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Efroymson grants $150,000 for Big Car’s new Tube artspace

Efroymson grants $150,000 for Big Car’s new Tube artspace

By Big Car Collaborative Staff

The Efroymson Family Fund, a Central Indiana Community Foundation Fund, recently granted Big Car $150,000 toward its art-based revitalization effort in Garfield Park on the near southside of Indianapolis. The grant will help Big Car finish and furnish The Tube Factory, its new long-term home base that featuring community gathering space, contemporary art exhibition area, and cooperative workshop. This is part of a comprehensive effort by Big Car and its partners that also includes a sound-based commercial building and artist housing.

The Efroymson Family Fund, a major supporter of the arts in Indianapolis and around the Midwest, is a longtime backer of Big Car — giving the organization its first foundation grant in 2007. The Efroymson Family Fund further backed Big Car as it grew rom an all-volunteer organization into one now employing 10 people and operating with an annual budget of $1.3 million. This $150,000 grant is the largest foundation gift ever received by Big Car, an artist-led nonprofit placemaking and community arts organization that formed in 2004.

“We so much appreciate the vision of the Efroymson Family and their confidence in us. We, and our community, are better off in so many ways because of their generosity,” said Big Car executive director Jim Walker. “(Efroymson Family Fund advisor) Jeremy Efroymson saw the potential of Big Car from the start. And we’re so grateful that he continues to see the value of artists working to make a difference in our community.”

As a longtime supporter of Big Car, Jeremy Efroymson said he’s excited to see how the organization’s work in the Garfield Park neighborhood develops. “We’re happy to be able to help Big Car with its efforts to support the revitalization of the neighborhood,” he said.

The Christel DeHaan Family Foundation also recently granted $35,000 toward the Tube Factory renovation. This boosts the amount raised, so far, to more than $800,000 of the goal of $1.5 million for the overall Garfield Park project.

Big Car plans to launch a capital campaign to raise the balance in early 2016. Other support so far includes a $466,000 Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development via the City of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development, a $50,000 grant from Lilly Endowment, a $20,000 façade grant from Indianapolis LISC, a $10,000 gift from Howard Schrott and Diana Mutz, a $10,000 gift from The Madeira Fund, a $10,000 gift from Ursula David, a $10,000 grant from The Nicholas H. Noyes Jr. Memorial Foundation, a $2,500 grant from the Arthur Jordan Foundation, as well as a major in-kind contribution from Blackline — lead architects on the Tube Factory project.

Additionally, the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership (INHP) invested $75,000 in Big Car and Riley Area Development’s housing initiative to refurbish vacant and neglected properties on Cruft Street as affordable live and work homes for artists who work with the public.

With Big Car owning its buildings, the Shelby Street corridor in the Garfield Park neighborhood is the permanent home and area of focus for the organization. Big Car works as an artist team embedded in Indianapolis neighborhoods to activate public space, engage artists and residents, and help transform the built environment as part a project called Garfield Park Creative Community. The goal is to make art and creativity integral to the culture of the Garfield Park community.

By November 2015, The Tube Fatory artspace — a former hydraulic tubing factory — will open for preview events highlighting what will be gallery and event space, a tinkering lab, and workshop for Big Car artists and others. A nearby property on Shelby Street will also open at about the same time as a sound art gallery, small retail space, and future low-power FM radio station studio known as Listen Hear. In 2016 and 2017, several vacant homes nearby will be refurbished as artist residencies in partnership with Riley Area Development Corporation.

About Big Car: An Indianapolis-based 501c3 nonprofit, Big Car uses creativity 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. Learn more at www.bigcar.org.

