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2016 in review: The power of placemaking

2016: The Power of Placemaking from Big Car Collaborative on Vimeo.

A look back at a very exciting year of art, placemaking, and creative community building by the team at Big Car Collaborative in Indianapolis. Video by staff videographer Kurt Nettleton. Thank you to everyone who participated in and supported our work this year!

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A Meditation on “Clarity as Concept: A Poet’s Perspective” by Carl Pope

A Meditation on “Clarity as Concept: A Poet’s Perspective” by Carl Pope

In the early 1970’s, I was a curious adolescent unable to initially grasp the depths and dimensions of Mari Evans’ writings. Whenever Ms. Evans made a public appearance, I would attend and find myself caught up in the palpable excitement of being in her presence without expectation of how her words…how her perspective…would affect my thinking. For me, Mari Evans was a local hero not unlike Etheridge Knight, Gwendolyn Brooks, Wes Montgomery, J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Muhammad Ali. They were Black literary, artistic, and socio-political trailblazers at a time during my formative years when Indianapolis was a major hotspot for Black cultural innovation and production. I was a witness to an explosion of Black creativity in Indianapolis in the 1970’s that left me with strong impressions which activated my imagination in ways not detected by my conscious awareness. Some of those impressions came into sharp focus in 2015 when I met Garrett Hongo; an acclaimed poet and close friend of Etheridge Knight, who helped me to understand my connection to the ideas of the Black Arts Movement. But it was not until Shauta Marsh and Jim Walker of Big Car…having asked me to create a text-based installation about Mari Evans’ Book “Clarity as Concept: A Poet’s Perspective”… that I fully realized that my primary concerns as a socially engaged artist were deeply informed by my initial experiences of Mari Evans and the Black Arts Movement in Indianapolis.

After reading the first two pages in the preface of “Clarity as Concept”, I received a mind-flash about the roots of my artistic development and cultural heritage…an epiphany that ignited my passion for creating art as a practice to acquire greater discernment and oneness about myself and society…transforming my intuition into the visible and the tangible.

Early into reading, I began to perceive “Clarity as Concept” as transference of Evans’ insights melding with my own. The decision to replicate this transmission of creative vitality was inspired by Evans’ personal journey. She writes, “Who I am is central to how I write and what I write; and I am the continuation of my father’s passage.”  The continuation of this ancestral passage is both personal and collective; thus, becoming a matter of prime importance as individuals and communities face mounting dilemmas, fluctuating responsibilities, and narrowing choices at local, national, and global levels.

“Go with me, as we put our collective minds, demystified, to the task of configuring ways to move away from our psychological bondage and out of our political and economic subordination.”

-Mari Evans-

Evans penetrating questions spin an intricate web of interconnected and coherent reflections in which she urges the reader to consider. Her questions inspire readers to negotiate the terrain of personal and collective history with the imagination so that fragments of memory and perceptions converge to weave threads of illumination throughout one’s inner and outer life. With my text installation, “A Reading of Mari Evans’ Book, Clarity as Concept: A Poet’s Perspective” I culled from an extensive range of questions and passages in her book to stimulate prolific brainstorming about one’s self and his/her relationship or position in Western society and the unprecedented shifts now occurring in the Anthropocene…the present epoch of human history when individual and collective choices and actions permanently alter the entire system of the Earth’s biosphere.

Mari Evans’ meditations about using language to accurately define and heal the pervasive lack of critical thinking; as well as, the generational curse of colonialism are major themes in “Clarity as Concept”. Evans defines these conditions as Ethos…”the environmental laboratory within which creativity, whether positive or negative roots and is, or is not nurtured.” Mari Evans’ definition of Ethos transforms her inquiry and my text installation into an invitation to engage in an educational and experiential process for gaining clarity. But the choice to enter the text and vigorously explore and digest it requires mindfulness and self honesty. How the readers choose to act in response to the text may reflect much about their views and feelings about the current state of world affairs or the relevance of Ethos in their lives. On page 42, Evans examines the underlying issues important in making choices by stating:

“People do what they want most to do. Even, when what they choose to do is not what they want to do, they are doing what they want most to do. It is a mean paradox; really convoluted. But that is the bottom line. People often forego pleasure for pain; even when they desperately want the pleasure, it is the pain they choose despite the quality of hurt that is implicit. The pain is, in the final analysis, what they want. And there is nothing masochistic in this choice of pain over pleasure that accompanies the rejection of pleasure. The choice is voluntary and carries with it the pleasure which is inherent in the exercise of free will. Thus, the choice of pain delivers pleasure since the choice itself was willed not imposed.”

Now more than ever…we are being confronted to wake up to the devastating results of our seemingly inconsequential choices of convention. Those choices manifest as a ubiquitous wall of complacency around the Western hierarchical social structure; as well as a deployment of its authority in the form modernism. We are left to face unbridled narcissism, pathological ambition(s) for privilege, widespread solipsism syndrome replete with full spectrum dominance and perpetual war.

“Innovation, breakthrough, experimental art forms- what more natural forum for the Black artist?”

-Mari Evans-

The text installation “A Reading of Mari Evans’ Book “Clarity as Concept: A Poet’s Perspective” consists of an ever expanding regenerative information field of questions and ideas; an incomplete and experimental narrative which encourages self-determination in the Ethos through the use of the human imagination. This artwork is a reformation of Evans’ passages as a physical interactive space; whereby reading becomes collaboration and as a result, the audience contributes to the evolution of the text into uncharted territory. The synergetic legacy of Black cultural production since the Harlem Renaissance; at its core, is a continuously shifting colloquium seeking to manifest new or unrecognized art forms as a declaration of one’s sovereignty and an act of self-love as a foundation for loving others and the Earth.  Black musicians worked in countless jam sessions and performances to invent riffs, rhythms, and harmonic theories to forge new styles and directions in every genre of today’s popular music. Lyrical riffs in Black modernist literature were also unpacked in a joint approach as creativity reached a fevered pitch in the work of Ishmael Reed and Toni Morrison; who created seminal works that helped define the canon of postmodern literature. In fact, Black musicians also made indelible contributions to the canon of postmodernism with breakthroughs in interdisciplinary practices with installation art, performance, dance, poetry, and music in the formation of Disco, Hip Hop, House music, Afrofuturism, and Afro Punk. The intersection where Black Modernism, the Black Arts Movement, and a post modernity of peace meet…is where Mari Evans’, her audience, and I make the intangible…tangible and visible. And it is at this intersection that something previously unperceivable is glimpsed…a constant uninterrupted filament of evolving complimentary harmonious collaboration from the past as memory takes shape in the now…extending itself just beyond the farthest reaches of the human imagination into the future. Mari Evans takes us “there” to the priceless treasure of our creative inheritance which is an extraordinary revelation that springs from clarity.

