwitzer Gallery is located on the second floor of the North Studios, and is part of an

in-person First Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 7. The CCIC follows state and county regulations; masks are no longer required for vaccinated visitors but are highly encouraged, and individual artist studios may continue to require masks within their space. The CCIC is a 500,000 square foot building, making social distancing somewhat easier than other venues, but the smaller studios may also maintain limitations on visitor numbers at times.

Following is a small sampling of the many other studios tentatively set to take part in the CCIC’s First Friday:

*At the Full Circle Nine Gallery, Joy Hernandez with …Is Bean. The show will spotlight Hernandez’s character Bean the Astronaut in a variety of activities and adventures. “I have a lot of friends that can do some pretty impressive things, activities that I know I could never pull off without hurting myself or making a mess,” Hernandez said. “I’ve said for a long time that Bean is all of us. In this show, Bean will be those friends, doing those activities I admire but that I can’t personally pull off.”

Works by Joy Hernandez, including Cosmicbearingweb, will be on exhibit at the Full Circle Nine Gallery in the Circle City Industrial Complex.

University of Indianapolis alumna Joy Hernandez is the founder and president of the Full Circle Nine Gallery, and an aerosol and acrylic painter and muralist. Her character, Bean the Astronaut, named in honor of the only artist to have walked on the moon, Apollo astronaut Alan Bean, has become a very popular mural subject around Indianapolis and recently branching out into towns around Indiana.
“I’ve been fortunate, in that it seems that everyone loves an astronaut,” Hernandez said. “I think there’s something hopeful about looking to space, and an element of living vicariously. We can’t see who’s under the helmet, so Bean can really be any of us and that means we can all go on these adventures.”

*After a successful exhibit at Saks Fifth Ave 3rd Floor Gallery and the Hoosier Salon Annual Exhibit at the Indiana State Museum, Matt Hurdle of Matt Hurdle Fine Art will be exhibiting new contemporary landscapes and abstract paintings. His landscapes create a feeling of calm and peacefulness through his use of color palette and hazy, blending technique. His abstracts are brighter and energetic through shape, color and movement.

*Jacob Bower-Bir is a self-described “failed academic and an aspiring failed artist.” “Despite his professed anti-capitalist ideology, he knows deep down that he, like everyone, is a shill for the market economy. He holds a doctorate of philosophy in political science and public policy, and a masters in architecture, which together have made him largely intolerable.” He will have “new work by that jerk, mostly 2D, mostly of questionable artistic value.” “This month’s show is about unloading a bunch of garbage, for money, on people who ought to know better. (Just kidding. None of my stuff is actually for sale,)” Bower-Bir said. Jacob Bower-Bir is located on the second floor of the North Studios.

*Nancy Lee is known for her handmade sterling silver jewelry and will feature new silver and gold jewelry designs in her freshly updated Nancy Lee Designs Studio. She has made custom work for clients in gold and silver for over a decade. She specializes in alternative wedding and engagement rings in a warm and inclusive environment. Her offerings also include kiln-fired enamel landscapes on copper substrates. These paintings show the same attention to detail with which Lee touches all of her work. “Details delight me, and I can easily get lost in them, whether in gold, silver, or enamel. You might say tiny things are my superpower!” Lee said. Nancy Lee is one of the original three artist pioneers who brought First Friday art openings to the Circle City Industrial Complex. Nancy Lee is located on the first floor of the North Studios.

*Katrina J. Murray Studio and Gallery will feature ceramic sculpture and collage work. Murray considers all of her works to be a form of collage. Educated at the Herron School of Art and Design and Ivy Tech, Katrina Murray studied art history in Italy and lived for a time in Germany. A native of Brown County, Indiana, Murray now makes her home in Indianapolis and has held a longtime studio at the CCIC. Katrina J. Murray Studio and Gallery is located on the second floor of the North Studios.

AT THE HARRISON CENTER: The Jan. 7 First Friday will be headlined by Follies of the Living, to be presented by Johnny McKee in the Harrison Gallery. McKee found the concept of the eponymous episode of M*A*S*H (Season 10: Episode 11) to be a compelling microcosm of the trivialities and absurdities that humanity is often concerned with. The works in this show will expand on this idea while also remaining faithful to the distinctive and often enigmatic style that McKee has cultivated throughout his career.

Other shows at the Harrison Center galleries will include:
*Holding it Down: Sisters in the African Diaspora by William Rasdell in the Speck Gallery. This series features traditional and stylized photographs focusing on women in the African diaspora.

*My Indy by Roberta Avidor in the City Gallery. A series of watercolor and oil paintings that depict familiar scenes in urban Indianapolis.

