Scripps News Life


Fine arts fair garners half million in sales for Black artists

Butter, a fine arts fair for Black artists, is spotlighting art, supporting creatives, and keeping important discourse alive.
Posted at 4:36 PM, Sep 02, 2023

Step inside a world designed for creatives.

"Every corner that you turn has a creative doing something," noted Deonna Craig, Director for Butter Fine Art Fair, where the art and the artists are appreciated. 

The team behind Butter, a fine arts fair spotlighting Black artists, began transforming a century-old car factory in Indianapolis months ago.

The inspiration for Butter came after the murder of George Floyd, when husband and wife team Mali and Alan Bacon began looking for ways to give a permanent platform to Black artists.

Their group was responsible for a large Black Lives Matter street mural in downtown Indianapolis in 2020. The project was defaced shortly after its inception.

The Bacons knew the artists needed something more. Something long-lasting.

"If everything 2020 was about what separates people, it's culture and art that brings people together," said Alan Bacon, founder of Ganggang, the team behind Butter.

Three years later, the Bacons say the annual event is doing just that — attracting visitors from across the country, celebrities and more than 50 artists this year alone.

Black artists hope to inspire more in the industry
Artwork created by a Black artist

Black artists hope to inspire more in the industry

A recent report shows Black artists made up only about 6% of major museum exhibitions between 2008 and 2021.


"When you look at the art around you what you see is feeling, what you see is expression, emotion, all of that, and how they're able to take that and basically put it on canvas," said WNBA Hall of Famer Tamika Catchings.

"There was something called 'The Chitlin' Circuit' between 1930 and 1960 before desegregation, and Indianapolis was one of those spots where Black artists were able to sustain themselves so we're doing it again," commented curator Greg Rose.

Praised by artists and media, Ganggang and Butter have done something others have not been able to achieve — keep the conversation on race and equity alive well beyond 2020.

Research from Linkedin shows roles for Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officers in companies declined 4.5% in 2022. And the anti-DEI movement has spread from businesses to politics, with the state of Florida defunding DEI programs at publicly funded colleges and getting rid of DEI efforts at Disney World.

"We talked about that in 2020. That's why we had the sense of urgency then to act now and to figure out something again that would be galvanizing, attractive and sustainable that would last beyond this DEI moment. And what is that? It's art. It always has been and always will be," said Mali Bacon.

The Bacons say since the event started, they've garnered nearly half a million dollars in sales, with 100% of the profit going directly to the artists and as the support grows so do the dreams.

"There are many artists in Indianapolis right now that recognize the renaissance that we're in right now, and the window is very small," said Alan Bacon.

"Our artists are dreaming, and the city is in a dreadful place when the artists aren't dreaming," he continued.