Artist complains about removal of public art from Indy airport

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A local artist is crying foul over a decision to replace his work with advertising at the Indianapolis International Airport.

James Wille Faust received notice in late July that his piece, "Chrysalis," would be removed from a bulkhead wall that overhangs a busy escalator in the midfield terminal by Aug. 16, his wife and business manager, Martha Faust, said Tuesday morning.

James Faust declined the airport's offer to have him modify and move the piece to the Indiana Convention Center. "It's bastardizing his piece, No. 1," Martha Faust said of the suggestion. "It was never meant for any space other than that wall."

Airport_chrysalis_2colShown here during installation, "Chrysalis" will be replaced with digital art and advertising. (IBJ file photo)

The airport will remove "Chrysalis" by the end of August, said Carlo Bertolini, spokesman for the Indianapolis Airport Authority. He said the video display of digital art and advertising will go up next month.

The video art/digital advertising unit replacing "Chrysalis" is the only one planned at the terminal, at least for now, airport officials said. Officials said they didn't know how much the wall would generate in advertising revenue.

Airport officials in recent years have been working harder to generate more revenue and slash expenses amid the stagnant economy that brought a downturn in air travel starting in 2008. That's the same year the airport opened the new passenger terminal that included a highly touted $4 million collection of public art by 17 commissioned artists and six poets.

Faust won't be the only artist to see his work moved or replaced. Airport officials said they determined from the start of the public art program that work  eventually would rotate. Bertolini said that policy was disclosed in the contracts with the artists.

“It’s part of the natural evolution of our art exhibits,” he said.

Martha Faust said she and her husband had a different impression. James Faust was eager to do the project, even at a reduced commission, because he thought his piece would hang in a prominent location for at least a decade.

"They got a lot of good will and good publicity on the backs of the artists," she said of the airport.

The airport paid $150,000 for the piece, which took three years of planning and building, Martha Faust said. About $85,000 of the commission went straight into materials and production, she said. The piece weighs more than a ton and required extra support to be built behind the wall. It's constructed from 14 shaped canvases, aluminum and six glass panels.

In December, the Indianapolis Museum of Art replaced Blackburn Architects PC as manager of the airport arts program. The airport signed a $100,000, one-year contract with the Indianapolis Museum of Art. That will come into play on the digital advertising. Airport officials said they are using the IMA to identify local and international artists to provide digital art content.

IMA spokeswoman Katie Zarich said IMA Art Services was hired to "review thoroughly the current arts program and to ensure the balance of commercial and public art spaces within the terminal and the airport’s gateway, among other responsibilities."

Faust, who was initially informed of the airport's decision by an adjunct curator from the IMA, bristled at the museum's role in replacing her husband's work with advertising.

"It just seems the arm of a museum shouldn't be getting this done," she said.


  • IMA Art Services
    IMA Art Services is operated by IMA employees. Jacqueline Buckingham Anderson is not involved in the operation of IMA Art Services.
  • Wow
    It sure didn't take long for the IMA's self serving motives to come to light. Some things never change.
  • IMA Art Services
    The Indianapolis Museum of Art should be commended for launching IMA Art Services as a revenue generating consulting arm. Certainly they need to recoup some of the funds that they have wasted on luxurious and ill conceived projects of late.
    Given the nature of the IMA Art Services consulting contract to curate digital art and advertising, I'm sure one will not have to look far to see the involvement of Jacqeline Buckingham Anderson, wife of Maxwell L. Anderson, The Melvin & Bren Simon Director and CEO of the IMA. Jacqeline Buckingham Anderson seems to have a thing for the installation of video monitors that disenfranchise professional artists. The Directors of the museum might want to ask if Jacqeline is a paid consultant to IMA Art Services.
    • Sad and Disappointing
      It is very sad that such a change is even being considered much less being implemented. That piece is a statement to all travelers that this city of Indianapolis is positive and unique and has the imagination and vision to welcome you.

      When the new terminal was being imagineered and "sold" to the taxpayers, the unique artwork and design were the primary features utilized in the campaign.

      It's very disappointing that the space will now be more advertising. How about painting signage on all the the floor areas and hanging giant neon signs in all the window areas ?

