Category Archives: Interviews

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pARTY Animal

If you’re the person who makes friends with the host’s dog during social gatherings, snap on your party hats. Fort Wayne HeART of the City and the Allen County SPCA present pARTY Animal, an art social event to benefit the Allen County SPCA. pARTY Animal (you gotta love that play on words) will take place on September 22 at 4pm–10pm at 125 W. Main Street, just two doors down from Coney Island. I spoke with Executive Director of the SPCA, Jessica Henry, to find out more unique fundraiser.

pARTY Animal is the first art-related event for the Allen County SPCA, and there’s plenty to look forward to at this inaugural happening. An art gallery by local artists will be displayed and available for purchase; part of the proceeds from each purchase will benefit the Allen County SPCA. Live painters will create animal-themed paintings (available for auction), local musicians will be performing, and raffles will be held throughout the night. Plus, you can meet cats and dogs that are adoptable at a later date. Emcee Amber Stone of SUNNY 103.9 will host this fun night, and delicious pizza and beverages will be available for purchase by 816 Pint & Slice.

Animals at the SPCA

For $5 donation at the door, you can help support the Allen County SPCA and their mission to find animals’ fur-ever homes. A $20 VIP package can be purchased online and includes admission for one, one drink ticket, and exclusive rooftop access throughout the evening. Availability is limited. If you’re unfamiliar with the location, that’s because it’s a privately owned building that has been completely renovated. “It’s a unique opportunity for a sneak peek inside a place that’s not open to the public,” said Jessica.

pARTY Animal Location: 125 W. Main Street 

The Allen County SPCA is the only nonprofit animal shelter in the area, and they’ve been working hard to save as many animals as they can. Jessica said, “In 2016, we homed over 2,700 animals. As a nonprofit, we rely on donations. Without the community, we couldn’t do it.” Thanks to the connection within the HeART of the City, this event will make even more possible for the organization. “This event is special in that it’s supporting local artists and animals. It serves a dual purpose. We are extremely grateful for all of the artists and their dedication to the event.”

Let your inner party animal out and support the local art and animals on September 22nd at pARTY Animal! VIP packages are available for purchase here. Check out the Facebook event page for updates on the event as it approaches.


Written By: Rachelle Reinking

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Artist Feature: Noah Huffman

It is my hope that the present community of Fort Wayne will be documented somehow. As we all know, in the last few years Fort Wayne has exploded with a new hustle and bustle it just did not have before. Thankfully, our art community has reflected that expansion and grown to meet its new audience. Every person has something so valuable and unique to share and teach one another. The featured artist for this week is no different. My interview with him made me realize that he fits in just about perfectly with the Fort Wayne I have come to call my home. Everything can change in a week, a day, a second. And if no one records it, no one will have the ability to remember or experience beauty from times once they have passed. People, light, and the places in Fort Wayne right now are begging to be recorded for the history they are making.


Noah Huffman, an analog photographer and barista at Fortezza downtown, intends to do just that. He is currently enrolled part-time in Huntington University’s Professional Program and works independently on his own to document humans as the beautiful things that they are. When I first wrote questions to ask him, I did not know much about his body of work or focus yet. I had seen his Instagram, @brnbs_photo, so I knew his work was in black and white and that he focused primarily on people and architectural feats. When I asked him what his favorite thing to photograph was, though, his response made the sides of my mouth lift upward:

“Human people (or lizard people, I don’t discriminate) are these dope, enigmatic things with pretty faces, hair, eyeballs, shoulders, and arms and stuff. They make images important, because they are important.”

It is sometimes easy to think that people are awful when the world is filled with so much corruption and hate. It is vital to realize that if we refocus our energy and time on those who stand up against this hate and darkness to make the world a better place, eventually it will be. If we let ourselves be inspired and capture human beauty and effort to facilitate change, maybe we can motivate others to do so. If we focus on the light, it will spread. Noah is inspired to create by people, light, and unused film stocks calling his name.

