I AM MYSELF A CITIZEN OF NO MEAN CITY VOL. 4

September 4, 2013 · Print This Article

Hello friends,

It has been a pleasure to be able to share my love for all things art in Indianapolis with you over the summer!

This will be the final installment of my series. For this post I’d like to focus on looking forward at what Indianapolis has in store for the fall.

Perhaps it will be enough to convince some of you Chicago-dwellers to make the 3 hour journey down?

THESE ARE MY TOP FIVE FALL PICKS

5. General Public Collective Opening – September, Fountain Square Neighborhood

General Public is an artist-run project space and concept shop dedicated to sharing ideas through exhibitions, performances and original works of art. They are opening their unfinished space for a special performance on September 11th featuring Calvin Johnson from K Records – Donations are encouraged. I’m excited to see how this space evolves. Right now it has a lot of components – shared work space, concept shop, art gallery, music venue, self-service print kiosk- I wonder which will come to the forefront, or if all can be simultaneously relevant. A wonderful experiment!

gpcImage via General Public Collective

4. September First Friday Openings - Friday, September 7, All over Indianapolis

September First Friday brings a number of exciting openings around town. The Harrison Center for the Arts is featuring work by Kyle Herrington, Jude O’Dell, Tom Peck and more. They will also be giving away $10,000 through the final 5×5 competition (a local initiative to give $10,000 to ideas that combine art + community, art + placemaking, art+technology. The 5×5 has funded pop-up movies and a mobile literacy lab). The Murphy Building in Fountain Square’s Mt. Comfort Gallery will feature work from the collectiveEverything is Anything  Else.tumblr_mr6p06EVjo1sp3iy8o1_1280Image via Everything is Anything  Else Tumblr

3. Touchy Subjects at the Indianapolis Art Center – Friday September 27, Broad Ripple

Art, Sex and Humor. Touchy Subjects will feature SAIC alum Jedediah Johnson’s Makeout Project, Kyle Herrington’s collection “Catcalls” and work from the Kinsey Institute.

IMG_0715Jedediah Johnson’s Makeout Project

2. Art Squared Festival + Art Parade – Saturday, September 21, Fountain Square Neighborhood

For a single Saturday in the month of September Fountain Square explodes with activity. The day starts with an art and writing competition called Masterpiece in a Day. Artists and writers register in the morning and create a piece of work in less than 12 hours using the neighborhood as their studio. At the close of the competition judges pick a winner for a cash prize. The afternoon closes with a rag-tag art parade put on by residents and local businesses.

artsquared_bannerImage via Discover Fountain Square

1. Optical Popsicle – Friday, October 18th, Athenaeum Theater

A visual treat! Know No Stranger’s annual visual variety show is back with more puppets, music, dancing and laughs then ever before. This is the most wonderful feel-good night for Indianapolis. Know No Stranger is all about bringing folks together with their unique brand of performance art. Trust me, you’ve never had this much fun.

 

With love from No Mean City,

Wendy

Wendy Lee Spacek is a poet who lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana. She likes her city very much. She is a core volunteer of the Indianapolis Publishing Cooperative (Indy Pub Co-Op), publishes small editions of handmade books under the name Soft River and is an arts administrator at the Indianapolis Art Center. She will be posting monthly all summer long about her encounters with art, culture, creative experiences and resources in her city.




I AM MYSELF A CITIZEN OF NO MEAN CITY Vol. 3

August 7, 2013 · Print This Article

 IMG_2503American Legion Mall downtown Sunday Frisbee photo by Benjamin Bernthal

Greetings from Indianapolis, friends!

July is a lovely time here. One of my favorite things about July is the 4th. Here in Indy the thing to do is to watch the fireworks display that is set off from atop the Regions building downtown. The best place to do it is from a rooftop with a bunch of friendsIMG_2389photo by Benjamin Bernthal

In the way of Art, July brought to an end a lengthy and large exhibition of work by Ai Wei Wei at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. This was an interesting exhibition to get to see. It included a series of photographs, pieces of modified ancient art (such as the image below), and a few pieces related to measuring the tragic earthquake that took place in China in 2008. This is a traveling exhibition and I highly recommend seeing it if it comes to your town. I went on the very last day that it was open, and the gallery was buzzing with conversation and lots of people moving around the space.