About The Efroymson Family Fund: The Efroymson Family Fund, a donor-advised fund of Central Indiana Community Foundation, continues a long charitable legacy in central Indiana. The Efroymson Family Fund was established in 1998 by Dan and Lori Efroymson to promote the viability of communities and to date has awarded more than $88 million in grants in central Indiana and beyond. For more information about the interests and impact of the Efroymson Family Fund visit

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7-part series to encourage placemaking in Indianapolis

7-part series to encourage placemaking in Indianapolis

By Big Car Collaborative staff

A series exploring creative approaches to revitalizing communities and improving public places runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 21 in Indianapolis, with talks and workshops led by internationally recognized experts on placemaking. The series, which is free to attend, will benefit artists, designers, planners, developers, and other community leaders across sectors in the Indianapolis area.

Big Car Collaborative — currently teaming up with The City of Indianapolis on the Spark Monument Circle creative placemaking project — is organizing the series, called Rethink Reconnect Reclaim, in partnership with Reconnecting to Our Waterways (an ongoing collective-impact effort to improve Indianapolis streams and rivers), Indianapolis LISC, The City of Indianapolis, and several others. The placemaking series will help attendees learn about successful strategies and meet leading thinkers in the fields of environmental art, creative placemaking, and tactical urbanism. In pursuit of a better city, the idea is to bring people together to reimagine public spaces and draw new energy to the city’s waterways.

“This is a great opportunity for people to learn and share ideas together,” said Big Car executive director Jim Walker. “And we’re excited to help further strengthen partnerships as placemaking becomes a key part of community development and is integrated into the practice of more artists, designers and planners in our city.”

Other partners on the series include the Indiana Arts Commission, Love Indy, Indianapolis City Market, IndyGo, Harrison Center for the Arts and City Gallery, StreamLines, White River Festival, DaVinci Pursuit, Ball State University Department of Landscape Architecture, Indianapolis Neighborhood Resource Center (INRC), TEDxIndianapolis, and Spark Monument Circle.

“As we consider the future of Indy, it’s crucial that we put in the time and effort to creatively strategize about the future of our public spaces,” said Alan Goffinski, Big Car’s Creative Placemaker for Reconnecting to Our Waterways and lead organizer of the series. “There’s a lot we can learn from experts, and from each other.”

Details about Rethink Reconnect Reclaim:

Sept. 15, at 7 p.m. Flat 12 Bierwerks, 414 Dorman St. — 21 and over
In his project “Charting Pogue’s Run”, Sean Derry set out to memorialize our native waterway with a long, blue line and iron markers mapping the stream’s 1831 path. Derry will share his perspective and experience of completing such a massive public art project.

Sept. 16, 6:30-8 p.m. Spark Welcome Trailer, Monument Circle SW Quad
A 90-minute walk lead by Artist Sean Derry will take you along the historical but hidden banks of Pogue’s Run. Navigate old-timey maps along our modern city thoroughfares. Consider the value of creativity and natural resources in our modern cities.

Sept. 23 at 7:30 p.m. The Platform, 202 E. Market St.
This discussion with environmental artist Mary Miss offers insight into her work and creative process with a focus on her StreamLines project underway now in Indianapolis.

Oct. 9 at noon. Spark Welcome Trailer, Monument Circle SW Quad
During this casual brown-bag lunch, artists involved with Spark will discuss placemaking and projects that engage people before a brief walk around the Circle led by Big Car’s Jim Walker.

Oct. 15 at noon. Spark Welcome Trailer, Monument Circle SW Quad
With Spark: Monument Circle winding to a close let’s consider the impact of creative placemaking projects. Bring your lunch as Australian public space guru David Engwicht discusses the challenges and outcomes of creatively transforming our shared spaces.

Oct. 21, 11 a.m. -1 p.m. The Hall, 202 N. Alabama St.
This workshop invites artists to conspire for the good of their communities. Creative placemaking and tactical urbanism experts from Indianapolis, Miami and Australia will assist artists in developing creative interventions for public space along our waterways. Teams will then be commissioned to put their plans to action.

Oct. 21, 6:30 p.m. The Platform, 202 E. Market St.
David Engwicht is one of the world’s most inventive thinkers and writers on creating vibrant public spaces. Gain insight from his experiments in Creative Placemaking and explore how they relate to our public spaces in Indianapolis.


