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February's First Friday a Sure Cure



Yes, it's Antarctic cold out and you loathe to trek over piles of dirty snow like some kind of urban Shackleton. We get it. But your Netflix queue has shortened considerably and that game on your phone is starting to get a little repetitive. Buzzfeed quizzes have already told you what city you really belong in, how many different types of gyros you've tried, and what your favorite time-wasting strategies really say about your personality type.

You've got to get out and get some culture. Don't worry. There's plenty to go around at downtown galleries this Friday night, including colossal portraits, ballet dancing, acrylic paintings that are best appreciated in 3D glasses, and the launch of an ambitious national mural project.

Amy Reel created her colossal portraiture Armisha with conte and ink on paper. - AMY REEL
  • Amy Reel
  • Amy Reel created her colossal portraiture Armisha with conte and ink on paper.

Like Chuck Close

Between the various galleries inside and gauntlet of food trucks outside, the Harrison Center for the Arts; is usually a safe bet for First Fridays. The City Gallery features the show "Colossal" by in-house artist and elementary school art teacher Amy Reel, who painted massive, larger-than-life portraits of people she knew.

"Unlike traditional to-scale portraiture, these works share the role of art and art-observer with those who view them," she said. "The view is confronted with the presence of the person and forced to see them. The subjects were chosen because they are people around us. They are portraits of my community: The Oaks Academy. Relatives, friends, colleagues and students are familiar and usually comfortable, until they are staring back larger than life size."

Of course, as always, there's more going on at the Harrison Center, 1505 N. Delaware St. Drop by the Harrison Gallery to check out Benaiah Cusack's "Landscape Beyond," an exhibit of surreal and abstract paintings with dramatic colors and textures that seek to document his inner life. Then in Gallery No. 2, there's a collaboration between Joel and Kathryn Dart that features poems in the Javascript programming language that are illustrated visually. The Ballet Theatre of Indiana will perform in the gymnasium, while Hank & Dolly's Gallery features the PhotoVoice Project, a glimpse into the lives of Burmese adolescents in Indianapolis.

Art vs. Violence

Another good bet this First Friday is the Stutz Artists Association in the historic Stutz Building, 212 W. 10th St., since the former auto factory is capacious and you can check out a bunch of different galleries without ever setting foot outside. But be prepared for grave subject matter this Friday. At the Raymond James Stutz Art Gallery on the first floor, visitors can see "Cold, Dark, Unsecurity," an 11-member exhibit that explores violence in its many forms, including on the street, at home and in video games. Video, audio, sculpture, photos and paintings examine difficult subjects like rape and war. DePauw University Professor Jeffrey McCall will give a talk, and donations will be collected for the Ten Point Coalition<>, a faith-based group that aims to rescue at-risk Indianapolis youth from violence, drugs and unemployment.

A Different Perspective

3D glasses will help you better appreciate the work of local artist Iggy Arana, an Oranje veteran who works in acrylics and ink. His abstract and figurative works will be on display at the Funkyard coffee shop in Fountain Square, 1114 Prospect St., where the Sunset Four also will play live jazz from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Who doesn't love a bit of sparkle?

Ann D. Luther's wall hangings and other textile art will be featured at the Art Bank, 811 Mass. Ave. Her show, "Circles of Life," showcases intricate geometric patterns that reflect her background in engineering.

"Patrons can look forward to seeing beautiful fabric and beautiful designs, as well as beads," Gallery Manager Joy Hernandez says. "Ann admits she does love a bit of sparkle (but don't we all?)."

Ann D. Luther admits she loves a bit of sparkle in her work. - COURTESY OF JOY HERNANDEZ
  • Courtesy of Joy Hernandez
  • Ann D. Luther admits she loves a bit of sparkle in her work.

Rock out

"Russell Young: Rock N' Roll Works on Paper" brings images of David Bowie, Jimi Hendrix and other rock stars to the swanky Long-Sharp Gallery in the Conrad Indianapolis, 50 W. Washington St. British-born artist Russell Young gained notice early in his career taking photos of the Smiths, R.E.M., Bjork and other artists, and later directed music videos. As a visual artist, he works mainly with screenprints on linen or paper, focusing on American culture. Expect iconic images, such as of Hoosier native James Dean.

A National Launch

Indianapolis-based artist Doug Arnholter, who has created frescoes, sculptures and other work, will exhibit his art at R&B Architects, 1030 Central Ave. The exhibit from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. will launch an crowdfunding campaign for his Mural of America tour. Arnholter hopes to travel to all 50 states, and convince people at various festivals, rodeos and state fairs to do paint-by-numbers paintings.

The goal is to collect artwork from more than 100,000 people in all 50 states for an epic mural that would be displayed at the National Mall in Washington D.C. and then donated for public display somewhere, such as on a university campus or at an airport.

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