Healer: New Venue that Cures You Through Music and Art

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In a strip mall in southside Indianapolis, a new and exciting concert venue has opened up. Healer is an immersive art and music venue for all ages and all genres of music. At 3631 E. Raymond St., sits the venue that is constantly evolving, with new aspects added to it every time you attend a concert there.

Courtesy of Samuel Tester

According to Ben Sutphin, Healer’s HR director, the venue began as a practice space.

“I had always thought I had wanted to be throwing shows,” Sutphil said. “I was intimidated by the process. As time went on I realized that this space needed to have something going on in it.”

When Sutphin and Colin Oakley, the primary band booker at Healer realized the space was being underutilized, they brought in Matt Panfil in February 2017.

Matt Panfil is the art director at Healer and when first brought on to the project, helped decide to keep the cubicles of the previous office space and turn them into individual art installations and transform the space. According to Panfil, their goal was to create interactive art by subverting a traditional business space into something otherworldly.

In order to transform the space, Panfil and his main collaborator, Elizabeth Sciore-Jones, used the blank canvas of the office building to create the central altars.

“A lot of the inspiration came from seeing the skeleton of the building and using it as a jumping off point,” Oakley stated. “We used it in order to create this narrative of an office building that had been over run with art.”

According to Panfil, this large collaborative effort has taken about a year to get where it is now, but it is still a work in progress. They plan to focus on transforming the space more, including having open spaces for visiting artists and becoming cross-collaborative.

Courtesy of Samuel Tester

Amber Wolverton, the manager at Healer, echoes the idea that this space is something exciting.

“I love having something to do other than listen to music, I like the melding of art and music,” Wolverton said. “A lot of times when I am at a concert, I don’t want to stand through opener, and then the band, and the encore, which is why I like our open space, where you can experience the music in a different way.”

Along with experiencing music in a different way, the venue has created a space where it’s community can feel comfortable.

“At this space, I want to help minimize uncomfort within people in attendance.” Sutphin stated.

One of Panfil’s main goals has been to instill childlike wonder in adults through his art installations.

“As multi-sensory as possible is great. For me, I think about perception and to instill wonder, whether that is making something strange or using light and shadow to interact with normally ordinary objects,” Panfil said. “I think that direct art experiences can put you more in this childlike state of wonder, where you don’t have a name for something, because of how abstractive it is.”

While this self-funded venue has created a community behind it, it has been an uphill battle to create a space like this.

“The bureaucracy was the hardest aspect of creating this venue,” Wolverton said. “It is difficult going through all the ropes of getting certified and licensed.”

Along with being a business that the laws do not favor, they fought to have Healer be open to younger audiences. “This is something that I wish I could have been exposed to when I was a teenager.” Oakley stated.

“When I first got into music, I had no place to experience music. I felt insulted by that and I don’t want other kids to feel that way.” Sutphin explained. “I believe in fostering young talent and young musicians need a place to go to experience music and network.”

Healer has many exciting events and installations coming up.

One of the cubicles will be hosting an installation created by Lydia Burris, which is planned to be open from February until May. Currently, there is a zine called Radical Fluff will be up until March, and art exhibitions by Justin Oakley, Courtney Brooks and Kat O’Neill.

As far as music goes, they have a DJ night coming up on January 26 at starting at 8 p.m. On February 16 at 8 p.m. they are hosting a band named Toke. On February 18 starting at 8 p.m., they are hosting a band called Balms.

Further upcoming event information can be found on their Facebook page.

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