      It's a giant step backwards Indy!
    • Different idea
      Chris, I don't think removing the art is the airport's idea, but I do believe the IMA advised them to do so. IMA leadership has long seen the airport art as an embarrassment. In fact, rumor has it that leadership tried to get some art work removed from the airport before the American Association of Museum Directors meeting at the IMA so that museum colleagues would not see it when they arrived in Indianapolis. Maybe someone should try and verify that to see if the IMA's involvement now is well intentioned or somehow self serving.
    • state of the art?
      Not sure why "state of the art" was in quotes in a previous post. The art is neat. But a state of the art airport, touting a state of the art town, sends that message much better with a video wall / high tech presentation. State of the art is technology. Not sculpture (or whatever Chrysallis would be categorized as).
    • didn't notice art
      If you never noticed this beautiful piece of art, why would you notice advertising? This was always my favorite and I am sorry to see it put in storage or destroyed.
    • Ok with me
      I've been on that escalator dozens of times over the past three years, and I don't recall this art. And probably neither do most travelers through the airport. As someone noted, its an airport, not a museum. If the people who run the airport want to hang something else, be it art or an advertisement, that's their right. Artists, and art lovers, seem to believe they have some special rights, because its "ART." Well, once they sell it, its someone else's property, and the buyer can do to it as they please. If this artist didn't want the art saved and displayed elsewhere, then it goes to the garbage pile. And that's okay with me.
      • Wake up Drake
        Drake--this artwork was not at the old airport--it is new to this airport, and is only 3 years old.
        Rotating art is understandable, but that implies it will be replaced with something comparable or even more amazing. What are we doing? This will absolutely cheapen our "state of the art" airport. Thought we were on the right track with regard to public spaces and public art. This is certainly disappointing and I wish the airport could find another solution!
        • 80's
          Why is everyone so upset? This piece of work from the 80's had its day at the old airport...and was lucky to get moved to the new airport. It is really starting to look dated now...
        • The IMA is Not Removing the Piece
          Deb, the IMA has lots of money and can get along without your support. That said, you seem to be very confused about what is happening.

          The AIRPORT is the owner of the artwork. The AIRPORT has decided to remove it. The AIRPORT would remove it without any involvement from the IMA. The IMA is simply helping with the selection of a digital display replacement, whether the IMA cooperated with this selection or not, the AIRPORT would hire another consultant and still remove the piece. The AIRPORT has decided it needs to raise additional revenue, and so the piece must be removed. Also, I am sure our dysfunctional CONGRESS did not help the AIRPORT's financial position by allowing over $400 million in FAA taxes to go uncollected while the members of the House and Senate decided to play partisan games.

          In any event, if you are so OUTRAGED (all in CAPS), then contact the AIRPORT, not the IMA. Again, the AIRPORT owns the artwork and the AIRPORT is the only entity with the authority to decide to remove it or not. Perhaps, your OUTRAGE will lead you to donate money to the AIRPORT to cover its budget shortfall so the artwork can stay up.
          • It Will Most Likely Go to Storage Or Be Destroyed
            The artwork is gigantic, and much too large to display in any private residence. Also, it seems the artist retained some rights over where it may be displayed, as he was able to reject the proposal to have it transferred to the Convention Center.

            Therefore, I would assume it will go into storage, or else be destroyed.

          • It is not that complicated.
            James, they paid $150,000 for the artwork that is the subject of this article. The rest of the money, which was approx. $3.89 million, went to pay for all the other pieces of art installed in the airport. Each piece of art cost a different amount of money. It is not a great mystery.

          • Bad Decision
            Keep the art! How foolish to let it go.
          • The airport paid $150,000 for the piece
            Why would anyone in their right mind pay 150 grand for that?
          • Hyderabad...
            Hyderabad actually has an amazing new international airport that opened in 2008. I spent lots of time there in the past couple months and can testify that it is truly a world-class facility.

            As for the art, if it is repurposed for display at the Convention Center will it not be serving in the same capacity it does now (welcoming visitors to Indianapolis)? All that will change is the location.
          • Where did the $4 Mil go?
            If the Airport Authority only paid Indiana's most prominent and gifted Artist a total of $150,000, of which $85,000 dollars were for materials and installation, and there were only a total of 17 Artists, where did the rest of the $4 Million go?
            • Perhaps
              With some of the money from the new advertising gadget they will be able to repair the parking structure roof, art and escalators that were damaged in a hail storm EIGHT MONTHS AGO! It looks like the Hyderabad airport.

              As for WhiteOut, virtually the entire $1 billion airport was built with taxpayer dollars forked over by Bush and Daniels, there's some OPM!
              • Some have no Commen Sense
                airports and airlines are struggling. its takes two brain cells to understand that even though the art may look pretty, it doesn't pay the bills.

