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The People’s 500

The People’s 500 is a celebration of the relationship between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the people of Indianapolis, marking the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil. The exhibit will run through July 16.
In October of 2015, Sugarmann chose 100 residents of the Indianapolis community from a pool of applicants to drive two laps in a pace car — the drivers uniting to complete the equivalent of a single running of the Indianapolis 500. Sugarmann and his crew photographed and interviewed each of the drivers, the resulting documentation serving as the material of the exhibition. Some of the drivers are featured among the 16 large scale photos in the exhibit. There is also video, and a sculptural piece.
“The Indianapolis Motor Speedway serves as a cultural beacon within Indianapolis, a location of shared history and civic identity for all strata of Indianapolis society. Members of the Indianapolis community feel ownership of the Speedway,” says Sugarmann. “In this exhibit, the pace car is the vehicle through which this mutual connection is furthered, the civilian/citizen being able to immerse him or herself in the environment of a professional IndyCar driver. The People’s 500 uses pace cars to bridge the viewer and professional driver and create an even stronger sense of civic ownership.”
This exhibit is the first at Tube Factory, Big Car Collaborative’s new cultural center with a contemporary art exhibition area. Located in what was a boarded-up factory building on a residential street in the Garfield Park neighborhood, Tube Factory will host a variety of conversations, performances, and events — while also serving as the workshop and home base for Big Car artists.
The People’s 500 is curated by Shauta Marsh, funded by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and Creative Capital, and coordinated by Big Car Collaborative staff in partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Framing provided by Editions Limited.

About Jesse Sugarmann: Sugarmann is an interdisciplinary artist working in video, photography, and sculpture. His work has been exhibited both nationally and internationally in venues such as the Getty Institute, Los Angeles; el Museo Tamayo, Mexico City; the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art, Oregon; the Banff Center, Canada; el Museo de Arte Moderno de Santander, Spain; and both the Paris and Berlin installations of Les Recontres Internationales. Jesse’s work has been written about in publications including ArtForum, Art Papers, the Atlantic, Frieze Magazine, the Huffington Post, and The New York Times. Jesse lives and works in Bakersfield, CA. You can learn more about his work at www.jessesugarmann.com.

About The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts: The Foundation was established in 1987. In accordance with Andy Warhol’s will, its mission is the advancement of the visual arts. The Foundation’s objective is to foster innovative artistic expression and the creative process by encouraging and supporting cultural organizations that in turn, directly or indirectly, support artists and their work. The Foundation values the contribution these organizations make to artists and audiences and to society as a whole by supporting, exhibiting and interpreting a broad spectrum of contemporary artistic practice. http://warholfoundation.org/

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 and see examples of our projects at www.bigcar.org/work.

About Creative Capital: Creative Capital supports innovative and adventurous artists across the country through funding, counsel and career development services. Our pioneering approach—inspired by venture-capital principles—helps artists working in all creative disciplines realize their visions and build sustainable practices. http://www.creative-capital.org/

About Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Established in 1909, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is the world’s largest spectator sporting facility and has long prevailed as an icon of motorsports excellence. After celebrating its Centennial Era in 2009-11, IMS and racing fans now look forward to the 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race this year. In 2016, get ready for an unprecedented celebration of the human pursuit of progress as the world’s eyes turn toward the Speedway. For more information, visit indianapolismotorspeedway.com.

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Flannelly’s of the Future Festival

To celebrate their marriage and the role music played in bringing them together, artists Brelyn Gerard and John Flannelly organized an experimental music festival. Flannellys of the Future Festival will take place April 30, 4-10 p.m. at Tube Factory artpace, 1125 Cruft St. Several musical acts were part the formation of their relationship so the pair wanted to share the music with Indianapolis by means of a free concert. The bands that will be featured are: Bad Psychic (Bloomington), DJ Littletown, Duncan Kissinger, Exploding Head Scene (Philadelphia, PA), Glitter Brains (Bloomington), Oreo Jones & Sirius Blvck, Jeron Braxton & the Tamagotchis (Bloomington), Rev//Rev (Lafayette), Rob Funkhouser, Sedcairn Archives, Skything (Marlboro, Vermont), Teen Brigade (Lafayette).

“Both of us are the kind of people who strive to view life from as many angles as possible, to feel from all those angles even if it means crawling around the floor of the house to feel the space usually reserved for our knees and ankles, or chilling in the bathroom for a shift in perspective,” says Gerard.