SEAN DERRY: In his artistic practice, Derry explores the lived experience of a place and investigates alternative strategies for inhabiting these environments. Derry’s work includes installations, public commissions and curatorial projects. He has developed projects for the Rivers of Steel Heritage Area, Trust for Public Land, National Institute for Fitness and Sport, and Waterman Agricultural Center. He has completed public commissions for the University of Alaska, the City of Indianapolis, and Indianapolis Cultural Trail. In 2006, Derry’s Charting Pogue’s Run was featured in the Americans for the Arts Year in Review. http://www.seanderry.com

DAVID ENGWICHT: Engwicht has over 25 years experience in placemaking. He is a passionate designer, artist, author, communicator, and social inventor, best known as the creator of the Walking School Bus. PPS in New York describe him as “one of the world’s most inventive thinkers on creating vibrant public spaces”. Nothing gives David greater joy than working with communities to breathe new life into dead spaces. He’s a 2015 TEDxIndianapolis speaker. http://www.creative-communities.com

ANTHONY GARCIA: Garcia, a leader in civic advocacy in South Florida, is principal of the Street Plans Collaborative, and serves as part-time faculty at the University of Miami School of Architecture. He is a co-author Tactical Urbanism and a leading expert in short-term action for long-term change. He’s a 2015 TEDxIndianapolis speaker. http://www.streetplans.org

STUART HYATT: Hyatt a Grammy-nominated artist and musician who creates interdisciplinary media projects in the public realm. His work facilitates collaboration with people and places often overlooked by conventional contemporary art practice. Hyatt holds advanced degrees in both architecture and sculpture. He creates site-based work with M12, a collective known for creative projects related to rural cultures and landscapes. http://www.stuarthyatt.org

MARY MISS: Miss has reshaped the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, landscape design, and installation art by articulating a vision of the public sphere where it is possible for an artist to address the issues of our time. She has developed the “City as Living Lab”, a framework for making issues of sustainability tangible through collaboration and the arts, with Marda Kirn of EcoArts Connections. Trained as a sculptor, her work creates situations emphasizing a site’s history, its ecology, or unnoticed aspects of the environment. http://www.marymiss.com

ASH ROBINSON: Robinson, an Indianapolis-based public artist and furniture maker, established her artistic voice at the Herron School of Art and Design, where she received her BFA in Furniture Design in 2010 before continuing her studies at San Diego State University. By focusing on political and cultural issues, Robinson’s work flirts with tradition and the avant-garde while striving to expose the tormented mind and the social stereotypes that plague it.


2015 48 Hour Film Project Winners Announced

July 31-August 2, more than 30 teams did some incredible DIY flash filmmaking as part of the 48 Hour Film Project. Saturday night August 8, we screened their creations at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.  A four-judge panel selected these winners in 16 categories, and the audience weighed in too. Congratulations to all participants!

Best Film: Dessert, by Swipe Left Productions
Runner Up: Wonderful Neighbors, by The Collective Brain

Audience Choice, Group A: True A.I., by MUTT
Audience Choice, Group B: Dessert, by Swipe Left Productions

Best Directing: Bobby, by Team Dharma
Best Writing: Dessert, by Swipe Left Productions
Best Acting: Bobby, by Team Dharma
Best Editing: Wonderful Neighbors, by The Collective Brain
Best Cinematography: Companion, Inc., by ParaCinema
Best Sound Design: True A.I., by MUTT
Best Use of Character: Moroccan Coffee, by Jackson DOA Productions
Best Use of Prop: Moroccan Coffee, by Jackson DOA Productions
Best Use of Line: Dessert, by Swipe Left Productions
Best Graphics: Wonderful Neighbors, by The Collective Brain
Best Special Effects: Bobby, by Team Dharma
Best Musical Score: Ethereal, by I’m the Villain Films
Best Choreography: Second Chance, by JumpCuts
Best Costumes: Wonderful Neighbors, by The Collective Brain


