‘Kings & Queens’ is theme of 27th annual Art & Soul celebration

Four featured artists highlight the schedule of the 27th annual Art & Soul celebration showcasing Black visual art and music in February.

Since 1996, Art & Soul has helped expand the City’s awareness and appreciation of African-American art and music.

“Art & Soul is a great way to celebrate Black History Month, highlight the talented Black artists in our city, and give recognition to the Featured Artists alumni and program partners who have led and been a part of building the Indianapolis arts and culture community,” said Channie Jones, the Indy Arts Council’s director of equity partnership.

The four featured artists are jazz musician Brandon Douthitt, visual artist and tattoo artist

 Jamichael Kyng Pollard, author and playwright Crystal V. Rhodes and dancer Adrienne Jackson.

For more than 25 years, Art & Soul has helped launch the careers of emerging Black artists in central Indiana. For this year’s lineup, the Indy Arts Council partnered with Asante Art Institute, Flava Fresh!, iibada Dance Co., Indy Jazz Fest and event producer Valerie Phelps.

Brandon Douthitt picked up a saxophone for the first time at age 11, starting an award-winning musical journey that has led to performance gigs throughout the U.S., including Indy Jazz Fest, CUNY Jazz Festival, Afropunk and Highline Ballroom. He was graduated in 2015 from Butler University with a bachelor of arts degree in music and earned a master of music degree in jazz performance from Queens College in 2017. Brandon taught music at Kentucky State University before moving back to Indianapolis, where he teaches and performs.

Jamichael Kyng Pollard is the founder and owner of KyngPen Art. He specializes in portraits, using colored pencils, and acrylic and oil paints. Along with his work as a portrait and tattoo artist, he creates live paintings and does face painting at events. Pollard’s artwork has been featured in multiple solo and group exhibits. Pollard is also a substitute art teacher and works with children and adults.

Crystal V. Rhodes has written over 20 plays that have been produced throughout the U.S. She has received multiple awards, including the Black Theatre Alliance Award for Best Writing of a Play for Stoops and the Ivoryton Playhouse Women’s Playwright Initiative’s Elle Award for her one-act play 1200 Miles from Jerome. Rhodes has written for television, newspapers, and magazines and is the author of 14 books, including her most recent novel, Someone Like Them.

Adrienne D. Jackson grew up learning West African dance as a member of Alayanfé, a youth dance company based in Durham, N.C. As an adult, she expanded her study of modern and contemporary dance in Chicago. In Indianapolis, Adrienne served as assistant artistic director of Iibada Dance Co. before performing with Kenyetta Dance Co. She directs local dance ministries and also teaches students. In 2012, she founded Create Freedom Art Projects, a contemporary dance company and community  of artists. She is continuing her West African dance training and also studying hip hop dance.


* The Art & Soul activities begin Friday, Feb. 3, with the Art & Soul kickoff – a free, open house-style event featuring a First Friday art exhibition at Indy Arts Council’s Gallery 924 and performances in The Cabaret. Food and drink will be available for purchase.

The gallery exhibition will run from 6 to 9 p.m., debuting work by 2023 featured artist Jamichael Kyng Pollard and featuring works from previous Art & Soul visual artists. The show, curated by Flava Fresh! ends March 23.

Performances go from show from 6 to 7:30 p.m., with the Cabaret doors opening at 5 p.m. The event involves all four 2023 featured artists, plus local performers Chantel Massey, Okara Imani, Bashiri Asad, Native Sun, Stephanie Allen-Stevenson, Create Freedom Arts Projects and Allison Victoria.  

* On Wednesday, Feb. 8, The Jazz Kitchen will host the 2023 Featured Artists Showcase from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with doors opening at 5 p.m. for drinks and dinner. Tickets are $15 to $20, available at thejazzkitchen.com. The program will include stage performances by Featured Artists Brandon Douthitt (music) and Crystal V. Rhodes (theater), plus live painting by Jamichael Kyng Pollard (visual artist). Other performers will include Rob Dixon.

* On Saturday, Feb. 25, the Indianapolis Artsgarden will host the Mainstage Celebration & Wes Montgomery 100-Year Tribute, featuring vendors, refreshments, dancing, and live music from 4:30 to 7 p.m. (Doors open at 4 p.m.) The event is free, with a cash bar. New this year is a “Next Level” experience ($15), which includes balcony seating, food, dancing, cash bar, and a 360 red carpet photo booth. Tickets available at EventBrite.

The show will kick off with a Rob Dixon-led tribute to Indianapolis native Wes Montgomery, the late, legendary jazz guitarist who would have turned 100 in March. The celebration features all four 2023 Featured Artists with appearances/performances by Dr. Lasana Kazembe, Jillian D. Jones, DJ Rusty Redenbacher, Damon Karl, Alaina Renae, Staci McCrackin and others.  

* In addition, 2023 Featured Artist Brandon Douthitt will perform as part of a Black History Month Tribute showcasing seven local artists from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at the Indianapolis International Airport.  

Art & Soul, supported annually by Lilly Endowment Inc., is presented by Indy Arts Council in partnership with Asante Art Institute, Flava Fresh!, iibada Dance Co., and Indy Jazz Fest. Venue partners include The Cabaret, Indianapolis International Airport, and The Jazz Kitchen.

Follow @ArtsCouncilIndy and #ArtSoulIndy on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn to join the celebration. For more information, visit indyarts.org.

PHOTO ABOVE: The Indianapolis Artsgarden will be one of four venues involved in the Indy Arts Council’s 2022 Art & Soul celebration.