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. So much for Eric Holder's conversation about race. If white people have got something to say, they get sued over it. Bottom line: white people have un-freer speech than others as a consequence of the misnamed "Civil rights laws."

  2. I agree, having seen three shows, that I was less than wowed. Disappointing!!

  3. Start drilling, start fracking, and start using our own energy. Other states have enriched their citizens and nearly elminated unemployment by using these resources that are on private land. If you are against the 'low prices' of discount stores, the best way to allow shoppers more choice is to empower them with better earnings. NOT through manipulated gov mandated min wage hikes, but better jobs and higher competitive pay. This would be direct result of using our own energy resources, yet Obama knows that Americans who arent dependent of gov welfare are much less likely to vote Dem, so he looks for ways to ensure America's decline and keep its citizens dependent of gov.

  4. Say It Loud, I'm Black and Ashamed: It's too bad that with certain "black" entertainment events, it seems violence and thuggery follows and the collateral damage that it leaves behinds continues to be a strain on the city in terms of people getting hurt, killed or becoming victims of crimes and/or stretching city resources. I remember shopping in the Meadows area years ago until violence and crime ended make most of the business pack you and leave as did with Lafayette Square and Washington Square. Over the past 10 to 12 years, I remember going to the Indiana Black Expo Soul Picnic in Washington Park. Violence, gang fights and homicides ended that. My great grandmother still bears the scares on her leg from when she was trampled by a group of thugs running from gun fire from a rival gang. With hundreds of police offices downtown still multiple shootings, people getting shot downtown during Black Expo. A number of people getting shots or murdered at black clubs around the city like Club Six on the west side, The Industry downtown, Jamal Tinsley's shot out in front of the Conrad, multiple fights and shootings at the skating rinks, shootings at Circle Center Mall and shooting and robberies and car jackings at Lafayette Mall. Shootings and gang violence and the State Fair. I can go on and on and on. Now Broad Ripple. (Shaking head side to side) Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Ashamed.

  5. Ballard Administration. Too funny. This is the least fiscally responsive administration I have ever seen. One thing this article failed to mention, is that the Hoosier State line delivers rail cars to the Amtrak Beech Grove maintenance facility for refurbishment. That's an economic development issue. And the jobs there are high-paying. That alone is worth the City's investment.

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