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Eye of the Tiger 

When Joe Fawcett acquired his Maltese Tiger space in Fountain Square this past March, he had one primary vision in mind: to facilitate and support the work of local artists. But now, in merely a matter of months, the director and founder's community-driven dream has already begun to come to fruition.

Located at 1118 Spruce St., Maltese Tiger currently serves a vast array of artistic purposes. In addition to hosting several nights of live music, as well as First Friday festivities, the space is also rented out to local bands to use for their rehearsals. A multi-instrumentalist, Fawcett also teaches music lessons in the building, and its second-story rooms function as art and recording studios too. The Maltese walls have begun being decorated by local muralists as well, including work from Stephen Peck and The Droops so far.

Bands utilize both the interior and exterior, seen here, for shows. Clockwise from upper left: Derek Johnson, Roz & the Rice Cakes and Pravada. - COURTESY OF MALTESE TIGER
  • Courtesy of Maltese Tiger
  • Bands utilize both the interior and exterior, seen here, for shows. Clockwise from upper left: Derek Johnson, Roz & the Rice Cakes and Pravada.

"This is a community space. It's what I want it to be," Fawcett says. "I am not the kind of person who's producing my own material so much. I'm a conduit."

Fawcett admits that it was his hospitality position at the now-defunct Earth House that spurred his desire to assist in the progress of local artists.

"Working at Earth House really got me wanting to work with as many other people [as possible] and enable them," he says. "I like to remove obstacles. I really like it when somebody's working on something and I can be a catalyst."

As the ball started rolling with Maltese Tiger's development, Fawcett searched for just the right support staff and quickly found Savannah Norris, who he hired to serve as the venue's curator. Having formerly managed merchandising and First Friday events at the recently closed Indy Swank, Norris was at the same time looking for a home base for her wardrobe management work. Serendipitously she now has that, thanks to Fawcett's Spruce Street spot.

One of Norris' curatorial responsibilities has been to coordinate Maltese Tiger's multi-facetted First Friday events, and it was at the first of these (The Maltese Circus) where she met Meghan Karnes, who would later become the space's coordinator. This new responsibility, in turn, gave Karnes an escape from her daily work routine.

"I have a day job that I don't like," she says. "I love to be very organized, and I think that definitely helps Joe and Savannah some, because they're very creative. ... [As] with a lot of creative people, they've got a lot of stuff going on in their heads. So I think I kind of help organize that for them, and I really love doing that."

The June art exhibit at Maltese Tiger featured work by Nevada Orenda Jade Buckley-King. - COURTESY OF MALTESE TIGER
  • Courtesy of Maltese Tiger
  • The June art exhibit at Maltese Tiger featured work by Nevada Orenda Jade Buckley-King.

Throughout the summer, Maltese Tiger has hosted several outdoor shows in its parking lot, sometimes even providing out-of-town bands with an accommodating tour stop. In turn, its welcoming reputation has spread throughout the city and beyond. This past Sunday, in fact, Maltese Tiger hosted a performance by Brooklyn's No Lands.

As this new Fountain Square establishment continues to develop, Fawcett hopes it continues to serve the community's artistic needs. He explains, "I'm trying to occupy this space with artists who are going to make use of the resources that are here." Ultimately, doing this, with the help of Karnes and Norris, truly gives him joy and a sense of satisfaction.

"I'm really lucky to have people who are willing to put their passions toward something that I'm really interested in, and I feel like I'm able to provide a place for this stuff to happen," he says.

In addition to accommodating the Maltese Tiger's regular schedule of artistic happenings, Fawcett and his staff will also begin preparing for the opening of a second establishment at the intersection of Morris and East streets, in an effort to make the most of their current Spruce Street location. Fawcett explains, "We're expanding so that way we can do a little more specialization in our spaces." For now though, expect the same slate of outdoor concerts, First Friday festivities and more to continue to take place at Maltese Tiger.

For a listing of this weekend's Maltese Tiger events, visit its Facebook page.

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Seth Johnson

Seth Johnson

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Since high school, Seth Johnson has been drawn to telling compelling stories through the lens of journalism. A 2013 graduate from Ball State University’s News program, he has especially discovered a love for music journalism, particularly connecting to local music stories in an effort to enlighten others on Indianapolis’... more

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