When Malina Jeffers and Alan Bacon formed the cultural development firm GANGGANG, they wanted to provide Black artists in Indianapolis with opportunities to expand their portfolios and get more eyes on their work — including bringing together a group of 18 artists to create the Black Lives Matter mural downtown last summer.
Now, with help from business partners, Jeffers and Bacon are bringing together 38 Black artists from around the country for a multi-day fine art fair, starting with a preview night Sep. 2.
Held at the Stutz building, 1060 N. Capitol Ave., BUTTER will include works from artists such as Kerry James Marshall, Kaila Austin and Courtland Blade, and will also incorporate local DJs and live bands for a multi-sensory experience.
“We’ve been to several art fairs around the country, and I was wondering if we could bring a sense of that to the Midwest,” Jeffers said. “There are art shows here in town that feature Black artists, and we just thought we could do shows better justice and be more intentional and authentic and figure out how we can elevate the narrative around the Black talent in Indianapolis.”
Not only will BUTTER give Indianapolis residents a chance to peruse fine art downtown, it also gives the artists full equity for any artwork sold. Unlike other fairs where artists either have to pay to showcase their work or pay the organizer a portion of their earnings, artists at BUTTER will keep 100% of the money they make from their art. It also gives up-and-coming artists the experience of working with a curatorial team.
“That very process elevates the event, for both the audiences and the artists themselves,” Bacon said.
Each artist will have a handful of pieces available for purchase. While there’s no theme for the fair — Bacon said they wanted artists to show the world from their own unique lens — Jeffers said the show is sending a message to the predominately white art exhibitions in the United States.
“Less than 1% of art shown in this country is made by Black artists,” Jeffers said. “With 38 Black artists exhibited in Indianapolis, BUTTER can be considered political in itself.”
The art fair will end with a testimony service, led by Ebony Chappel and Sarah J. in the City, to allow the community to share how 2020 impacted their mental and spiritual health.
“It will help us hear and heal each other,” Jeffers said. “… When you think about what it means to be a Black creative in general, you need togetherness and testimony.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.