 

For Mari:

“…you championed me

from a place of unseen being

and through that moment

I become revealed

illuminated 

(and now)

uplifted

to a place of honor

among the living.”

 

K.R.Pope©Copyright 2015

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Many thanks go to Kerry James Marshall, Dawoud Bey, Gillian Johns, Professor of English and Africana Studies at Oberlin College, Garrett Hongo, Professor of Creative Writing at The University of Oregon, Alondra Nelson, Dean of Social Science and Professor of Sociology at Columbia University, Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture and Communications at New York University, Kathleen Wilson, Professor of History at University of New York at Stony Brook,
Jonathan Katz, Director of LBGTQ Studies at The University of New York at Buffalo, Daniel Monk, Director of Peace and Conflict Studies at Colgate University, Deborah Kass, Carole Ann Klonarides, Shana Berger, Karen Pope, The Montalvo Arts Center and Art Matters Foundation for providing me with the guidance and support that informed my approach to Mari Evans work.

About Carl Pope: Carl Pope’s artistic practice is committed to the idea of art as a catalyst for individual and collective transformation(s). His multi-media installations were exhibited at prestigious venues including: The Museum of Modern Art and The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago; receiving generous support from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Lilly Endowment, The National Endowment for the Arts, and The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation. The installations gained national and international exposure with “New Photography 6” at the Museum of Modern Art and “Black Male” at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Since 1990, Pope’s methodology with public art evolved into ongoing collaborative efforts with artists and communities…producing large-scale public art inventions that stimulate public dialogue and/or community revitalization. Excursions into his internal landscape produced the video/text installation “Palimpsest” commissioned by the Wadsworth Atheneum; with funds from The Warhol and Lannan Foundations, was included in the Whitney Biennial 2000. The essay of letterpress posters: “The Bad Air Smelled of Roses” and his recent billboard campaigns continue his ongoing exploration into public and inner space.

“Carl Pope’s work is at once a form of geography, re-imagining and imaging the forgotten histories, people and places in America, and a new psychology, creating a state of mind capable of sustaining the shocks of the present. It’s soul food for the mind, in sharp contrast to the quick hit of consumer pleasure that dominates the art market, and it’s all the more important for that.”–Nicholas Mirzoeff, Professor of Media, Culture, and Communications, NYU

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Coyotes, movies and myths: Conversation with Scott Hocking

Coyotes, movies and myths: Conversation with Scott Hocking

(b. 1975, lives and work in Detroit)

By Laura Mott, Curator of Contemporary Art and Design, Cranbrook Art Museum

The coyotes roaming Detroit fascinate artist Scott Hocking, it is an animal that is adaptable and gregarious, yet also solitary and rejects human domestication. Hocking encounters them on his sojourns through the parts of the city where post-industrial urban landscape is in the process of being reclaimed by nature. He creates photographs, sculpture, and assemblages in these places of transition; likewise, he is a coyote-like roamer in pursuit of evidence and archeological specimens created by the modern human species.  The coyote is a frequent character in the folklore of the Western World going back to Mesoamerican cosmology—a picaresque figure that has the ability to assume both human and animal form. It is easy to conjure such a fantastical character around Hocking, because he is more of a scavenger than flâneur, and his work is more mythology than documentary.

The pairing of man versus nature is a trope used throughout the history of literature and film; and the metaphor is often used as a device to grapple with existential constructs like the sublime.  When I began to think about interviewing Scott Hocking, defining elements of his practice—his artistic character, the landscape, the mythologies, the dramatic visuals—resonated as having a distinctive cinematic quality with the overtures of grand storytelling. In addition, the work he creates is never static in the present, even if it is a printed photograph. There is a suggested narrative of a before and an after, whether that be a remnant of an event or the anticipation of one. Therefore, in preparation of the following interview, I asked him to watch three movies that had elements relatable or tangential to his process, aesthetics, and work: The Night of the Hunter (1955), Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), and The Five Obstructions (2003). In brief summation, The Night of the Hunter is a black and white noir film directed by Charles Laughton, and stars Robert Mitchum as a fanatical preacher/ serial killer that chases two children for weeks along a rural landscape.   Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a science fiction film by Steven Spielberg in which the protagonist’s hysteria is beset upon him due to an encounter with a UFO, resulting in him leaving earth with the aliens. The Five Obstructions is a documentary by Lars Van Trier in which he challenges his mentor, Danish filmmaker Juergen Leth, to remake his film The Perfect Human (1967) five times under increasingly difficult creative restrictions and challenges.

After both of us watched these films, we met to discuss. This interview took place on July 4, 2016, in Scott Hocking’s studio during a particularly hot summer in Detroit.

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Scott Hocking: My first reaction to the list of films was it is fantastic you selected The Night of the Hunter; it’s one of my all time favorites.

Laura Mott: I think it is essential viewing for artists and filmmakers. The Night of the Hunter is a film in which the narrative is greatly amplified through the director’s use of space and light. I thought we could begin our discussion surrounding the drama of night, because I know it is an important time for your process and explorations of Detroit. My dominant memory of The Night of The Hunter was Robert Mitchum’s silhouette slowly moving across the stark, empty landscape of night: an image that spoke to the equivalency often made between desolation and danger. The lighting of the film in particular made me think about your photographs. I thought you might want to talk about the night as a resource.

SH: When I photograph at night, it’s an extension of me being a kid. Like those kids in [The Night of the Hunter] who escape in the middle of the night, I would sneak out in the night. Some of my early memories when I was living in Redford [Michigan] were walking down the railroad tracks at night. Even to this day the railroad tracks are this hidden pathway that crisscrosses the country, the globe really. When you walk the railroad tracks you are removed from the rest of life. You see nature in a different way, you see things hidden in the background.

It occurred to me I needed to document these experiences, the same way it occurred to me to document the ways I work in abandoned buildings. Making artwork with the materials I find from these places, doesn’t translate the feeling of being there, the photographs have become a little bit closer. Sometimes I’m alone for hours in a desolate section of the city, places I don’t think many people see. I enjoy the time I spend just getting one shot, the quietude.

