Who and what? We at Big Car are teaming up with Downtown Indy and the City of Indianapolis — with support from the Capital Improvement Board and the Indiana War Memorials Commission— to spark Monument Circle with human-scale activities like games, live music, artmaking, and socializing in a comfortable place. Everything is free for people to enjoy.
When? We started this round of SPARK in the last week of June. We’ll be going through the end of October — Mondays through Thursdays 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Fridays 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
In September: we add 5-9 pm Wednesdays and Circle SPARK Festival on Oct. 22-23 (Saturday and Sunday). Our last day will be Oct. 28.
Event info and more at circlespark.org and sparkplaces on Instagram.
Where? We’re based from the southwest quadrant in front of the Emmis.
Why? SPARK’s goals are to:
- Honor the history and civic importance of Monument Circle while working to bring vitality to the space today and support a bright future for the Circle.
- Help improve the quality of life of those who enjoy the Circle by supporting a thriving, welcoming, inclusive, comfortable, and fun civic and social space in the center of our city.
- 3. Provide enjoyable, memorable, creative, and surprising experiences for visitors.
- Support and pay Indianapolis artists working in many genres.
- Spark economic opportunities for local business owners and entrepreneurs — including artists. SPARK focuses on supporting Downtown businesses on or near Monument Circle.
Of note: In 2015, we at Big Car Collaborative teamed up with the City, Downtown Indy, and many others to test — over a stretch of one summer — to test the big idea of prioritizing Monument Circle for people. Funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts along with support from CICF and the City, this project (also called Spark) proved very successful.
You can find the 2022 schedule and more information at circlespark.org.
Circle Sounds — During all open SPARK hours, Big Car artists are programming Circle Sounds through the Circle’s amazing audio speakers. Circle Sounds also airs citywide on our community radio station, WQRT 99.1 FM and streaming at wqrt.org. It’s a mix of upbeat instrumentals — from jazz to world music to pop — that also includes work by local musicians. In between batches of songs, we share, instead of commercials, audio projects being created there. This includes commissioned poems in response to the Circle, haikus submitted by the public visiting the Circle, quick thoughts by visitors on why they love the Circle, and more. WQRT is also doing live DJing at the Circle and taking requests Fridays from noon to 1 p.m.
All weekdays — A range of pop-up offerings and opportunities to play games, make art, record poems, send free postcards, hang out in a shady spot, and get info from staff artists on site.
Tuesdays — Each week at noon, we offer Lunch Break Live presented by Lake City Bank featuring local (mostly pop and singer/songwriter) musicians curated by Indianapolis musician The Girl Called Books. (See full musician list below).
Wednesday evenings — Guided walks about history and culture offered the evenings each week. Wednesdays also feature Evening Embers: Ambient Music at Spark Monument Circle — organized by Indianapolis ambient artist Rob Funkhouser. (See full list of walks and Wednesday evening series musicians below).
Thursdays — From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., free, quick-stop artist interactions and hands-on activities ranging from block printing or live painting, to portrait drawing or henna hand art.
Fridays — Open until 9 pm for people enjoying the Circle and getting started on the weekend.
Circle Artist in Residence — Yeabsera Tabb is working on ideas related to play and exploring the Circle. One project includes playful prompts printed and located on the sidewalks. (See more information from Yeabsera below).
Circle Anthology — We’re commissioning 25 writers to share work inspired by the Circle. Their poems will air on WQRT FM during Circle Sounds playing from the Circle speakers and we’ll do a live reading with this group at 7 p.m. on Oct. 12. This is linked to our Haiku Here that encourages people to submit their own haikus inspired by the Circle to air on WQRT and play on the Circle speakers during Circle Sounds each day.
No More No Place — Organized by Indianapolis musician and IUPUI professor Jordan Munson, this project pairs instrumental music by local composers with video accompaniments projected on the Circle. Debuts at 8 p.m. on Oct. 12.
Circle SPARK Fest — Oct. 22-23 from 1-6 p.m. each day. We’ll showcase local artists and musicians with a brand-new, two-day celebration of art and harvest time. Artisan vendors, live music, performance art, pumpkin decorating, and lots more. On Saturday, bands playing are Radar Gold, Books & Straight As, Vertice, and The Brothers Footman. On Sunday; it’s Addie Kosten; Beatty and the Bayonets; Kristen Bales; Ricardo. Artist Derek Tuder will bring his mobile art gallery and selfie studio and Big Car’s Wagon of Wonders will be there.
Halloween on the Circle — Oct. 26 a Halloween-themed walk at 6 pm. and a live soundtrack to the silent scary film, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), at 7:30 p.m. on the Monument steps. Film and soundtrack by local musicians in partnership with Classical Music Indy.
Boot Scoot and Vintage Market on the Circle — Oct. 27 at 6 p.m. Hosted by artist John Stamps, this will be an evening of line dancing and country music on the Circle. Costume contest that night too. Massive line dance and costume contest led by John Stamps/Kevin Hofmeister.
What if people have ideas or want to partner on an idea?
