Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Larry Endicott "Kuala Lumpur: A Photography Journey" - Stutz Gallery - Sept. 7, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

What's most artful about this series is the paper treatment upon which these ink jet images are printed. The watercolor paper, glistening from its murky and yellowed polyurethane coating, adds to the sense of quietness all of these pieces by this Creative Renewal Fellow achieve. Fortunately, it smartly lends a bit of sympathy as well to some of the weaker, ordinary images. Unframed, copper nails adhere them to the crooked line of walls that compose the Stutz Gallery. Framed, one will set you back $1,200 - an optimistic asking price. There appear to be two aesthetics at play in this series that, as a whole, is a refreshingly refined break from Endicott's typical stylized and commercial leanings. Most pieces have straight-on vantages (a 50 mm feel) of Malaysian life shot with an inconsistent journalistic edge ("Performance Series #2" of an older couple singing on a sidewalk is amazing while "Greetings" is baffling), though the group of images lacks a story and incompletely documents his mission to contrast capitalism against poverty. This work does not feel like a series. Considering the times, this contrast could have been demonstrated anywhere in the U.S. where the divide between rich and poor is widening. How and why did this necessitate a trip to Malaysia? Had Endicott exhibited the images that encompass the towering buildings and contrasting cityscapes exclusively, like the stand-alone image "Homestead" (also called "Passenger"), it would have nailed his aim and made for a consistent, more successful show. Seen as a series (not broken down into like groups or some sequence) it's not as effective. Building images "Overseer" and "Radiant" possess a dreamlike stillness and emptiness that encompass a great amount of energy and life - they're great. Individually, most of the photos do have worth, proof that Endicott's drive to hone his skills has evolved and practice pays off. Seen as a whole, it's choppy, but could have been aided through a process of elimination. Through Sept. 13, 2005; 317-833-7000. -Mary Lee Pappas

Brose Partington and Phillip Lynam - MLP's two top 30 under 30 picks for NUVO published September 7, 2005

Phillip Lynam, 29, painter
“I always drew and painted. It was something I got attention for doing,” Phillip Lynam says of his interest in visual arts. Overseeing the Star Studio at the Indianapolis Museum of Art, he has the opportunity to inspire a new generation.

After graduating from Ben Davis High School in 1994, he received his BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and MFA in painting from the University of Maryland.

“I taught design, painting and drawing at three schools in the Washington, D.C., area and would drive from one to the other,” he says of his role as gypsy professor at such schools as Montgomery College and Maryland College of Art and Design. “Basically, what I wanted to do was a full-time tenured track professorship, but they’re not just handing those out apparently,” the soft spoken Lynam laughs.

He and his wife, Mirjam, moved back to Indianapolis (“Closer to family, farther from traffic”) in August of 2003. Their son, Ian, will turn 1 this month.

“I started working in the security department at the museum because I needed a job with benefits. It actually was a really good way to sort of learn how the place worked.”

He moved over to the exhibits department a year later and has been with the Star Studio since the museum reopened this year.

“There are several ways the IMA reaches out to families with the studio programs and family days programming, but Star Studio is a unique place within that context because it’s a spot where we’re exhibiting work, and not kids artwork,” he says of the educational gallery. “It’s contemporary, challenging artwork that, framing it with activities that are geared toward families and children, gives them a way to … begin discussing the art. If it works right it ought to have a role in how kids can experience the rest of the art in the museum as well.”

Lynam adds, “Anytime that I can have young people having a good experience with contemporary art and not feeling that it’s something they are alienated from, in the long run it’s good for everybody.”

Visit to learn more about Phillips’ artwork and to learn more about Star Studio and family programming.
—Mary Lee Pappas

Brose Partington, 25, sculptor/furniture maker
“We work with the curators and the designers,” Brose Partington said of his role behind the scenes with the Indianapolis Museum of Art’s exhibition staff. “The designers have shows laid out the way they want them to be. They have it all measured up, how many paintings they want in a space. We install or build the walls to their specifications.”

Currently, they are installing 300 objects for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s International Arts and Crafts exhibition that opens Sept. 25, in a 10,000 square foot gallery space.

“We’re helping the couriers install work. We have the cases in, but still have to put fabric in them. Everything has to be sealed tight and pass conservation’s standards.”

A furniture maker and sculptor, Partington has a degree in sculpture from Herron. “I started Herron not knowing what I wanted to do and then I took a sculpture class and fell in love with it because the professors were great,” he said.

“I spent a lot of time outside as a child and playing around ponds. I loved mowing the lawn and putting designs in it with the tractor, walking along the levy and building forts with my brothers and sisters. It was great to hide, be alone and gather your thoughts with no one being able to find you the rest of the day,” he said of why nature was a major influence in his kinetic metal and wood sculptural work. “Just being outside and watching things move. I like to make sculptures that are changing and not too repetitive.

“And my dad was a clock maker. He taught me a little about mechanics,” he added about his father, artist Michael Partington. His stepmother is ceramicist Soyong Kang.

Getting his ideas to fruition is a part of the process. “There are different motions I want to do every time I want to do a new sculpture, and I’ll read a little bit about it. You have to feed your head and make things up to make it work.

“I’m trying to lead my work into more sculptural furniture and I’m about to start a project which is a kinetic piece of furniture, so it’s definitely moving toward the sculptural side. I’ve always loved wood. It influences me a lot. Just finding and looking at a piece of wood gives me ideas.”

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Anna Lee Chalos-McAleese: "Suspended Motion in Glass" - Indianapolis Art Center - August 31, 2005 - 5 stars

"Petra de ora" sandstone from the St. Meinard quarry, wood and glass are combined to create sensuous, defined, sculptural forms that feed off of instinct. Clear blown glass balls, central to all the pieces, spur an inborn attraction with their water-like shine from catching the light. They're also the perfect size to fit comfortably into a hand like an ancient pestle or tool, which only stimulates an innate tactile yearning. Further feeding on primordial senses is the placement of these vulnerable and slightly oblong looking balls between squarely cut stone as in "Bon Ami." Looking like a large raindrop or bubble, the glass defies its seeming flimsiness to hold the unlikely weight of the perfect stone. The implausibility is not an outright or harsh illusion, but rather a subconscious subtlety. The contrast of time trapped in the striation of the stone's gritty texture, with the free sense of movement and weightlessness exerted from the glass, is present though the two meld into a comfortably soft aesthetic. Eight children filtering through the gallery, captivated, exclaimed "wows" as their testament to this work's success. It tinkers with the laws of attraction. Chalos-McAleese, an art teacher of 20 years, received a Arts council of Indianapolis Creative Renewal Fellowship that enabled her to build this exceptional body of work. Through September 6, 2005; 317-255-2464. - Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Robert R. Rough - Corner Coffee - Aug. 24, 2005 - 3 stars

Corny titles (like "Got the time?" of the familiar mound of watches in the window of Sasha's in Broad Ripple) don't help elevate the eight photography images by Gough beyond what you would expect from a well-immersed and well-trained hobbyist. Gough is capable of more. Quality of presentation and images exhibited are inconsistent as if Gough hasn't found his niche or tapped into a unique personal style with his art. Is he still experimenting or slightly uncomfortable with his technology? Typical landscape images and cats are (yawn) OK, but too ordinarily composed and conceived and thus average. Some are on the periphery of being great with "800 West Sunset" defying its mundane companions. Trees are black silhouetted against a hot sunset reflecting off of what appears to be an icy, flooded bank. Obviously with the direct sunlight, the aperture was set high and thus the image is crisp throughout. It's an unusual look at the everyday phenomenon against an unlikely setting. For the $95 price, it's a prize. Through August 2005. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

"Visual Fringe: An Explosion of Passionate Creation" - 4 Star Gallery - Aug. 17, 2005 - 1 star

"Visual Fringe 2005 sets out to uncover and tap into the most diverse and exciting range of local high caliber artists to paint or draw what they felt was their concept of lndy Fringe. The response from the artists was awesome. Visual Fringe will challenge people to look at art in a new way," writes of its visual arts component to the Indianapolis
Theatre Fringe Festival. But the work, individually and as a whole, is so embarrassing I wondered if I had walked into an intentional parody. Was I, the observer, part of some performance art joke? This show is a misrepresentation of the quality of visual art happening in our city and is thus way out of touch with what truly is fringe locally. And what does "the response from artists was awesome" mean when the call for artists was narrow? Scarier still was that this show, the opposite of what it asserts to be, was juried. First effort excuse is unacceptable. How could such a well-orchestrated and amazing event allow this hoax to happen? Kudos still to Sean Miller, owner of 4 Star, for always maintaining an open mind, taking risks and opening his doors to cutting-edge art, possibilities and ideas. His efforts alone earned the lone star rating. Perhaps next year Miller or some group like IMOCA will take the helm of the visual arts component and maybe revive his ahead-of-its-time Installation Festival. Through Aug. 28, 2005;, (317) 822-4386. - Mary Lee Pappas

Here are a 3 letters received from this review. They are great entertainment....and, fyi, the show was solicited as being juried, there was no artist named "Q. Jones" involved....I could go on. There was a fourth that is just too weird to add...maybe I will though.

