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Meet Three New Big Car Staff

Meet Three New Big Car Staff

Thanks to Channie Jones (Program & Administrative Manager), Kurt Nettleton (Videographer), and Cheria Caldwell (Urban Design & Research Fellow), Big Car’s capacity for documentation, evaluation and programs is now larger than ever.  You’ll likely see Channie hosting events and organizing volunteers. You’ll see Kurt filming and taking pictures at every Big Car event or project. And you’ll see Channie collecting and organizing data about Big Car’s impact.

Get to know these new Big Car team members a little more:

How’d you get connected to Big Car?

Channie: I attended Big Car events in Lafayette Square area and Murphy building.

Kurt: Started going to Big Car while they were in that big room in the middle of the Murphy.

Cheria: I connected with Big Car during the Spark Project at the end of the summer.

What skills and passions do you bring to Big Car?

Channie: My love for the arts and introducing people to new experiences.

Kurt: I’m the videographer/photographer/editor, so primarily documentation skills.

Cheria: Urban planning, community engagement and my love for the City of Indianapolis.

Favorite Big Car moment so far:

Channie: Hearing people share their dreams and draw on the white picket fences for Ash Robinson’s “American Dream” art installation.

Kurt: I met an owl (at Spark Monument Circle).

Cheria: Talking to Bridgette (a woman seated outside of Starbucks) daily at Spark, getting to know her story, and purchasing the hats that she crocheted on the Circle each day.

Favorite thing about Indianapolis:

Channie: Art opportunities and events in the city.

Kurt: Probably the same thing anybody would say about any city they seem to be in for the long haul: good people.

Cheria: Because I can’t just choose one: family, friends, the Indiana Fever and the bike trails.


Get to know Channie, Kurt and Cheria (and other Big Car staff) here.

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Placemaking as Homemaking

Placemaking as Homemaking

by Chris Shumerth

David Engwicht was the son of a traveling preacher. As such, he felt like an outsider in schools, churches, and even in the places his family stayed. What that “vagabond” lifestyle did, according to Engwicht, was “to create in him an inner ache for home.”

Perhaps it was inevitable then, that the Australian became a professional placemaker (and founder of Creative Communities International), but it took a major turn to get there. “I was a high school dropout who was washing windows for a living,” Engwicht explained at a brown bag lunch at Spark Monument Circle last month during his week-long stay in Indianapolis at the invitation of Big Car.

As a window-washer, Engwicht got involved in a fight in his town over a road-widening initiative. “Traffic is us in our cars,” Engwicht said. “We can’t ask for this road not to be widened unless we’re willing to use our cars less.” He went on to say that “Traffic is a social problem, not a design problem.”

Engwicht was well on his way to inventing the “walking school bus” and writing the 1999 book, Street Reclaiming: Creating Livable Streets and Vibrant Communities, among other works.

“Placemaking is like homemaking,” Engwicht said at his talk at TEDxIndianapolis at the University of Indianapolis. In placemaking, he said, we try to take a public space and turn it into a place. The two things aren’t the same, and the goal is the feeling of home.

Placemaking, according to Engwicht, should do two things. It should create transformative experiences for people, and it should become the antidote to our addiction to movement.

When I talked to Engwicht after TEDxIndianapolis, he noted that the United States seems especially movement-oriented and that even Indianapolis’s bike lanes would benefit from a few more “linger nodes.”

Maybe Engwicht’s vocation doesn’t completely abandon his roots, because there seems to be something prophetic, if not downright spiritual, about Engwicht’s ideas.

He’s an advocate of what he calls “deep placemaking,” which seeks to address not just the surface-level dilemmas of towns and cities and traffic, but rather the stories behind the problems that come up.

According to Engwicht, deep placemaking has to address three main meta-narratives that are often ingrained in a community. The first story is one of identity, and limits: the “I am just…” story. Engwicht termed a second kind of story as the “we will fly when” story. The old kick-the-can-down-the-road story. And the third story that deep placemaking has to counter is the roadblock story, i.e. red tape, bureaucracy, retailers, and the like.

In order to fight one’s way around these roadblocks, Engwicht recommended taking action by calling an initiative “a trial.” During the trial, one ought to collect some data and write the necessary report with the hopes that the experiment becomes permanent. The key, you may notice, is that the action precedes the report, rather than the other way around.

But what about problems like repetitive vandalism or violence? What then?

According to Engwicht, the principles still apply. Traditional responses too often tend to “outsource civic responsibility.” Instead, Engwicht argued that, “the only way to solve (these kinds of problems) is to develop a civic relationship with the perpetrators.”

“It costs us to build trust,” he added.

In his consulting work, Engwicht likes to start by creating “red-tape-reduction groups” charged with seven-day makeovers.

