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Art World Fall Census

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader

2009-09-21


Traditionally, the Fall is one of the most active time for the arts. As the galleries unfold their '09/'10 exhibition schedule with the FWMoA Trolley Tour, and with the performing arts venues gearing up as well, arts lovers have busy weekends ahead of them. Even during America's long recession, the arts are promising a strong, if small, flowering in the heart of Fort Wayne's downtown area with multiple venues, new events, and a focus and determination to get through this tough winter.

Even without the Fort Wayne Museum of Art being fully open this year, the Trolley Tour line up looks jam packed with exhibitions for just about everyone. With 14 galleries participating this year, each being catered by one of Fort Wayne's finest restaurants, and dozens of artists represented by them, Trolley Tour is the perfect night to get a taste of the arts in Fort Wayne, while splurging on a few cocktails and small art pieces. It is also a great way to experience downtown Fort Wayne on a very special and active night. You can either hop on the coaches at each stop, or trek from location to location and get a sense for the diversity and vibrance that our downtown has held onto even after the decades of suburban neglect.

Along the Tour, some highlights included in past articles include the "Big ideas, Small Art" exhibition curated by Motherlode at the Allen County Library's Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery, and the great double exhibition of Chris Kahler and Dusty Neal at the University of Saint Francis' Weatherhead Gallery, which will both be running through the Trolley Tour's date of Sept. 24th.

Also on view at the University of Saint Francis are two unique and beautiful collections. The Rolland Gallery located in the Lee and Jim Vann Library in the Pope John Paul II Center is currently showing highlights from the William and Joan McNagny Collection of Sacred Icons (exhibition runs until November). Also, in the Lupke Gallery in the North Campus facilities (across Spring Street from Bass Mansion), on display are highlights from the University of Saint Francis' Permanent Collection. With its multiple exhibition spaces, as well as a growing number of outdoor public art pieces, USF is becoming a key location for the arts in the Fort Wayne area.

Many other great gallery spaces along the route include the Karen Moriarty Gallery, DK Jewelry Design, Galliher Photography, and RatArt Gallery (Terry Ratliff's studio/gallery). While on the tour, participants can also enjoy the gastronomic arts of Club Soda, DeBrand Fine Chocolates, Catablu, The Oyster Bar, and more!

Artlink, Fort Wayne's only non-profit gallery dedicated to emerging and mid-career artists, also on the Trolley Tour, will be presenting "The Lake Show," a group exhibition dedicated to the lakes of not only Northeastern Indiana, but also Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio. In conjunction with this exhibition, Artlink will be hosting an exhibition and wine tasting fundraiser for ACRES, Northeast Indiana's regional land trust. This mini-exhibition fundraiser will take place from October 2-7th, and will display over 30 local photographers. Also, don't forget to keep Artlink in mind for their AIDS quilt Push Pin gallery exhibition, taking place in December in conjunction with the Civic Theatre's "Quilt- A musical Celebration", and the AIDS Task Force's 25th anniversary, which will be displayed later this year. These small works (12x12 inches) are due by September 29th.

Outside of the Trolley Tour, art lovers can always visit 816 Pint and Slice, and the Firefly Coffee House, two local eateries who have graciously become patrons of the arts as well. Beckie Stockert, Firefly's curator, has put together a permanent display for handmade crafts and merchandise in the store in addition to the rotating shows throughout the coffeeshop. The next exhibition, "Sticks and Stones" will work with word based art, and opens on October 2nd.

Also outside of the normal art scene is a very interesting exhibition of Audrey Riley's work. "The Art of Audrey Riley" is using Connolly's Do it Best at Dupont and Coldwater road as an alternative exhibition space, pairing the orderly, everyday, and efficient environment of a hardware store with Riley's intuitive, expressive, and unique work. The exhibition opens Friday, Sept. 18th from 5-8pm, and it runs through September 25th. This merger between art and hardware works well with Riley's work, which uses measurement, Pantone colors, and actual yardsticks profusely. This is a great chance to see art in a different context, and to understand further the importance of the curation of a show, not just the works of art represented. While much of this show is older work dealing with Riley's yardstick constructions, it will include new works on paper which utilize her new lithographic techniques, and an even stronger use of color. "Spill It" is an example of her new work which turns the stripes of paint (done mechanically) into active agents of a blotting rhythm and of varying shapes, instead of falling into the background as in some of her older works. This is a great example of a local artist working outside of the gallery system, because Fort Wayne lacks enough square footage to accommodate the number of quality artists in the area.

With all of these events going on currently and through Fall, it shows that even in our lagging economy, locally and nationally, the arts will find a way to not only survive but grow. Unlike other markets based purely on numbers, or being solely luxury or commodity or utility based, the ambiguity of the art market allows it to always find relevance and active participants.

*Tickets for the FWMoA Trolley Tour '09 can be purchased from the museum, or online at their website at www.fwmoa.org. Call 422-6467 for more information.

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