Letter #1
August, 21, 2005
I am baffled, disappointed, and hurt by the review that the Visual Fringe Show received by Mary Lee Pappas. I understand a critic is allowed to judge a show based upon their expertise and thus report that to the public.  It is their job as a journalist for the paper they work for to report the quality of shows.  However, her comment that the work individually and as a whole was embarrassing was rude and based upon what?  The show was juried by the curator of the Indiana State Museum.  The call to artists went out on the IndyArts site.  Quincy Owens one of the artist who had 3 pieces selected shows work on a regular basis at The Harrison Center, The Stutz Gallery and Lamp to name a few.  He also has done commentaries about the arts in Indianapolis on the TV. Emma Overman and Liz Margason are both in the Hoosier Salon show right now.  Mary Lee Pappas had mentioned Emma Overman as having her work stand out to her in her review of the Hoosier Salon Show.  Emma also shows her work in the previously mentioned galleries and others, will have a one women show at the Stutz this winter, has shown at Talbot Street, and is a published children's book illustrator.  Sojna Widmer, Emma Overman, and Liz Margason were in a juried show with Mary Lee Pappas' painting at the Fletcher Pointe show call the Lamp's Art Party which was hosted and awards given by Jennifer Kaye of the Lamp Fine Arts Gallery.  Emma Overman won first place and Sojna Widmer came in 4th per popular vote at that show. Sojna Widmer's work has shown in New York at the Cork Gallery off Broadway, Dean Johnson Gallery in December, The Indianapolis Art Center's Winter Solstice show, Lamp Fine Art Gallery, Broadripple Art Fair, and on a regular basis at CCA Gallery in Zionsville. Sojna Widmer has won first place, merit awards, and prize money for her collage work at numerous shows.  I don't know what Mary Lee Pappas was basing her opinions on that the work at the 4 Star Gallery didn't represent the quality of visual art in the Indianapolis area when indeed we do.  I don't know what writing to you will do to help any of us artists but hope you have a sympathetic ear.  I just indeed hope it doesn't hurt any of us any more than the uneducated and opinionated review did.
Sojna Widmer

Letter #2
August 20, 2005
Are you an art critic? And what is your background?

I would personally like a response from Ms. Mary Lee Pappas. I am one of the artists at 4Star Gallery for Indy Fringe. INTAKE did a great spread this week showcasing the artists and the art. Have you seen it? Quite frankly, being synical and negative is much easier than asking questions and understanding. Do a little research. Do you know what artists are showing? Did you know that Q. Jones has been written up time and time again as one of our best? Your records should show Jan12-19 2005 p. 20. Just to mention one article. I make and sell art for living- in homes, galleries, retail boutiques (in some of our "finest" ones I might add).... Another artist is a children's literature illustrator...for a living.

The mix is actually quite nice and extremely diverse. I will keep the rest of my opinions about Ms. Pappas review for a later discussion if I would be allowed. Overall it is her "misrepresentation" of our Visual Fringe at 4Star that really, seems mostly
prematurely judged. By the way, it is Shawn Miller, not Sean. I look forward to hearing from you both, Sincerely,

Shelley Savini

Letter #3
When someone presents me or anyone I represent with outright lies and blatant misrepresentation, I don\'t stand idly by and allow it to happen. This may take some energy which I don\'t have vast stores of, but I usually go ahead and do it anyway. When I was teaching as an adjunct professor of journalism, any student of mine would have been called to the table with lack of research and blatant inaccuracies in any piece they had written. I no longer teach but am calling someone on their published work.

Today, I bring Mary Lee Pappas to the table. She wrote a "clip" as a "freelance writer" for Nuvo about the Visual Fringe 2005 currently at the 4 Star Gallery until August 31st, 653 Massachusetts Avenue. The "clip" lacks research, quotes, and accuracy. She didn't get the gallery owner's (Shawn Miller) name right but lauded him. I'm appalled at what Pappas had to say in a small "clip" or review.

In journalism, there's this thing called the "inverted pyramid," so am placing the important stuff at the top. First, I encourage readers to pick up an Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival program and read all about the fringe fest and also the Visual Fringe. Go fringe, and stop in at 4 Star to see 26 fabulous art pieces plus art for sale in the print bins. All sales benefit the fringe and the artists.

The artists whose works were selected to fill the blank walls of the 4 Star Gallery for the month of August did not receive any awards, stipends, nothing. Neither did I as coordinator of the show. There wasn't a contest. There are no awards. There was a very broad Call For Entries. This is not considered a juried show.

But, we had a blast at the opening art reception where upwards of 300 to maybe even 400 people showed up according to both my own, Quincy Owens' and fringe president Tom Battista\'s best guesses. There are gifted, talented professionals in this art show who garner award after award and have done so for a long time. There are people represented in this group who have contributed significantly to various aspects of art development in Indianapolis, some of us, if old enough, for years! All one has to do is to just glimpse through the bios and note the accolades.

When veteran Nuvo readers read the "clip" at the bottom of page 26 in the current issue, I hope they will consider the "source." I don't have to pen a dissertation here as it was published last year in a Nuvo article by Allan Schoff in the May 19, 2004 issue in a response to an inaccurate report published by Pappas' in Nuvo. Go to: He says it better than I ever could.

I strongly urge Pappas to get facts, as a first step, then to report them honestly, accurately, and in a kinder spirit. For starters, all one has to do these days is run a simple search on a search engine. You can find out a lot about the artists of the current Visual Fringe that way if you spell their names correctly. Or maybe even if you don't spell them right.

As for Pappas, I learned that she taught a seminar through Arts Alliance back in 2002 on "How To Write A News Release." I wonder how she came up with her facts to give to the attendees?

I learned that she was in an art show with Quincy Owens, a Visual Fringe artist, who is a very nice and talented young man. And I wonder why Pappas spoke so unkindly? Sandy Dorste (a visual fringe artist) and I visited that show in June 2004 at the Harrison Center where Pappas' works were also shown. I wonder why she wrote such a piece about a talented colleague?

I wonder if Pappas ever attended a fringe fest before this event here in Indy? I wonder if she knows anymore about it than I did until almost a year ago?

I wonder if our dear late and great Harrison Ullmann (who spoke to several of my journalism writing classes) is turning in the grave a bit about poor journalism?

I owed Harrison a story, and we talked about it each time we spoke. He died before I ever got one written for him. Until now, several years down the path. Whether it\'s regular or alternative journalism, a report has to have accurate facts.

I wonder if Pappas is a trained journalist?
Back to the search engine.

Such inaccuracies are not acceptable, Ms. Pappas. I believe you owe 13 people who are in the Visual Fringe 2005 an apology. I believe you owe the current, wonderful editors of Nuvo, Jim Poyser and David Hoppe, an apology. The piece was small and many readers may have missed it.

Finally, hats off to the editors for great coverage of the Indianapolis Theatre Fringe Festival. Come see the shows. Come see the Visual Fringe 2005 at 4 Star Gallery.

And come see \"Confusion\" by Foreal Art Company at the fringe at the Athenaeum, which is about, and above all, honesty and integrity in today\'s world. Glad you and your wife saw it, Jim!!!

Charlene Faris

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Dead Meat: Indiana’s role in the horse slaughter industry - August 3, 2005

Indiana’s role in the horse slaughter industry

A pickup truck on U.S. 20 hauls three horses in a cattle trailer to the Shipshewana auction.

The pickup truck on U.S. 20 drives slowly, its red cattle trailer veering back and forth over this two-lane highway. The cargo, three horses much too large for the container, struggle to keep their footing.