When I asked Noah about his favorite photographer, he told me about Alan Schaller, a member of Street Photography International who also shoots in black and white. Of course, I did some research on Mr. Schaller, starting with his website ( Once there, I saw his work on the Calais Jungle, the Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, his collaboration with the Olive Ridge Project in Dhuni Kohlu Island, Maldives, and many other efforts to document people overcoming adversity and combating evils of the world. Noah recommends to “definitely follow him on Instagram” (@alan_schaller). If Huffman can reveal the beauty and nonprofit efforts of Fort Wayne the same way that Schaller has across the world, our city is going to be looking damn good. I am reminded of the “Humans of New York” effort when I look at Noah’s photography so far, especially since he does such an excellent job capturing the human condition. I thought it was funny that Schaller had also done a couple of projects with coffee beans in Rwanda and the Yayu Wild Coffee Forest since Noah works as a barista.


Millennials everywhere have time management skills that I like to highlight whenever possible. Noah  is in school, has his job as a barista at Fortezza, and does his photography on his own time. When I asked him about how he balances his work schedule, his answer was refreshing:

“I make coffee for a living at Fortezza. It is literally the best job, and gives me more than enough time to shoot on my days off. Plus, I’m always meeting cool people. Keeps me caffeinated and inspired!”

It always makes me happy to hear about local businesses who take care of their people. As a server myself, I completely related to what he was saying. The best way to meet people in a city is to be present in public spaces. If your job lets you do that while simultaneously earning money, that’s pretty much paradise. When asked, he revealed that his focus in his photography isn’t really to make money at all. “Hell, I don’t even care if I lose money!” he admitted, “I just want to photograph people, because people are important.” I am continually pleased about how many people in this city I meet who have a job to pay their bills but also have some crazy beautiful medium they conjure up in their spare time.


Huffman is not originally from Fort Wayne. He grew up in the Northern Chicago suburbs and just moved to Huntington about 4 years ago for school. So, what can we do as a Fort Wayne community that helps retain people like Noah? Here’s what he said:

“I stayed here because of the people. Fort Wayne has this bizarre and beautiful blend of cultures that continually inspire me. Interesting people and places are everywhere, and they’re  just begging to be photographed. Plus, there is this huge emphasis on local businesses that I just  didn’t see at all in Illinois. This place is important!”

Thank goodness I get to live somewhere that I can afford to support local. Our generation will not be forced to stay home, hypnotized by TV screens, and convinced out of chasing our dreams. I love living with such creative, beautiful people who are flocking to this city. We can afford to participate, and that is so much more of a key to our success than people realize.


So, where did it all start? What caused Huffman to pick up a camera and capture history? I wanted to know (so I asked). His story is one of continual growth, both internally and technologically:

“My first camera was a primitive digital camera, circa 2000. It hooked up to my computer via firewire or something. It was like a megapixel. A single megapixel. Plus, it was made of blue plastic, so it went well with my blue plastic sunglasses. It was really cool. My first real” camera was a Nikon D5100. It had a flippy LCD screen and I really liked that.”

It is important to realize that everyone must start somewhere. Empires are not built in a day, a year, a decade even. It takes hard work and sacrifice to achieve our desires. Noah was very raw and honest about this. He said he wanted to be like the beautiful landscape artists he was seeing online when he was younger, so he went out and bought an entry-level DSLR, a vintage 24 mm lens and started shooting. “I failed,” he admitted, “almost gave it up, but I found myself enjoying all of the candid photos I would take of my friends while we were out shooting landscapes.” This is how he discovered his niche in the photography world. “People are way cool,” he finished. He turned what he perceived to be failure into a diving board, launching himself off into a new adventure to explore the beauty of the human experience.


