Category Archives: Interviews

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Featured Artist: Cole Marie Metzger

The artist featured this week is Cole Marie Metzger, owner of Five Carrot Heart Workshop. Her answers to my questions, as you’ll see, were eloquent but accessible, just like her artistic media. Most recently, Metzger had a few pieces of work displayed on the brick wall in the back of the Dash-In which is what lead me to interview her. I was not disappointed, as, yet again I was pleased to make such a talented and well-rounded individual’s acquaintance. If you frequent the Old Crown, you may even know her face without knowing her talent. As a woman who proclaimed herself an artist at age 8, she attempts to maintain that title in a world filled with many responsibilities and distractions.

When asked where she grew up she responded comically with, “I haven’t managed to do that yet,” but Cole Marie experienced childhood in Huntington. She described Fort Wayne as being the magical place they used to come visit to go to malls and music stores as a child. As a lonely child, Metzger said what first made her decide to create art was purely boredom. “Eventually,” she elaborated, “I discovered my perseverance and emotional investment helped me complete work that I could be very proud of.” She decided to attend IPFW for her undergraduate degree. Cole remembered going to Mad Anthony Brewing Co. open mic nights with her friends. Her choice to live in Fort Wayne came when she met her husband, who was also from a small town. Neither wanted to live in the town they grew up in, so they found a place on the outskirts of New Haven after looking at several houses in Fort Wayne. “The city definitely facilitates the artistic community,” she mentioned. Since she lives in a more rural neighborhood now, she said her favorite thing to do is walking around downtown with her son to show him the art galleries and peek inside places like the Fort Wayne Museum of Art.

You may have seen the work Metzger’s donated for FW Derby Girls’ 1st “Bust a Move” event, or the Benefit for the Island of Jeju protection. Since she has a heart filled with gold, she also donated pieces for two Fort Wayne Homeless Benefits and for the Haiti benefit hosted by Old Crown. New Haven Parks and Rec and Wunderkammer have also shown her work. Since Cole was once an art teacher, IPFW used her “Battlestations” (below) piece in their “Art Educator’s Exhibition,” and until the Dash-In, most recently was the show Old Crown hosted “Atrophy Exhibition (2016).” This was a solo show featuring mostly college portfolio material of Cole’s. At that show, she sold practically all the new work she had created.

That put Cole Marie back to square one. Since then she has been trying to make time for art but it has been a struggle. When asked how she finds time to hold a job and make art, her response was incredibly relatable:

“I get caught upin the grind like anyone else. I have fresh ideas that areneglected or abandoned because I don’t want to start anything that will consume me when I have a   home, garden, family, and pets to tend to.”

When one is away from creating, sometimes it is like pulling teeth to be able to sit down and focus on creating new things. It is especially difficult when the “distractions” from art are actually very important responsibilities. Not everyone remembers to put their family first, but Metzger loves them and sees them as a priority. One of her works which has been hanging at the Dash-In (pictured below) “Allegory,” was likely motivated by this attempt to balance the demands of her life.

“I see a woman at three stages of her life,” she said, describing the piece to me, “experiencing different levels of energy, stress, and hope. Is she excavating something or burying something? Viewers have to finish that stories for themselves.” Perhaps it is a self-portrait of sorts. Her Atrophy exhibition directly addressed her difficulty with being pulled in a million directions in terms of both duty and interest: “It’s not about loss of inspiration, talent, or perseverance,” her artist statement read, “my ‘atrophy’ is due to a lack of time.” She said she is inspired by “emotion, colors, compost, nature, food, dreams, animals,” and just about everything, but that it was easier for her to justify sacrificing all other aspects of her life in college working for good grades.

Most people have made the investment to become a professional in their field by attending university understand the post-graduate struggle, and can relate to what she is experiencing. Shown below, “Growing Nowhere,” (2011) was inspired by her many years as a college student. It was on display for the past month and a half at the Dash-In, so I asked her about its meaning. Her response?

“It was definitely inspired by several years of being a college student (I went part-time). I felt like I was gaining so much, but not going anywhere. I felt stagnant & my responsibilities were    parasitic growths feeding off my energy.”

I know I feel this often, so I can understand where she is coming from. Since I am to say yes when I am called to serve, I feel like I’m always being yanked a million ways. As you can see by the image below, there is a uniquely raw and accessible nature to her works. If you can view them in person, I would highly recommend doing so.

Her favorite medium (if she had to choose) is charcoal. Subtractive methods of drawing are her preference. “All the Erasers are essential in my studio!” she exclaimed. But, afterwards she mentioned it’s “a hindrance to enjoy so many different mediums because I don’t ever master any of them….every time I revisit a medium I have to reacquaint myself with it as if it were my first time.” She mentioned the possibility of many more oil. Acrylic, or watercolor works in the future. Her subject matter is pulled from the natural world: plants, animals, songs. When asked about doing a collaboration, she said the one artist who came to mind right away was Dan Moord, who I know has also done a collaboration with Frank Louis Allen (who also just had a show at the Dash-In). Metzger said they have similar philosophies in art and that she sees him as a master who could teach her very much about using colored pencils.

The show at the Dash-In ended this week, but you can snag some baked goods from the Old Crown (made by Metzger) and perhaps experience some of her work through your taste buds. Say hello, send a raven, or e-mail her at for information on her art/commissions/collaborations.


Fort Wayne venues mentioned in this article:


Five Carrot Heart Workshop :

Mad Anthony Brewing Company:

Old Crown Coffee Roasters:

Fort Wayne Museum of Art:



This city is filled with so much talent. Stay humble and try not to let your vices destroy you. Until next time,


Jenna Turpin


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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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