IMA plans arts installations along White River

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The Indianapolis Museum of Art will receive a $200,000 National Endowment for the Arts grant for a series of installations along a six-mile stretch of the White River.

The work by artist Mary Miss is called "Flow (Can You See the River?)." The installations, coming in 2011, will be at points along the river from the Central Canal in Broad Ripple to White River State Park. The IMA's own sculpture park, 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art and Nature Park, lies in a White River floodplain.

The project is the first new commission for 100 Acres since its June opening. The IMA will match the NEA grant with money from a fund designated for the sculpture park.

The $200,000 award is one of 21 grants worth a total of $3 million under the NEA's Mayor's Institute on City Design 25th Anniversary Initiative.

Most of the grants are for cities that transform isolated neighborhoods or neglected area, using arts as a central focus. NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman announced the grants at a former Bethlehem, Pa., steel plant that is being converted into an arts and culture campus.

Chicago is receiving $250,000 to make a creative industries district in an old industrial area. Los Angeles plans to create an arts center in its Broadway Theater District with a $100,000 grant.

Flow will include several stopping points along the river and canal that call attention to the White River watershed and the "role it plays in the city's life," an IMA press release said. The work will use mirror markers and oversized map pins "to create a series of reflections, engaging viewers and portraying them as an integral part of the watershed," according to the release.

The IMA said the installation will use "modest interventions in the landscape" to point out features such as wetlands, floodplains, combined sewer outfalls and pollution. Visitors will be able to read information at the site or use their cell phones to access site-specific commentary, such as a zoologist talking about the best place to watch river turtles or a discussion of storm-surge dynamics.

"Mary Miss' project will create an important and dynamic link between 100 Acres, the city of Indianapolis, and the natural features that impact and determine our experience of both," Lisa Freiman, chairwoman of the IMA's Department of Contemporary Art, said in a prepared statement.

A public premier for Flow is planned for September of 2011.

The IMA has not yet obtained permits for the installation, but Mayor Greg Ballard's office is aware of the need, spokeswoman Candace Gwaltney said.

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