Faces of the Fort: C. Ray Harvey


September's installment of Faces of the Fort features the visionary, artistic side of Fort Wayne. Creative director at Aptera by day and musician with Heaven's Gateway Drugs by night, C. Ray Harvey was kind enough to let mepick his brain on why our city is a great place for artists and creatives to call home. C. Ray spent some of his early years in Fort Wayne before his family moved to Texas, then the Indianapolis area, and then finally back to Fort Wayne. He says it's not the physical amenities this city offers that made him stay here but rather the strong sense of community among creative types.

You moved around a bit when you were younger. What made you decide to set up shop in Fort Wayne? How did the Fort fit you in a way that other cities didn't?

I had a lot of options when the time came to decide where to go to college. Several from Indiana were on my list. In the end I chose IPFW because I liked Fort Wayne and wanted to settle here with my (now) wife Andrea. It was through my wife's connections that I landed a copywriter job at Aptera in downtown Fort Wayne. I still had years of college to finish, but I slowly worked my way through various areas of the business, from copywriting to project management then business analysis, and now as creative director.

As a musician and writer, what's the Fort Wayne scene like for a creative like yourself? Where does it excel? Where does it fall short?

I consider myself a musician first and foremost. With that said, I think Fort Wayne sets the stage for you to do whatever you want to do. It's the doing that stalls people, I think. Fort Wayne is not a place where you can just go to art openings and rock shows and other creative events and call yourself an artist because you showed up. The community isn't quite big enough for that. There aren't enough events for anyone to be a full-time attendee. Instead, it demands action from its participants. I like that. I like playing music for other musicians. It's not that I wouldn't appreciate a bigger audience, but this setting forces me to keep doing.

If you moved away to a different state tomorrow, what's the one thing you would miss about the Fort?

I usually miss the Brass Rail even if I'm gone for just a couple of weekends. It's certainly not a slice of heaven, but to me it embodies the community of people that I identify with. I often hear people say, usually with a tone of complaint, that the place has really changed. Well, of course it has. And to me that's also why it embodies Fort Wayne. To me, the evolution of the Brass Rail over the past 10 years is like watching downtown Fort Wayne evolve under a microscope. Or maybe it's like watching a child grow into adulthood by focusing only on its knees. I'm not calling the place a perfect metaphor. I guess that for a thriving part of the Fort Wayne community, it's yet another magnet drawing focus back toward downtown. It may not be as visible as a baseball stadium, but it's every bit as critical to long-term success of revitalization.

What are some lesser-known gems in Fort Wayne that everyone--out-of-towner or not--should experience?

I travel a lot for work. In the last six months, I've been to the West Coast a handful of times, Chicago a handful of times, and a dozen or so other cities. Fort Wayne doesn't have a Golden Gate Bridge. In fact, I don't know that there's much in Fort Wayne that you can't find in other cities. In the end, when other people travel here and it's my job to show them around, it's less about what we do or what we see and more about who we do it with and how we present it. Fort Wayne is like every single other city in that how you choose to experience it weighs heavier than what you're trying to experience. All that said, Calhoun Street Soups, Salads, and Spirits is my go to place to hang out with good people. And good bartenders.

5.) What kind of advice would you give a young, creative professional (20-30s) looking to build a career and life here in the Fort?

I have yet to find a pastime I cannot do in Fort Wayne. I have yet to find a creation I cannot create in Fort Wayne. Those who are not entertained enough, or excited enough, or occupied enough are too focused on what their town gives instead of what they themselves give. We are not short on supplies in Fort Wayne, just short on those who are using them to build a better Fort Wayne. I may be biased because I've been able to find a great job at a progressive company and I get to travel on a regular basis with work and my band, but I don't get disappointed when I return to Fort Wayne after a trip. I've been able to write, record, and play the music I want to play in this town. I've been able to find a job using my creative skills to help businesses. I've been able to marry a beautiful wife, buy an awesome house, and have a great time every single weekend I'm here. And I'm able to do all of that on a budget that my friends in other cities spend on studio apartments.