Continuing my mission to explore the Indianapolis arts scene, the Broaddus clan was off to the art gallery opening. I feel so … upper middle class.

The HINDI 500 (artist reception and open studio night) features the work of Elizabeth Guipe Hall, she has created a new series incorporating original photos of people, landscapes and religious art taken during a journey through India, a place that looms large in her family history.

Plus, there would be Indian cuisine, a bhangra dj and dancing.

Let me tell you something: I know nothing about art. However, I do know something about drinking free wine, eating free Indian food, and snacking on cheese and bread to a techno Indian beat. The HINDI 500 – I know, an absolutely terrible pun of a name, but it is the beginning of the Indy 500 season of events, so I was willing to overlook it.

The tour of the various artists’ studios proved quite interesting. Artists love and hate to talk. It’s hard to talk about your work without sounding pretentious, yet we love to talk about it with folks that are into it. One artist’s work especially caught my eye as quite a bit of his work had a dark edge to it (skulls will always draw my attention). Apparently Casey Roberts had been feeling a growing frustration with the world around him and current events and, try as he might, some of it was creeping into his art. “We are at war as a country and I don’t think people are noticing that people are dying.” This led to his Ghost Stories series. He’s not a political artist per se, but art can’t escape the reality of the world; or more precisely, the artist is still captive to the world around him.

Getting back to more pleasant ideas, he uses gems and crystal imagery to symbolize “the good things about people” in a series he plans on calling National Treasure. “The most important thing about a country are the people that live in it, not the resources.” he says.

For the record, I pick the oddest times to get randomly chatty with people. I love to hear myself talk and I’m usually not that interested in what other’s have to say. Yet, I found myself talking to a woman whom I had passed several times in the hall. By the third pass I realized it was her work hanging on the walls. What drew me to her work, oddly enough, was her titles. A friend of mine recently informed me that most of the titles to my stories suck. Oddly enough, for a change I tended agree with her (on that point). Which was how I opened up my conversation with said artist, Christine Weisenbach (C. Weisenbach, since she believes her name to be too long and hopes to marry a man with a short last name). Christine was a poetry major in college so she actually chooses her titles from her poems. Poets suck, btw. It’s a writing form that I’ve always struggled with and each attempt has ended with said poem handing me my writing behind. I lack the discipline for tight prose.

She told me that she didn’t like putting titles on her work anyway. “It’s constricting to the viewer. You put a name on it and it limits their creativity.” This interactivity of art and viewer is what she enjoys about showings. Feedback adds a dimension to her work as she sees what people are drawn. Art apparently can also be accidental as well as interactive. Some of her most striking paintings, come to find out, started because she spilled water on her canvas. She reached for an old rag to wipe it up, then liked the way her rag picked up the paint. Next thing she knew, she was spritzing water all over canvases and investing in rags.

I next found myself randomly chatting up of a lady having decorative henna work applied to her belly (and needed to kill some time while it dried). Decorative henna (called mendhi in Indian culture), she tells me, is often used in Indian weddings on the brides hands and feet – sometimes with patterns so intricate, it’s like the bride is wearing lace. Tradition has it that the women don’t have to do housework until their mendhi fades. So naturally my wife and one of my message board moderators had henna designs put on their hands.

As if that would get them out of work.

Our evening ended with a concert. Frontline Productions presented three bands, but we only stayed for the first one, The Three Kings. (For the record, I don’t pay for anything: my face is my pass.) I had to sit in the grown ass man section because I didn’t have the time of patience for teens jumping and screaming (God bless you youth workers, cause I’d only end up choking kids in Jesus’ name). The Three Kings were basically a high school garage band who certainly played with enthusiasm, enjoying feedback and screaming (as opposed to, say, actual vocals). Oh, and they didn’t exactly have a commitment to memorizing the lyrics to songs they were covering. Otherwise, they weren’t too bad. Their brand of classic rock didn’t exactly sit well with the cheese and wine crown – even their sound check pissed folks off.

Anyway, ears still ringing (“if we aren’t polished, let’s at least be loud!”), I can’t wait for the Independent Music+Arts Festival. Heh, “my face is my pass.”

I don’t have time to always check the comments all the places where this rant is posted. If you want to make sure that I see it or just want to stop by and say hi, do so on my message board. I apologize in advance for some of my regulars.