As the trailer rocks, one horse’s hind end rubs against the trailer doors, creating a blood-colored, burn-like wound. With every bump in the road, his haunches and shoulders hit the roof. His head is also forcibly lowered down to fit. Still, his drive to the Shipshewana auction will be better than the one to the slaughterhouse.

The Shipshewana Auction, Inc. in Shipshewana, Ind., holds a kill auction every Friday morning at 10:30 a.m. A kill auction is an auction for slaughter-bound horses whose meat will be sold overseas. It’s termed a “loose auction” though it’s common knowledge that the horses there are bought by buyers, called kill buyers, working for the three foreign-owned slaughterhouses operating in the United States. Horsemeat, a popular alternative to beef in the wake of mad cow disease, will be shipped to Italy, Belgium, France, Japan and Holland.

Toward the center of the huge, two-story auction barn, away from the small, seated, arena where work and saddle horses are auctioned, the horse with the bloodied dock stands among nearly 80 others crowded into five stalls. Thirteen to 17 horses of varied types are packed into side-by-side stalls approximately 10-by-40-feet. These are the kill pens.

The center stalls contain athletes — thoroughbreds, standardbreds and quarter horses — with shiny coats and shoed feet that click on the straw-covered concrete floor as they walk into the auction area. Unlike the horses on U.S. 20 this morning, these are delivered mid-week and/or in the middle of the night on back-roads so they’re less likely to be seen.

The Indiana Board of Animal Health and the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) would prefer the public believed horses sent to slaughter are past their prime.

The auctioneer at the Shipshewana kill auction rattles through bid amounts in the makeshift auction ring as the kill buyers inspect horses they'll send to the slaughter. Most horses in the kill auction are healthy and young, with some on the fleshy side, some with braided manes and leather bridles. No evidence of food or water is present. Signs of dehydration exist in the animals — like sunken eyes and temples. Indiana law says horses at market for more than 24 hours must have access to food and water, but most of these horses will spend less time than that here. Profusely sweating and skittish, many of the horses are unquestionably nervous. A small horse, sandwiched among others, continuously kicks a draft horse in the neck and face with neither one being able to gain space despite their struggle.

Stall by stall, one horse at a time is ushered into a partitioned bend between a series of gated enclosures where the kill auction discreetly commences. The auctioneer sputters through bid amounts as most horses, identified by numbered white hip tags, bound about in the space encircled by vacant, stony buyers, seemingly unmoved by the scene.

“4X,” he shouts, indicating the winning buyer’s ID number. A woman tallying the sales furiously scribbles transaction details from a decked walkway above where a crowd, including children and Amish, watch the kill auction below. 4X’s horses are then maneuvered by teen-aged handlers into another crowded stall no different than the kill pens they just left.

The athletes, possibly retired racehorses from the two Indiana tracks, Indiana Downs and Hoosier Park, were going for about $300. “That’s a good one,” the auctioneer says of one that sells for $470. The auctioneer’s voice becomes unhurried as he eyes the buyers, saying, “Look at the hips on that mare,” of a fat, regal, gray draft horse, her head held high. She’s calm and seems deliberate with every step as she faces a kill buyer. Bidding starts at $700. The slaughterhouse will get $20 per pound for her. That’s nearly an $18 profit margin. Bulky draft horses are most sought after by the kill buyers who get 20-40 cents per pound from slaughterhouses; the best kill buyers get more.

Thirteen to 17 horses of varied types are packed into five side-by-side stalls approximately 10-by-40-feet. These are the kill pens.

Two horses sustaining injuries walk through. One, dirty, thin and disfigured from a leg break that healed poorly long ago, sells for $125. Disoriented and possibly sedated, the other ragged, swaybacked horse staggers with a limp and incessantly sways its head. He’s given free to the kill buyer.

A hearty horse that follows prompts the auctioneer to joke, “Here’s a walkin’ horse! Look at him walkin’!” A woman in the crowd rescues the last horse up for bid, a mini, for $100.

Any horse can wind up in this kill auction. Quota contractors supply horses to the kill auctions to keep the slaughterhouse’s dollars rolling in. They comb the state for horses they can get cheap to turn a quick, usually cash, profit. Because the horses can change hands many times before reaching a kill auction, their paper trail can vanish — that means ownership and health records. Auction records therefore don’t always show quota buyers as owners. Horses can also be stolen.

It takes just under 30 minutes to sell the nearly 80 horses at the Shipshewana auction. That would average some 4,000 horses sent annually to slaughter from there alone. According to the National Agricultural Statistics Service/USDA, 65,976 American horses were slaughtered for meat in 2004.

Horse auctions
The Rushville Horse Sales Co. Inc. in Rushville, Ind., conducts their auction every Tuesday at 4 p.m. though their auction license was terminated Feb. 28, 1998.

The Veedersburg Sale Barn, Inc., 100 S. Maple St Veedersburg, Ind. 765-376-5144

The Shipshewana Auction and Flea Market 345 S. Van Buren St. Shipshewana, Ind. 260-768-4129

Kill horse rescue

Kimberly King, Fox 59 news reporter and meteorologist, at Indiana Downs in Shelbyville, Ind., where her volunteer efforts with CANTER Indiana give throughbred racehorses a second chance.

“We need this because we have a pretty big thoroughbred industry in Indiana,” Kimberly King says of CANTER Indiana, a national nonprofit affiliate that provides retiring thoroughbreds with opportunities for new careers as hunters, jumpers, sport horses or beloved pets. The Fox 59 news reporter and meteorologist volunteers with CANTER (Communications Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses) by walking the shed rows early every Saturday morning at Indiana Downs in Shelbyville, Ind., networking with trainers and owners and typically saying, “Would you like to find a new home for your horse? He’s done racing.” She explained, “We are purely a middle-man to give the trainer free advertising for the horse. We put the horse’s picture on the Web and give the phone number of the trainer.” Depending on how long a horse has been raced, thoroughbred prices range from $500 to the claiming price of a given track, which is $3,000 at Indiana Downs. CANTER receives no commission.

Hoosier Park, owned by Churchill Downs, has also recently partnered with CANTER Indiana. “We are thrilled to have both Indiana tracks as partners of CANTER,” King says. “We have gotten a very good response. Initially … they [trainers and owners] weren’t that familiar with the program. Since we were coming down every Saturday, they got to know us.” It didn’t take long before they wanted to find their horses homes. King says they would tell her, “‘His racing career is over and I don’t want him to end up somewhere that’s not humane.’ That’s the whole point of CANTER — transitioning them and giving them new careers off the track.”

Jon Schuster, Indiana Downs general manager, agrees, saying in an e-mailed statement to NUVO: “Along with CANTER, Indiana Downs also feels that every horse deserves the opportunity to go into retirement as a pet or find a new career. The well-being of each horse is of great concern for both parties and CANTER is a great organization who we wish further success and welcome them to Indiana.”

Horse rescue groups
Consider donating your horse to a therapeutic riding organization or equine rescue rather than selling it at auction. Report stolen horses to local and state authorities. Report abuse and neglect to a local animal control office and to law enforcement. Responsible horse ownership could mitigate the number of horses that ultimately wind up at kill auctions.

CANTER Indiana
765-779-4148, 317-966-1882

Indiana Horse Rescue
916 S Prairie Ave., Frankfort, Ind., 46041,
$250-$750 adoption fees

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF)
450 Shrewsbury Plaza, Suite 351, Shrewsbury, N.J., 07702,
adoption fees: $500-$2,500; sponsor a TRF Retiree: $250 on up

Old Friends
411 Mill Road Place, Midway, Ky., 40347
$50 donors become part owner of thoroughbreds they rescue.

Indiana laws don’t protect horses

Jim Bradford, city-county councilman (R), believes Indiana can protect horses from slaughter and improve care and treatment legislation.

Jim Bradford’s love of horses was instilled at a young age. “My dad, he loved horses,” City-County Councilman Bradford says of his father who passed away four years ago. “We always went to opening day at Churchill Downs,” he reminisces, adding that advocating for horses is a way to pay tribute to his father.

Growing up, he rode ponies at Acorn Farm Camp in Carmel and worked at the harness racing track at the Indiana State Fairgrounds summers and weekends as a teen-ager.

