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You BUTTER believe it: How the arts fair fairs in community

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BUTTER, the Black fine arts fair created to uplift Indy’s Black visual artists is also uplifting Indy natives who flock to the event every year.

RELATED: Beyond BUTTER: The creamy center of ‘the nation’s most popular art fair’

Before they fully immersed themselves in this year’s BUTTER experience, attendees of the third annual art fair were greeted by Januarie York’s poem about BUTTER when they entered the fair. The poem, “BUTTER,” opens:

A Black Fine Arts Fair.

A Black art summit. The Black Everest of Indianapolis.

“This is my spot. I look forward to this. I feel like it’s really giving the city something to be proud of, especially in our community. It almost feels like people outside of Indianapolis say, ‘Indianapolis? What do y’all even have out there?’ and we have plenty,” said Deaundre Matthews.

“I always hear my people say they’d rather go to Chicago or travel all the way down to Atlanta just to feel like they were a part of something. There’s this sense that we don’t have that here in our own backyard, but we do.”

Reinforcing Matthews assertions, York’s poem continues:

Give me, Give US, the BUTTER.

Put it right in the center of my bowl of oatmeal! Sit it next to anything cooked by Chef Tia or Chef Oya, who’s tasty, buttery bites were escorted around by the wait staff that made sure all guests got a bit of everything.

RELATED: BUTTER artists talk art, equity and cultivating creativity  

“I’m proud to be from Indianapolis. We have our own language, our own history and, even now in the present, things that are unique to us in the Black community, like those Black-owned businesses, like Nap or Nothing or Chef Oya’s The TRAP,” said Taylor Russell.

“This is my second year coming, and it’s one of my go-to runways. All the fashion girlies and the influencers come to BUTTER because this is art personified, even in the people you see walking around; we are art.”

A lot of this year’s art designs created buzz in-person and online, such as a monopoly-themed piece by ArtsByFitz.

“I loved the monopoly piece because it really showed stereotypes about Black people. These are everyday stereotypes that we give each other not only in Indianapolis but all over the world,” said Tanja O’Dear.

“When it’s right in our faces, by using this artistic expression, it opens your mind to the realities of it so that we can break that. We shouldn’t be like these images depicted. It proves we should work together in this capitalist society.”

Tanja’s brother, Drew O’Dear, offered his agreement.

“I’m not from here, but the fact that everybody here has stopped at this piece in particular says a lot. I keep hearing people say that the city needs to be more woke to issues that are often overlooked,” said Drew O’Dear.

Matthews, who attended BUTTER two days out of its four-day run, similarly emphasized the art fair’s importance to Indianapolis.

“I love creative minds. BUTTER is an art fair, but it’s also so much bigger than that. I thank GANG GANG, and all the artists, and everybody involved because it really put us on the map. It’s bringing the city together,” said Matthews.

Contact staff writer Jade Jackson at (317) 762-7853 or by email JadeJ@IndyRecorder.com. Follow her on Twitter @IAMJADEJACKSON

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