Now, Noah works in 35 mm, and medium format film. He has almost fully transitioned to analog and develops the film himself and scans the negatives into his computer for editing. He is very interested in having the ability to have constant access to his own full darkroom, so if anyone reading this would like to work alongside him and has this resource, please feel free to reach out to him. I was wondering why his works were all in black and white, and his response baffled me. In response to a question about the medium of his works, it was revealed they are mostly B&W because he is colorblind and it just makes more sense to him to do it that way. My mouth dropped open when he said this. With each question I asked, I realized that what others view as limitations can, in fact, allow us to see the world in a unique and beautiful way.


Artwork from left to right: “Puddle Jump” (2017), “k l a w : s s o r c,” (2017), “Public Market After Hours” (2017)

If you would like to support Noah, see his work in person, or commission him for a project, there are a few ways to go about it. He currently has a few pieces up at the Dash-In. They can be found on the brick wall in between the front and back rooms of the restaurant and are for sale. Across the street, you may be able to catch him at Fortezza (if you’re lucky). His work can be found on Instagram (, and he is quick to respond via Facebook as well.


Written By: Jenna Turpin

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Artist Feature: Hali Ruisard

Today I am featuring a HeART of the city board member and up and coming artist. On Thursday, August 17th from 5-9p.m. you can meet Hali Ruisard and see her work on the Trubble Brewing art wall. You may have met her at the Three Rivers Festival HeART of the City event, the Allen County Library art fair last month, or maybe even the Mayday Art Show at Pint N Slice. Who knows, maybe you ran into her at Buskerfest or even the Pancake and Art show in Chicago last year. If you’re going to the SPCA benefit with HeART of the City in September, you’ll see her there too! She is forming a presence in the Fort Wayne art scene and participating in every opportunity she is given. No matter where you meet, you’ll remember her kind smile and pleasant demeanor.

Fort Wayne is bustling with talent. That is why successful artists here understand the importance of inclusivity and collaboration. If talent works together rather than being in a cut-throat competition, it thrives. Hali is an artist who understands this. She disclosed to me that she has done a collaboration with Daniel Church, Jeff Stumpp, Beth Collier, Cecelia Dunfin, and Tricia Cavender in which they put up easels and would work a few minutes on each piece, rotating to the next easel when they were done. She noted that she enjoyed being able to work with others’ work and ideas because it allowed her to draw things she normally wouldn’t.

I was impressed to discover that Ruisard does not have a formal art education. Her practice came early on in childhood. Always drawing, her focus was first on weird animals she found in her Children’s Encyclopedia. She took a class with Leslie White at Anthis and hopes to take more classes and attend workshops in the future. Fort Wayne has a ton of those through Wunderkammer and other art collectives, so perhaps in attending one of them you’ll run into her there! Ruisard has always used art as an outlet. Although creating is not new to her, calling herself an artist is. Previous works of hers have been done in pastel and charcoal. Two years ago she started painting with watercolors. Examples of her recent work are now hanging at Trubble Brewing. She said she has recently started acrylic painting as well and has a body of work in that technique she would like to share.

I am always interested to know what it is about the Fort Wayne Community that attracts such a large art community. Hali’s answer revealed her intended role in this scene,


“I think there are some very talented artists in Fort Wayne,” she commented, “I feel like   the artists scene has a lot to offer here. I think here is a good mix of artists just starting out and artists that have been doing this a long time. That is why I’m excited to be a part of the HeART of the City; it includes everyone.”


Since I am new to Fort Wayne I understand how important this idea of inclusivity has been to me. The art world can sometimes be very exclusive. Because of this, I am particularly inclined to stand and applaud the HeART of the city effort and the artists who stand behind combatting those attitudes. These artists are all like gardeners, watering each other and helping one another grow. It seems that Hali and her crew understand that everyone can bloom and project their beauty if they work together.

Art is not the only thing Hali spends her time doing. During the school year Hali is a Cafeteria Assistant Floater at Fort Wayne Community Schools. She gardens, and spends quite a bit of time painting in her spare time. She aims to spend time around other artists because being around creative people motivates her. Books that she enjoys are also a source for her artwork, as well as alien stories on the Internet. She is particularly motivated by Pop Surrealism as well, and new techniques she discovers online. I am looking forward to seeing her reflections of what inspires her in the future on walls around the city.