When Bradford met Michael Blowen of Old Friends, a racehorse rescue organization in Lexington, Ky., “I started learning about slaughter and what happens to these old racehorses,” he says. Old Friends rescues American racehorses shipped overseas for syndication and stud that ultimately wind up slaughtered for meat. Bradford’s interest was also spurred by the slaughter of Ferdinand, the 1986 Kentucky Derby and 1987 Breeders’ Cup Classic winner, in 2002 for meat in Japan. “It was such an outrage … this wasn’t going to happen again.”

Bradford is creating a nonprofit comparable to Old Friends to rescue Indiana racehorses overseas and in the U.S.

“There are no laws that take care of these horses. Basically, they are livestock. I’ve gone to kill auctions in Indiana and found it very distressing,” Bradford says. While attending the Rushville Horse Sale Co. Inc.’s horse auction this spring, he observed a sick horse that fell and remained on the ground. “Why wasn’t there someone in that barn to make sure those horses don’t hurt themselves or hurt somebody else? Obviously, no one was looking after them.” The Rushville Horse Sales Co. Inc. in Rushville, Ind., conducts their auction every Tuesday at 4 p.m. though their auction license was terminated Feb. 28, 1998.

While horses serve predominantly as companion animals, they’re considered livestock. Federal tax laws deem horse owners as farmers. If horses were no longer designated as livestock, federal and state taxes for horse operations would probably increase.

Bradford believes that if the public knew what was happening, laws would change. “We have a new governor who wants to make changes,” he says of Mitch Daniels. “These horses are a product, a part of the economy.” He hopes to have a dialogue with Daniels and state legislators about the welfare of Indiana’s horses. He would like to see double deck trailers used to transport horses and kill auctions ended. “To basically outlaw the slaughter … of horses for human consumption, that’s my goal.”

He explains that legislative efforts advocating for horses in New York have been futile, winding up in the hands of agricultural committees. “In Indiana, we’ve got a great opportunity” to make change, he says. “If we want to be involved in thoroughbred racing, then it’s our obligation. Indiana can be the first state to say if we’re going to breed a horse here, we’re going to make sure those horses are retired and taken care of. We need to push legislation.”

Bradford would like to see stricter guidelines for obtaining auction licenses and permits, and see the Indiana Board of Animal Health enforce inspections.

“If the criteria are vague and loose, then we need to make sure they are outlined enough so that the horses are being better taken care of, that you’re going to give these horses enough space at auction barns.”

Slaughter subculture

A double deck truck sits on the Shipshewana auction's lot.

On Sept. 15, 2004, a double deck truck carrying approximately 50 horses flipped over on Indiana S.R. 1 just north of Lawrenceburg. While going around a turn, the vehicle slid, hit the guardrail, then plowed over the embankment. It’s not uncommon for trucks to use this route to avoid the weigh scales on I-74, and to avoid Ohio gas taxes.

Twenty-one horses died and 12 were euthanized on site. According to eyewitness accounts, quarter horses, a team of draft horses and horses with show braids were among the survivors. Some horses had their withers worn raw from rubbing against the truck during travel while another with a broken leg wanted to graze. One lucky horse was sold at the scene. It’s not known if these horses came from an Indiana auction or whether they were going to slaughter. Young and thirsty, they weren’t unlike those slaughter bound.

Intended for transport of cattle and hogs, double deck compartments are too small for horses. Ceiling heights are as low as 5-foot-7, while most horses are 7 to 8 feet tall. Double deck trailers also allow urine and feces from the horses on the upper deck to fall onto the horses in the lower deck. Trailers are dangerous when weight is unevenly distributed (as evidenced in the Lawrenceburg accident and others) and top decks have been known to collapse.

Double deck trucks containing horses travel Indiana back roads at night, a tactic to keep Indiana’s role in the horse slaughter industry under the public’s and law enforcement’s radar. From the Veedersburg kill auction (see sidebar), trucks drive U.S. 41 north to get to the Cavel horse slaughterhouse in DeKalb, Ill. Drivers heading from the Shipshewana auction with their double deck trucks need only U.S. 20 to start their drive to Canadian slaughterhouses.

On Dec. 7, 2001, the USDA passed a bill that will go into effect in 2007, banning the use of double deck trailers for use in transporting horses directly to slaughter — but not for horses traveling elsewhere.

Sen. Tom Wyss (R-Fort Wayne) proposed legislation in S.B. 86 in 2002 prohibiting double deck transport of horses. Had it been enacted, it would have created criminal penalties for those who transport horses in a vehicle having two or more levels stacked on top of one another, and that does not allow the horse to be transported in a standing position with its head in a normal upright position.

The bill’s biggest opponent was state Rep. Bob Cherry (R-Hancock County), director of local government affairs (former lobbyist until his 1998 appointment) for Farm Bureau.

Lousy laws
Indiana has no laws regulating transporting or living space requirements for horses.

Federal law requires they have access to food, water and rest for a minimum of six hours immediately before loading into a conveyance. Slaughter drivers sign a USDA form, VS Form 10-13, to that effect, though the form is said by the Indiana Board of Animal Health to be used primarily to track disease outbreaks rather than enforce care and treatment accountability. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, a horse’s daily water requirement varies from 5 to 20 gallons.

An amendment made to the 2005 Federal Appropriations Bill by Sen. Burns (R-Mont.) last November has allowed the commercial sale of wild horses, allowing individuals and corporations to buy wild horses with the intention of slaughtering them for profit. On Jan. 25, Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.V.) introduced H.R. 297, to repeal the Burns Amendment, restoring protection of America’s wild horses. Comparably, a bill to restore the prohibition on the commercial sale and slaughter of wild free-roaming horses and burros was introduced March 9, 2005, by Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.).

The U.S. House of Representatives on June 8, 2005, voted in favor of stopping horse slaughter in the United States by a 269-158 landslide vote, House Amendment 236 of H.R. 2744, to bar federal funds from being used to facilitate all horse slaughter. Because it’s attached to an annual spending bill it will only stop horse slaughter for one year. However, it demonstrates strong congressional support for a permanent ban that can be achieved through H.R. 503, the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act, sponsored by representative John Sweeney (R-N.Y.), who also sponsored the amendment. Joining him on both measures are U.S. Reps. John Spratt (D-S.C.), Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) and Nick Rahall (D-W.V.). H.R. 503 reads, “To amend the Horse Protection Act to prohibit the shipping, transporting, moving, delivering, receiving, possessing, purchasing, selling or donation of horses and other equines to be slaughtered for human consumption, and for other purposes.” The equine industry supports this bill, including National Thoroughbred Racing Association and the Breeders Cup, Ltd.

Contact your local congressman regarding H.R. 503; visit Until horses are presented for slaughter for human consumption (food animal), they are classified as a “companion animal” and are not subject to the regulations of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.

Conscious citizenry
Denise Derrer, public information director of the State of Indiana Board of Animal Health (BOAH) says, “We do at least at minimum an annual inspection,” regarding the frequency with which the agency visits livestock auctions.

“We’re not there at every auction or every week by any means, but we’re there on a regular basis just for other business or other investigations. In addition, particularly at Shipshewana, the U.S. Department of Agriculture folks are there because of other inspection programs going on, particularly in cattle.”

How often does the USDA inspect Indiana horse auctions? “I don’t know,” Derrer says.

The chain of custody and accountability for horse welfare and what agency should be enforcing abuses is difficult to decipher.

“Now, abuse and neglect of horses is against state law,” Derrer explains. “Under state law, interpretation and enforcing that law has to be done at the local law enforcement level.” Every county has its own neglect ordinances. “There’s not infinite resources to follow every horse trailer moving on every county road. We have four animal health inspectors covering the whole state with vet staff on top of that. We just don’t have the enforcement authority … even if we saw something.”

Why don’t we eat horsemeat?
Common equine parasitic drugs like Quest and Equimax have labels that read, “Do not use in horses or ponies intended for food,” and, “Not for human consumption.” When drugs, like the concentrated hormone Lutalyse, wear off, wouldn’t there still be a concentration of those and other drugs in the horse’s blood stream and a residual content in their tissue?

Amanda Eamich, Congressional and Public Affairs, Food and Safety Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, tells NUVO, “The Food and Drug Administration approves drugs used on animals. Many carry a mandatory withdrawal period, which is verified by an ongoing residue testing program.”

How is it that France and Japan allow horsemeat from the U.S. to be consumed? She answers, “FSIS conducts a monitoring program, sampling a certain percentage of horses presented for slaughter for residues. In addition, the European Union [EU] established a residue testing program that is carried out by horse slaughter establishments. The EU audited horse slaughterhouses in 2005 and all results were acceptable.”