IMG_1523Ai Wei Wei exhibit at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

The 100 Acres park at the IMA (a 100 acre sculpture park that deserves its own blog entry) has a new installation called Flock of Signs by Kim Beck. Some of the signs are blank, others point to the air and state “Bug.” others list scientific names for plants. All I know is that they are beautiful.

photo(7)photo by Benjamin Bernthal

A few weeks later I finally made it to one of the Listen Local concerts put on by Musical Family Tree and Indy Parks. This is a “pay what you want” fundraiser for the Park consisting of live performances by local bands. This installment included Amo Joy, Vacation Club and United States Three. The Set Design was so cool! It is a cardboard and acrylic piece by BrainTwins that can be arranged in a variety of ways to create different color patterns. BrainTwins is an Indianapolis art duo composed of Jessica Dunn and Justin Shimp. They create a variety of 2D, 3D and 4D based works of art.

stagefrontFINALStage at the Musical Family Tree Listen Local concert series at Indy Parks. Set design by BrainTwins

Later in the month I was lucky to be able to visit the studio of one of my favorite Indianapolis artists Kyle Herrington. Kyle has several shows coming up in September, so there was plenty of new work to see. One show is called Backyard Phenomena and chronicles Herrington’s struggle with being thrust into new found adulthood, which culminated in him turning thirty and buying a house. His anxieties about something catastrophic happening to his house has translated into sculptural pieces as well as paintings. We talked for quite a long time. I admire Kyle’s commitment to making everysingleideathathehas. I think it is what has allowed him to make such a large body of work with what I see as having very consistent and complete conceptual ideas in relatively short time frame (just one year). Kyle’s work makes reference to sci-fi logic, modern obsessions with the apocalypse and celebrity and mashes them altogether into a funny, but kind of scary reality.

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IMG_1561Kyle Herrington with his work.

For August First Friday I went to the Harrison Center for the Arts to see the Spineless book arts exhibition. This yearly exhibit features work from bookmakers in the region. The IUPUI libraries also curate a selection on display from their collection of artist’s books.

IMG_1637First Friday at the Harrison Center for the Arts

IMG_1635Cyanotype book by Indianapolis Artist Tasha Lewis

While on the subject of Cyanotype, and given the fact that I saw him shortly after taking this photo, I think I should mention another mind blowing artist here in Indy who uses it as his primary material for art making- Casey Roberts.

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caseysImages via wildernessoverload.com

Until next month!

Yrs,

Wendy

Wendy Lee Spacek is a poet who lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana. She likes her city very much. She is a core volunteer of the Indianapolis Publishing Cooperative (Indy Pub Co-Op), publishes small editions of handmade books under the name Soft River and is an arts administrator at the Indianapolis Art Center. She will be posting monthly all summer long about her encounters with art, culture, creative experiences and resources in her city.




I AM MYSELF A CITIZEN OF NO MEAN CITY vol. 2

July 3, 2013 · Print This Article

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“The Cardinal” by designer Jeff Laramore behind the Wishard Slow Food Garden near Washington & West St.

Greetings from Indianapolis, friends!

I spent the majority of June rolling up the west coast, visiting other lovely cities, giving out poetry broadsides, and spreading Indpls lore and legend.

Here are a couple of things that I was really looking forward to that I missed in June:

June 1st FridayWe Buy White Albums by Rutherford Chang at iMOCA, Heather Stamenov, Stutz artist-in-residence: TA-DA! at Primary Gallery. And more!

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Image via Nuvo.net  182233_420047148102859_1817647908_n

Independent Music and Arts Festival (IMAF)/ INDIEana Handicraft Exchange at the Harrison Center for the Arts: a yearly exchange of hand-made goods, visual art, and lots of music.

However, there were still plenty of artistic experiences to be had in the last two weeks of June.

When I arrived back to work at the Indianapolis Art Center I was greeted by a new exhibition called Under Construction that gets more fascinating every time I see it (which is every day). Giant wall “tapestries” made entirely out of duct tape by Garry Noland, paper cuttings of microscopic views of tree bark by Katie Vota, and objects handcrafted entirely out of pennies by Indianapolis-native Stacey Lee Webber.

