Music, visual arts highlight NBA All-Star host committee’s cultural plans

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Hoosier Historia
Artists are painting 6-foot basketball sculptures in a downtown warehouse for “Hoosier Historia,” a project that will commemorate Indiana’s high school hoops history during NBA All-Star Weekend. (IBJ photo/Dave Lindquist)

Special editions of the Butter fine art fair and Chreece hip-hop festival, two highlights of the Indianapolis cultural calendar, are planned as part of NBA All-Star Weekend festivities.

Members of the NBA All-Star 2024 Host Committee announced arts and entertainment details Wednesday at the Indianapolis Artsgarden, which will host “Butter at Indy’s Home Court” in mid-February.

The home court reference is part of the host committee’s idea to view the geography of downtown Indianapolis as a basketball half court in gigantic scale. Monument Circle serves as “center circle” and Gainbridge Fieldhouse, where the All-Star Game will be played on Feb. 18, and the Indiana Convention Center, where the NBA Crossover fan event is scheduled, are venues found on the “3-point line.”

Nearly 90 public artworks will be installed to celebrate the NBA’s midseason showcase. The host committee’s arts and entertainment committee is led by Indy Arts Council CEO Julie Goodman, GangGang cultural firm co-founders Malina Simone Bacon and Alan Bacon, and Indiana Humanities CEO Keira Amstutz.

The All-Star versions of Butter, an art fair established by GangGang in 2021, and Chreece, a festival founded by rapper Oreo Jones in 2015, will be attractions of the Cultural Corridor—a name applied to Washington Street between Meridian and Illinois streets during All-Star Weekend.

Live music series “Chreece Presents: Nap City the Basement” will occupy part of the former Rock Bottom Brewery, 10 W. Washington St. The 14,600-square-foot building, vacant since 2020, will be temporarily renamed The Suite in the Cultural Corridor.

The Suite also will be home to an International Marketplace food hall, a bar and comedy performances by Made Man Improv Show.

Malina Simone Bacon described the Cultural Corridor, which includes pop-up coffee shop Plaid & Pearls in the former Pearings Cafe & Frozen Yogurt location, 6 W. Washington St., and arts-themed panel discussions in the Artsgarden, as a condensed package of what Indianapolis offers throughout the year.

“This is an opportunity to show off the unique way Indianapolis marries sports and culture,” Bacon said. “It will show who we are and what’s already here.”

Entry to all Cultural Corridor sites is free.

The host committee will launch something never previously presented during an All-Star Weekend when “Tip-Off on Bicentennial Unity Plaza” is presented on Feb. 15.

GangGang co-founder Alan Bacon, who’s married to Malina Simone Bacon, said Super Bowl halftime shows and Olympic opening ceremonies inspired “Tip-Off.” Live music is planned as part of the evening event staged on Bicentennial Unity Plaza north of Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver is expected to attend “Tip-Off,” which is free to attend with a reserved ticket.

“It’s cool that Indianapolis started this for the NBA, as a result of our creative juices and artistry,” Alan Bacon said. “I think a lot of [future host] cities will jump on the opportunity to showcase their creative sectors in a special way.”

Danny Lopez, vice president for external affairs and communications at Pacers Sports & Entertainment, said more than $2 million will be spent on the host committee’s arts and entertainment initiatives. Funding sources include Lilly Endowment Inc., the Capital Improvement Board of Marion County, the city of Indianapolis and the host committee itself.

The All-Star Weekend edition of Butter will feature 30 artists, including the Eighteen Art Collective made up of artists who painted the “Black Lives Matter” street mural on Indiana Avenue in 2020. The 2023 presentation of Butter at the Stutz, 1060 N. Capitol Ave., attracted 11,000 attendees and generated more than $285,000 in sales of artwork.

Chreece, the hip-hop festival that takes over multiple venues in Fountain Square each summer, schedules a lineup of Indianapolis rappers and DJs accented by past national artists such as Talib Kweli, Benny the Butcher and 9th Wonder.

All-Star Weekend’s displays of public art include video projections on buildings, sculpture installations and murals:

  • The roster of video projections includes an installation by Bloomington-based Blockhouse Studios on the sides of the building at 2 W. Washington St.; an installation by Australian artist Wendy Yu in collaboration with Blockhouse on the north side of the building at 141 S. Meridian St.; and a basketball-themed “Shining a Light” show on Monument Circle.
  • Sculpture installations include the illuminated spheres of “Evanescent,” created by Australian studio Atelier Sisu, placed at Hudnut Commons, 50 S. Capitol Ave.; the festive runway “Arch Down the Aisle,” created by Indianapolis artist Gautam Rao, along Capitol Avenue north of Georgia Street; and sci-fi portal “Quantum Cavern Obscura,” created by Indianapolis artist Fredrick Miller III, along Georgia Street east of Capitol Avenue.
  • The previously announced “Hoosier Historia” project will place 24 sculptures depicting Indiana’s high school hoops history painted on 6-foot “basketballs.” Locations include Monument Circle, the convention center, Julia M. Carson Transit Center and Indianapolis International Airport.
  • Murals by Indianapolis artists Jingo de la Rosa and Jonathan Southern will adorn the east and west sides of the Artsgarden, and updates to the sidewalk art galleries installed for the 2021 NCAA men’s basketball tournament are planned.
  • The public is invited to pose for selfies at a Georgia Street installation by Indianapolis artist Christina Hollering, who will place your photo in the context of a sports trading card.

Wednesday’s announcements by the host committee did not include details about what the NBA is planning for All-Star Weekend. Three concerts are scheduled Feb. 16-18 as part of NBA Crossover at the convention center. Tickets for one show, starring country-pop star Keith Urban on Feb. 17, are available for purchase. Headliners for the other shows have not been announced.

Artist announcements also are expected for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the All-Star Game and the game’s halftime show.

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One thought on “Music, visual arts highlight NBA All-Star host committee’s cultural plans

  1. My 9 year old grandson has an uncanny ability to absorb stats on NBA players, loves the game of basketball and asks Siri every morning about game results. He would be over the moon to see this game, but unless I want to shell out thousands of dollars, we’ll watch on tv. Something is wrong here.

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