In the United States, “Horse meat can be used in dog food. It is also purchased by zoos,” she adds.

VS Form 10-13 is a form that horse slaughter transport drivers sign off on ensuring that horses have had access to food, water and rest for a minimum of six hours before being loaded onto a conveyance in addition to other care standards. Falsified information can result in fines or imprisonment. The BOAH said the form was used to track disease outbreaks as well. Eamich offers, “The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service [APHIS] administers and enforces form VS 10-13 ensuring that animals are transported in a safe and humane manner. FSIS also ensures the humane handling and treatment of horses, which are an amenable species, as required by the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act.”

The question, “Why don’t we eat horse meat in the U.S.?” was left unanswered.

Slaughterhouse operators render horses unconscious with stun guns (designed for cattle) that send a 4-inch nail into their heads. The Humane Slaughter Act requires that an animal be rendered unconscious by a single blow, but with horses it can require more. Shackled, hoisted into the air, their throats are cut to be bled before being dismembered into steaks.

After the auction
The auctioneer’s voice constantly rattles through bids. “Hundred and a quarter,” he bellows jumping right into the bids for the next horse.

“One-eighty,” he says of the selling price of $180 for a chestnut colored horse with the next few horses going for under $200.

“Hundred and a quarter,” he shouts of another winning bid amount over the eerie shrill of a high-spirited horse’s constant neighing.

It elevates to such a high pitch it sounds like a child’s scream, drowning out the auctioneer not 15 feet away. The horse paces in its spot where he’s tied up. Pulling at the rope that tethers him, he repeatedly walks backward, lifting his front legs to get leverage to fight the rope. His eyes are huge. His “flight” behavior is symptomatic of his fear, and his journey is only beginning.

Sitting openly on the Shipshewana auction’s lot is a double deck trailer. All the day’s auctions will end and the public will go home before 4X’s horses are loaded on to it. Dusk will settle in by the time this happens, so no one will see.

Recommended reading
After the Finish Line by Bill Heller Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Raphael's "Fornarina" - Indianapolis Museum of Art - June 8, 2005 - 4 stars

A partially nude woman lifts a sheer veil and with the same hand holds her breast similarly to Venus Pudico, a modest Venus. Her eyes glance to the side while her other hand falls between her legs. Tame by today's standards, it was tres cheeky 500 years ago with symbols of marriage, sexuality or virtue underpinning what was to make Raphael and his Fornarina's relationship (his lover with whom he had too much sex with, thereby dying young, some would like to believe) a thing of intrigue, sensation and Romantic myth. In the exhibit, we learn that Giorgio Vasari gives evidence of this in "Lives of the Artists" stating, "Raphael was a very amorous man ..." and that he couldn't work without his mistress. Her white, soft flesh almost glows against the tight backdrop of dark myrtle and quince (more Venus allusions) that flank her. The viewer has no choice but to connect with her brown, almond shaped eyes that Raphael refers to in a 1509 poem as "two lights." This small exhibition dissects the theories, inspired tales and facts of Raphael's relationship with Fornarina. It's an alluring art history exploration for even the non-art history geek. The exhibit offers Indianapolis audiences an opportunity to not only see an iconic work of art, but to experience it in the context of the art it later inspired. Through June 26, 2005; 317-923-1331. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

"First Brush of Spring" - Hoosier Salon - May 11, 2005 - 3 stars

Plein air works from the 2005 New Harmony Paint-Out are exhibited in this show. A healthy amount of stereotyped landscape works, which have pigeonholed this organization, can be found side-by-side with truly inspired landscape gems at this annual event. On the inspired end of the spectrum is Ray Hassard's pastel, "Woodland Patriarch." It's a cropped view upwards into a gnarly-branched tree, black and brown against a shadowed green forest dappled in bits of light blue daylight. It defies the pastoral stereotype of many of its counterparts by expressing the natural world reflectively. "Morning Light," an 8-by-10-inch oil on panel by Pamela Turnbow, is executed with heavy knifed gestures over a hot pink wash, so all the subtleties of light and shadow pop effectively with simple scratch marks or unpainted spots. Beth A. Forst's "Barn on the Secret Pond" is another hit among a collection of mostly average artworks. An oil on panel with lightly applied (wash-like) oils, the usual angle of viewing a distant red barn uphill through trees (it feels sneaky) makes this work quite commendable. Through May 28, 2005; 317- 253-5340, -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Rocco Valadez: "Expecting" - Galerie Penumbra - May 4, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

This third exhibition mounted by GP solidifies the abstract expressionistic viewpoint that defines the gallery's aesthetic. The consistency, quality and representation of new, but accomplished local artists are coups local galleries in their infancy generally have been unable to accomplish. No tripping over trial and error here as there is a clear sense of artistic vision and purpose. Valadez, an art, painting and photography teacher at Lawrence Central, created his "Expecting" series as a response to the anticipation of parenthood. A multitude of pointed emotional contemplations in response to impending parenthood are acted out in freeform scapes of deep atmospheric colors that portray a great sense of mood. They are calm, optimistic, with smooth, lightly washed applications of deep, rich acrylic paints. There is no gesture apparent, just effect. "Cumbrous," a 48-by 60-inch painting, for example, is sublime with sophisticated manipulations of color (deep reds barely seeping through deep teal-green) and an occasional, perfectly positioned scratched line used to harmonize the compositional balance. To call these works simple would be grossly inaccurate. Through May 18, 2005; 317-508-8043. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Eternal Funk - review of "Soul and Funk: The Naptown Sound" - April 27, 2005

Exhibit Review
By Mary Lee Pappas
Soul and Funk: The Naptown Sound
Indiana History Center
Through Dec. 31

Actor Samuel L. Jackson greets visitors to Soul and Funk: The Naptown Sound at the Indiana History Center’s Rapp Family Gallery, evangelically hollering, “The Church of Eternal Funk is open!” from a TV screen swathed in floral orange fabric circa 1972. Outkast performing “I Like the Way You Move” starts to drown out his voice during this video from the 2004 Grammys’ Funk Tribute. It’s a booty swinging overture for a look into Indianapolis’ own unique funk scene that arose from political and cultural shifts in the African-American community during the 1960s and ’70s.

Stevie Wonder’s voice singing his 1972 hit “Superstition” greets visitors upon walking into the small exhibition space where assortments of disco lights waver in the dimness. The music bounces through the gallery. A black velvet portrait of a blue Afro-ed Stevie, Op art fabric art and an orange shag wall hanging further set the tone for the spirit of the era and the music.

Faux brick walls suggest the historic African-American Indiana Avenue strip of music clubs lost to the construction of IUPUI. More than music, this exhibit sadly only brushes the surface of what black residents in Indianapolis were challenged with during these times. Unigov, initiated by then Mayor Richard Lugar, unified city-county government and added 250,000 more whites to the voting base. City planners razed African-American neighborhoods for IUPUI and Interstate 65, leaving people displaced and underrepresented. These local events underpinned the music and culture of the time and could have been delved into further for the sake of depicting our local history in a truthful, and in this case, not so sanitary light.

But fabulous interactive components allow visitors to thoroughly engage with the funk music and musicians who created what’s become known as the Naptown Sound. Local promotional posters for Rufus Thomas, The Vanguards, The Rhythm Machine and even one for Ayr-way’s Soul Browser Center flank a room outfitted with a 1950s chrome kitchen table made to look similar to Club TBD. Pick up a phone on the tabletop and listen to Rodney Stepp, jazzman and producer formally of the Spinners, talk about buying a Beatles record on Illinois Street. Hang out at one of the Funk and Soul listening stations to hear local funk hits including The Highlighter’s famous track, “Funky 16 Corners.” Written by James Bell in the bathroom of the Ford Motor Company where he worked, this song contains what has been called the greatest soul scream of all time — that’s a heavy-duty distinction. Open a salvaged stage door and bear witness to a “Superfly Doodad” or two, like a guitar or a wide-collared stage costume. Or just boogie down on the exhibition dance floor.

