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


Christopher said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Christopher said...

sorry - Having problems posting a comment to this post from 5 months ago.I just wanted to thank you for including those letters as a response to your review of the 'Visual Fringe' show last summer. I thought your review was spot-on and those letters are hilarious!

Have you ever published the mysterious 'fourth letter' you spoke of?

Mary Lee Pappas said...

Hi Christopher,
And thanks for vouching for the poor quality of the show. Email me directly at and I would be happy to share the fourth letter with you. I am cyber-challenged adn couldn't find your email in this blogger labyrinth. Visual Fringe next year promises to be very good and I feel confident that it will be.

As a critic, letters like this happen. Over the 7 years I've been with NUVO, I've seen people's true colors come out through letters like these, horrible beahvior, drunken phone calls to editors, threats to never come into particular galleries again (when the week before that same gallery owner was courting you like you were gold) makes the local art scene seem all the more small town when you witness egos gone amuck firsthand.