The third annual BUTTER Art Fair, which featured 49 artists, four galleries and six curators, raised nearly $300,000 in sales. Four major institutions acquired pieces for their permanent collections.

Dame Dash on BUTTER Walk & Talk Tour, Historic Indiana Avenue // Photo
Dame Dash on BUTTER Walk & Talk Tour, Historic Indiana Avenue, led by Sampson Levingston of Through2Eyes. Image: Simone Walls.

Invited for the second time to the fair held annually in Indianapolis, Indiana, Dame Dash didn’t have to think twice about attending. As curator of DD172, Dash has featured emerging and established artists in North Carolina, Burbank, California, Hong Kong and New York City. "I'm an aggressive art guy, the guy that buys so artists can have a luxury existence while they're alive, as opposed to when they die," shared the Roc-A-Fella co-creator.

 Singer, songwriter and producer Van Hunt, Halle Berry’s devoted beau, gushed about his first Butter Art Fair experience with EBONY. “This is fine arts from a Black community, and I knew I wanted to be a part of this," he shared. "Art is the attempt at someone to solve something within themselves; an expression that you want and must get out. Whenever I see someone trying to express themselves, I try to support it."

Along with the visual art presentations, the musician vibed with the Butter's lineup of band performances "because it was so young and raw," he exclaimed. "It's so hard to get up on stage and play for people, but you just keep giving it. That was the most fun to watch."

Created to help local artists showcase and sell their work, Butter is the brainchild of Mali Simone and Alan Bacon. The husband and wife team founded GangGang, a cultural creative agency devoted to bringing creatives of color to the forefront. “Our mission is to center beauty, equity and culture in cities by activating the creative economy. So we're going around doing that across markets as a way to make cities equitable,” Mali shared.

Alan added that “100 percent of the proceeds from BUTTER go to Black artists in the show. To have that as a focal point, to think about equity within fine art and use that platform to amplify the voices of our culture, Butter has been able to introduce a new creative way to experience art at the same time.”

The Indiana State Museum will add its first BUTTER piece, redLINES by LaShawnda Crowe Storm, to its collection. The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields will add April Bey's Pineapple Venus, Sex on the Beach Peach and Goldenrod, and Gary Gee’s Oops Upside Your Head! to its installations.

Indiana University’s Indiana Memorial Union acquired artwork from BUTTER for the first time. The three works joining their collection are Tasha Beckwith’s Empowered Tresses, Kyng Rhodes’s Reasons and India Cruse-Griffin’s, Glorious Day. The Central Indiana Community Foundation will add two paintings, India Cruse-Griffin’s The Barbershop and Matthew Cooper’s Black Thought.

See more works from BUTTER participating artists.

Artist Fitz with “Built On Our Backs, 2023” // Photo: GERALD_ENCARNACION_GE3
Artist Fitz (left) with Built On Our Backs, 2023. Image: Gerald Encarnacion.
Artist Ayanna Tibbs in front of her work “Even if…It’s by Threads, 2023” // Photo: GABRIELLE_MINION
Artist Ayanna Tibbs with Even if…It’s by Threads, 2023. Image: Gabrielle Minion.

Artist Brochevski (aka Amai Rawls) with his work // Photo: ISAAC_POOLE_IDP7281
Artist Brochevski with his work. Image: Isaac Poole.