Indy Like a Local: Januarie York

Who is Januarie?

Spoken-word artist and poet.

Q. How would you describe Indy’s art scene as a whole? 

A. Indy has a huge arts scene. It is full of various genres and backgrounds of people who individually work extremely hard to deliver quality performances and projects, and as a collective, I believe we are heading in a direction of city-wide growth to becoming one of the main artistic hubs of the country, to be honest. We have some of the most talented artists I’ve seen, and I haven’t been all over the place, but everywhere I go, I still feel like Indy can hold its own against major cities if given the opportunity. We have a huge music/jazz scene as well that doesn’t go completely unnoticed, but I still think it needs more attention as well. We just have some really talented people in this city and I’m proud to be a part of it. 

Q. In your opinion, what venues produce some of the best performances or exhibitions?

A. The Hi-Fi in Fountain Square is a great venue! The stage is a decent size, as is the room, and if you can handle standing for a show, this is a great spot. Great acoustics, nice staff. I’ve seen musicians, poets, and singers perform here and have experienced no bad times. The Jazz Kitchen often puts on great shows featuring local singers and musicians. Also, the Chatterbox is an Indy staple and they have a very vintage feel, small and intimate, yet jazzy. The Oasis Gallery is slowly making a great name for itself. It’s another smaller space, but the setup of the venue is great. After attending a show there and viewing an art show there, I must say it’s one of our better-kept secrets. 

Q. Where would you send a visitor to Indy looking for the best open-mic nights or spoken word?

A. There are several places going on for poetry right now, which is great. I would recommend a person visiting VOW on Wednesday (Epic Lounge, every other Wednesday), That Peace Open Mic (every third Thursday at Fletcher Arts in Fountain Square), and Vocab at the Casba in Broad Ripple. You can get a wide variety of spoken word at these shows that will inspire and empower you, no matter who you are. Also included is Localmotion, which is held at Fletcher Place Arts in Fountain Square.

Q. Are there places or spaces in Indy from which you draw your inspiration when writing poetry? 

A. Parks are my thing. I like nature, so if I can find a place that isn’t full of foot traffic but still allows me to connect to nature in its natural space, I’m there. Places like 100 Acres, unfrequented parts of the canal (or at least the less-popular portions), and Crown Hill Cemetery have always served me well as spaces to write, brainstorm, and be inspired. I am also inspired to write during live shows sometimes, so it’s nothing to see me whip out a quick piece of paper to jot notes at a local event or show, despite it being crowded with people. 

Q. Where do you take friends when they're visiting?

A. With two active kids, and friends with kids, always the Children's Museum. But we also love Eagle Creek Park. A zip line in the city, are you kidding me!

Q. As an Indianapolis native, how have you seen Indy change over the course of your life?

A. I’ve seen this city start to embrace the people that are actually in it (rather than trying to pull people to the city) more now than say 10 or 15 years ago. It’s motivating for artists because it gives us something to work toward. As a resident, it gives me pause because often people are trying to move out of Indy for a better place. I think Indy is now in a season where it is proving itself to be a solid contender with the rest of the states. It is becoming more accepting of the artists, it is bringing in more entertainment and options (nothing like breaking monotony), and we are quickly becoming a solid place to host events, which also provides opportunities for natives as well as artists. 

Q. What's your favorite Indy hangout? 

A. Louie’s Wine Dive because it’s a wine bar with some of the greatest bourbon French toast/brunch in the city, and it has an intimate feel. Thai Papaya because they have great, inexpensive Thai food and the best soup I’ve had. They have delicious food. Thr3e Wise Men Brewing Company is great too – they have some really great pizza and calzones. Maxine’s Chicken and Waffles is some of the best soul food in the city. Bazbeaux has epic pizza as well. BRU Burger & Boogie Burger, because who doesn’t love a great burger? Those two places are my top burger places in Indy. 

Q. Where do you like to go for a nightcap?

A. Nicky Blaines because the basement-style feel and the cigar smoke remind of me of old New York jazz bars. Or Ball & Biscuit. They offer a wide selection of unique drinks at a decent price, and I love their outdoor/indoor space. 

Q. What’s your favorite entertainment venue? 

A. Old National Centre wins because of its intimacy. I prefer all my concerts to be there because there is no bad seat, whether you are on the floor or in the balcony. I’ve sat all over the place and the main theater room offers a great sound system/acoustics, comfortable seats and, again, the intimacy of the concert makes it feel like it’s not a room of 6,000 people but rather you, your friends, and the artist.

Q. What are your favorite places to shop?

A.Runway Diva Boutique, 21Boutique, So Anxious Clothing, and Thrifty Threads.

Q. Where do you like to take out-of-town guests?

A.To the arts scene: poetry (VOW on Wednesdays, That Peace Open Mic, Localmotion, Vocab); live music (The Jazz Kitchen, Chatterbox); hip-hop (The Dojo); First Fridays; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; and Mass Ave.

Q. What events would you never miss?

A.Dig IN, all of the wine festivals, Chreece, First Fridays, and Devour Downtown.

Q. What one thing would you recommend visitors do or see while in Indianapolis? 

A.I always say (if you’re not scared of it) that you visit Crown Hill. It is a beautiful place despite it being a cemetery, with a poet [James Whitcomb Riley] being buried at the highest point that overlooks downtown. If you like nature, I suggest it. Otherwise, I typically suggest people check out the arts scene because it is so full of talent.

Q. Let’s say you have one day to spend in Indy any way you want. What would you do, see, and eat? 

A .I would indulge in the arts – art galleries (Herron, Mass Ave, Fountain Square), spoken-word open mics, and live music. I would eat at Cafe Patachou for breakfast, Thai Papaya for lunch, and dinner at Maxine’s Chicken & Waffles. If there is room left, I would grab a drink from somewhere along Mass Ave. 


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