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Davison Fog Mound, from Detroit Nights, 2007-2016

SH: (continued): I realized the projects I’m doing in Detroit, whether it be a photo series of Detroit at night, aging signs or graffiti, or making installations in places long ruined or desolated, I realized there is a time limit. I won’t be able to do them any longer, the city is changing—even the night photos. For a long time the night photography had a lot to do with the randomness of the street lights, the ambient light situations of Detroit were so unpredictable and you’d find an area that was incredibly desolate, but it would have one working lamp lighting nothing. Or there would be neighborhoods that would be bustling but all the streetlights would be broken. But that has all changed. The city has experienced a huge amount of infrastructure improvements, where all the public lighting has been upgraded to LEDs. They are on every street, even the abandoned ones.

LM: There is another aspect of The Night of the Hunter I wanted to discuss—the fanaticism. The killer’s fanatic beliefs are a driving force for much of the story. This tradition of storytelling can be the impetus and the drive for so many real life actions, good and evil. In your own work you take up such topics, like your project The End of The World (2012), which is a stacked collection of over 200 books about the apocalypse and destruction mythologies. And also there is your recent epic installation, The Celestial Ship of the North (2015), in which you painstakingly inverted an old barn into an ark. I have this idea that you find productive creative value in the fanatic heart and mind.

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The End of the World, 2012

SH: [Robert Mitchum’s character] could woo the fanatical masses. The people believed he was channeling the word of God. Something he said reminded me of a book I picked up years ago that lead to the theme you are mentioning called Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.

LM: Wow, good title.

SH: What a great title right? The book was about events throughout history that led to mass hysteria. The End of The World project is about how many times throughout history humans have thought they could figure out how the world would end, and the different forms of these predictions from mythology, to religion, to spirituality, to scientific or pseudoscientific ideas of the sun burning out or a comet hitting the earth. All of these things are examples of humans trying to understand what the hell we are doing on earth and whether this is real or not. The meaning of life, where do we come from, where do we go, what happened before our life, what happens after we die—all of these fundamental questions and attempts at answers.

Right now, logic, reason and scientific methods lead us to believe certain things about where we come from, where we are going; but, I still feel like even that is guessing. I am fascinated by the way humans try to understand what cannot be understood, with stories, with equations. And I am fascinated by archetypes, the way people respond to imagery that has existed forever and that we all interpret in our own way, through our own filters. So if I make something that resembles an ark, that word resonates with people for different reasons. People would come up to me while I was building the ark and shout up to me things like, “Oh you’re like Noah up there,” but they were also kind of testing to see what my response would be. Other people had the reaction, “Jesus, Scott sure is really doing a lot of biblical themed artworks lately, what’s going on there?”

31_IMG_2600_8094Celestial Ship of the North (Emergency Ark), aka the Barnboat, 2015

LM: My thinking is the way your photographs capture the feeling of being in those desolate places, the large-scale installations convey the overwhelming task of tackling human existence. The excess of material, the scale, and the space—the decisions you make as an artist respects the size of the question. Your ark, like Noah’s ark, is something to behold.

SH:  In Detroit, the amount of information in the massive, old industrial buildings is incredibly overwhelming – the layers of paint, the layers of history, the layers of material, and the way nature had infiltrated – has made it even more complex. All of your senses are awake. All of your senses become aware because of the unknown. The ark is effective in the sense that driving around the areas in rural Midwestern America, it’s not unusual to come across farms or barns, but the ark makes you do a double take. If you go into an abandoned building and you find a pyramid or an egg built out of material found in there, your reaction might be, “Who did that? Where did they come from?” The what-the-fuck-moment for me is important, but it also comes from my internal desire to find those in my life, to feel like I’ve discovered something unknown.

LM: In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the main character builds a sculptural landscape in his living room because of subliminal communication with aliens, and it struck me as conceivable—since you work in abandoned spaces—that you would create something like that in a place that might previously been someone’s living room.

SH: Close Encounters, I did kind of think to myself, “Oh she’s sending me this because she thinks I’m that crazy guy!” (laughs) I do sometimes get ideas through dreams. If I have a moment of clarity and it leads to an idea, even if I don’t understand why, I’ve learned to trust it. Projects in Detroit like The Egg in Michigan Central Train Station, the Ziggurat in Fisher Body 21, and the Garden of the Gods in the Packard Plant – in every case I had a feeling I had to do something now. And in every case I could not have done those projects afterwards, the circumstances changed, the buildings were altered, the materials gone.

LM: There are certain sculptural elements to your work that nod to an innate human desire for symmetry and the ideal object—the egg, the pyramid, the ark, the crop circle—that have a long history drawing back to ancient forms of communication.

SH: I think when I build a ruin within a ruin, or a monument within a monument or a ruin within a monument, what I’m interested in is trying to point out that the ancient idea of a monument or a ruin is no different from the contemporary. Why do we think that these things from the ancient past symbolize the people, but when we look at our contemporary ruins, we can’t think how it will be perceived in the future? Why do we separate ourselves? How are we any different? I don’t think we are; I think there are cycles. We speak different languages, we have different tools, we have different knowledge, but I think the cycles that humans go through are the same all living things go through. It’s a repetitive circumstance, and to that point I think we repeat the same mistakes as older civilizations. Humanity has a very short-term memory.

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Lot Circles, 2014

LM: The idea of how future archeologists will see us is a fascinating aspect of your work. However, to take us back to the present, there are also people from our current moment in time who unexpectedly encounter your works left in public or abandoned spaces. It is a very different discovery for someone who does not encounter them within the art context.

SH: My favorite stories involve people who have nothing to do with the art world, especially the people who are regarded as criminals, like scrappers. My best scrapper story involves the pyramid built in the Fisher Body. The pyramid was built with these wood blocks, which have no scrap value, in fact, they are soaked with creosote, which is a carcinogen, and eventually the EPA cleaned out the whole building—destroying the pyramid. While I was working there was a whole crew of scrappers who had gas-powered saws. They were professionals. They would drive their trucks into the building, hide them, go up onto the different floors, climb up ladders, and saw down these giant, metal galvanized pipes. So they are in the building cutting them down, and suddenly it goes silent. I asked one of the scrappers, “What is happening, why did you guys all stop working?” They are on their walkie talkies, and he said, “The city of Detroit is currently outside re-fencing the building.” I Iook outside and there is a 16-foot fence being rolled up around the building. I said, “I’m going to get out of here,” but they said they were cool and going to stay. So I snuck out the side door, went home. The next day I came back and the fence was gone. The scrappers waited for the city to fence off the whole building, waited for the city to leave, and then they took the fence too.

So I come in one day and all of the pipes are gone, including the pipes that ran right over the top of the pyramid. These pipes were probably 8 inches in diameter, maybe 10 feet long, maybe 300 pounds each. The pyramid was untouched. So these guys, who didn’t give a shit about what they were destroying in these buildings, decided to somehow cut down the pipes over my pyramid without it touching it. I had made enough of a connection with them. I don’t even know how they did it. These are the moments that really make it interesting for me.

