Visual Arts » 2D

Amber is The New Black

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Until recently, the color-themed holiday show at the Harrison Center (1505 N. Delaware St.) was going to focus on black.

Ink. Tuxedo tails. A breathtaking expanse of nighttime sky.The decision then changed to amber, inspired in part by Booth Tarkington's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Magnificent Ambersons.

Glassware. Jewelry. Woodruff Place.

For more details about the Harrison Center for the Arts or December's First Friday exhibits there, visit the center online or on Facebook. - COURTESY OF THE HARRISON CENTER
  • Courtesy of the Harrison Center
  • For more details about the Harrison Center for the Arts or December's First Friday exhibits there, visit the center online or on Facebook.

Friday's show, "Magnificent Amber," marks the 13th year the Harrison has hosted its annual color-inspired event. Previously celebrated hues include white (sponsored by White Castle), brown (sponsored by UPS), and forest green (a nod to Nottingham Forest in support of the Nottingham Realty Group). One of the first years featured a large sculpture made from hundreds of red Nordstrom shopping bags.

The upcoming holiday show will showcase more than 90 pieces, making it the largest exhibition to date. Although the original one, with its 45 works of art, was no small gallery event, this is the first year the Harrison Center had to turn people away.

"We usually try to take something from everyone who submits," explains Harrison Center curator and artist Kyle Ragsdale.

The exhibit has gained enough momentum that artists outside of Indiana will have work on display. The show features a wide variety of talent; the youngest 'amber artist' is still in high school. That said, the talent has been even younger. Ragsdale recalls the year when a five-year-old artist had work for sale.

Of this event, Ragsdale says, "We wanted to do a holiday show that had a range of established artists and artists who were just getting started," he says, noting the inclusion of student work, "little kid work," crafts, furniture and "sometimes more experimental installation pieces." Visitors to the gallery on Friday night and throughout the month of December will be able take in photography, handmade books, and perhaps even some ceramic work.

Magnificent Amber will hang in the Harrison Gallery and Gallery Annex and, according to Ragsdale, celebrates the chance to buy local and give Indy artists a showcase for their work. Despite the show's slow start more than a decade ago - "We would have been happy to get 100 visitors," Ragsdale says with a laugh - the Harrison now draws upwards of 1,000 visitors on First Fridays.

The Magnificent Orson Welles (left) by Kyle Channing Smith and Invader, Cut Paper by Christina Hollering will both be part of the show.
  • The Magnificent Orson Welles (left) by Kyle Channing Smith and Invader, Cut Paper by Christina Hollering will both be part of the show.

"It'll be festive," Ragsdale says. "There will be a lot going on that night." (Foreshadowing!)

In addition to the Magnificent Amber show, the Harrison will be hosting several concurrent events:

  • Friday night marks one of the Harrison's quarterly Open Studio Nights, which is a chance for event attendees to meet and see the work of the center's 33 working artists.

  • Gallery No. 2 will feature new work by Quincy Owens, who was recently profiled in the Harrison's Studio Visit series, compiled by visiting artist Asa Gauen. (Check out Kyle Ragsdale's video here.) The show, "The Pursuit of Happiness (Everything Will Be Gold)," is the result of Owens' Creative Renewal Fellowship, which requires grant recipients to share their work with the community.

  • The City Gallery, which specializes in local art about Indy, will be home to Shannon Hinkle's "Here & There," an exhibition of photography, drawing and block printing.

  • "Conversation Pieces," a thesis show from Herron School of Art seniors Amy Applegate, Naomi Carr and Lynette Sauer, will take place in Hank & Dolly's Gallery.

  • The gymnasium will be home to the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange's Winter Mini, a seasonal offering of contemporary crafts including illustrations, jewelry and pottery. The show will kick off at 5 p.m. and is a great chance to see the handcrafted goods available during the annual Handicraft Exchange, which takes place each summer during the Harrison's Independent Music + Art Festival (profiled here last June).

  • Indiana author Dan Wakefield, well known for his novel Going All the Way and writings on spirituality including How Do We Know When It's God?, will present "Corn, Limestone and Books: Why Hoosier Writers Sell Best," a talk in four parts beginning at 6:45 p.m.

The artwork in the Magnificent Amber show and in the Harrison's surrounding galleries will be on display through Dec. 26. The First Friday event will take place from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and is an ideal time to get started on your holiday shopping. Or to re-evaluate gifts you've already acquired, purchase something entirely different, and get wild with the wrapping paper and ribbons all over again.

Steve Nyktas' Mustard Bottle, an inkjet print, will be on display at the Magnificent Amber show.  - STEVE NYKTAS
  • Steve Nyktas
  • Steve Nyktas' Mustard Bottle, an inkjet print, will be on display at the Magnificent Amber show.

For more information about the Harrison Center or its upcoming exhibitions, visit http://harrisoncenter.org, call (317) 396-3886, or on Twitter and Facebook.

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