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 friendsphoto 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.
Ai 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.
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.Â 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.
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.
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.
First Friday at the Harrison Center for the Arts
Cyanotype 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.
Until next month!
Wendy Lee Spacek is a poet who lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana. She likes her city veryÂ 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 monthlyÂ all summer long about her encounters with art, culture, creative experiences and resources in her city.
Guest Post by Wendy Lee Spacek
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.
Vacant Old City Hall Building. Image via Historic Indianapolis.
Jon Keown’s artwork in VACANT. Imagine via Nuvo.net.
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.
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.
High School Marching Bands converging on Market St.
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.
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!
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.
The Kominas playing at the IMA
Ai Weiwei’s Installation “He Xie”
Kyle Long DJing in front of Robert Irwinâ€™s, Light and Space III, 2008.
Until next month!
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.
February 14, 2011 · Print This Article
Which museum job is the hardest? It’s a question that can be endlessly debated; for my part, I’ve always thought that museum guards have a pretty tough go of it. Guards always have to be the bad guy, telling people to step back from the painted white line, put away that camera, back up from that sculpture. And if an artwork gets damaged, who do you think is on the front line of blame? Yep, the older woman in uniform who requested a wooden stool to sit on during non-peak traffic hours. What a lot of people tend to forget — or don’t realize in the first place — is that many museum guards are also practicing artists who are as keenly invested in the works on the walls as are museum patrons and institutional staff. Robert Ryman worked as a vacation relief guard at MoMA.Â Numerous other artists, famous and not, have served their time guarding the objects that give white cubes their meaning.Â For about a year now the magazineÂ SW!PE has focused on work by New York-area visual artists, writers and performers who were, or still are, working as museum guards in New York at the time their work was made. From SW!PE’s mission statement:
This magazine exists to disseminate and exhibit the artistic output of workers, in turn exposing the dignity, humanity, and brilliance of these works and the people who created them. It is both a celebration and a battle cry, not only of the artists showcased inside, but for all workers.
Guards Matter not only calls attention to the simple fact that the guards (workers) matter, but that the matter they produce is important. It was in this grand tradition that SW!PE was created. We hope for it to act as encouragement and at the same time, a platform, for a very special group of artists to be seen, but more importantly – heard.
Starting with their fourth issue, due out in early 2012, SW!PE will expand its scope to accept submissions from people employed as museum guards all across the US. Submission guidelines can be found here. The one thing I did note with this magazine is that the artists included are predominantly male. I’m assuming that’s simply because there are more male-artist-museum guards out there than female ones? Though I don’t know why that should be.
Related: Check out this article from the Los Angeles Times from last January – it discusses a special radio documentary made by Portuguese broadcaster Sofia Saldhana called “The Sleeping Fool” produced for local NPR station KCRW. The Sleeping Fool offers glimpses into the various thoughts that drift through the heads of museum guards while on duty; it won the best new artist award at the Third Coast International Audio Festival last year. You can listen to “The Sleeping Fool” here.
Also: Esopus has an ongoing series in its magazine (all print issues) called “Guarded Opinions” in which a museum guard is invited to give his or her impression of the art they oversee. (Here’s where issues of Esopus are sold; in Chicago, it’s available at Quimby’s, The Art Institute, and a bunch of other places).
And finally: An artist’s book by the late conceptual artist Don Celender –known for his interviews with filmmakers, prison wardens, religious leaders and labor figures about the art they likeÂ — titled Observations, protestations and lamentations of museum guards throughout the world; it’s hard to find, but you can hear a podcast discussion of the book produced by The Art Gallery of Knoxville by clicking here. (Celender is #10 on the list).
I’m fascinated (alas, only from afar) by the Louvre’s Special Guest program and in particular with its use of acclaimed novelists as guest curators. (I’ve posted on this program before, here). The Louvre has featured Toni Morrison in this capacity in the past; right now, the novelist and semiotician Umberto Eco is unveiling a series of exhibitions and other programs relating to the topic of “The Infinity of Lists” which draws upon his book The Vertigo of the List. This, along with an email from one of our readers (hi Elizabeth!), has got me thinking about the relationship between books and museum exhibitions – and in particular about what happens when novels are the inspiration for museum exhibitions – or even for museums themselves. Read more
Here’s what’s got my attention, web-wise, so far this week:
*San Diego Museum of Art director Derrick R. Cartwright appointed director of the Seattle Art Museum.
*Art Institute of Chicago director James Cuno hopes to initiate massive fundraising drive for free Museum admission.
*No Boys Allowed: yearlong exhibition at the Pompidou Center is for women-only.
*Scope Basil is only three weeks ago away, and still ‘aint got no permit.
*”I spent a year asking why the contemporary art bubble was the biggest, bubbliest bubble of them all”:Â Ben Lewis’ The Great Contemporary Art Bubble preview clip on YouTube ( ART21’s Ben Street has a funny post on the film too).
*Speaking of Twitter, it could be coming to a t.v. near you.
*Beautiful/Decay needs YOU to help pick the theme for its next limited-edition publication. Winner gets a copy of the book. For free!