Though small, this exhibit is overloaded with features and data that require a lot of time to thoroughly absorb. Despite the overstuffed, climbable, platform shoe, the show is better suited for adults than children unless your child has a penchant for funk. This exhibition, despite its success as is, could be realized on a bigger scale with even more interactive components like maps of the Westside neighborhoods or a WTLC disc jockey booth where you could select your own Naptown Sound rotation. As great as it is, it’s only halfway there. Visit for more on the history of Indianapolis funk and soul and for more on the exhibit. Through Dec. 31; 317-232-1882.

Seducing unsuspecting audiences - Tom Otterness in Indianapolis, various public locations - April 27, 2005

* Pictured - "Male and Female Tourist" is part of Tom Otterness' installations in Indianapolis.

Tom Otterness’ collection of 25 bronze sculptures of various sizes have unavoidable impact. With pieces like “See No Evil” perfectly poised in front of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, they are hard not to encounter. Visually accessible with sculptural protagonists characterized by playful, bulbous bodies and anthropomorphic, iconic smiley (and unsmiling) faces, they successfully seduce unsuspecting audiences.

“Big Big Penny,” a sculpture on the steps of the World War Memorial, does this exceedingly well. A top-hatted capitalist character recalling Monopoly’s Rich Uncle Pennybags sits atop a big penny with a drink in hand and nuclear family at his side while trying to steady himself as a poor family rolls the penny from beneath him. Two little male workers (with realistic parts) kiss next to the penny as if unaware of the turmoil while another worker gets squashed.

Most works, with context being key, are smart and complicated social commentaries, particularly the “Tree of Knowledge” at the City Market. This tiny revolution has multiple layers of interpretation that could easily inspire insightful conversations as well as photo-ops with tourists and families. It, like so many other pieces on view, is a commentary on the little guy’s plight to get ahead and the ugly side of capitalism.

Otterness’ ability to parlay conflict and disenchantment through initially sweet, pudgy, harmless looking characters has effectively provoked public interest (meaning usurped or not) by simply being enjoyable to view, as successful public art should do. A prime example of this charm is seen in the smallest piece in this collection, located outside of Starbucks on the Circle, of a pint-sized panhandler, “Boy and Dog.” Though sweet at first glance, upon close inspection it defies Disneyfication.

Otterness’ approach and refinement of craft have garnered him places in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art and The Whitney Museum. His pieces are beautifully, sympathetically conceived from their materials.

Now the question becomes whether Indianapolis will be able to maintain this quality of public arts exhibitions and arts philanthropy. Who in Indianapolis will match and continue this level of public patronage now that this precedent has been set?

Tom Otterness in Indianapolis runs through July 31, Thanks to the Arts Council’s Mindy Taylor Ross and the Deborah Joy Simon Charitable Trust for giving Tom Otterness due credence and bringing his exhibition. Simon made a $50,000 grant. The Cultural Development Commission funded $238,000. Through July 31. - Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Oldfields-Lilly IMA Gardens Tour - Indianapolis Museum of Art - April 13, 2005 - 4 stars

Metasequoia glyptostroboides. It’s a tree that was once thought to be extinct and known only through fossil records until it was discovered in China in 1941. Specimens were collected in the mid 1940s, then cultivated in the U.S. One such conifer emigre exists where the former grass tennis court was on the IMA grounds. I learned all about it while taking a volunteer-guided walk through the IMA's gardens last Saturday. The Oldfields-Lilly House and Gardens have been lovingly restored to their 1920s splendor. From the European copper beeches to the tulip trees and Carolina Alispice bushes, the nuances and significance of the IMA landscape was explored on this hour-long tour. I'll be back for another tour midsummer when the oak leaf hydrangea are in bloom. Guided walks through the IMA’s gardens are offered from April through September at 1 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Groups meet at the Lilly House entrance. 317-923-1331. -Mary Lee Pappas

"They Will Never Go To Sleep..." - Big Car Gallery - April 13, 2005 - 3 stars

This is the first exhibition in this new 1,250-square-foot gallery space located on the second floor of the Murphy Arts Center featuring work by Josh Johnson, John Clark and Jessica Robinson. Johnson's work is, frankly, touching. Seven green washed paintings recalling comic book cells titled "Life of an Organ Grinder Monkey" tells the tale of a baby monkey plucked away from its mommy in the jungle only to sail across an ocean to become a fez-wearing sideshow entertainer. The pencil drawn monkey possesses such subtle expressions (even with his hollow Orphan Annie eyes) that his fear and other emotions immediately connect with the audience. John Clark shows four new large-scale surrealist works while Robinson offers up dream-like scenes of oil and graphite on mylar, like "Cattle Drive," where 23 bulls and the multitude of horns behind them suggest an unreal scene of hundreds packed together. The artists' collective known as Big Car, a non-profit public relations company serving other non-profits, will be offering many unique events to the city which include multigenre collaborations. This space will also be shared with Motus (, an experimental dance company. Visit to get acquainted with this new group that wants to push the art scene forward without competing. Though April 30, 2005; 317-339-0911. –Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

John Detweiler: "Soliloquies" - Galerie Penumbra - March 23, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

As the title suggests, these works are explorations into the artist's personal thoughts. Detweiler does this exceptionally well through subversive images that are momentarily unsettling to view, but ultimately extremely appealing. The tactile quality of the marble dust and earth infused acrylic paints on plyboard lends a calm, sympathetic mood to what otherwise could
be unsettling images - a dog missing one eye, or the woman missing her features in "Passage." A chalky, sunny yellow peeks
around her right shoulder while the blue haze covering where her eyes could be has a stippled, gritty texture. She's smiling. The dark fields surrounding the protagonists in these pieces create a cavernous and contemplative feel. If you have not yet visited Galerie Penumbra, I recommend you do so while this show is up. Through April 21, 2005; 317-508-8043. -Mary Lee Pappas

Jan Scott Boyer - Utrillo's Art - March 23, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

Herron Gallery was the last to host a look at Jan Scott Boyer's "Allism" outsider works in the fall of 2003 during the OUTside In show. Now, a collection of old and new works, which are steering away from Allism, are assembled at the most unique and unquestionably eclectic art venue downtown, Utrillo's Art. A former plein air artist turned outsider artist, Boyer's paintings are like mazes composed of layers of unlike images. Common motifs include Easter Island-looking heads and forms, tiny dinosaurs and solid circles of colors, or what have been called balloons. The carefully painted tiny lines, dots and images intricately assemble complicated abstracted scenes that happen to look rather sophisticated. "Environment," the newest painting here, features dozens of his Polynesian looking ancestral heads in varying scales with green boxes of color dispersed among them. The result is a pleasure to view. Thrift art and salvaged frames can also be found at Utrillo's.
Through March 26, 2005; 317-684-9883. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

"Just Cause, Just 'Cuz" - Harrison Center for the Arts - March 16, 2005 - 1 1/2 stars

The HCA explained that this show "Juxtaposes the formal and the informal relationships in the worlds of law and art."
Photocopied information from the Internet on copyright registration for artworks and "Form VA" used to copyright art was available, but other than that the connection between art and theme was lost. And, an FYI to all artists, your work is copyrighted automatically upon being created. Was the theme perhaps designed to appease or garner the Indiana Bar Association and the Indiana Lawyer as sponsors? Attorney Sally Zweig, a great patron of local artists, helped select work for the show, but that hardly qualifies the designation of this as a juried show, particularly since she owns work by artist(s) selected. Is that fair? The predominantly brown-colored artworks looked very sparse in the space and, with the usual HCA suspects having their work displayed, had a same, stale quality. The exception was work by photographer Larry Endicott, who consistently brings quality to the local art table. His inkjet photos on handmade paper of an economically diverse Malaysia are treated in such a way that the images have a surreal and contemplative quality. Shows in this great gallery are starting to look the same. Through April 3, 2005; 317 396-3886. -Mary Lee Pappas

"Discovering Chimpanzees: The Remarkable World of Jane Goodall" - Children's Museum of Indianapolis - March 16, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

Jane Goodall once remarked, "Researchers ... don't want to admit that they [animals] might have minds and personalities because that would make it quite difficult for them to do what they do ..." You will likely share her sentiment upon experiencing this exhibit. It's important for children to get familiar with their fellow inhabitants on the Earth and learn to appreciate them; it's necessary for parents to get a reminder also. This exhibit brings Goodall's work with chimps in Gombe to light. It's irrelevant that the exhibition quality isn't quite up to snuff; it successfully engages the audience with hands-on activities like chimp arm extenders so you can walk like a chimp through the forest staged in the center of the exhibit. What better way to gain appreciation for the intellectual capacity of this primate than by being able to climb into one of its nests or learn how to "talk" as they do. A Gombe chimp family timeline showing family relationships between chimps, family structure and genealogy is a powerful component that may inspire a new generation to be conscious of environment and social issues. Visit to preview the exhibition. Through May 30, 2005; 317-334-3322. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

