Celebrate Black History Month in Indy
Photo: Brandon Douthitt
February is Black History Month, and dozens of events in Indianapolis will provide opportunities to experience African American art, culture, music and creativity. The Indy Arts Council presents the 27th annual Art & Soul festival with three events showcasing emerging talent and local legends.
2023 ART & SOUL Art & Soul 2023, supported by Lilly Endowment Inc., will celebrate the theme “Kings & Queens.” Four Black emerging artists will be spotlighted at Art & Soul events and receive year-long career development support. Indy Arts Council partnered with Asante Art Institute, FLAVA FRESH !, iibada Dance Company, Indy Jazz Fest, and program and production manager Valerie Phelps to develop this year’s program and select the four Featured Artists who include jazz musician Brandon Douthitt, visual artist and tattoo artist Jamichael Kyng Pollard, author and playwright Crystal V. Rhodes, and dancer Adrienne D. Jackson. For more information on this year’s Featured Artists, visit indyarts.org/about/art-soul/featured-artists.
2023 ART & SOUL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS Three events in February will feature a visual art exhibition and multiple music, dance, and theater events at different venues. For schedule and ticket information, visit indyarts.org/about/art-soul.
Friday, February 3 -Art & Soul kickoff See an Art & Soul retrospective art exhibition at Indy Arts Council’s Gallery 924 and performances in The Cabaret (924 N. Pennsylvania St.) Free admission, seating limited on a first-come basis. Food & drink, provided by The Jazz Kitchen, available for purchase.
Wednesday, February 8 - 2023 Featured Artists Showcase The Jazz Kitchen (5377 N. College Ave.) 7-8:30 p.m. (doors open at 5 for drinks and dinner) Tickets: $15-$20, thejazzkitchen.com An evening of jazz, theater and live painting presented by 2023 Featured Artists Brandon Douthitt, Crystal V. Rhodes, and Jamichael Kyng Pollard. Appearances by Rob Dixon and more.
Saturday, February 25 - Mainstage Celebration & Wes Montgomery 100-Year Tribute Indianapolis Artsgarden (110 W. Washington St.) 4:30 to 7 p.m. (doors open at 4 p.m.) FREE general admission; RSVPs requested here. A Rob Dixon-led tribute to Indianapolis native Wes Montgomery, the legendary jazz guitarist who would have turned 100 in March. Plus: Performances by a dozen local artists, including Damon Karl, who opened for Babyface, and Staci McCrackin and Alaina Renae, who perform in the Jim Irsay Collection band. New this year: A “Next Level” experience ($15) on the balcony, with food, dancing, a cash bar, and a 360 red carpet photo booth. Tickets available here.
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, February 17, at Indianapolis International Airport.
MORE BLACK HISTORY MONTH EVENTS IN INDIANAPOLIS The Indy Arts Council has partnered with Face A Face Collective to produce and curate an Indianapolis arts and culture guide to Black History Month, featuring events, public artworks, locally produced documentaries, restaurants, and other ways to experience Black culture and creativity in Indianapolis. The Guide is available now at explore.indyarts.org. Some highlights include:
Celebrate Black History Month 4 to 8 p.m. February 2 Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, 3000 N. Meridian St. Celebrate Black heritage and achievements through storytelling, activities, and performances. $6. https://www.childrensmuseum.org/celebrate-black-history-month
The Crown Hair Show for the Culture Indy Juneteenth 5 to 10 p.m. February 4 Martin University Hardin Gathertorium, 2186 N. Sherman Dr. Explore the beauty and creativity of Black hair and Black hair stylists, including amazing braid designs, bold beards, and liberated locks. $10 and up. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-crown-hair-show-tickets-428923360317
Legacy: Celebrating Black Voices February 3 through 25 Garfield Park Arts Center, 2432 Conservatory Dr. Artwork by talented local Black artists, including painting, drawing, mixed-media, and sculpture. REE. https://www.gpacarts.org/upcoming
Kyle T. Mays: Leon Jett Memorial Lecture 6:30 to 8 p.m. February 16 Eiteljorg Museum, 500 W. Washington St. Mays (Saginaw Chippewa), a professor of African American Studies and American Indian Studies and History at UCLA, will speak about hip-hop music by Native artists. $15 non-members, $10 members. https://eiteljorg.org/eiteljorg-events/leon-jett-memorial-lecture-with-kyle-t-mays/
Tea’s the Artist Open Mic Night 6 to 8 p.m. February 17 (Third Fridays) Tea’s Me Cafe, 140 E. 22nd St. Although centered around youth and teens, people of all ages are invited to share their performing talents at this open-mic event, whether that’s singing, dancing, spoken word, or instrumental music. $10. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/teas-the-artist-open-mic-night-tickets-457237057347
American Pianists Awards Performance by Isaiah J. Thompson 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. February 25 The Jazz Kitchen, 5377 N. College Ave. Isaiah Thompson, a jazz pianist, composer, and bandleader from West Orange, New Jersey, performs solo and trio in advance of the awards finals in April. $20 and up. https://americanpianists.org/jazz/finalists/18-jazz/finalists/497-isaiah-thompson
The Afro-Jewish Intersection: Revealing Our Connections Through March 3 JCC Indianapolis, 6701 Hoover Road Kassa Bekele is an thiopian American painter, and William Rasdell is a photographer who has traveled around Africa in search of Jewish enclaves. A gallery reception will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on February 2, featuring food, conversation, and a Q&A with the artists. FREE. https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-afro-jewish-intersection-gallery-reception-tickets-48800961890
2023 ART & SOUL PROGRAM PARTNERS Art & Soul, supported annually by Lilly Endowment Inc., is presented by Indy Arts Council in partnership with Asante Art Institute, FLAVA FRESH !, iibada Dance Company, and Indy Jazz Fest. Venue partners include The Cabaret, Indianapolis International Airport, and The Jazz Kitchen.