The very next week at work I had an awesome experience of facilitating an Andy Goldsworthy inspired land art workshop with a group of about 80 urban teens. They made some seriously incredible stuff in just an hour and a half:

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The following Saturday I joined a different group of teens on a public art bike tour in the city’s center.

This got me thinking that I should share a few of my favorite pieces of public art here in Indy!

46 for XLVI Mural Project

This project is part of the legacy project that came out of Indianapolis hosting the Super Bowl in 2012. In just a few months, 46 new murals went up all over the city. Here are some of my favorites:

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Image via Arts Council of Indianapolis

Indy’s Always on A Roll by Michael Cooper at the intersection of Virgina, Maryland and Delaware.

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Image via Arts Council of Indianapolis

Trivergence by Carl Leck at the 10th st/Mass Ave gateway.

My absolute favorite mural in all of Indianapolis is a bit older though:

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Color Fuses by Milton Glaser (1975) on the brutalist-inspired Minton-Capehart Federal Building. (corner of Penn and Michigan)
The mural is a giant rainbow that completely wraps the first story. The mural was recently restored to its former glory, and Glaser’s vision completed with the addition of a fully functional system of lights for enhanced viewing after dark.

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I stopped by my friend Megan Hart’s show with Beth Eisinger, Archaeornithology – an Excavation of Urban Artifacts.
All of the objects and imagery included in the show were found in the neighborhood I live in on the near southeast side of Indianapolis – Fountain Square.
The show included Beth’s incredible (and affordable) handmade bird’s nests:

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Including an enormous human-sized one: IMG_1408

Megan is fascinated with the act of collecting and categorizing urban artifacts (trash) to learn about the secret lives of her neighbors:

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This show, coupled with homesickness from being out of town, has got me thinking a lot about art in Indianapolis, and how a lot of it celebrates our city, our neighborhoods, our streets, our friends.
And then, perfectly, this video about my favorite, wacky, DIY theater group, Know No Stranger was released! Video via our central Indiana contemporary art blog Sky Blue Window

Until next month!

Yrs,

Wendy

Wendy Lee Spacek is a poet who lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana. She likes her city very much. She is a core volunteer of the Indianapolis Publishing Cooperative (Indy Pub Co-Op), publishes small editions of handmade books under the name Soft River and is an arts administrator at the Indianapolis Art Center. She will be posting monthly all summer long about her encounters with art, culture, creative experiences and resources in her city.




I AM MYSELF A CITIZEN OF NO MEAN CITY

June 5, 2013 · Print This Article

Guest Post by Wendy Lee Spacek

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Photo courtesy of Zachary Nischan Shields.

Greetings from INDPLS, new friends!

Caroline and I saw one another a few weeks back at a poetry reading I gave at Heavy Gel in Chicago. I gushed about life in Indianapolis to her, so she asked me to send a monthly dispatch from the Circle City all summer long, and I’m delighted to do so.  You may be thinking: INDIANAPOLIS?!?! WHERE IS IT? WHAT IS IT? You may even be thinking “more like, IndianaNOPLACE!” and I assure you, many a naysayer has said that (including our own Native Son, Kurt Vonnegut Jr.)

But let me relay to you a tale of a place that has touched me deep down in my soul like not so many things can. For a number who live here, Indy is the most magical Midwestern city; Steeped in possibility, affordable, walkable, bike-able, jam-packed with public art and home to some seriously nice people.

Indianapolis is the 12th most populous city in the United States (sandwiched between #11 Jacksonville, FLA and #12 San Francisco.) As of today our population is approximately 834,852.

Indianapolis is the state capitol of Indiana. The capitol used to be in Corydon (pop. 3,122) but in 1820 some powerful dudes decided to move it to the very center (almost) of Indiana. In part because most capitols are located in the center of their states and partially because they mistakenly believed that the White River could be used as a highway for boats. Well they were wrong- Indianapolis is the largest city in the United States on a non navigable body of water.

Being our capitol city, downtown is the center of government, so we have a high density of beautiful, historic government buildings, memorials and monuments.

Speaking of these beautiful, historic government buildings, this May First Friday (the night out for art here in Indy) brought a once-in-a-blue-moon, one-night-only opportunity to enter the former City Hall building on Alabama Street for an exhibition of work by 47 current, former or graduating students from Herron School of Art and Design. Aptly named VACANT, the exhibit took inspiration from the wildly successful TURF exhibition held in the space during Indy’s moment in the spotlight: Super Bowl XLVI.