"Interpretations of the Figure" - Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center - March 9, 2005 - 4 stars

The human form is one of the most prominent subjects in all of art history alongside, or in conjunction with, sex and religion. Take, for example, the 25,000-year-old "Venus of Willendorf" or Jan van Eyck's "Ghent Alterpiece." Building from mask and skull foundations, societies throughout the ages have developed their own ideas about the human condition reflected through artworks. In this exceptional University of Indianapolis gallery exhibit, Davida Shulman starts, however, with her flesh. Obese, her nude "Self Portrait with Postcards" is beautiful and grotesque at once with her voluminous skin being a focal point for this great painting. Overt and well expressed influences aside, this painting hits many marks successfully. Depicting a body at rest or in motion, with hyperrealism or abstraction, is a necessary component of every artist's training. Adding emotion and meaning, as the majority of works do in this show, kicks the significance up a notch. Pamela Deaton's life-sized "Plant Sacrifice," an abstracted female representation suspended from the ceiling, arms outstretched, is composed of dark brown earth with tree roots, acorns, leaves and Silver Maple seedlings packed into earthy putty. The meaning (connectedness to the earth and all that entails, the life of the female body) is profound. Every single work in this regionally juried show is deserving of mention
and should be seen. There are bronzes (a fine piece by Pat Mack, for instance), glass works, with sculptures staggered through the space on 12 white pedestals. Everything worked together. Fortunately, the U of I gallery space, a square room with high
ceilings and light parquet floor, has effective lighting - an asset for this art. Through March 18; 637-4574. -Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Art and Soul, 2005 Fine Arts Exhibition - Artsgarden - February 23, 2005 - 3 1/2 stars

Eleven batik works by lzo are displayed in faux bamboo, brushed gold frames that compliment the work perfectly. Displayed this way his batik fabrics are given the fine art treatment they deserve. These paintings, composed by painting layers of wax on cotton, then dying them multiple times and adding sunshine, have an aesthetic beauty that reflects Izo's Dakar, Senegalese roots, but also possess an artistry that is definitely unique to this artist and batik master. Each piece is better than the next. "Sunset," of two white stylized figures side-by-side yet stretching apart from each other (the design of which is very sculptural), stand against a canary yellow sky with a red circle between and above them. Two-toned fish scale, rounded greenery surrounds them. The vibrant colors that evoke heat are broken by veins of black that threads through, sometimes bleeding into dark green. This adds a depth and texture that occurs naturally with this refined fabric process. lzo demonstrates great skill with his compositions. This is exceptional batik art not to be missed. Learn more about Izo at Jospeph Holiday also has his work on view. Though Feb. 27; 317-631-3301. - Mary Lee Pappas

Regional Scholastic Art Competition - Harrison Center for the Arts – Feb. 23, 2005 – 4 stars

The talent here was terrific, particularly when juxtaposed against the group show of local “professional” artists in the HCA’s current Chapel Gallery show, “Chapel of Love.” It’s a reminder that art is made from a deep place. One of the many amazing works was a self-portrait by Benjamin Sunderlin, a Jefferson High School student. He’s sitting on the floor painting (a symptom of an intense painter), squinting and assessing himself painting the portrait. What’s on view was harnessed through pretty typical classroom drawing and painting exercises, but the work from Jefferson High School was pretty atypically great. For instance, Kaitlin Wadley’s moody portrait of a girl looking down (in a bus?) gives a glimpse of a story, of a person, that’s compelling beyond being well-composed and well-painted. Sam Martin’s clown nose (very Doris Hails) pastel portrait with its green tinted shadow is another astute piece. Here we see a young artist who realizes that life is not black and white, but that even dark shadows have color. Carmel High School student Margo Simm’s drawing of a dress was also worthy of mention in this very inspiring show. Show ended Feb. 20, 2005. 317-514-6787. – Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

“Superwomen” - NCAA Hall of Champions – Feb. 9, 2005 – 3 1/2 stars

Images of obvious female sports superstars like Jackie Joyner-Kersee, sit next to some obscure, though equally as exceptional, female sports figures in this empowering exhibit. Jodi Buren, the photographer behind this work, has had her images grace Sports Illustrated, Newsweek, and Time magazines. The collection of images in this traveling exhibition are all 30 by 40-inches and depict these athletes in such a way that their personalities hit you before the depiction of sport. Most striking is sprinter Aimee Mullins, a Paralympian and the first double below-the-knee amputee to compete on a Division I track team. What gets your attention first is that Aimee is a knockout blonde. She’s posing on her back leaning up on her elbows with her ponytail going down the length of her back –she’s tough, provocative, and she’s sexy. Her prosthetic lower limbs, a vocal point of her portrait, hardly seem unnatural. Boxer Kathy Collins’ portrait is of her face and a glove. Kathy’s survivor vulnerability and strength are the essence of the image. In every piece, colors pop with rich vividness. Women seen here, from US National Team Biathlon member Denise Whitton, who’s portrait consists of her face covered by her poised rifle with only her eyes visible, to the fluid and feminine image of six-time world record holder free diver Tanya Streeter, define beauty, perseverance and triumph in a way that makes you want to get to know their personal stories. This exhibit, like all NCAA exhibitions, is pristinely presented, approachable, and thorough. for more information about women in sports and about the accompanying book for this show. Through May 28, 2005; 317-916-HALL. - Mary Lee Pappas

2005 Annual Student Show - Indianapolis Art Center – Feb. 9, 2005 - 3 stars

Quality and talent seen in the youth entries of this annual show is super-impressive, a credit to the talented staff who understand how to harness their young students abilities. Christopher Eley, age 11, had two of his glass works selected including “Feather of Glass,” a beautiful clear vase with delicate dashes of subtle confetti colors. Becky Gunderman’s (age 16) painting “Liane,” a merit award winner, shows uninhibited color and great freedom in defining the figure seen at an unlikely overhead angle. Quality in the adult categories, on the other hand, is a little hit-and-miss. Terre Haute elementary school art teacher Anna Chalos-McAleese’s sculpture “Thetis” easily earned its best of show title. People were drawn to peer into it whether they knew what to make of it or not. To me, the name itself “Thetis” suggested an abstraction of the immortal daughter of Nereus. A popular art subject for centuries, the mood of Thetis’ desperation, hope and endurance translated here through the softness, the cushioning effect of the work. Also of note were Mark Sauerburger’s canary yellow, opaque glass vases and, in the underrepresented fabric/fibers category, Caryl Rae Hancock’s entertaining raincoat and rainbow dress, “Dancing the Rainbow.” Through March 6, 2005; 317-255-2426. - Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

“Next in the Gallery…” - Herron Gallery – Feb. 2, 2005 – 4 stars

A great show of unlike works that visually mesh cleanly together is what this current installation of “Next in the Gallery…” successfully presents. New to the current configuration of artists are the astrophotographic works of Scott Johnson that intelligently manipulate technology into remarkably serene images of the cosmos. His approach infuses hours of film exposure, special optics, and varied observatory locations to create amazingly surreal and transcendental translations of the universe. His work represents another artistic category. The caliber of work in this show by all artists in it is superb and should not be missed. Through February 24, 2005. 317-920-2420. – Mary Lee Pappas

• Unpublished comments: The talent in the room is rather overwhelming to be completely frank about this particular show. To begin with, the toyish 2d/3d work of Chicago artist Karl Wirsum is perfectly playful as his vividly colorful and patterned characters cling and flank the walls heightening their sense of animation. His flawlessly smooth paint application and color sensibility effectively give more than life, but personality to his pieces even with their skewed perspectives and jello jointed anatomy. On the other end of the aesthetic spectrum, Toronto photographer Edward Burtynsky’s large scale post-industrial chromogenic prints (most on loan from the Indiana based John C DePrez and Lee Marks collection) are crisply real, gritty, and ripe with a forlorn mood, but still so beautiful. “Shipbreaking #49” features an abandoned and well worn steel rig the color of fire in the ocean with two ships on either side heraldic and distant. He’s captured a warm, hazy horizon line of gloomy grey that fades into a pink and then to yellow in the sky.” His work is truly stunning.