I will leave you with some motivation and inspiration I received from this gifted woman. When asked what she would like to tell young artists and why, she responded with the following:


“Don’t ever give up on creating. And don’t let other people discourage you from doing    what you love. There are people out there that will appreciate your art, and everyone has projects they aren’t proud of, but don’t let it stop you.”



Hopefully you will have the blessing of meeting her soon.


You can find her on Facebook, or contact her via for collaborations or commissions.


Written By: Jenna Turpin

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Artist Feature: Topher Beyer

Across the parking lot of Foellinger Theater and under the gaze of Tek Venture’s Phoenix parade float, I chatted with local metalsmith and musician, Topher Beyer. We sat on the hood of his Mustang, the sky poised to unleash its heavy humidity on us at any moment. I quickly jump into questions feeling the urgency to finish before the storm hits. Topher is a reluctant artist, but his talent for metal work and fabrication was sought after by Daniel Church, when Fort Wayne HOTC needed a tangible, dimensional logo made for its TRF event. Since he has finished the sign, additional offers from the community have squeaked into his inbox. He seems a bit surprised, and his genuine humility and desire to grow and create shines through. He shyly admits that he’s been overwhelmed by the positive response he’s been shown by the city.

This husband and father of two, fell into metalsmith art and fabrication by starting a job at ETA Engineering in Avilla, IN. He learned to weld and do blacksmith work. Topher loves new ways to work with metal, and by experimenting with different materials on lunch breaks, he discovered a new way to, as he explains, “do art, with a purpose.” I ask if his boss is cool with creativity in the work space, and he happily nods his head “yes”. I ask if I can include that, and he continues, “Oh yeah, they’ve been great, very supportive company. I just have to buy supplies and stuff, but I can try different things and work on projects here, that I can’t do at home.”  Speaking of home, Topher’s two sons have taken up the creative flag and are proudly waving it. He excitedly whips out his phone and starts showing off pictures of his boys, six and seven, excitedly making and selling cats, turtles, dinosaurs and flowers. “They draw it out, I cut it and they weld and paint them.”

Art and music have a long tradition in this family. Topher’s mother encouraged him to pursue art by sending him to The St. Francis Summer Art Program and he’s won a Gold Key Scholastic Award. She also sent him to F.A.M.E. Camp and extra art classes offered in town.  His mother was a talented portrait artist hobbyist and his grandfather drew cartoons for military publications and newsletters, along with his own hobby of woodworking.  Topher’s father, an avid fan of music and an engineer, passed when he was a teen, and after that he really fell in love with creating music. He elaborates on making music and creating metal art as, “my way of feeling close to him… feel like if he was here, we’d be learning together and it would be pretty great.”  Topher Beyer is an all-around family man and creative spirit. He also wears his heart on his sleeve as he gushes about his wife when I ask about what kind of colors he gravitates towards, “Oh, I like vibrant colors, my wife is wearing these really bright, vibrant shades of lipstick and they look amazing!” I ask if she gets in on the art, too? “Not really”, he says with a smile, “but she’s the brains behind everything.”


Between working at his home workshop, which includes two welders, two air compressors, a forge anvil and various other tools, and his job’s cutting tools, he is also trying to add some studio space for his musical project The Paper Heart.  As he becomes more recognized in the Fort Wayne art scene as a talent to watch, he also finds himself in the local art show world and his hope for Fort Wayne is that it offers more places to showcase a diverse range of art. He knows that new artists are often intimidated by new places and also can feel like a bit of an annoyance to established artists.  He’s enjoying the wave of art collectives putting on shows and pop-up shows in non-traditional establishments. He also hopes Fort Wayne art galleries put on more multiple artist shows, because he explains, “it’s incredible how many people know each other and that they are so connected. It’s a great place for art.”