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Ziggurat, East, Summer II, from Ziggurat and Fisher Body 21, 2007-2009

LM: I selected The Five Obstructions, because it speaks so well to the process of artistic creation. My impression is that Lars von Trier makes the film as a way to get his mentor Juergen Leth out of his depression by essentially challenging his friend to get behind the camera and go to different parts of the world. It captures how artists work through the struggle of creative production and find moments that are spectacular.

SH: So, I’m going to go back first to Juergen Leth’s original film “The Perfect Human”. When you watch the whole thing, some of the important parts are these mundane routines and patterns that the human does, including joy and despair. He is with this woman, in a fetal position in bed—instead of sex, he is crying and she’s consoling him. It shows them eating together, but then it shows him alone, eating and murmuring, “Why is joy always so fleeting?” Eventually, he says, “Why did she leave me?” and he repeats this cycle of moving into despair, only to wrap it up by saying, “This is really a good meal.” Then it ends with the beginning of a new cycle.

In my projects, I move through cycles. I move through periods of confidence and moments of doubt. I’ve realized that it’s all about understanding and navigating obstacles—that’s all it is—you are always navigating. I’m no masochist, I’m not Lars von Trier, but I do decide to build ridiculously labor intensive, time-consuming sculptures in abandoned buildings that might take a year. The barn project was so labor intensive that I got tendonitis in both arms. Then eventually I lost feeling in both arms. I couldn’t sleep. I had to sleep sitting up in a chair. But, I know it’s a cycle, I know I’ll get through it. The end object is not the most important thing; it is the process and the meditation of working.

LM: I’m interested in your own process when you venture to new cities and situations, like how did you approach a city like Indianapolis for the exhibition at the Tube Factory? What specific histories, materials, or discoveries of the city led to the creation of this installation?

SH: I came out to Indianapolis a couple of times to scout and talk about ideas. The last visit was in January, and Shauta Marsh (the curator at The Tube Factory) had lined up a few specific sites, with the help of Kipp Normand, an artist and walking encyclopedia of Indianapolis history.  Kipp spent his childhood in Detroit, and we have a similar interest in old junk.  They showed me a massive former RCA plant first, and it immediately grabbed me.

I began researching the RCA building’s history. I learned that the buildings I was working in (the only ones left standing) were the oldest parts of the plant, and the division where record albums were pressed.  Apparently, a lot of Elvis records were pressed there, and they could often be heard playing throughout the factory.  Another interesting story was that of the “anechoic room”: A sound proof room that was lined floor to ceiling with wedges of foam that kind of pyramid-ed out from the walls / ceiling / floor.  There was a floating audio system in the center, suspended by wires, and a floating platform that one would walk out on to perform audio tests. The whole scene felt very sci-fi, and led me to believe that the giant Styrofoam wedges onsite were the right materials to use.  In general, from the surroundings of the RCA plant and other industrials neighborhoods, to the Tube Factory compound complete with Bean Creek (a virtual wild kingdom of Indiana wildlife), my explorations of Indianapolis have all fed into the installation.

The RCA history was interesting enough, but the building was last used as a recycling plant, and was filled with now abandoned, un-recycled waste: plastic, paper, foam—thousands of objects.  There were huge piles of military grade plastic cases, with ominous stencils: “laser firing simulator system,” “interrogation kit,” “casualty evacuation kit,” “tank weapon gunnery simulation system”. There were pallets of clothes and books (including dozens of old hymnals); plastic pill and dish soap bottles; giant fragments of signage from McDonald’s, Steel City, Family Dollar, Wendy’s; and a monster stack of Styrofoam slabs and wedges, melted and distorted from some failed arson attempts.  Once I arrived for installation, I spent about a week documenting and gathering materials onsite, and then another week installing at the Tube Factory.

I was even able to salvage portions of the RCA / Victor logo, painted on an old sheetrock wall, one of the few objects connected to the building’s original history.  The resulting installation used the main gallery as a kind of future ceremonial site. I kept thinking about that burnt Styrofoam mountain as some kind of dystopian temple or future glacier, the melted areas almost look and feel like glass.  I have been reading a lot of Ballard, and we had talked about Huxley, and the Zamyatin‘s precursor to them all, “WE,” and I think it all combined in my head and melded into another mythological future archaeology (like usual).  “WE” specifically talks about the glass wall that separates nature from the humans – and they just see the green color through the glass, the Green Wall.  The RCA building had this exact scenario: green plastic skylights illuminating all of the manmade heaps of plastic, foam, and military waste – all kind of tranquilly stagnant -potentially sitting there forever.

_MG_5576Former RCA plant, Indianapolis, 2016

LM: When I asked Shauta why she was interested in bringing you to Indianapolis, she brought up that your work makes us realize we are surrounded by ephemera, which can be an inconvenient idea to most people. And your photography practice, she likened it to Roland Barthes’ notion that photography is a way to resurrect a person or a place from the dead. I thought this could be an interesting place to end and to ask you to think about the longevity and timeline of your works, particularly those with unpredictable futures.

SH: Someone just asked me about photography the other day, because in a lecture I talked about the ephemeral, the fleeting quality of the sculptures built on site—everything gets destroyed by man or by nature eventually—and the only thing that really lives on are the images. And, I related my belief that it’s more important to embrace the process than it is to embrace the end result, the object. The barn boat, which is technically a permanent project, was built out of a barn which was decaying, and it’s just reformatted in a different shape but it’s still decaying, it’s still subject to the same elements and it will disappear.

This topic comes up a lot in the work where I create situations where I’m playing with obscure objects of worship. I’m curious how future people will perceive us. Will they revere the things we leave behind? Will they see us as the horrible savages of the past who did the dumbest things? It’s kind of comical to think they might revere and find the things we leave behind as talismanic, especially if there are things that would lead to our own destruction. Our trash, all the things we create now that don’t get destroyed over thousands of years, plastics, things like that, I’m really curious to know how those things will be perceived, what they will be used for.

LM: The world might be very similar to the way it is now, lots of faults, lots of cycles, and good ideas and bad ideas.

SH: That’s the thing, it all comes back to this idea that the way I’m thinking now is not exceptional; this is the way people were thinking 500 years ago, this is the way people were thinking 1000 years ago. They were looking around and saying, “The world is gonna end if we don’t stop doing what we are doing.”

This is not new thinking, you know the phrase—the more things change, the more things stay the same. But there is a French way to say that, and it’s a lot cooler.