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How a group of Indy writers & artists with Surrealist tendencies transforms into a socially engaged art collaborative

How a group of Indy writers & artists with Surrealist tendencies transforms into a socially engaged art collaborative

By John L. Clark

First of all — and mainly — Surrealism & various Surrealists are the main influence on Big Car. And like Surrealism, the origins of Big Car were literary. When I met Jim Walker and Anne Laker — a decade before we formed Big Car — we were all active in Indy’s “literary scene”. I published a Surrealist-influenced small press ‘zine called “pLopLop” (inspired by Max Ernst’s creature-character Loplop “superior of the birds”).

Jim Walker’s poetry appeared in issue #7 (1995). That same year, I met Anne Laker when we both read our poetry at a Fluxus event at the IMA to celebrate a massive exhibition by video artist Nam June Paik. Although it was not advertised as a Fluxus event it became one in the performance, as I had a friend fax my text and pLopLop promos via the machine made by Paik known as “The Couch Potato”. Over the years our paths crossed a few times and in retrospect I can see how certain events and collaborations led inexorably to the formation of Big Car. A multimedia happening at the Fountain Square diner with spoken word and short films projected or a similar happening at the Writer’s Center — the first of many times where various audio/video configurations were choreographed to enhance the environment. And when we finally had our own space in the Murphy Art Center, we knew how to make events memorable, our own modern versions of Dada festivals.

Jim’s Surrealist influence manifested itself first in his poetry and later in his collage work. Surrealism impacted my writing somewhat but I felt its influence most powerfully in methods of collaboration and transformation. I’d take paper and pens to parties and clubs and teach people how to play the Exquisite Corpse game with its infinite variations and possibilities for fun, creative exploration. Soon there were others who embraced the game and hosted Ex corps parties — we even came up with a new name, via invisible collaboration — and called them Flap Action Brain Splashes. Once other friends and acquaintances began to initiate these games, the communal spirit of Surrealism became real and palpable.

We recognized Fluxus as a playful, experimental nonacademic 20th century art movement but it wasn’t fully embraced by Big Car until we began to focus on socially engaged art. The Fluxus scores were distributed, performed and documented as part of Big Car’s “Year of Fluxus,” with performances at the State Fair and other unlikely venues.

An interview with Miranda July led me to “Learning to Love You More“, the book she co-authored with Harrell Fletcher. One first Friday I mentioned the book to Jim and a few months later — Mr. Fletcher was almost magically in Indy collaborating with Big Car on a Spirit and Place event — thanks to Jim’s knack for contacting creative folks and getting them involved with Big Car projects.

A Question of Influence: What is it? how does it work?
The mysteries of timing: Who influenced Big Car by collaborating with us?

Big Car never keeps our influences secret. If we’re into something, we will let you know about it (and we’ll find ways to get everyone involved). Our earliest multimedia events embodied the influences of Dada and Surrealism with spontaneous music performances, poetry readings, art displays and film projections. Our most recent adventures are in the realm of socially engaged art with an emphasis on creative ways to improve communities and inspire individuals. We’ll continue to explore these and other Big Car projects, influences, adventures and collaborations via essays, interviews, memoirs, archival material and documentation. Stay tuned.

Visit this page for a comprehensive list of Big Car’s influences.

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Social practice placemaking

Social practice placemaking

AAG 01

By Cara Courage
(Occasional) Thinker in Residence with Big Car

This April, I presented a paper on my Indianapolis case study, Big Car, at the 2015 meeting of the American Association of Geographers in Chicago. View the presentation here.

With 9.5K delegates and sessions that span all forms of geography, the conference was as busy and buzzing as you’d expect. The arts had a healthy presence in the programme and my paper, “Moving beyond creative placemaking: the micropublic of a social practice placemaking project” was presented as part of the Creative Placemaking and its Micropublics. The session was convened by Martin Zebracki, University of Leeds, and Saskia Warren, University of Manchester; fellow speakers were Micheal Rios, University of California, and Annette Koh, University of Hawaii at Manoa.

