Often in life people find it hard just to be good at one thing. Harder still is to be considered great at just one thing. So try to imagine my trepidation as I sat down with Indianapolis artist Casey Jo Ailes; who is not only an award winning painter, but a highly sought after professional photographer. Luckily, this Hoosier is as sweet as her art is brilliant.
While Casey Jo was born in Indianapolis, she grew up just south of the Indiana/Michigan border in the quaint little town of Granger, IN. After finishing high school, she was lured back to the Circle City in pursuit of a bachelors degree of fine arts from the Herron School of Art and Design. Asked when did she know she wanted to be an artist, Casey smiled and said “I didn’t always think I would be an artist. Growing up I thought I was going to be an environmental lawyer, but somehow art found me. The first time I stepped into a photography dark room a part of me never came back out.”
Since completing her degree, the Indy based double-threat has been a main stay of Indianapolis art galleries, both on the wall and behind the counter. For several years Casey Jo could be found on Mass Ave as the curator of the Dean Johnson Gallery. She then realized she could better serve the Indianapolis arts community, not just by presenting the art of others, but by creating her own art to share with the world.
Most recently Casey’s art has either been a part of or the sole reason for exhibits at such downtown Indianapolis galleries as the Art Bank, the Athenaeum Art Space and the Indianapolis Artsgarden. As if that were not enough, Mrs. Ailes was awarded first place in the most recent Midwest National Abstract Art Exhibition held at Garfield Park for her piece “Not Polar Bear Food.”
Once I learned where one could find her work, I wanted to know why she does it. Casey playfully told me “who wouldn’t want to play in paint all day. I have an outlet to express myself, and when I get a chance to share my work with others who connect with a piece it makes every struggle in the art world worth it.” Casey Jo is so passionate about sharing her gift with others that she has taught her trade to students both privately and as a current faculty member at the Indianapolis Arts Center in Broad Ripple Village.
Ailes wanted to be a part of the Indianapolis Arts Center because she fells it is one of the best locations in the entire city to view art. “The IAC is a great venue to see art in a gallery setting that changes every six weeks. The center brings in a wide variety of art work and has a great space to show the exhibits.”
Seeing someone who is so passionate about what they do is too rare a treat, so I wanted to know why exactly Casey thought art was so important. “Art has been a part of the human culture since the beginning of ancient times, art tells stories, its therapeutic, it brightens the world around us.”
Many individuals would be more than happy to settle for the accomplishments Casey Jo Ailes has already obtained, but she needs to create full time. While many of her paintings have hung on the walls of galleries you know, her photos have graced the pages of magazines you have read. Her work has been seen nationally in Photographers Forum as well as right here at home in Indianapolis Monthly. Here passion for photography has brought her to the postcard looking vineyards of France, the luscious green rolling hills of Tuscany, and most recently the impoverished ghettos of Guatemala.
Having already accomplished so much so young, Casey Jo Ailes has a future permeating with unlimited potential. After spending some time in her company, it is easy to imagine the day she is in the spotlight and I can gladly say I knew her back when.
To contact Casey Jo Ailes, or view more of her work, visit her website figarosstudio.com.