—————————–

Scott Hocking has exhibited internationally, including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Cranbrook Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, the University of Michigan, the Smart Museum of Art, the School of the Art Institute Chicago, Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts Museum, the Mattress Factory Art Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, the Kunst-Werke Institute, the Van Abbemuseum, and Kunsthalle Wien. He was recently awarded a Kresge Artist Fellowship, and is represented by Susanne Hilberry Gallery.

Laura Mott joined Cranbrook Art Museum as the Curator of Contemporary Art and Design in November 2013 following an active career as a curator, writer, and lecturer in both the United States and Europe. Previously, she has held various curatorial positions at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden, Gothenburg Konsthall, IASPIS in Stockholm, Mission 17 in San Francisco, and The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, where she worked on the 2002 Biennial exhibition and publication. She received her MA in Curatorial Studies at Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, and BFA and BA in Fine Arts and Art History from the University of Texas. Mott was a faculty lecturer at the Valand Academy of Art at University of Gothenburg from 2009-2013.

Made possible by a grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

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Interview: Books on the Block

Interview: Books on the Block

Big Car staffer Channie Jones chatted recently with Michael Stafford, owner of the used bookstore Books Unlimited near Tube Factory and across the street from Listen Hear, where we’re hosting a temporary Spanish-language used book store. Channie’s questions are in bold.

What is the family history of your book store? Dad started the bookstore 40 years ago. The bookstore has always been he and I. We changed locations once four and a half years ago. The building used to be on 922 E. Washington Street. The little, itty-bitty cinder block building sitting by itself across from Hardee’s. Our building got bought out by Angie’s List so we had to move. My dad then found then found this property in Garfield Park.

What items do you have available for customers? I’ve had a little different interest than my dad. I’m into comic books but it’s majority a book store. Here I have my knick knacks, electronics, movies, comic books and books. It has a lot of variety but it is a bookstore. I always do 20 percent off if you by over $30 worth of books. Sunday is the end of the annual monthly sale. It’s half-off sale of $20 or more book purchases. I’m cheap and always fair. Sometimes the cost is zero depending on the customer’s needs. I just try to be fair to people.

How do you determine your reading selection? How do you curate window display? It’s quality first, then after that, there are no guidelines. How I look at my store is an open door policy. I look at the needs of my customers at the time. If there’s a popular genre of books, comic books or movies at the time I try to have that available for customers.

Two weeks ago when the antique road show was in town one of the book appraisers came by the shop. We talked and traded stories for two hours. He left with a big stack of books, including a book about Pittsburgh industry. He found something here about his hometown in Pittsburgh that he really liked. He said It was his favorite book.

How long have you worked within the comic book and bookstore industry? I’ve worked in a variety of IT positions but I ended up back here working in a bookstore. First time I ever helped my dad I was 20. I ran a comic book store for over 10 years. I’ve had no formal training or schooling. I’ve been managing a book store for over 15 years. I don’t view my position as a bookstore manager. I don’t consider this a store. It’s a shop. It’s my family.

My comic book store was called Comics Unlimited. It was a little shop in Speedway by the race track. It was so organized and perfect. When I started the store, it was comic books and cards and later grew until I had over 140,000 comic books. I keep comic books around because it’s my comfort zone. I know comic books very well. I’ve been reading them since I was 10 years old.

How has your bookstore impacted the neighborhood? I’m very humble about it. I don’t brag. It’s just a good place to go. There’s not many places to hang out in in Garfield Park. No businesses have really been in this neighborhood. I’ve had people come from all over the city and out of state to visit the bookstore.

I’ve had people for years that when they would be in town they would come to visit. I been in this neighborhood for 15 years. I was here in Garfield Park on Shelby Street as a starting corner spot. I’d like Big Car to help out the neighborhood. There has to be something here for the people. It’s a good start to a change that Big Car is doing.

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BIKE FEST 2016

BIKE FEST 2016

Gear up for an exciting FREE bike crawl, Indy!
BIKE ALONG OR COME TO JUST ONE

This wild ride will take us along some of our city’s finest bicycle greenways to art and cultural destinations. This full day of activities includes BMX STUNTS, PUBLIC ART, OUTDOOR FILM SCREENINGS, FOOD and more! All events are FREE to the public so make a day of it!

LAUNCH: Indianapolis Museum of Art- Art and Nature Park from 11:00 – 2:00. 4000 Michigan Rd. Solstice activities, Bike activities, Food trucks, Local Music, Art Swap. extra bicycle parking will be available.

Stop1: Herron Fine Arts Center TIME 2:30 – 3:30. 135 N Pennsylvania St. Art gallery, Bicycle short film screening, fun design activity.

Stop 2: BMX TRICKS at St. Anthony Festival TIME 4:00 – 5:00. 2425 W Michigan St

Stop 3: White River Trail TIME 5:30 – 7:15. 1015 Kentucky Ave. Bombastic activities and outdoor public sculpture

FINALE: PEE WEE’s BIG ADVENTURE at Pleasant Curve Amphitheater ARRIVAL TIME 8:00, MOVIE STARTS 9:00.
Free Public Screening of PeeWee’s Big Adventure. Food Trucks

IndyCog will lead the night ride back to IMA. Freewheelin’ will provide limited vehicle transport back to IMA.
More Info at Bigcar.org

Partners: Big Car Collaborative, Reconnecting to Our Waterways,StreamLines, IndyCog, Bicycle Garage Indy, Freewheelin’ Community Bikes, Knozone, Saint Anthony Catholic Church Indianapolis

Register at IndyCog.org/2016bikefest

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Bike Fest Gears Up for an Exciting Day of Art, Nature, and Cycling

Bike Fest Gears Up for an Exciting Day of Art, Nature, and Cycling

People of all ages will be able to experience the arts, culture, and nature of Indianapolis by bike with the free, citywide Bike Fest on June 18. As part of Big Car Collaborative’s partnership with Reconnecting to Our Waterways, the multi­stop cycle crawl — which involves a variety of other partners — features both the White River and Pleasant Run Greenway Trails. Participants are invited to spend the afternoon biking to several different free events that range from BMX tricks to an outdoor screening of “Pee­Wee’s Big Adventure.” People may also choose to visit one or two individual events or join in the festivities at any point in the day.

