Opie art dancing on Mass Ave.

January 18, 2008
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IBJ reporter Jennifer Whitson takes over the blog today with news on new downtown artwork. Take it away, Jennifer:

First came the Tom Otterness public art exhibit in 2005. The roly-poly brass sculptures captured some hearts, including those beating in some folks with large pocketbooks. Private individuals raised $550,000 to buy three Otterness pieces that are now a permanent part of the cityscape. Plus a retired business executive bought a fourth and displays it at St. Clair and East streets.

Then came Julian Opie in 2006. He took a bit more work to get used to but by the time his pieces left in September, many were sad to see them go. The Indianapolis Cultural Development Commission and the Cultural Trail pitched in to split the $150,000 tab to buy and install a NEW Opie piece (excuse the emphasis but this is being misreported elsewhere) that is being installed on Mass Ave as you read. Find our story here.

The council contracted with firms to rehab the box and LCD panels used in a previous Opie work (“Sara Dancing”) but “Ann Dancing” is a new work created exclusively for this display. Sort of.

Indianapolis will have the only four-sided, large format version of “Ann Dancing.” But if, on one of your drunken nights out on Mass Ave, you fall in love with Ann, you too can have her. Opie sells a 42-inch LCD screen version of Ann that can be hung on a wall.

All of which begs the questions: Should the city arts peeps just lobby for a permanent piece as part of the contract for any citywide exhibition? (Arts Council Public Art Guru Mindy Taylor Ross said it’s something they’ve bandied about but decided no. The contract for this year’s Chakaia Booker exhibit doesn’t include a purchased piece.) And what made private sector folks line up to buy the Otterness pieces?

PS – Anyone out there a fan of Opie’s pole dancing series featuring Shahnoza? Find a link here. Now that’s no Otterness.
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  • I like Opie's work. I think it adds a bit of pedestrian energy to a city that needs to be taught how to walk again. I'm disappointed that Emily Kennerk's work didn't make it, but this is a good first purchase for the trail.

    As a Herron grad, I obviously support public art downtown. I don't think this city fully realizes the impact that the aesthetic experience has on tourists and citizens alike.

    I don't support the rent-a-sculpture approach. It's hard for me to fully enjoy any of the pieces we've had the last couple of years because I knew they were leaving. As soon as they become landmarks and part of the urban fabric, POOF, they're gone.

    As a citizen, I'd prefer the Arts Council invest in one quality, well-placed piece per year, than rent several that disappear as soon as they become part of the family.
  • I like it how it is. A big upside is that with temporary exhibitions, the city is able to take more chances with the art and artists it choses to exhibit. I believe risk taking for any museum is essential to keep it interesting. And that essentially is what downtown being used as for these exhibitions, a large sculpture garden. What this has done is create a conversation about the arts in the everyday, and how an artist can have a conversation with a city environment more so than anyone piece could enable that.
    That being said, I am always happy when one of these pieces comes back to roost permanently.

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  1. I took Bruce's comments to highlight a glaring issue when it comes to a state's image, and therefore its overall branding. An example is Michigan vs. Indiana. Michigan has done an excellent job of following through on its branding strategy around "Pure Michigan", even down to the detail of the rest stops. Since a state's branding is often targeted to visitors, it makes sense that rest stops, being that point of first impression, should be significant. It is clear that Indiana doesn't care as much about the impression it gives visitors even though our branding as the Crossroads of America does place importance on travel. Bruce's point is quite logical and accurate.

  2. I appreciated the article. I guess I have become so accustomed to making my "pit stops" at places where I can ALSO get gasoline and something hot to eat, that I hardly even notice public rest stops anymore. That said, I do concur with the rationale that our rest stops (if we are to have them at all) can and should be both fiscally-responsible AND designed to make a positive impression about our state.

  3. I don't know about the rest of you but I only stop at these places for one reason, and it's not to picnic. I move trucks for dealers and have been to rest areas in most all 48 lower states. Some of ours need upgrading no doubt. Many states rest areas are much worse than ours. In the rest area on I-70 just past Richmond truckers have to hike about a quarter of a mile. When I stop I;m generally in a bit of a hurry. Convenience,not beauty, is a primary concern.

  4. Community Hospital is the only system to not have layoffs? That is not true. Because I was one of the people who was laid off from East. And all of the LPN's have been laid off. Just because their layoffs were not announced or done all together does not mean people did not lose their jobs. They cherry-picked people from departments one by one. But you add them all up and it's several hundred. And East has had a dramatic drop I in patient beds from 800 to around 125. I know because I worked there for 30 years.

  5. I have obtained my 6 gallon badge for my donation of A Positive blood. I'm sorry to hear that my donation was nothing but a profit center for the Indiana Blood Center.

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