Find Topher Beyer on Facebook at THE PAPER HEART or


Written By: Chele Heck

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Artist Feature: America Carrillo

Trubble Brewing is currently featuring the artwork of five Fort Wayne locals. On its brick wall, you will find art created by Dria Iris, Hali Ruisard, Katie Jones, Tricia Cavender, and our featured artist for this article, America Carrillo. She has a series for sale found in the center of the brick wall to the left of the front door.

America primarily focuses in visual communication, graphic design, and photography. She currently has three plexi-glassworks up aspart of a self-portrait series featuring the women from her burlesque troupe. Rather than having faces, America replaced the models’ heads with lamp shades. Lights installed behind the lampshades give the pieces an aura like a stage light on a performer. They can be found for viewing below, and are available for purchase at Trubble Brewing until the 17th of September, 2017.

This is not my first experience with America. Earlier in the year, a friend of mine recommended that I consider her work. Her website, allowed me to look into her portfolio. The more I ventured into her body of work, the more impressed I became. Then one day, sitting on my front porch and speaking to my roommate, a friend was walking by and called out a hello. When I looked up to return the salutation, there was America standing right beside my friend. We had been in correspondence about getting her on the walls of the Dash-In, so I knew what she looked like. Little did I know she lived two doors down from me! One of the great things about Fort Wayne is invisible proximity. There are so many talented people surrounding all of us. With communication comes discovery of each neighbor as a treasure to behold.

Recently I took over curating the art at Trubble Brewing.Since there isn’t currently a waiting list, I immediately let America know about the opening. I knew she had been featured in art shows before and that she probably had a portfolio of work from her undergraduate degree. She and four other very talented women were incredibly quick to respond to my call for their inclinations toward visual communication. She brought samples over to my house and we talked about the details from there. Since she has most of her fine art at Studio Seva right now and knew quickly which pieces she wanted to feature at Trubble.

When asked who inspires her, she told me that Michelangelo is a prominent example. She mentioned the story of the Sistine Chapel, saying,

“he was in excruciating pain from painting in such an awkward position and he was barely making any money, he almost quit when the pope struck him for taking too long. But after the pope apologized and gave him a little money he continued.”

Although she did study visual communication and graphic design at Purdue, she accredited stories like this as her training and inspiration to keep her moving forward. When she is not teaching yoga and Zumba at the YMCA, Carrillo is creating.

I was interested in finding out what it was that began her pursuit of a career in the art industry. For America, that beginning was very early in life. Originally from California, she moved to Indiana at the age of 5. Since she was 5 years old she began painting, and recalled a story of when her mother was asleep and she painted their entertainment center. Throughout high school, art was the only class she looked forward to. This led her to focus on visual communication and graphic design in college. Since then, she has had art shows at Studio Seva, the Garret Art Gallery, Trubble Brewing, and has a show on the books at the Old Crown for later this year.

She revealed to me that her goal is to continue growing in every capacity that she can. There seems to be an overarching sentiment among the creatives in FortWayne of inclusivity, and Carrillo showed she fits beautifully into that mindset when she unveiled her main goal:

“My goal,” she said, “is to remind others that we are all artists, to inspire those who feel out of touch with their authentic selves to find a creative outlet, and to use it to connect with their inner child. When I push past my own comfort zone with what I am working on, it’s to help others to the same.”

Being uncomfortable is a great channel for learning, and I too encourage everyone to remember this in our everyday lives. America said she has many ideas she is currently planning, and enjoys expanding upon her style every day depending on which medium is a leading motivator.

So, what are you waiting for? Come see her work for yourself! There will be a “Meet the Artists” night at Trubble Brewing on the 17th of August if you would like the opportunity to meet her in the flesh.

If you can’t physically make it out to Trubble Brewing, her art can be found at, and she is open to commission requests or future shows.

Find her on Instagram @artbyamerica2030.

Written By: Jenna Turpin


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