Through a partnership with Reconnecting to Our Waterways (ROW) and a grant from the Kresge Foundation, Big Car Collaborative has spent the past year initiating creative placemaking activities along Indianapolis waterways and within their surrounding communities. Capitalizing on the success of previous projects, creative placemaker Alan Goffinski and Butler University community organizer Molly Trueblood are looking to encourage Hoosier riders to look at their city in a more creative, engaging way. This scenic trip along the White River and Pleasant Run Greenway will take riders to great cultural destinations within the heart of Indianapolis. Riders will experience the camaraderie of the Indy cycling community while taking in the beauty and culture that is at the core of our city.
Organizer and Creative Placemaker Alan Goffinski explains, “Bicycling is a great way to explore the city. The goal of Bike Fest is to create a unique opportunity to experience some great cultural assets and vibrant neighborhoods in Indianapolis.”

Partners include: Big Car Collaborative, Reconnecting to Our Waterways, StreamLines, Sustain Indy, IndyCog, Freewheelin’ Community Bikes, Knozone, Saint Anthony Catholic Church.

SCHEDULE
Launch: At the Indianapolis Museum of Art, Art and Nature Park (4000 Michigan Rd.) 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. IMA Summer Solstice activities, bike activities, food trucks, local music, art swap. extra bicycle parking available.
Stop 1: Herron Fine Arts Center (135 N Pennsylvania St.) 2:30­3:30 p.m. Art gallery, bicycle short film screening, fun design activity.
Stop 2: St. Anthony Crossroads of The Americas Festival (2425 W Michigan St.). 4­5 p.m. Bike Stunts by Wonder Wheels BMX.
Stop 3: White River Trail (1015 Kentucky Ave.) 5:30­7:15 p.m. Bombastic activities and outdoor public sculpture.
FINALE: Pleasant Curve Amphitheater (990 E Pleasant Run Pkwy S Dr). 8 p.m. with film starting at 9 p.m. “Pee­Wee’s Big Adventure” outdoor screening and food trucks.
Intrepid riders will join IndyCog for the night ride back to IMA. Freewheelin’ Community Bikes will also provide limited vehicle transport back to IMA. More Info can be found here.
Register at I​ndyCog.org/2016bikefest

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Places For People- Southeast Side Roadway Series

Places For People- Southeast Side Roadway Series

Places For People- Southeast Side Roadway Series

Scheming for a More Vibrant and Inclusive Community

All events at: Tube Factory Artspace 1125 Cruft Street, Indianapolis In 46203

The Southeast Side of Indianapolis is first and foremost a neighborhood and a community of people.  However, when we look at the roadways, much of the infrastructure is oriented towards prioritizing car commuters. Residents, pedestrians, and cyclists seem largely excluded from the equation. What does it look like to imagine our roadways as something more? How can we include places for people to exist and thrive alongside our neighborhood thoroughfares? Capitalizing on the momentum of previous successful placemaking initiatives, we will look for solutions to these questions and more. We will incorporate the perspective and expertise of visiting international artist Peter Gibson into our discussion and actions.

This series is presented as part of Big Car Collaborative’s placemaking initiative with Reconnecting to our Waterways. By using methods gleaned from Spark: Monument Circle and the Rethinking Our Streets project with DPW in Mapleton-Fall Creek, we will be envisioning and enacting positive steps toward a more vibrant and inclusive community.

Big Car Creative Placemaker Alan Goffinski explains, “Indianapolis has a lot of extremely talented artists but there hasn’t been much creativity happening on the roadways in our neighborhoods. As “The Crossroads of America” I’m excited to see artists and neighborhoods in Indy embrace roadway art as a means of building community and encouraging an inclusive, pedestrian-friendly neighborhood, starting on the Southeast side.”

Come out to engage other artist, residents, and thinkers in some forward-thinking possibilities for the Southeast Side at this Places For People Southeast Side Roadway Series.

_________

Southeast Side Roadway Workshop: Thursday, June 2, 6:00-8:00pm

Event Page

Visit Event on Facebook

This workshop will take place in anticipation of the arrival of international artist Peter Gibson (roadsworth.com) to Indianapolis. We will engage the following topics and opportunities for Southeast communities:

  1. Roadway art along Pleasant Run
    1. Creating visual interest to reclaim public space
    2. Locating target areas
    3. Introduction to the work of Peter Gibson (roadsworth.com)
  2. Reclaiming Shelby Street
    1. How do we make Shelby Street more pedestrian friendly?
    2. How do we address traffic volume/speed concerns?
  3. Walkability and Bikability Signage for Pleasant Run and SE Neighborhoods
    1. Identifying pedestrian friendly assets
    2. Improving awareness of assets
    3. Mapping wayfinding sign locations
  4. Create Places For People Neighborhood Initiative
    1. Identify bike/walkability goals for the Southeast side
    2. Develop a plan for engaging residents

 

“Roadsworth” Peter Gibson Artist Lunch Talk- Friday, June 10, 12:00pm

Event Page

Visit Event on Facebook

Gibson will give a lunchtime presentation of his work at the Tube Factory Artspace on Friday, June 10 at 12:00pm and will discuss his process and intentions for the street painting workshop that will be held the following day. A light lunch will be provided. Registration is required.

 

Street Painting Workshop Saturday, June 11, 12:00-5:00pm

Event Page

Visit Event on Facebook

Local artists are invited to take part in this hands-on learning experience. International street artist Peter Gibson will share insights into his creative process and techniques for pavement painting.

 

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Big Car, City Market land grant from Southwest for placemaking

Big Car, City Market land grant from Southwest for placemaking

Big Car Collaborative and Indianapolis City Market — thanks to a grant from Southwest Airlines and Project for Public Spaces — are teaming up, starting this summer, to enliven the east side of downtown by connecting two primary public sites: City Market and Monument Circle. A catalytic grant, valued at $220,000 including monetary and technical support, from the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program will enable both Indianapolis City Market and Big Car Collaborative to jointly implement their plans to engage the community in reimagining these historic sites as key public spaces in the “heart” of Indianapolis.

The Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program focuses on placemaking, a movement that is revolutionizing cities around the world by boosting community participation in the creation, design, and unique programming of their public spaces. Southwest Airlines believes that public spaces, whether neighborhood parks, small plazas, or downtown squares, are the true hearts of communities, as they are the places where people gather, connect, and enjoy each other and the cities they live in. The placemaking process highlights the capacity for underperforming spaces to achieve their greatest potential by becoming vibrant, authentic, functional, and well-loved places that will benefit the community socially, culturally, and economically for years to come. The Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant will help further the momentum of placemaking and cultural programming as vital elements to activating public places in Indianapolis, especially in the city’s blossoming downtown.

By building a shared vision through placemaking that connects City Market and Monument Circle in the developing Market East District of downtown, Big Car and City Market will strengthen connections between people and place—generating a greater sense of belonging and inclusion through the co-creation of great public spaces where everyone feels welcome and comfortable.