*New works by Andrew Perry Davis and Adam Starr in the Gallery Annex. The two

artists juxtapose each other with ceramic sculptures of stylized, anthropomorphic animal figures by Davis and photography and photo manipulation by Starr. 

*Covid Collaboration by Courtney Hess and Jonathan Glick in the Underground Gallery. Two cousins blend their mediums of design, fabrication, and abstract painting to create a series of discordant images in a muted color palette on masonry boards.

The Harrison Center is open at full capacity; no reservations are required. All shows will open at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 7In-person gallery tours will open for visitors Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Online galleries will open on Jan. 10. Make an appointment or view the online galleries at Special Senior Hours are every Friday from 2 to 4 p.m.  No appointment is needed.

AT THE DISTRICT THEATRE: J. Elijah Cho is the writer, performer and director of Mr. Yunioshi, a work inspired by Mickey Rooney’s infamous performance as Mr. Yunioshi in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – a cringeworthy role often pointed to as the most egregious example of “yellowface” in the movies. In productions on Friday through Sunday, Jan. 21-23, the Asian-American Cho raises several questions: Should actors really have the opportunity to play any role? Could there ever have been a “right” way for him to play it? And what compels an actor to play a character that they really probably shouldn’t be playing? Mr. Yunioshi was cited as the best solo show in the 2019 Hollywood Fringe Festival. Scorpion TV series star Ari Stidham is the producer of the show and will be traveling to Indianapolis.

*On the weekend of Jan. 14-16, the District Theatre will become home to Comedy Bootcamp, the only stand-up comedy class in the country designed by military veterans for military veterans. The organization offers a six-week class free to 12 vets three times each year. Bootcamp leaders said they are honored to partner with District Theatre to host the Indianapolis Comedy Bootcamp graduation and class sessions.

AT FOOTLITE MUSICALS: Footlite’s annual cabaret performance is The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, with performances set for Friday through Sunday, Jan. 14-16, and Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 20-23.

Conceived by Rebecca Feldman with additional material by Jay Reiss, this musical has a book by Rachel Sheinkin and music and lyrics by William Finn, Spelling Bee was the winner of the Tony and Drama Desk awards for Best book of a musical.

An eclectic group of six awkward mid-pubescents vie for the spelling championship of a lifetime. While candidly disclosing hilarious and touching stories from their home lives, the tweens spell their way through a series of (potentially made up) words, hoping never to hear the soul-crushing, pout-inducing, life un-affirming “ding” of the bell that signals a spelling mistake. Six spellers enter, but one leaves! At least the losers get a juice box. 

Producer Amy Douglas and director Kathleen Clarke Horrigan have assembled a cast including Adrian Daeger, Andrew Exner, Adam Gardner, Hannah Janowicz, Jonna Kauffman, Kelsey McDaniel, Sarah Marone, Jim Melton, Bryan Padgett, Ed Trout, Josh Vander Missen and Antony Winfrey. Conner Chamberlin is the show’s choreographer; Curt Pickard, costume designer;, Stephen Matters, scenic designer; and Andrew Stephens, lighting designer.  

Footlite presents its productions at its home theater, the Hedback Community Theater, 1847 North Alabama Street, Indianapolis, IN. Curtain time for its Friday and Saturday performances is 7:30 p.m. The Sunday matinees have a 2:30 p.m. curtain. 

Footlite’s remaining season includesAndrew Lippa’s The Wild Party and Something Rotten! 

AT THE PHOENIX THEATRE: Opening Friday, Jan. 28. Jolene Mentink Moffatt will direct LOVE BIRD, a play by K.T. Peterson which continues through Feb. 20. The play tells the story of Nigel, the sole inhabitant of a small island who falls in love with someone he made out of trash. As storms and trash increase, a strange visitor forces Nigel choose between who he was and who he could be. Love Bird is about loneliness, queerness, the meaning of devotion in a single-use society, and the mystery of connection in a messy world.

AT THE INDIANA REPERTORY THEATRE: The classic science fiction tale, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit  451 will open Wednesday, Jan. 26, with 24 performances on the OneAmerica Mainstage through Sunday, Feb. 20. That day concludes with a performance at 11:59 p.m. Adapted by Tobias Andersen, the play is set in a dystopian future where the written word is forbidden and firemen are paid to burn books instead of fight fires. But when Montag starts to read the books he is supposed to burn, he begins to question the life he leads. Now he must choose between continuing his regimented existence or risking everything for the right to think. Published in 1953, this science fiction classic is even more relevant today.

ARTWORK ABOVE: Works by Kwazar Martin will be featured in Kwiz, an exhibit in the Schwitzer Gallery at the Circle City Industrial Complex.