                Get a clue people, advertising is everywhere because there is a lot of money to be made.
              • so true
                Veramarie hit the nail on the head. If the below readers were so endeared to the piece maybe the could start a fund to support using the valuable advertising space to display art.
              • Responding to Johnny
                No one 'deserves' anything except peace and the equal chance to pursue one's chosen endeavor (notice I didn't say outcome).

                Art is a product. The market will accept or decline that product on its own terms. The artist can choose to participate or find another endeavor, just like any other occupation. I am not saying artists should donate their work, rather, they must determine if their chosen pursuit will pay the electric bill.

                I agree that I would personally prefer the artwork and kill the ads. It appears Hope and Change is kicking the airport in the crotch like everyone else, and they are making (what they believe) is a needed business decision.

                Your comments about Indianapolis people is indicative of an arrogant, uninformed way of thinking. If the artwork is so iconic (I happen to agree it is a wonderful piece), then it will find it's way to it's rightful place (the best galleries, the trash heap, or somewhere in between). You or I or may not like it, but the market will make it so.

                If you are so passionate about saving the piece, then go find the right private donors, get on a board, whatever, but figure out a way to do it without using OPM (Other People's Money).

                By the way -- the artist netted ~$60k on this one piece over three years. I dont know if that is a good deal or not, but the seller and buyer did, and that's really all that counts.
              • Don't believe it
                "Officials said they didn't know how much the wall would generate in advertising revenue." Don't believe it: They've made projections and already have ad contracts, otherwise the board would not approve the expense. Although there might, MIGHT be digital art there to start, the lure of $ from advertisers will soon crowd it out. Thank you, IMA and IAA, for selling the soul of our city.

              • It's an airport, people
                This is an airport, not a museum. While art certainly can enhance any atmosphere, it's patently ridiculous to EXPECT a business - especially one that is struggling in this economy - to continue to use a very valuable space for something that just looks pretty. I'm an art lover, but I'm also a business owner, and I know that there is a time for practicality. You want to see art, go to the IMA.

                I'm betting that millions of struggling artists out there would love to have the opportunity to have their work prominently displayed even for a short time at the airport. And to get $65K after expenses in addition! To complain about that, and to turn down the offer to have it displayed at the Convention Center where it would get a TON of attention just makes the artist sound like a spoiled brat.
              • Disgraceful
                The removal of a strong artwork in favor advertising is unfortunate, and wrong. The participation of the Indianapolis Museum of Art is a disgrace and a real black mark for them. The idea that "digital art" can also "rotate" with advertising is ridiculous, and a smokescreen for what is really going on here.
              • $ talks
                “It’s part of the natural evolution of our art exhibits,” he said. Right. No it's about the need to have some money "naturally evolve" into the managers hands. Give me a break. These folks (Bertolini) think that we are stupid!clear motorti

              • LOL
                Yes folks we are in Indiana, where art is not appreciated and anyone can buy "naming rights", because that is just what it is naming rights. Advertising along with digital art, give me a break. This city really is a joke.
              • Sell naming rights next
                Ads is the same as selling naming rights. How fitting for the GOP to sell public space for ads. I am sure those who put the ads up will be donating big bucks to the GOP campaign. After all everything has its price, and everything has its kickbacks.
              • What a step backwards!
                Three years of planning, designing, and hard work to create a beautiful piece made specifically for its current location, and now it is to be replaced with ads? What a step backward for Indy. Shame on the IMA for caving to this arrangement. As an artist, I am sick of people wanting artwork for nothing. Years of training, costly materials, skill and talent went into this work, not to mention a discounted price. So much for respect for artists and culture in Indy.
              • First impressions count
                So visitors to Indianapolis will now be greeted with electronic advertising instead of art? Brilliant.
              • Do not remove this art
                Please don't remove this art work. The vinyl advertising on the windows, added after the airport opened, is ugly enough.
              • Time to Move On
                He got 150k for that??? OMG.
                That is not a great representative of great art from Indiana. I think he an his wife need to gracefully step aside, read the contract and move on.