“The generous grant from Southwest Airlines provides City Market officials the opportunity to activate a unique space that has been dormant and without a soul for far too long,” said Stevi Stoesz, City Market’s executive director. “Working with Jim Walker and his Big Car team will enable us to create an inviting and engaging space. We have a great opportunity to compliment what is planned for the Market East District by providing valuable programming and amenities to draw residents, employees and visitors alike.”

Indianapolis is among five communities that are receiving similar grants today selected out of a highly competitive pool of more than 90 applicants, from 60 cities. Each year, Southwest brings placemaking to the cities they serve through the Heart of the Community program, highlighting the importance of “place” and encouraging communities to take part in the creation of the public places they love. For Southwest, placemaking is more than building great destinations, it is about strengthening local communities at their “heart.”

“At Southwest, we connect People to what’s important in their lives,” said Linda Rutherford, Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Southwest Airlines. “That commitment extends beyond the skies and into the hearts of our communities through our investment in public spaces. We recognize the power public spaces have to transform communities and are excited to support the efforts to reimagine City Market’s East Plaza and Monument Circle in Indianapolis, a city we’ve been serving for 26 years.”

This grant will further the placemaking work that Big Car is already undertaking in the downtown Indianapolis area. In 2015, Big Car partnered with the City of Indianapolis on Spark, an 11-week test of creative programming and temporary infrastructure improvements at Monument Circle — funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Central Indiana Community Foundation. More than 45,000 visitors enjoyed flexible, public seating and upwards of 399 human-scale programming opportunities. Additionally, 85 percent of visitors reported talking to someone new during Spark. More can be found at www.circlespark.org.

“We’re very excited to be returning to downtown in partnership the City of Indianapolis and our friends at the wonderful, historic City Market,” said Jim Walker, founder and executive director of Big Car, a nonprofit collaborative of artists, designers and placemakers. “We’re thrilled to be working with Project for Public Spaces—an organization that has been a huge influence on our work, and Southwest Airlines—a company with people-focused values that we share.”

Through its multi-year partnership with Project for Public Spaces, the nation’s pioneering placemaking organization, Southwest Airlines is leveraging the power of placemaking to spur social, economic, and wellness benefits in communities across the U.S. and abroad. With the addition of the five newly announced grant recipients, the program has supported 18 innovative and transformative projects.

ABOUT INDIANAPOLIS CITY MARKET
Indianapolis City Market (ICM) feeds the community and its guests by offering distinct foods, products and services in an environment that preserves and perpetuates Central Indiana’s agricultural, architectural and cultural history. ICM was on the original Plat of the City designed by Alexander Ralston in 1821. ICM’s main Market House celebrates its 130th birthday in November of 2016. Indianapolis City Market Corporation, a nonprofit organization, is governed by a 13-member board of directors appointed by the Mayor and the City-County Council.

ABOUT BIG CAR COLLABORATIVE
An Indianapolis-based 501c3 nonprofit formed in 2004, Big Car uses creative placemaking as a catalyst to a better city. By providing and supporting unique, educational, participatory, playful and personal experiences, Big Car engages people of all ages and backgrounds in art making and creative problem-solving — inspiring them to be creative thinkers and involved, connected citizens. Our mission: We bring art to people and people to art, sparking creativity in lives to transform communities.

ABOUT SOUTHWEST AIRLINES CO.
In its 45th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 49,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest proudly operates a network of 97 destinations across the United States and seven additional countries with more than 3,900 departures a day during peak travel season.

Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation’s largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The Company operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world, the majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi providing gate-to-gate connectivity. That connectivity enables Customers to use their personal devices to view video on-demand movies and television shows, as well as more than 20 channels of free, live TV compliments of our valued Partners. Southwest created Transfarency℠, a philosophy which treats Customers honestly and fairly, and in which low fares actually stay low. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some airlines may allow free checked bags on select routes or for qualified circumstances), and there are no change fees, though fare differences might apply. In 2014, the airline proudly unveiled a bold new look: Heart. The new aircraft livery, airport experience, and logo, showcase the dedication of Southwest Employees to connect Customers with what’s important in their lives.

From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel described by the U.S. Department of Transportation as “The Southwest Effect,” a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic whenever the carrier enters new markets. With 43 consecutive years of profitability, Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier’s performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2014 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at SouthwestOneReport.com.
Book Southwest Airlines’ low fares online at Southwest.com or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.

About Project for Public Spaces
Project for Public Spaces is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Its pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs. PPS was founded in 1975 to apply and expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Since then, the organization has completed projects in over 3000 communities in 43 countries and all 50 US states and are the premier center for best practices, information and resources on Placemaking.

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2016: Wow! look at what’s next

2016: Wow! look at what’s next

At Big Car, our art projects and programs include and serve people of all ages and backgrounds. We bring art to people with the purpose of sparking creativity and, building on that, helping improve quality of life. We strive, first and foremost, to connect and collaborate with people. Everybody deserves access to culture, creativity, and opportunities to spend time together in great public spaces and places.

Who are “we”? Twelve talented and creative staff members (eight full-time, four part-time), a dedicated and active board of directors, and a loose collective of additional artists and community leaders who contribute in a variety of ways to projects and programs. In 2016, this group is teaming up with many partners — with the support of an incredible group of generous local and national donors — to bring the following artist-led, community-based cultural experiences in Indianapolis:

Neighborhood Initiatives: Our place-based initiatives enliven places, leverage collective impact, and engage people with their neighbors, long term. Our next big project will focus our creative placemaking efforts in the heart of the Garfield Park neighborhood when we open our new, permanent exhibition area, workshop, and community space, Tube Factory. A critical expansion of our work in this neighborhood will be the creation of a community of affordable homes for artists (in partnership with Riley Area Development) near The Tube. Also in 2016, our Listen Hear sound art space and retail incubator will feature art exhibits and events and serve as home to our low-power FM community- and art-focused radio station. And our mobile outreach with the Wagon of Wonders will continue on the Far Eastside in collaboration with the Indianapolis Public Library’s Bookmobile and in a new area, the Near Westside, as part of the Local Initiative Support Corporation’s comprehensive creative placemaking effort, Great Places 2020. And we’ll be working on additional exciting creative placemaking projects with Near West and LISC in the spring and summer.