Lunchbreak Live musicians (Tuesdays at noon, free)
Sept 6: Emma Peridot (synth pop)
Sept 13: Sheeza (rock & soul)
Sept 20: Florelis Jimenez Vejas (Venezuelan pop)
Sept 27: Bitter Proof (experimental classical, jazz)
Oct 4: The Hammer and The Hatchet (Americana)
Oct. 11: Katie Jo Robinson (Indie jazz-pop)
Oct. 18: Indy Annies (country)
Oct. 25: Crescent Ulmer (folk, singer-songwriter)
Walking tours (Wednesdays at 6 p.m., free)
Sept. 7— Indy’s German Heritage: Explore Indianapolis German American History with architectural historian Bill Selm. You don’t need to be German to take the tour…just interested in knowing more about this particular history of Indianapolis. Cosponsored by IUPUI Interior Design Technology and the Indiana German Heritage Society.
Sept. 14 — The Circle City’s Namesake Landmark: Gain deeper appreciation for Indianapolis’s symbolic heart by exploring the history and architecture of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument and the buildings that encircle it. Tours presented by Indiana Landmarks.
Sept. 21 — Haiku Hike: Learn about the art of haiku observation and try your hand at some in-the-moment, 3-line poems led by poet, Big Car executive director and SPARK lead artist Jim Walker. Co-create a linked group haiku (renga) with your fellow walkers. And we’ll record haiku to air on WQRT FM. Everyone gets a free little notebook. Presented by Big Car.
Sept. 28 — Ugly Ducklings: Join historians Jordan Ryan and Callie McCune for a look at the hidden tales and amazing stories behind buildings you might love to hate: City-County Building, the Gold Building, the former Anthem building on Monument Circle, and others. You may even learn to love some of Indy’s most unseemly architecture.
Oct. 5 — Magical History Tour: Artist, scavenger, and raconteur Kipp Normand guides you on a stroll through the oddities of Indianapolis history and spaces. Get ready for weird.
Oct. 12 — The Circle City’s Namesake Landmark: Gain deeper appreciation for Indianapolis’s symbolic heart by exploring the history and architecture of the Soldiers & Sailors Monument and the buildings that encircle it. Tours presented by Indiana Landmarks (repeat of Sept. 14 tour).
Oct. 19 — Public Art Crawl: Inspired by the recent Public Art Census produced by Rokh – a cultural equity research & design studio – take an artist-led tour highlighting Downtown’s public works by artists of the global majority (Black, Asian, Brown, dual-heritage, Indigenous). Presented by Rokh.
Oct. 26 — Spooky Mayhem Tour: Brace yourself for a Halloween-ish tour of the seedy, sinister, dark side of Indianapolis history.
Note: All tours meet at the SPARK welcome trailer on the southwest quad of Monument Circle. Expect to walk between a half-mile and 2 miles total. In case of bad weather, cancellation decisions will be made by 3 p.m. Check SPARK social media or website for updates.
Evening Embers: Ambient Music (Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m., free)
Sept. 7: Airport People
Sept 14: Clare Longendyke
Sept. 21: Landon Caldwell
Sept. 28: Michael Raintree
Oct. 5: DJ Little Town
Oct. 12: Jordan Munson and Rob Funkhouser
Oct. 19: Hanna Benn
More about the 2022 Circle Artist in Residence
Hello! My name is Yeabsera Tabb. I’m a Social Impact Designer and an artist based in Indianapolis. I’m interested in how physical places shape our daily experiences and our identity. I love the serendipitous interaction and connections that occur in public places between people of all backgrounds.
The physical and conceptual aspect of places and identity has been a huge part of my art and design exploration. I was born in Addis Ababa Ethiopia and lived there until the age of 13. Buildings and public places looked and functioned differently there than they do here. And spaces possessed similar yet different identities and memories. I was drawn to exploring the built environment in terms of form and structure and socially constructed ideas of belonging and identity. I’m thrilled at the opportunity to foster human connection through place, art, and play at the Monument Circle Artist Residency.
My work often addresses my lived experience inhabiting multiple identities both as a Black woman in America and as an immigrant. Through printmaking, textiles, and other forms of visual art I explore the nuance concept of home and place. During my time as a Design for Social Impact student, I conducted a year-long research project on the experiences of Black women in America, particularly, Black women navigating predominantly white spaces. I transformed this collection of qualitative data into my show Black Presence to create safe spaces of healing and joy for Black women. Black Presence was on display at 1920 Gallery in Marion, Indiana, and 1000 Words Indy in Indianapolis. After graduating with degrees in both Design for Social Impact and Fine Arts, I held multiple solo shows in Indianapolis as well as group shows including The Truth of Freedom at Newfields. Additionally, I was one of 10 Black woman artists named as an Emerging Visionary Artist by Shea Moisture.
All the connections I made through these explorations empower me to continue to create work that is human-centered at its core. I’m excited to be Big Car’s Monument Circle artist and resident this summer/fall. I am looking forward to creating opportunities for connection at Monument Circles through artful play. Monument Circle is a major point of connection in the city of Indianapolis. The space functions as a threshold that connects people of all backgrounds such as business professionals, residents, tourists and so much more. It’s a transient space that acts as a study point of intersection. I hope to honor the place by knowing it well through being present and recognizing the assets as well as the needs. I’m looking forward to growing as a person and an artist through connecting with people and collaborating with the team.