What do we have? What am I willing to give? A resources bank is the starting point, according to Engwicht, and not so much elaborate wish lists that will probably never come to fruition. The idea is to create the kind of community people want from what they already have.

“Take your vision of the future, and live that way now,” Engwicht told me. “If your future isn’t committee meetings, then stop going.”

Engwicht said citizens often only know about twenty percent of what they want at the beginning of the process; that is to say they discover the eighty percent by going on “a voyage of discovery.”

“We built more community in two months of sitting on our lawn chairs eating dinner than in 20 years of bitching and moaning about city hall,” Engwicht said in his TEDxIndianapolis talk.

I was lucky enough to participate in an abbreviated version of Engwicht’s start-up process at a session sponsored by Reconnecting to our Waterways. In addition to Engwicht, the event featured by Anthony Garcia, a Miami tactical urbanist who also spoke at Indianapolis’s recent TEDx.

The placemaking workshop attracted a few dozen professionals from the city who were tasked with creating a resources bank for the various waterways in Indianapolis. I sat down at the Fall Creek table with Bonnie Mill and David Orr of The Sapphire Theatre Company, and Corrie Meyer, a landscape architect and urban planner.

Through the process of brainstorming, we discovered that the theatre company possesses several already-built, four-sided wooden platforms, which could be used to create linger nodes along the trail for graffiti projects, performance art, and/or yoga classes.

So if you’re an Indianapolis resident who frequents the Fall Creek area, keep your eyes out!

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Nov. 12 5×5 Indy finalists set

Nov. 12 5×5 Indy finalists set

On Thursday, Nov. 12, judges and audience members will award $10,000 to an idea for using art to strengthen community in Indianapolis at 5 x 5: Dream Indy. The event is the fourth of four 5×5 idea competitions this year, in which five finalists have five minutes and five slides each to pitch an idea. The event is presented by Big Car Collaborative, the University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community, and Joy’s House Day Adult Service, as part of the 2015 Spirit & Place Festival (whose theme is “Dream”).

The event takes place in the grounds of Big Car’s new Tube Factory artspace, at 1125 Cruft St. in Garfield Park. A team of judges selected five finalists from among 27 submissions. The five selected ideas address building neighborhood identity, crossing demographic boundaries, and building social capital:

presented by Danicia Malone and Tomm Roesch
Indiana is one of five states in the nation with no anti-hate crimes legislation. This public art project will combat microagressions with microaffections through an interactive typographic projection of text related to ethics and advocacy, and eight gramophones strategically positioned around the city that collect and project words of encouragement.

Open Music Indy: A Collaborative Concert Series
presented by Rob Funkhouser and Austin Senior
Open Music Indy is a concert series that would gather musicians (composers, songwriters, performers) from different Indianapolis communities to create new music and perform it free to the public. Collaborations would be designed to join audiences and artists that would not normally listen or perform together. The concerts would happen in all-ages public spaces and be used as a tool to foster relationships between musicians and music lovers of all kinds and to eliminate any perceived barriers, cultural, demographic, or otherwise, between them.

Neighborhood Stories
presented by Bob Sander and Alysah Rice
Neighborhood Stories connects Near Eastside residents, young and old, through storytelling and illustration. Visual artist Emily Kennerk will design a “Reader’s Chair,” a public artwork, to mark the site of monthly reading events, where community members can gather to share stories about their neighborhood, across generations. Workshops, sponsored by Arts for Learning, will be held at area schools for students to create books based on the stories collected and their own dreams for the community.

A Place to Call Home: Saint Clair Place and Neighborhood Identity
presented by Lukas Schooler and Beverly Roche
Through neighbor-driven interviews and tailored public workshops, NoExit Performance would work with youth in the Saint Clair Place neighborhood to create a unifying historic and/or social narrative for their neighborhood through interviews with residents. NoExit Performance and neighbors will devise a series of short performances that will debut at the annual Saint Clair Place Parade.

The Secret of Life Society
presented by Christopher M. Dance and Chad Hankins
The Secret of Life Society is a series of figurative public monuments depicting current community residents, selected through a voting process. The sculptures would include benches and information about the unique place where the monuments are located. The aim is to inspire hope through creating value and interest in public spaces and individual champions of neighborhoods.

Funds for 5×5 come from the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), the Efroymson Family Fund, the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation and Lilly Endowment Inc. The goal is to stimulate grassroots innovation in Indianapolis. This is the third year of the 5×5 program, in which $110,000 has been granted to 11 creative ideas.

At the Nov. 12 competition event, one idea will get $10,000 and the other four will receive $500. The panel of judges will select the best idea based on viability, community impact, creativity, intergenerational appeal. The audience vote counts as well.