Creative Placemaking: Our design and facilitation of experiences, spaces and materials enables partners, neighbors, and other members of the public to identify and maximize their assets, tell a compelling story, build identity, and connect with each other. Building with Big Car — In summer 2015, 12 teens from the TeenWorks program — a summer employment and college readiness program serving low-income youth ages 15-18 in Marion County — were mentored by Big Car teaching artists. Teens experienced creative placemaking firsthand by working together to create furniture and sculptures made from invasive honeysuckle harvested from Bean Creek, an overgrown waterway in Garfield Park. They learned how to design, build, and paint the sculptures, many of which were used in the landscape design at Spark Monument Circle. In 2016, we’ll be working with TeenWorks to pilot our youth-oriented public programs at our new Tube Factory artspace workshop and in public places in the city. We continue to work as creative placemakers with Reconnecting to Our Waterways, a series of projects and programs that activate neighborhood areas near our city’s streams and rivers. And we’re excited to team up with artist Mary Miss and a variety of partners in support of the Streamlines art and science project also near our city’s waterways.

Citywide Collective Projects: Our citywide initiatives on livability foster a culture of innovation and generate creative energy in Indianapolis. Spark Monument Circle: With funding from a NEA Our Town grant in partnership with the City of Indianapolis, Big Car led an 11-week creative placemaking project in the city’s main public plaza, Monument Circle, invigorating the space with people-centric infrastructure and daily artistic and community programming reaching 45,000 visitors. The project featured 300-plus varied small events and happenings including weekly artist-led walks, musical performances, and opportunities to get creative. Check out all the numbers presented in a fun and graphical way here. In 2016, we plan to produce Spark again in partnership with the City of Indianapolis (details coming soon). Also, we’re excited to team up, this year, with Riley Area Development to commission a mural in a prominent place honoring Indianapolis poet Mari Evans who turns 97 this year. And, working with a variety of partners, we’ll again help bring TEDxIndianapolis back for its fifth year.

Please check out our year-end report and video if you missed all of the details on our 2015 accomplishments. It was a great year!

Now, we hope you can get involved with all that’s happening this year! Contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required if you’d like to participate as an artist or volunteer. You can also help us bring art to more people by making a much-appreciated donation. And always just feel free to show up and enjoy yourself.

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Big Smiles: 2015 Year in Review

Big Smiles: 2015 Year in Review

While this year was one filled with some big transitions — including moving our home base to the Garfield Park neighborhood — we accomplished much as the city’s only full-time socially engaged art and placemaking organization. In 2015, we reached more than 30,000 people, provided part- and full-time work to more than 50 artists, sparked major investment in a long-overlooked area of the city, and helped bring vibrancy to several underutilized public places near our waterways and in the heart of Downtown.

But the most important outcome of our work was helping so many people feel happy while getting creative. We’re glad our projects brought smiles to people’s faces. We’re glad the free opportunities to celebrate and participate in art and play helped folks feel closer to each other. And we’re glad our events helped us all better appreciate this place we call home.

These important accomplishments — and the list below — were all made possible thanks to our donors and partners, board and staff, volunteers and neighbors, and artists and performers who brought their incredible ideas and energy into the mix. If you’d like to get involved, email us at email hidden; JavaScript is required. If you’d like to help by making a donation, it’s easy to do here.

2015 in video:

Here’s a chronological list of Big Car’s highlights from 2015:

At The Show Room and Listen Hear: This pair of pop-up cultural spaces in a mostly vacant retail strip in the Lafayette Square Mall area featured social practice art projects such as an instruction-based interactive show, a gallery in a bathroom, and a slate of sound art programming through May of 2015. Note: the Listen Hear sound art space concept will transfer to our new space in the Garfield Park neighborhood in early 2016.

Placemaking with Reconnecting to Our Waterways: With support via the Kresge Foundation, Big Car hired Alan Goffinski as the ROW Creative Placemaker. Alan and staff conducted placemaking workshops for artists and neighbors, and wide variety of eclectic outdoor public social events (from a flash mob in Broad Ripple, to a Day of the Dead celebration in Fountain Square, to a leaf jump along Fall Creek), drawing 450 people. Read more here.

Building with Big Car: Mentored by teaching artists, a dozen teens from the TeenWorks program experienced art and placemaking firsthand by working together to create furniture and sculptures made from invasive honeysuckle harvested from Bean Creek in the Garfield Park neighborhood, and painting sculptures to be used as part of parklet seating at Spark Monument Circle. See photos here.

Music at the Texaco: This ALL-IN Block Party drew 200 Garfield Park neighbors for live local music of many genres at a vacant former gas station, as a way of leveraging community pride, connections among neighbors, and economic development. A new, full-time commercial use of the old gas station is in the works. ALL-IN is a program of Indiana Humanities.

Garfield Alive Sculptures: Big Car collaborated with Friends of Garfield Park to develop interactive sculptures (shaped like abstracted vintage victrola record players) marking points of interest for an audio tour of the historic 128-acre park.

Wagon of Wonders: Designed collaboratively by Big Car artists on the platform of an ice fishing trailer from Minnesota, this mobile art gallery, pop-up public space, and mobile bait and tackle shop (used for Reconnecting to Our Waterways placemaking programming) features interactive art activities, a tiny library with a fold-out reading desk, and commissioned exhibits by Indianapolis artists Beatriz Vasquez and Casey Roberts. The Wagon reached 6,500 in its first six months.

Spark Monument Circle: With funding from the NEA via the City of Indianapolis, Big Car led an 11-week placemaking project in the city’s main public plaza, invigorating the space with people-centric infrastructure and daily programming reaching 22,000 residents, workers and visitors from around the world — while also testing out the city’s plans for a permanent renovation of the Circle area.

TEDxIndianapolis: Keep It Simple: For the fourth year, Big Car and our partners produced this day long-conference of ideas, at the University of Indianapolis, bringing in Australian placemaking expert David Engwicht to speak, among others. Attended by 500 people, the event included a Big Car-designed, simplicity-themed interactive exhibition at the UIndy art gallery for the entire month of October.

Southside Murals: On Indy Do Day in early October, Big Car engaged with Lilly Global Day of Service volunteers to paint two murals designed by nationally known Indianapolis artist Nat Russell, on two new Big Car buildings in the Garfield Park neighborhood, The Tube Factory artspace and Listen Hear. In November, Big Car teamed up with the Bates-Hendricks Neighborhood Association who commissioned Big Car’s Andy Fry to design and facilitate painting an underpass mural highlighting the neighborhood and its history.

5×5 Idea Competition at Tube Factory: In November, Big Car hosted its round of this arts ideas competition at Tube Factory artspace in the Garfield Park neighborhood — our first event in the building still under renovation. More than 200 people attended, hearing ideas for improving livability through art. A coalition of foundations provided the winning intergenerational team, Arts for Learning, with a $10,000 prize for their community story-gathering idea. We also gave the other presenting teams a $500 stipend.