INDIANAPOLIS - After what felt like a week straight of rain, Friday, April 29th was a welcome sunny day. It was the perfect type of day for strangers to gather at a home for tasty eats and a few beers. While noshing and sipping did take place, art was the real reason for the April Show, held annually at 322 N. Arsenal Ave.
In the past years, people have literally lined up on the sidewalk waiting to get in to view artwork made by artists of varying backgrounds. Most of the participants have overcome some sort of barrier in their lives, such as homelessness or mental illness, coming out on the other side painting, drawing, and sculpting.
The home used for the April Show is chock full of paintings and pottery; it seems not an inch of wall is left unadorned by a painting or drawing. Some works are even left stacked outside on the porch. The talent in those is as striking as the ones hung side-by-side, practically touching each other, from floor to ceiling inside the house.
While the crowd really enjoys the intimate feel of the show, especially meeting the artists, the tight quarters are trying for one person, who exclaimed, "This show drives me crazy!" She explained she'd avoided the show for a few years because it's so hard for her to view the artwork in the cramped environment. However, she seemed to be in the minority because parents felt comfortable bringing small children, and others were happy to climb narrow stairs to see the artwork.
William McKenna is an artist whose work is very popular with the crowd who come to the April Show. While he'll tell you that he isn't one of the artists who has overcome a serious barrier, he sells his work to help teens who are encountering challenges. He has sold work for eleven years in the April Show, always donating the money he makes from the sales. This year, he's donating the money to Stopover, a transitional home and crisis intervention program for youths 11-17 years old.
"A place where kids having trouble at home can go to stay and still go to school and have what they need," he says. McKenna's goal for this year is to donate $1,000 in show proceeds. This year he's incorporated the peace symbol in most of his paintings as a central theme: Superman holding it up in one; the symbol being shot to pieces by a figure wielding a machine gun in another. He says he's heard that there is someone who comes to the show each year and purchases one of his pieces each time.
Another artist, Brian Duff, worked in oils and focused on orbs, cylinders, and highlights. Next year he wants to offer panoramas of people with monsters. Brian is schizoaffective and has written books and created music and artwork as forms of therapy for his illness. He says the show is the highlight of the year for him because he and his fellow artists are "not mainstream, but we carve a niche for ourselves."
This niche is carved out a little more each year in the nook of a home on Arsenal Avenue every April.
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