Many of the musicians in the festival were part of Gerard and Flannelly falling in love. Flannelly’s music was the first time experimental music clicked for Gerard. “Sitting in our friend’s living room, watching John deliver the experience of his art, I had an ethereal space to sort through my feelings. It was a space that somehow managed to be safe and challenging at the same time,” says Gerard. “After his set at Free House, he threw the flower he’d been wearing on his vest to the audience. I seized it. To this day, that flower still graces my bookshelf.”

Soon after that, on Valentine’s Day 2015, Gerard and Flannelly enjoyed their first date — at the Fountain Square music venue Grove Haus. Gerard sang back up for the band Memory Foam. She found out that Flannely had toured with one of her favorite bands, Shame Thugs, and that he was in the music video for her favorite Sirius Blvck songs. Eventually, Flannelly moved from Bloomington to Indianapolis into Gerard’s friend’s house. After a recommendation from their mutual friend, artist Erin K. Drew, Flannely got a job at the same place where Gerard worked.

“Now, we’re getting married and we’re doing it our way. With all the art projects in the community we’re involved with, neither of us are interested in fussing over centerpieces and flowers. We want to celebrate our love by sharing the music we love, made by the people we love,” says Gerard. “We can’t wait to groove with Indianapolis at the Flannellys of the Future Festival!”

Gerard has a new book, iForgot, out and Flanney a new album, Peace and Quiet now available. For their honeymoon after the festival celebration, the two will travel the country to promote their works.

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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.

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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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Pleasant Run Walk and Sketch

Pleasant Run Walk and Sketch

In this engaging nature walk, New York based artist Rebecca Allan and Tom Swinford, Assistant Division Director of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, will lead participants in creating nature drawings and poetry while learning about the ecology of Pleasant Run. Encouraging us to connect to and reflect on this important Indianapolis waterway, this event will culminate in the on-site creation of an electronic book of artwork, photos, and poetry.

We will meet at the Barth Avenue Bridge along the Pleasant Run Trail at 10:00 am. Street parking is available along Barth Avenue. A map is available here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zpFpqUie_fSw.kILMvRAbG2eg&usp=sharing

This event is free and all materials will be provided to participants.

This event is sponsored by the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, the Rivers of the Anthropocene Project, Big Car, Reconnecting to Our Waterways, Prizm: The Artist’s Supply Store, the Butler University Center for Urban Ecology, Earth Charter Indiana, and the da Vinci Pursuit.

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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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Urban creatives

Urban creatives

by Cara Courage, Thinker in Residence

I’m back in the UK now after my near-month with Big Car and although Indy is around 4000 miles away, the place and people still feel close; I talked in my first blog about the ‘magic’ of the type of art work – social practice – that Big Car does and sat here at my desk now in Brighton, UK, it appears that a magic has left its mark on me.

My role with Big Car as Thinker in Residence gave me a special licence to get involved with the team but also remain somewhat separate to it too. In this role I was neither artist nor community member, but me, a researcher with a 15-year career in the arts, that was an extra pair of hands and someone to bounce ideas off.

This place I inhabited has led me on to think of the term ‘urban creatives’. Urban creatives is a term that I am increasingly using to describe that group of people that come together in a social practice art project to make it happen. This will be artists, community members, maybe also architects, planners, engineers… The point is though that in an urban creative group whoever is in it, all work in equal regard of each other’s skills – the artist is expert at being the artist, that planner at being the planner, and, as social practice artist Jeanne van Heeswijk states, the community is expert at being the community. Each can act on their expertise and each will also learn from the interactions with others.

This is certainly my experience of Big Car and Indy. During my time there I found myself in a group with all sorts of skills and backgrounds, where each was valued for what they bring and was encouraged to act on this. At the same time, the open dialogue was set to foster learning between ourselves. So whilst I saw people given the space and permission to be who they are I also saw people change as an outcome of this gathering of skills. I saw this spread out too from the local projects that Big Car is engaged in to the wider creative and cultural fabric of Indy, spreading through the networks, conversations, and institutions that comprise that scene.

In my first blog I posited that the magic in these projects came from them being fun and social and useful and I stand by that still now. I also said that it’s down to the people involved that make them magic and that’s certainly been underlined for me with Big Car – this is a very unique set of people without doubt. But to move this a little further, my initial unpacking of my thoughts from my month with Big Car and in Indy is that it’s not just the outcomes of what Big Car does but the how of what it does that makes it special. Like any special practice art, it is the varied elements of the process coming together in their myriad ways that makes these projects magic. It values people and brings out in them potential they may not have realised they had and puts this to use, gives it a social value.