The event is from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. and is free, with food and drink available for purchase. An RSVP is required.

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Big Car lands two major grants

Big Car lands two major grants

Two Indianapolis-based foundations recently announced major gifts to Big Car Collaborative for our Garfield Park Creative Community initiative. Our artist-led non-profit will use the funds to renovate and occupy two formerly vacant buildings in Garfield Park as community art spaces to leverage cultural and economic revitalization of the near southside neighborhood.

A $250,000 contribution from the Allen Whitehill Clowes Charitable Foundation will be used for renovation and furnishing of The Tube Factory artspace (above after 2015 Lilly Day of Service) at 1125 Cruft St., and Listen Hear, at 2620 S. Shelby St. A two-year $125,000 grant from the Nina Mason Pullman Charitable Trust will be used for staffing and programming when the two spaces open in early 2016.

Tube Factory is Big Car’s new permanent long-term home base featuring community gathering space, contemporary art exhibition area, and a cooperative workshop. Listen Hear is a venue for sound art and community radio, with a mini-laundromat and retail offerings. The Garfield Park Creative Community will also include affordable artist housing and art projects throughout the neighborhood in its next phase.

“We’re thrilled about these two major gifts and the impact this will have on our community,” executive director Jim Walker said. “The Tube Factory will be an anchor for a neighborhood full of art experiences. And it will give us a home base for placemaking and socially engaged projects around the city and beyond.”

The Allen Whitehill Clowes and Pulliam Trust grants add to the almost $800,000 already raised toward the $1.5 million goal. Supporters include a Community Development Block Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development via the City of Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development ($466,000), the Efroymson Family Fund ($150,000), Lilly Endowment, Inc. ($50,000); Christel DeHaan Family Foundation ($35,000); Indianapolis LISC ($20,000), Howard Schrott and Diana Mutz, Ursula David, The Madeira Fund, The Nicholas H. Noyes Jr. Memorial Foundation ($10,000 each), and the Arthur Jordan Foundation ($2,500), as well as a major in-kind contribution from Blackline, the lead architect firm on the Tube Factory project. Riley Area Development Corporation is a key partner in the Garfield Park project as well.

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 neighborhood.

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Pogue’s Run Pursuit with Sean Derry: Photo Tour

Pogue’s Run Pursuit with Sean Derry: Photo Tour

Pogue’s Run Photo Tour

For all you history buffs, art lovers, community builders, and fitness enthusiasts heading out on our Walking Wednesday tour of the historic path of our hidden Pogue’s Run waterway… Here is the photo accompaniment for our trek.  These photos have been provided by our tour guide for the evening, Sean Derry (seanderry.com).  Thanks for following along!

Pogue’s Run Photo Tour


Lead Artists sought for Reconnecting to our Waterways

Screen Shot 2015-09-13 at 4.47.12 PMOrganization: Big Car Collaborative

Position: Reconnecting to Our Waterways: LEAD ARTISTS
Reports to: ROW Creative Placemaker
Duration: September 15, 2015 – September 15, 2016
Stipend: $1,000 – Contract Employment

Position Summary:
Reconnecting to Our Waterways is seeking a Lead Artist for each ROW waterway in Indianapolis (White River, Central Canal, Pleasant Run, Pogues Run, Little Eagle Creek, Fall Creek). Lead Artists will work with the ROW Creative Placemaker to develop and execute quality creative placemaking program interventions that are deliberately and tactfully suited to the specific Indianapolis waterway.  Lead Artists will participate in educational activities and engage the Waterway Committee to inform and equip creative placemaking efforts.


  • Conspire artistically and strategically in the execution of
  • creative placemaking interventions developed by ROW Creative Placemaker.
  • Conceptualize, organize, and implement two (2) ROW placemaking activities specific to the culture and characteristics of your Waterway and surrounding community.
  • Become better equipped for Placemaking and Tactical Urbanism by participating in a series of Artist workshops and speaker presentations.
  • Represent the ROW Aesthetics Committee at your Waterway’s ROW meetings.
  • Represent your Waterway Committee at ROW Aesthetics Committee meetings.

Required Experience and Abilities:

  • Must have a strong ability to think creatively and formulate a plan for successful implementation of a concept.
  • Must show evidence of strong community relationships
  • Must have strong communication skills, both written and verbal.
  • Ability to activate and engage artists and community members.
  • Experience in social practice art and/or creative placemaking preferred.
  • Demonstrated experience working as an artist in the community, specific examples in the Waterway community a plus.
  • Strong preference will be placed on artist with strong ties to the community surrounding the waterway.

Send Resumes to email hidden; JavaScript is required by Friday, September 18

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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.