I went to a street festival called “Taste of Mass Ave.” I’ve always like Massachussetts Avenue for its galleries, eateries, and for the feel.
Downtown Indianapolis proper- the blocks of Meridian between Market and Georgia- is a fun place. It has a lot to do but most of the featured places center around sports, shopping, and chain restaurants. Mass Ave offers more one-of-a-kind shops including fun galleries with the artist’s studio attached; clothing stores with tons of different designs; Indianapolis restaurants that use fresh, local produce in their menus. It shows that Indianapolis doesn’t have to import everything from other locales.
So when I heard about the event, I really wanted to go. I find that I am inspired as an artist when I visit local galleries. The eclectic feel of Mass Ave sparks my creativity.
I was disappointed from the beginning. The problem was that the event was sponsored by a local station, Radio Now 93.1, whose mix of music is hardly eclectic. I enjoy the station when I want to hear the latest pop song or if I need a retro hip-hop fix. The station also plays STUPID songs like Grillz and the equally lyrically challenged, pointless Shoulder Lean. The music being played was more along the lines of the latter. Radio Now didn’t consider the audience at all. The only really cool part of the music was a DJ mixing while two artists demonstrated graffiti art. The artists had amazing style; the one on the left was basically just doing a fancy tag, while the one on the right did a graffiti-style charicature of a sad man. I wanted to buy it, but it doesn’t quite fit my house. I was really hoping to see more art demonstrations and performance art, maybe even something interactive.
So there was a group of people who wanted to hear Radio Now-style music and were nonplussed by the open galleries. There was another group of people who wanted to see local art and taste food from local restaurants, but couldn’t stand the music. If Radio Now had played some good crossover music they could have had a much better turnout. The food was overpriced (of course) and the beer was $4 for a crummy domestic. I expected a Taste of Mass Ave to have fun beer selections. Some food stands offered wines, but only one or two types. I saw a lot of people milling around, unsure what to think or what to do.
After I cruised the art galleries and talked to some artists, I ended up leaving the festival to go sit in the Metro and have a drink while I waited for my friend Amy to show. By the time she arrived, I saved her the $5 entrance fee and we headed to Scholar’s Inn and had a bottle of wine with a couple of friends. The wine, by the way, was Greg Norman Shiraz 2002. The blackberry fruit led to vanilla warmth, slowly melting to creamy smooth tannin in the finish. The Cab percentage gave a hint of boldness, but it was more like strength, not overpowering pungency. I thought it was well-balanced and best drunk without food; it was somewhat mellow (like a lot of Shiraz). It couldn’t cut through the fat of the bread and butter I had with it.
All in all, I did go out to Mass Ave whereas I would have stayed at home. However, Taste of Mass Ave has a lot of work to do to distiguish it from other festivals.