The Art & Soul Festival kicks off Black History Month in Indianapolis

The 27th annual Art & Soul Festival returns this month, kicking off Black History Month in Indianapolis with events celebrating music, dance, visual art and literature.

Channie Jones, director of equity partnerships at the Indy Arts Council, ran Art & Soul for the previous two years and said this year’s festival will look a little different. With three main events in February, Jones said Art & Soul will now feature works and performances by artists who have been alumni to help “pass the baton” to a new generation of artists.

“What’s really fun this year is that we’re doing it open house style and we’re including all art forms: visual, music, theater and dance,” Jones said. “We will have a retrospective of featured artists by alumni – 27 years of new or evolved work by featured artists.”

The festival kick-off takes place on February 3 at 6:00 pm in Gallery 924 at the Indy Arts Council & The Cabaret, 924 N. Pennsylvania St. Kings & Queens: Beyond What Has Happened So Far runs at the gallery from 6pm to 9pm and is free to attend.

The Reveal takes place at The Cabaret from 6:00pm to 7:30pm and features works by 10 local artists, including featured visual artist Jamichael Kyng Pollard and performances by both current and former artists. Tickets for “The Reveal” are $15 and must be reserved in advance on Eventbrite.

In addition to Pollard, other featured artists for Art & Soul 2023 include jazz musician Brandon Douthitt, dancer Adrienne D. Jackson and writer and playwright Crystal V. Rhodes. Each of the artists will display their work during the “Famous Artists Showcase” on Feb. 8 at 7 p.m. at the Jazz Kitchen, 5377 N. College Ave.

“One can expect a celebration of African-American artists in Indianapolis in four different venues, writing, dance, visual arts and music,” said Rhodes, a longtime writer of mysteries and romance novels. “Each one of us will get a chance to showcase our talents in one shape or form.”

Rhodes was a featured artist at Art & Soul in the 1990s, but said she’s excited to see what the festival’s new format brings. Actors Ink Theater Company will perform an excerpt from a play Rhodes co-wrote at The Cabaret, and she will do a poetry reading at the showcase in an effort to highlight “mature women as unstoppable forces of resilience, resilience and creativity.”

Although this year’s festival is more intense, Rhodes said it’s shaping up to be a more intimate experience, and she’s curious to see how everything works between her and working with the other artists.

“It really highlights African-American artists, and I’m really all for celebrating that, being one of them,” Rhodes said. “Not just in Black History Month, but all the time because we’re out there bringing attention to our different crafts.”

The final event of the festival will take place on February 28 at the Arts Garden, where Art & Soul will host a “Celebration + Wes Montgomery Tribute,” featuring a Rob Dixon-led tribute to the late Indianapolis native and jazz guitarist.

“We’re going to include his family in the celebration, as well as local artists, just to share how his work has influenced their current style,” Jones said. “He would have turned 100 this March.”

The celebration features an art show, vendors, cash bar and live performances by DJ Rusty Redenbacher, Alaina Renae, Damon Karl, Dr. Lasana Kazembe and more.
Tickets for the 27th annual Art & Soul Festival start at $15 and can be purchased at

Contact Indianapolis Recorder staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.

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