Apologies for the mess!

You probably know me already if you’re here. My name is Domenica Bongiovanni, and I’m a reporter for the Indianapolis Star. This is my digital portfolio.

At any rate, I switched website hosting providers after several years with my old one. I have a bunch of clips here, but I need to clean up a bit. Please excuse the inconvenience.

 

Opera house revival

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (10.30.2016)

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Delphi Opera House PDF

After almost a century of slow, steady decay, a determined group revitalized the Delphi Opera House to become a charming, memorable performance space once again. With a longterm plan to make the venue an economic development tool in Delphi, Indiana, I looked at the way the opera house positioned itself for success and the challenges it might face as time goes on.

Answers after show canceled

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (08.30.2016)

Online version | Print version

Styx cancelation print version

Shortly before Styx — one of the biggest rock bands to visit Lafayette — was set to play Lafayette Theater, I learned that the show was on the road to being canceled. After confirming that and obtaining the initial release from the band’s PR liaison, I followed up to answer readers’ questions and find out what happened.

My PR contact set me up with the band’s manager, and the story that resulted was widely read.

Lessons of Royals’ drought

The Kansas City Star (10.05.2014)

Online version | Print version

Royals’ drought print

With the Royals in a playoff race for the first time in 29 years, The Kansas City Star decided to publish additional preview and special sections each day during the Wild-Card Game, division and league series and World Series. I pitched this story — my commentary as a fan who had never seen the team make the postseason — to my editor for a Sunday section. Besides describing my experience, the piece also highlights the travails and triumphs of fans in my generation.

The story ran on both KansasCity.com and in print. Here is the online version, which was my uncut original. The thumbnail on the left, which ran in print, was trimmed to fit a tighter space in the paper.

Actor’s comedy chops shine

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (04.28.2016)

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JC- (w) Tommy Beardmore

Tommy Beardmore print PDF

When I received word from Tommy Beardmore that his film — “The Life and Death of an Unhappily Married Man” — was set to show at a West Lafayette movie theater, I knew this had the makings of a solid story.

Our readers enjoy the success of people with local connections, and Beardmore had grown up in Greater Lafayette and attended Purdue before moving to Chicago and New York to pursue acting. What’s more, his diverse resume and talent for comedy and drama provided great points of interest as did the film’s popularity at festivals inside and outside the U.S.

Overall, these elements opened up several angles.

Mural not graffiti, police say

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (11.20.2015)

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JC- (w) Spot mural

Spot mural print PDF

This story started to blow up on Facebook after a police officer handed The Spot Tavern a citation for graffiti. Only the art in question — a hot dog bun with male genitalia — was actually a mural commissioned by The Spot. And the business was pretty unhappy about what had happened.

So what did occur?

Finding out took plenty of phone calls by my colleague and me on the day this broke.

Well-known Lafayette resident Ila Solomon started an online petition to have the mural taken down because it was offensive. Solomon previously had pleaded guilty to failing to report a dead body — her husband had lay dead on the floor in their house for more than nine months, according to a forensic entomologist.

But when I wrote the follow-up the next day — the story linked here — the police chief told me Solomon hadn’t filed the complaint. The officer knew it wasn’t graffiti but thought the citation was the best way to handle the complaint. The city ended up determining the mural wasn’t graffiti and withdrew the citation.

The real story, then, wasn’t about Solomon. It was about how a community and the police handled privately commissioned art that was publicly visible and could be found offensive to some.

As it all ended up, The Spot’s owner had a picture of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pasted over the offending male genitalia. And the controversy died down after that.

Marching band is no breeze

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (08.20.2015)

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Purdue band tryouts print PDF

Purdue band tryouts print PDF

The subjects of back-to-school stories often center on sports tryouts and curriculum. What can be left out are students’ activities in the arts. The dedication of band members at Purdue University — which does not offer a music major — was worth exploring.

I came at the story from the eyes of a freshman, explaining the difficulties of auditions and the challenges of combining new marching techniques with musical skill and athleticism. In doing so, I hoped to tap into a readership with ties to the “AllAmerican” Marching Band who are proud of its tradition and their memories. As it ended up, this has been one of my most shared features at the Journal & Courier.

Pole’s possibilities — and baggage

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (07.23.2015)

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Pole possibilities print PDF

Pole possibilities print PDF

Poles are becoming increasingly popular in exercise and modern dance. In a preview to a modern dance performance by a group of women in Greater Lafayette, I explored the way they used the pole to open up vertical space on the dance floor and find new movement vocabulary by mixing this aerial technique with jazz and ballet.

You’ll also notice another angle to this story. Because so many associate pole dancing exclusively with strip clubs, many of the women in this story asked that I use their stage names for fear that their participation would damage their professional reputations. I did — after consulting with my editors — and used it as an opportunity to explain to readers this angle of the art form.

Fire sculpture folds in community

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (04.14.2016)

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Fire sculpture print PDF

Fire sculpture print PDF

Ceramic artist Nina Hole’s fire sculptures are both magnificent and rare — only about two dozen exist in the world. After Hole designed them, her team built and fired them on site, inviting the community to be involved in the entire process.

Purdue University’s Lonsford Committee commissioned one of these sculptures, which turned out to be the last Hole designed. The celebrated artist died in early 2016 and never saw her last piece, which was built in late March and early April.

Because of its prominent construction spot outdoors on campus, the fire sculpture received plenty of local media attention. So when I wrote in depth on it, I had to find a fresh, meaningful angle. That it was Hole’s last designed sculpture and was to be what one of my sources called an “avant-garde bonfire” were spectacular.

But the artist’s care for people — even after her death — and the community connections the sculpture’s construction formed proved to be both a touching and largely uncovered storyline.

Isbell’s relatable songwriting

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (07.09.2015)

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Jason Isbell print PDF

Jason Isbell print PDF

When Jason Isbell’s publicist sent me the details before my interview with the rising Americana singer-songwriter, she told me I’d have eight minutes to talk with him because he had so many media requests. Eight minutes.

So I found out everything I could about Isbell and dissected his music and lyrics so that I could make my time count. My research paid off with a great interview, and he actually ended up talking to me a bit longer than eight minutes.

Talks with fans and venue owners where Isbell was set to play rounded out the story and unpacked why his songwriting — which tackles the gut-wrenchingly uncomfortable along with the joys of life — has grabbed so many people.