The show was curated by graduation Herron Seniors Taryn Cassella, Anna Martinez and Andrea Townsend. Where TURF was an exhibition of installation art, VACANT included work across mediums. I especially enjoyed Jordan Ryan’s section off the main library detailing the history of the building. A good review with some pictures from the exhibition an be seen on Indy’s weekly arts newspaper, Nuvo’s website.

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indytown-jan2012-030-610x816 Vacant Old City Hall Building. Image via Historic Indianapolis.

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Jon Keown’s artwork in VACANT. Imagine via Nuvo.net.

This same evening I also made it to Monster Gallery in Fountain Square (one of the city’s most happening neighborhoods) to catch Portland-based artist Tripper Dungan’s show: What’s For Dinner?

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This is actually one of the most exciting things I’ve seen lately. The paintings themselves demonstrate a super high level of skill, extremely tight and in an incredible array of colors. The addition of Chromadepth 3D glasses was almost too much to take. I spent at least an hour circling through the gallery taking in florescent anthropomorphized fast food and dancing psychedelic popsicles popping out at me. It was a visual treat. Plus, Tripper was there and his whole outfit was in Chromadepth and he was a really nice guy.

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Images via Monster Gallery

The very next day brought the long-anticipated opening of the Indianapolis Cultural Trail (an 8 mile bike & pedestrian path that connects the city’s seven designated cultural districts.) It was an all-day event that featured tons of free activities along the entire trail. A sampling of what I saw/did: petted an albino skunk, talked to a miniature therapy horse,  saw a knit bombed house, and saw live performances by 9 marching bands! The marching bands were my favorite part because of their historical context in celebrations/mourning, as well as their significance for youth. Six high school bands converged on Market St. downtown with the sole purpose of playing “Get Down on It” by Kool & The Gang.

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High School Marching Bands converging on Market St.

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John Marshall Community High School’s drum line playing “FREAK THAT” on closed down Market St. Downtown.

A contemporary twist came through the addition of a free performance on the ground/steps of the Central Library by Chicago’s own Mucca Pazza as well as a Brazilian-style party parade down the trail led by Bloomington’s Jefferson St. Parade Band.

 

IMG_0850 Mucca Pazza performing in front of the American Legion Mall

Late in the month brought the Broad Ripple Art Fair  a fundraiser for the Indianapolis Art Center, (my place of employment) which included 225 local, regional and national artists. My participation was working the Make Art Take Art Leave Art Market where people could make and trade art for free!

 

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I also hosted a poetry reading at Indy Read Books, our only independent bookstore within the downtown area. Here is a Vine from local Poet Doug Manuel’s reading.

My friends and I also painted this mural (on the sly?) on an electric box in our neighborhood:

And lastly at the end of every month the Indianapolis Museum of Art hosts an free event called Final Friday and I typically find myself there.  The music is curated by DJ Kyle Long of Cultural Cannibals and features both a DJ set by him and a live performer or band. This month was a Pakistani via Brooklyn garage band called The Kominas. Overall it was a good event. Although I did get in trouble for trying to dance with a Georgia O’Keefe painting.

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The Kominas playing at the IMA

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Ai Weiwei’s Installation “He Xie”

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Kyle Long DJing in front of Robert Irwin’s, Light and Space III, 2008.

Until next month!

Yrs,

Wendy

Wendy Lee Spacek is a poet who lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana. She likes her city very much. She is a core volunteer of the Indianapolis Publishing Cooperative (Indy Pub Co-Op), publishes small editions of handmade books under the name Soft River and is an arts administrator at the Indianapolis Art Center. She will be posting monthly all summer long about her encounters with art, culture, creative experiences and resources in her city.




Art Babble

July 7, 2010 · Print This Article

Art Babble has for a while been for me a great example of a institution just putting a few people to work and creating something on the net that is both useful, fun, well designed and not covered from head to toe with the trappings or promotion of the parent institution. Conceived, initiated, designed, built, sculpted, programmed, shot, edited, painted and launched by a cross-departmental collection of individuals at the Indianapolis Museum of Art Art Babble takes IP that they already have and presents it in a way that is greater then the sum of it’s parts. Too bad Art institutions haven’t been able to do the same with the net or social media on average.