Artist Trading Card Exhibit/Exchange Event - Indianapolis Artsgarden – Feb. 2, 2005 – 3 1/2 stars

I made 14 baseball card-sized mini works of art (collaged and painted abstracts created on gallery promotional postcards) to trade at this event. The ease with which I could acquire original art from artists around the globe, simply by selecting a piece of their baseball card-sized art that struck my fancy and replacing it with one of mine, was uncomplicated and democratic. The etiquette of trading was simple and very satisfying because 1) creating small works of art is quick and uninhibiting, 2) it’s being shared with artists who enjoy it and 3) one gets acquainted with other artists’ styles in this edited framework. In the end I acquired a screen-print from an artist in Australia with gold painted detail, an ink and marker abstraction from a Swiss artist and a print from the Zurich artist who started this art project (what he aptly deemed as “collaborative cultural performance”) in 1997, M. Vänçi Stirnemann. I traded for his 12,905th art card, to be precise. Knowing that my art will be sent overseas to the artists I swapped cards with is a thrill. My only disappointment was that there weren’t more people participating. Then again, this project is still getting underway in the States with local artist John Essex spearheading efforts locally. I recommend visiting and downloading the work of Max Hofmanner from Switzerland to see the caliber of participating international artists and find out about future opportunities to participate. Event was January 29, 2005; 317-631-3301. - Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Giselle Trujillo - Jewish Community Center – Jan. 26, 2005 – 3 stars

This accomplished sculptress (with public commissions under her belt) presents works composed from stone and wire, but most successfully in fiberglass and concrete. She manipulates concrete skillfully, texturing her pieces with brown earth colors, both opaque and shiny, to create unique and visually deceptive work. This is done best in a figure called “Curious” that, with its unnatural leaning posture and proportions including a flat pancake head, works and looks as though its been recovered from an archaeological treasure trove. Her quality of execution, fragmented style and vision waver greatly from piece to piece. Ill proportioned horse heads and figurative works are not detailed, but rather suggested in their incompleteness and lack of detail. Sometimes the illusion works, but mostly it doesn’t - with the sculptures left someplace between a poetic interpretation of reality and a too careful hand trying to create something intentionally rough. While sculptures of fiberglass and clay are given effective faux bronze finishes, the unflattering pedestals detracted from the work itself and should be replaced with something more complimentary that elevates her work. Through January 30, 2005. 317-251-9467. – Mary Lee Pappas

Georgia O'Keeffe: Visions of the Sublime - Eitlejorg Museums of American Indians and Western Art - Jan. 26, 2005

*pictured: 'Untitled (Desert Abstraction) (Bear Lake)' by Georgia O'Keeffe, 1931. Courtesy: Museum of New Mexico, Museum of Fine Arts, Museum of New Mexico Foundation, 1984.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of the Sublime is an exhibition of anticipated and expected beautiful works that is also part art historical survey of this iconic American artist. The range of work shown covers her career, thus allowing the audience to easily tap into her pure intentions of conveying mood and emotion, or what is referred to in the show title as sublime. The show flowed well, following the development of her aesthetic sensibility.

This is partially accomplished with quotes from O’Keeffe (1887–1986) accompanying the 30 paintings in the show. These words lend a necessary element of insight that brings her art process to light and further enriches the concept of sublime.

One such quote reads, “I found that I could say things with colors and shapes that I couldn’t say in any other way, things I had no words for.”
And so her works are ultimately a sincere expression of her awe from interacting and experiencing nature, whether it was the blue color of a sky or a dry leaf.

Unlike the aesthetic conventions of 19th century artists like Turner, who created expansive landscapes reflecting a gloomier side of the sublime, O’Keeffe indulged in it in the early 20th century as emotion inspired by a thing or a place.

Examples of 19th century landscapes are shown toward the end of the exhibition space for a conceptual contrast that proved to be more visually abrupt than beneficial.

Perhaps their placement was intentional, as they followed a wall of Alfred Stieglitz’s small black and white cloud study photographs, the “Equivalents.” Steiglitz was O’Keeffe’s partner and a notable photographer who created the series of emotive moon and skyscapes based on her works. These photos were a weak link to the drama of the early landscapes. Indeed, the tail end sections of the exhibit were visually choppy and lighting was uneven everywhere.
Glare was noticeable with the “Equivalents” (crowded and stacked with the upper row too high above eye level for a comfortable view) as the emulsion even caught reflections — a reminder that the museum’s expansion is a welcomed advancement.

“Pelvis with the Distance,” a 1943 oil painting belonging to the Indianapolis Museum of Art, is an exceptional O’Keeffe work in the show featuring a weightless, sculptural, bleached pelvis bone encompassing the canvas and breaking a minimal southwest landscape in half. Though a showstopper, it shouldn’t have been placed isolated from the bulk of the show as a finale piece. Examining the smooth petal-like texture and silky blending of O’Keeffe’s paints was a chore as lighting created severe shadows for viewers of the work. Regardless, it’s a powerful work that embraces everything that set her work apart from other Modernists and/or Precisionists.

O’Keeffe innovations — softness, clean lines, enlarged studies, femininity and simplicity in flat applications of uncomplicated colors — are gracefully portrayed in a 1927 piece, “Skunk Cabbage.” Color is minimal with brown, green and yellow creating a realistic image broken down by form into a botanical abstraction of nature emotionally modified. Such paintings effectively lend poignancy to her unique visual voice whether you are an admirer of O’Keeffe or not.

“A red hill doesn’t touch everyone’s hearts as it touches mine,” another quote reads, revealing the heart of how O’Keeffe became the important American painter exemplified astutely in this show.

Georgia O’Keeffe: Visions of the Sublime continues through April 3 at the Eiteljorg Museum. For information: 636-WEST,

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Tania Shepard “Petals” - White River Gardens – Jan. 19, 2005 – 3 1/2 stars

No show has complimented the White River Gardens as well as this show of black and white sepia toned floral photographs. The ten-inch square, softly diffused, close up images are framed in square, brushed silver, flat frames which are similar in color to the round stone wall in the rotunda. A softness pervades without the photos getting lost against the wall or grossly clashing with the interior as is often the case with art shows in this space. Compositionally, these works are great with individual blooms (porcelain like) seen as grand inventions of nature. This twelve piece series, “Petals,” explores the flower as a metaphor for faith, hope and love (which was reflected in the titles), but the result was convoluted. Just how are these flowers are supposed to do that? The flower symbolism didn’t synch with the intended emotions though overall they were lyrical, enchanting, and what you would expect from a photographer who specializes in weddings. Visit to learn more about this artist. Through March 13, 2005. 317-630-2001. – Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Emily Persic Schwank – Indianapolis Art Center – Jan. 12, 2005 – 3 stars

Like one of her influences, French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, Schwank seems to connect with her subjects and some of their melancholy states while creating crisply executed images that are slightly too sentimental to be strict documentation. Helen Levitt’s images of New York street life seem poetically parallel to what Schwank captures in some of her pieces. “Galway Street Alley Belfast 2004,” for example, an RC black and white print, is perfectly composed though an unchoreographed stroke of luck. A little girl walks along a wall lined with plants and laundry hanging above, through which the sun radiates a white, not completely overexposed heat. Though not altogether a succinct series, her photographs contain elements of intrigue making many other photography offerings in the city appear a bit amateurish. There is still room for great growth and mucho potential from this artist who’s on the right road. Through Jan. 17, 2005; 317- 255-2464. – Mary Lee Pappas

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Colleen Lauter – Monon Coffee Co. – Jan. 5, 2005 - 1 1/2 stars

My immediate reaction was that this artist was not just emulating or inspired by, but practically ripping off Douglas David’s fluffy peony and floral blossoms – both in composition and format. Yes, some ideas can simultaneously be realized independent of each other at opposite ends of the earth, but 10 miles from each other? Perhaps she is a friend or student. The best aspect of her uneven work is paint handling and color that gets diminished by skills that could stand sharpening for the still life scenes she is attempting to achieve. Her presentation is great, with elegant gold frames. Sometimes things should stay in the studio and some artists should refrain from prematurely exhibiting. When will local exhibitions stop being driven by sales or the desire for hasty success and be about the art and ideas? Fortunately, Lauter has the chops and drive to be much better than this anxious offering. Through January, 2005; 317-255-0510. – Mary Lee Pappas