                Alpha Blackburn blew a lot of money in mediocre art, I'm glad the IMA is stepping in and bringing the airport to the 21st century. Part of the bitterness is about a lack of acceptance of digital art. Have you heard of a computer? It's all around us...
              • World-Class-Provincial
                It would be a shame and an embarrassment to have Faust's piece removed for some bill board to go up instead. I respectfully suggest that the TV screen be installed at the Palladium. It would be more fitting and the income could be split between the two entities. Also could pay the detective bill.
              • the contract told him so....
                I get it that he's mad (and that is one of my fav's at the airport) BUT it seems to have been clear in the contract with him.... - "Airport officials said they determined from the start of the public art program that work eventually would rotate. Bertolini said that policy was disclosed in the contracts with the artists."
              • Airport Artwork
                While we're removing artwork from the airport, could someone remove those hideous mushrooms from the I-70 and West Street/Missouri Street interchange? Please??
                • Please, save Chrysalis
                  and lose the horrid dimensional monstrosities at the back of baggage claim -- place the video installation there. Faust's is lovely and representative of art in our state. it's lovely and compares well with the best pieces there, like Cardinalis and the Connections installation in the pedestrian bridge to the garage. ( I personally could part with the Martin Donlin art glass pieces with the poor typography in the gate area if one needs ad space ;-) )
                • rubbish
                  Crap suggestion. Who cares about what you pay for parking. You think like the owner of a cheap coffee shop that is too afraid to think big.
                • Please Don't Remove This Artwork
                  Please reconsider removing this artwork!!! Our community is proud of the beautiful art at our airport. We don't want it removed, moved to a less prominent location, or replaced by advertising. I'd rather pay a little more to park than see this amazing art installation removed. I agree with the other commenters, our airport art is amazing! It's a collection that should be built upon - not reduced to increase advertising space. What a shame!!! (If you feel adamant about this, too, please post your feelings so the airport management will know that we want to keep the art!!!)
                • Sad
                  I thought we were supposed to have a "world class" new airport terminal that has been used in marketing for the City, especially the Super Bowl. This makes us no better than other second class airports. This is sad and there's just no excuse for it other than $$.
                • Bush league
                  Trading a world class piece of art for a commercial advertising space is the kind of thing a second class city would do. It represents a lack of imagination, creativity and sadly removes what is a unique icon for a the city's "front door." So a move like this makes Indianapolis look like just another run of the mill venue. What happened to the once vibrant idea that Indianapolis was "special" a true "world class city?" Taking down art for an ad screen
                  would not be tolerated by a city that truly wants to be
                  recognized as being a special place to do and grow business, pursue excellence, raise families and celebrate a better quality of life. Looks like a few manager types can dash all of that for a few bucks and betray what was perceived to be a covenant between artists, fans and their home community. If this is allowed to happen then "dumb" wins.
                • Really? Typical.
                  This is a typical attitude of those who are not educated about artwork and is typical of Indianapolis residents. Most of these uneducated types feel that art is not something to invest in and is certainly not something that an artist should be paid for. Faust's work is iconic and deserves a permanent place in our state's legacy. Artists deserve to make a living like everyone else, if we donate our work how do you propose we do that? Your post is very backward thinking.
                  • Where is it going?
                    My main question is where is the piece going? Into storage. Into some individual connected with the airport home? To the IMA? That is the big question not only about this piece but about all the artwork "in rotation." I'm afraid it is going to some individual and hopefully the public will forget about it.
                    • Coupons
                      I hope the digital advertising has some McDonald's ads on it, maybe some daily coupon codes for a $1.00 off frozen pizza at Wal-Mart. I would have at least thought that paying a $100,000 to the IMA would result in a classier sell out than "digital billboards". Nice work Airport/IMA combo.
                    • Boo Hoo
                      Let’s see... Artist sells artwork to Airport for $150,000. Seems like the airport can elect to display or not display as they see fit. If the artist wants to total control for his lifetime, don't sell it. Display it in your own gallery. To want to control something after you sell it seems pretty bold.

                      My only complaint to the airport is paying $150,000 to start with... I would prefer using that money to reduce parking fees. My guess that local artists would "lend" their work to the airport for a short duration of time free of charge if artwork is desired for the walls. Good publicity for the artist and art for the airport walls.
                      • Don't we have enough
                        flat screen dispalys with advertising?

                        Surely they could find another location in the airport terminal for advertising. Who wants their first impression of Indy to be a big TV with adversising? Removing this brilliant artwork will make the Indy airport just look that much more like every other bland commecial space. Keep the art! It's part of the essence and spirit of Indy.
                      • Great
                        Once again, Indianapolis shoots itself in the foot, aims, then shoots itself in the other foot. We finally get an airport that's not a total embarrassment and the Powers That Be want to muck it up by showing visitors how horrible our low-rent local advertising is upon arrival. Brilliant. Boy, do we know how to create a world class image or what?
                      • Outrageous!
                        This is an absolute OUTRAGE!!! Who do I contact to express myself? I DO NOT wish that piece to be removed. It is my welcome home and I always smile when I approach it. I will withdraw all future support of the IMA if they truly are supporting the removal of the public art that was installed at opening. Adding to the collection is one thing, but removing any part of it is totally unacceptable.

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