Kyle Ragsdale's new exhibit, Dream Boats, takes to the Indy skies

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Moonlight Over Sears/O'Malia's

Two years ago, I was delivering my neighborhood newsletter on a new street.  As I walked up to an unfamiliar door, I caught a glimpse through the screen of the dreamy couture figures of a Kyle Ragsdale painting -- an instant connection.  Kyle Ragsdale’s work is ubiquitous in Indianapolis, seen everywhere from the banks of the canal to your favorite coffee shop, from the Fountain Square gateway to your neighbor’s living room.  Kyle says frequently that he paints art that “lives with people,” not in museums.  And his work seems to live with people everywhere.  How appropriate, coming from a man who himself lives “with people.”

Kyle has always deeply impressed me with his exuberance and warmth, his passion for art and beauty and the people who create it, as well as for this city and his neighbors in particular.  I asked a few of Kyle’s Fountain Square neighbors what it was like to live near Kyle.  One said, “Kyle feels like family and like home . . . he is fun and easy to be around, but doesn’t fail to surprise us often with wisdom in his words.”  Another neighbor said, “Kyle is a master gardener and never once balks at a request from my kids to ‘help.’ I love that he loves them.”  From another, “I love Kyle’s gentle, easy-going spirit . . . He is incredibly generous in all aspects of his life, as far as I can tell.  I am thankful for his warmth and tenderness for me and my family.”  Kyle genuinely loves people, and his paintings overflow with that delight.

Kyle’s long time love of “pageantry, parades and community gatherings” is reflected in his new series, Dream Boats, opening in the City Gallery on June 8.   Kyle paints a magical vision that celebrates some of the glorious architecture of the King Park neighborhoods.  Flying boats filled with a melange of people, animals and fantastical creatures float over Indianapolis’s landmark buildings.  We are enchanted.

Many people who come to the City Gallery are smitten with some aspects of downtown living and dubious about others.  Indianapolis has its share of both beauty and blight. Our singer-songwriter fellow, Paul Smallman’s new song, “Riding Down the Line,” imagines what this area used to be, explores its present, and also imagines what it could be.

“Sounds from the buildings, people making things The whole town is tinkering Looking ahead at what the future will bring As if it could bring everything”

Kyle’s new paintings seem to imagine that beautiful world that could bring everything, and we find it lovely.  We hope you’ve marked your calendars for IMAF and the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange on Saturday, June 8th from noon to 8pm.  While you’re here, take a break in the City Gallery and come see this gorgeous show.