My time with Big Car had been instrumental in creating the term social practice placemaking – whilst its work had undoubtedly had an economic impact in Indianapolis, its approach is grounded in that of social practice art and its associated ethos, aims and outcomes. Ash Amin’s micropublics of the title was used as a theory to explain the agency of such projects to galvanise people around arts and place and this was framed in the example of my Indianapolis case study, Big Car.

I mention in my paper the new projects Big Car is starting on the southside; and this was made possible by the generosity of Big Car once more in hosting me for a research visit before the AAG conference.

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Big Car featured on The Art Assignment on PBS Digital

Big Car featured on The Art Assignment on PBS Digital

Play the game created by Jim Walker and Florian Rivière here. Be sure to share your adventures on Twitter. There’s great documentation of what people are doing on The Art Assignment’s blog.

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Make a film in 48 Hours! Registration Opening Soon

Make a film in 48 Hours! Registration Opening Soon


The Indianapolis 48 Hour Film Project is produced by Big Car. It is open to professional, amateur and first-time filmmakers in Indianapolis. It is awesome. You should do it.

On Friday night, July 31, all registered teams meet to get a character, a prop, a line of dialogue and a randomly-chosen genre, all to include in your movie. [Animators and puppeteers welcome!] Then you have exactly 48 hours to make it all happen—from story to soundtrack to editing. Turn it in. High-fives. Take a long nap.

All on-time films screen to cheering audiences at the Tobias Theater at IMA the evening of Saturday, August 8. One winning team from Indianapolis will screen their film at the international Filmapalooza in Hollywood.

The sooner you sign up, the cheaper it is, and you can get started recruiting cast and crew. Prices are per team, not per person. Registration opens May 27, 2015 at 48hourfilm.com/indianapolis. Register before July 6 and pay just $140. Between July 7–July 21? $160. July 22–July 31 = $175

Join the 48 Hour Film Facebook group to keep up to date, network and share your experiences along the way!  Questions? E-mail email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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Be Gutsy: GUTZINE … call for submissions

Be Gutsy: GUTZINE … call for submissions

By email hidden; JavaScript is required, Big Car artist-in-residence

Gutzine is a new publication that will be distributed via the bathroom gallery at The Show Room, the Loo-vre, and possibly in other bathrooms near you! I look forward to seeing your ideas and please feel free to ask any questions!

DEADLINE: May 18, 2015

Want your work to be seen but have a hard time getting people to look? Put your work where people can focus, the bathroom. Big Car’s new bathroom and bathroom lobby gallery focusing on digestion, The Loo-vre, seeks a call for submissions for bathroom reading material focusing on bodily functions.

For inspiration visit the Loo-vre at The Show Room (3739 Commercial Drive) or check out some pics at the Flickr page above.

Submit in digital format to email hidden; JavaScript is required. This can include, but is not limited to poetry, photography, drawing, stories etc.

SPECS: The final product will be in standard zine format using letter paper (8.5” x 11”) folded in half, your piece can be single page or spread. Color or BW, 300 DPI, JPG, PDF, or DOC. Please submit materials with your name and the title of your piece. ex: yourname_title.jpg



Pop-up locations and future moves

Get a taste of Big Car’s things to come from Big Car Executive Director Jim Walker…

Video by Kurt Nettleton

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TEDxIndianapolis draws 1,000 people

TEDxIndianapolis draws 1,000 people

(above) Holly Combs gives a talk about letting go of labels at TEDxIndianapolis

Thanks to all the presenters, sponsors, partners, volunteers and attendees to TEDxIndianapolis 2014!  A stimulating day of Big Ideas.  Explore the photos on Flickr and Instagram, and the ongoing conversation on Facebook and Twitter.  View 21 videos of the talks and performances on YouTube here!