Airport faces quick decision on public art

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A decision by the Indianapolis Airport Authority about whether it will proceed with a controversial move to replace public art with advertising should be made within the next week.

Local artist 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.

“Chrysalis,” however, remains in place after airport officials agreed to reconsider removing it in favor of an advertising video wall.

The airport, though, is moving forward with its advertising plans and is scheduled to have the unit installed somewhere in the passenger terminal the first week of September.  

The two-week window means airport officials will need to make a decision on the artwork soon, airport spokesman Carlo Bertolini said.

“We felt that the spot in question [where Chrysalis hangs] made the most sense, but we have reconsidered whether it might be feasible to have that video wall in an alternate location,” he said.

The alternate location airport officials are considering is above Civic Plaza, the main, circular area in the terminal. The video board might hang from a walkway above the plaza if it is installed there, Bertolini said.

Airport officials agreed to reconsider their decision to replace the artwork with advertising after meeting with representatives of the local arts community.

Airport officials proposed moving “Chrysalis” to another high-traffic area in the city, but Faust insisted on having his piece displayed in the airport or not at all, Bertolini said.

If the airport removes the art, the piece still remains a part of its collection, Bertolini said. The airport paid Faust $150,000 for the “Chrysalis” piece.

Faust has declined to comment on the airport plans until an official decision is made.

As a supporter of the arts, Mayor Greg Ballard hopes Faust’s piece remains on display, spokesman Marc Lotter said.

“It is the mayor’s strong belief that visitors should be welcomed to our city with a prominent display of art,” he said.

Bertolini declined to divulge the cost of the video wall, citing incomplete terms of the deal. He said it would have a “substantial presence” and would be as large as the artwork. It would include art created by established local and international artists who specialize in the video genre, he said.

He also declined to say whether the airport has yet signed any advertisers for the video wall or how much it might generate in revenue.

Airport officials have been working harder in recent years to generate  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.



  • Consider
    If you look at who owns the billboard company you will understand the political push behind this.
  • Saving CHRYSALIS ...
    there is a page on Facebook that is collecting "LIKES" as a petition of sorts to preserve keeping Chrysalis at its current location at the airport.

    It can be found at this link:


    Spread the word!
  • A Major Repair Is Not the Same As Decision About Hanging Art
    The garage has a structural design defect. It requires a repair that will permanently fix the problem, not just a quick fix that will fail again during another ice storm. Also, the incident involves potential construction defect litigation, etc., and that makes the process more complicated.

    Choosing whether or not to remove a piece of art is not the same sort of thing.
  • Huh?
    You said “less than 5%” of airport visitors ask you about the art. How many ask you about advertisements? The fact that people don’t ask doesn’t mean they’re not affected.
  • Beauty Not Blitz
    Welcoming wary travelers to our city with artwork that is cheerful and calming is the right thing to do. I work as a concierge for downtown conventions and have heard many people gush about our airport. They say it is beautiful and well-designed, which fosters a positive impression of our city and state. Faust created his colorful artwork to hang above the escalators and it belongs right where it is. We should not blitz people with more advertising in that space.

    I understand the need to create different revenue sources, so why not make more ad space available in areas where people naturally linger, like the food court, bathrooms and baggage claim?
  • cost benefit
    Tim, the most recent poster, is no dobut right that advertising will generate revenue. It's a no-brainer. But it's misleading to refer to it as "to offset the lost revenue" when the revenue was never lost to begin with, since it hasn't yet ever proven itself as ad space--it has always been an artistic display.

    By that same standard, the City is standing to lose out on valuable revenue generating space by allowing University Park to remain as is and not sell it to a private parking management company.

    Obviously, balance is necessary.
  • hmmm
    I think all of the art lovers commenting below should pony up money for a fund to offset the lost advertising revenue the airport incurs as a result of having the art hang in that space. It is probably the most prime space in the airport, as you travel down the escalators to pick up your bags, and I am sure many would pay premium advertising prices.........that's what thought.....
  • Hurrah!
    YESSS!! Score one for common sense and positive urban progress. Shame on the airport for trying to sneak this through, and props to the artist and the public for speaking out against it. Don't stand by and let things happen that you don't approve of! We have the power!
  • Keep Chrysalis Where It Is!
    I use the airport on a regular basis and believe the beautiful artwork needs to stay where it is. An advertising board would make our airport look like all the others. Let's have Indianapolis look like the special place that it is. Don't ruin a good thing!
  • Appreciate Art
    Recently, a good friend and Executive from LA travelled to Indy for a business trip. His most complimentary comments about the visit were related to the airport and how impressed he was by the overall design and the art installations. Many local visionaries helped create a memorable front door to the City. Let's not destroy what they created with short-sighted thinking.
  • Parking garage?
    So why does this project take a few weeks to pull together, and in the meantime, the damaged parking garage FROM FEBRUARY's ICE STORM sits untouched, escalators off limits? The decline in maintenance at our beautiful airport - that passengers pay for - is simply unacceptable.

    Let's get it together IND, we want to be proud of this community asset!
    • Memorable?
      What would be more memorable to a visitor arriving at the airport? A really interesting and dynamic artwork to welcome them or yet another advertisement for fast food, hotels, or bank services--the same ads they get on their phone, laptop, ipad, or on the side of a taxi.

      Removing the artwork will reinforce the India-no-place image that the city is trying so hard to overcome.

      Leave the artwork and install video advertising alone the people movers or in the baggage claim.
    • Waste is right
      Cindy B. makes an excellent point in asking who stands to gain here. The public is not being told the whole truth. How about some transparency?
    • I love the art
      I fly out of the airport almost every week and find the art to be more like an "old friend." I hope the airport reconsiders moving Chrysalis - last week as I was leaving the airport, I really looked at it and find I agree with the artist - it belongs there and would not look the same somewhere else. I think our airport is really special because of the art, and while I would expect some rotation, Chrysalis is really an iconic piece.
    • More money to waste?
      Really? The Indianapolis Airport Authority spent $150,000 on a piece of art for the airport. Now they want to spend more money on advertising and digital art. What a waste of money and time. Leave the art there. Nobody wants to watch advertisements while waiting for a flight or for arriving passengers. They are wasting taxpayer money on making a decision. LEAVE IT ALONE! LET IT BE!
    • Waste
      First of all when visitors come to Indianapolis for the Superbowl I think having a piece of art hanging in a predominate place will give them a better impression of our city than an electronic billboard. Secondly, I question the motives of the parties involved. Who owns the billboard company that is going to profit from this move? And why would they take down a $150,000 piece of art the citizens of Indianapolis have already paid for? Talk about wasting money.
      • Money spent elsewhere
        You know how many passengers ask about the artwork at the Airport?, less than 5%. When I go to an airport I am there for one reason, to catch a flight, what time I have to waste before the flight is spent either reading a magazine I brought or getting a bite to eat. I work there and walk past the art every day, if I want to look at artwork, I go to the Art Museum, and yes, I do like art.
        • Thank you
          I would like to thank the airport for reconsidering their decision to remove Willie Faust's work of art. No advertisement is more valuable than art, and clearly many in the city and state love this piece.

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