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Summer Break Down

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader


The Summer of 2011 is looking like one of the most active times in the history of Fort Wayne's art scene. Centering on Fort Wayne's urban core, artists and art lovers alike are flocking to the new art being produced, new art spaces being highlighted, and the social set that envelopes all of it. For the first time, our downtown has a significant number of dedicated art spaces, semi-constant art spaces, and an openness to the arts for many short-lived, but memorable alternative exhibition spaces spread from Clay Street to the East, the West Central Neighborhood, the newly minted Arts United Campus to the North, and the up-and-coming South Calhoun spaces.

Over the next three months, this nexus of art spaces will be showcases hundreds of local artists, thousands of pieces of art, and drawing people from throughout the region and state. Some of these spaces, like Artlink, have been operating within this general area for decades. Currently in its thirty-third year, Artlink is getting ready to make a big move from its current location in the Hall Community Arts Center, to the Arts Campus in the Auer Center for the Arts.

However, before the big move, Artlink has three great exhibitions over the Summer months. The Sharpie Show, opening June 3rd and lasting through July 6th is a fun and sometimes frivolous exhibition of Artlink members and local artists experimenting through the universal creative tool, the Sharpie marker. Some of the highlights of the exhibition include David Carpenter's "Mummy, who, as best I can figure, was a dentist", Suzanne Galazka's "New Guy Stretching"; Jason Swisher's "SWPSH Script”; and John Gruse's "Octonimoes.” Included in this exhibition will be a silent auction of "Fort Wayne Celebrity Artists" in the hallway gallery including Betty Fishman, Terry Ratliff, Chuck O'Connor, Charles Shepherd, and Don Kruse. After this, Artlink will present its Annual Members Exhibition throughout July (usually containing over 100 pieces).

The Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Artlink's only peer in being part of Fort Wayne's cultural heritage, also has a great Summer planned out with the opening of "Female Forms and Facets: Portrayals of Women in Art" exploring over one hundred years of art and what it says about the way that our society sees women, opening June 4-August 21; "In Plein Sight" featuring a number of the region's plein air painters opening June 18-July 31; and "Native Tongue: Native American Works from the Collection" which features traditional and contemporary Native American works from June 25-August 14.

The Allen County Public Library's Jeffrey Krull gallery has been another great addition to Fort Wayne's art scene over the last few years. This additional exhibition space has helped increase the number of artists creating larger bodies of work, greatly increasing our city's access to art. The ACPL's summer line up includes the art work of the University of Saint Francis' School of Creative Arts (SOCA) student work through June 21, followed by an already sold out workshop with the oil painter Jerry Smith, and then Ventures in Creativity, the Fort Wayne Artists Guild's thirty-fourth members exhibition.

In the opposite vein there are many non-traditional, non-institutional spaces like Higher Grounds, Pint & Slice, the Dash In, and even Hoosier Sports and Chiropractic are becoming known for their less institutionalized, one-week/one-night exhibitions and consistent line ups of amazing performers. Case in point, both have been a major part of "Drop Your Avant Garde", an event designed to bring art into unconventional spaces, and unconventional audiences to the art itself.

The next installment of "Drop Your Avant Garde" will be Saturday, June 4, and include all of the previously mentioned spaces as well as a pop-up gallery programmed by the downtown advertising firm Boyden & Youngblutt.

816 Pint and Slice will be hosting an exhibition, "Sweet Tooth: Satisfy Your Craving", a non-traditional combination of graphic design, art of many media, and the newest work of the Sweet Tooth Collective, a collaborative project of Shaun Malinowski, Bob Storey, and Ricky Racket. Curated by Bambi Guthrie, "Sweet Tooth" also includes artists like Ben Lyon, Ethan Ross, Holly Clabaugh, Jake Sauer, Jason Rowland, Jenn Cutter, Katie Moore, Nate Utesch, Sam Dangler, and Tanner Wilson.

The Dash In has been supporting artists for years now, but under its current reincarnation, it has become a true artist hang out. Constantly exhibiting artwork, the Dash is currently highlighting Fort Wayne veterans Diane Groenert and Michael Poorman, each representing very different forms of representation with Groenert's magical realism and Poorman's pure abstraction, yet each also holding up their work with a great skill that can only be had through intense discipline. Groenert and Poorman's exhibition can be seen any day of the week through July 2nd.

Decidedly in between the institutional and alternative spaces are Lotus Gallery and Revolution Tattoo Gallery, each dedicated to regular exhibitions within their true gallery spaces, but each home to creative business as well. Revolution Tattoo Gallery is the extensive of what was the Ryan Hadley Studio on Calhoun street, known for jumpstarting some of the popularity of the art spaces around it. Now, Revolution Tattoo Gallery has even more space dedicated to the exhibition of art, with its current exhibition "Sacrament" with a raw religious theme, and a convenient location at the corned of Broadway and Jefferson.

Lotus Gallery, and the prior incarnations at its location, is a perfect art space. Owner, Vicki Salzbrun is dedicated to assisting Fort Wayne's arts community, and consistently shows the work of emerging artists and curators, giving them a chance to shine. In a nod to a more established set of artists, the Lotus Gallery's next exhibition will be "E4," the artist collective which gained a good deal of popularity several years ago. Artists Jason Stopa, Tracy Row, Seth Harris, and Eric Tarr will be exhibiting together for the first time in the last few years beginning June 8th through July 12, with the opening on Saturday, June 11.

With all of these viewing options in such a central location, representing an incredible variety of art, and most spaces requesting little to no payment for viewing, there is no reason to be bored or uninspired.

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