BUTTER 2 is a Cultural Event You Can’t Miss

A multi-day art fair showcasing the works of Black visual artists, BUTTER 2 will also feature live performances, DJs, a dance party, and interactive outdoor installations.
Alan Bacon and Mali Jeffers at the BUTTER art fair

A poster for the BUTTER 2 art fair
BUTTER 2 poster

Mark your calendars: BUTTER 2 is almost here, and the celebration is set for Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 1-4) on the south side of The Stutz Building in downtown Indianapolis. Back by popular demand, BUTTER is a multi-day fine art fair showcasing the works of more than 50 Black visual artists from across the country. Founded by Indy Maven board member Mali Jeffers and Alan Bacon of cultural development firm GANGGANG, BUTTER was created to be an equitable art fair, bringing together unrepresented artists for one weekend in downtown Indianapolis. One important aspect to note: BUTTER artists pay no fee to participate, and they receive 100% of the profits from their works sold.

Indy Maven visited The Stutz Building to view the event’s set-up first-hand, and we also interviewed five women involved with the art fair, ranging from co-creator Mali Jeffers to curators and artists that will be showcasing their work. After hearing from them, one thing is clear: If you don’t visit BUTTER 2, you’ll be missing out on something very special.


Q. [We are standing in a freshly painted white room close to the entrance of where BUTTER 2 will be on 10th Street] Can you tell US about what attendees can expect here?
A photo of Mali Jeffers
Mali Jeffers; photo by Polina Osherov

We’re kind of taking over the Stutz’s campus this year. Last year BUTTER was in the warehouse space of the building. And this year, we’re in three different spaces and outside, so it feels like we’re doing a whole campus thing. We’ve got two indoor spaces that we are making a fun, wonderland experience.

We’re really excited to partner with VisionLoft and be in their space. Here in Hall A, this will be a moment to pause, grab a drink, and sit down for a second. There will be a retail shop that we’re calling the BUTTER Shop, and 1000 Words Gallery will also be in this space; they’re doing a pop-up. I think they’re the only Black-owned art gallery in Indianapolis right now, so we’re very excited to have them here. And we’ll have some art installations in the middle, and a bar, and a lounge space. This should give people a moment to process what’s going on, because there’s a lot of newness.

Q. What else is different for this year?

It all feels expanded, in multiple layers and in multiple ways. Not only in footprint, but there are also more artists, and more types of artists. BUTTER is about the fine visual black artists that we center on the walls, and we work to sell their work and elevate their narratives, but also, I counted 17 creatives that were here today for our big team meeting. It feels like the creative community is coming together to make this homegrown micro convention for Indianapolis, and all of this is to lift up the artists and give them the context that their artwork deserves.


I don’t even know, because I’m just standing here and nothing’s done — and is this going to be a disappointment to Indianapolis? It’s hard to even process what’s going on. BUTTER is an experiment to test new models toward equity in the arts industry, but last year, no one knew what this was. And now, it’s become something that feels important, and with that comes pressure. But the impact already seems to be there, and it feels like for Indianapolis, this is kind of the moment after 2020 that we needed. This is equity in action.


Q. Can you tell us about your role with BUTTER 2?
A photo of Braydee Euliss
Braydee Euliss

I’m here for the second year helping with curation, but it’s a team effort. So, it’s choosing what artists make sense to invite this year, working with them through the whole curatorial process, reassuring them, getting them excited, and helping them problem solve, and then also all the way through install and then sales at the event. The event has grown significantly since last year and the number of artists have more than doubled.

Q. The event is coming up soon; how do you feel?

It’s coming together, and we feel like it’s going to be good. Things like this typically pop up a little bit faster. We’ve been really lucky with our partnership with the Stutz that we have had access to these spaces as they’ve been built out, so the planning and decision-making could happen all along the way, and I feel really good about it.


Q. Can you tell us about your role with BUTTER 2?
A photo of Sarah Urist Green
Sarah Urist Green

I’m part of the curatorial team for BUTTER 2. This means I was part of the process of deciding which artists to invite to participate in the fair, and also did as many studio visits as possible with the locally based artists to talk through what they plan to show. And then I work with the rest of the team to figure out how we arrange all of the art in the exhibition space, which for me is always the most rewarding part of curating. You have a sense of what it’s all going to look like, but it’s not until it’s all there together that you see how the works interact with each other. For me, that’s when the magic happens.

I feel honored to have been brought into this process and given the chance to get to know many of the artists. I attended BUTTER last year and was absolutely blown away not only by the quality of the work shown, but by the energy and enthusiasm of those experiencing it. I’ve been to a lot of art shows, and they are never that fun. GANGGANG is doing critical work to elevate Black voices in this city, and it is long overdue. I’m also really impressed by how BUTTER is rethinking what an art fair is and how it should work in a more equitable, thoughtful way for artists. What they are doing is truly revolutionary, and I can’t wait to see how it evolves over the years. I’m thrilled to do whatever I can do to contribute to the cause.


Q. Your work will be featured at BUTTER 2; can you tell us about your artwork and how you feel about being part of the event?
A photo of Amiah Mims
Amiah Mims

My paintings are aesthetics that consist of bold colors, typically incorporating the primaries: reds, yellows, and blues. I am currently exploring my style with intention, working to shape it into something more solid from painting to painting. And it’s participating in events like BUTTER that challenged me to take this journey to better my craft.

Being a featured artist in this event is an amazing experience — It still shocks me that I’m living out a dream I never even knew I had. This event is such a gem. The art ranges from paintings on the walls all the way to the specialty drink, crafted with care for the weekend.

It’s more than just an art fair. It’s a unique happening, put together by some of the most hard-working people I know. It’s love. It’s thoughtfulness. It’s comradery. It’s a safe space. It’s a weekend that I will always look forward to. Featured artist or not, I will be awe-struck upon entering that space for the first time and I will leave inspired each and every day that follows.


Q. Your work will be featured at BUTTER 2; can you tell us about your artwork and how you feel about being part of the event?
A photo of Shamira Wilson
Shamira Wilson; photo by Maxine Wallace

I create paintings and installations inspired by the geometry and harmony of nature. My work is created through the healing modality of nature and plants. Nature is attunement and plant medicine, and plants speak through signs and symbols which I translate with paint.

The newest pieces being featured at BUTTER are from a series called “New Growth” which highlight hair braid patterns connected to nature through the history of braiding seeds and nature as adornment. Hair braiding is also a form of self-expression, kinship, and celebration of Black aesthetics and culture. I love that the BUTTER art fair is a place where all of these things converge, so it was a perfect place to showcase these pieces.

General admission tickets ($35 for the whole weekend) are available for purchase via Eventbrite. For more information about BUTTER 2, visit butterartfair.com or follow GANGGANG on social media (@ganggangculture) for updates.

Featured image of Alan Bacon and Mali Jeffers photographed by Leah Trib Productions.

Stephanie Groves is the Executive Editor of Indy Maven, and she is looking forward to bringing her family to BUTTER 2.

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