City Gallery

Harrison Center for the Arts

Funding Received: 2013
Indianapolis, IN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
January 16, 2014

The January City Gallery show features King Park work by Justin Vining, a former lawyer who began drawing on his textbooks in law school and eventually decided to become a full-time artist. Justin writes, “Before this show I had no idea what Indianapolis was like in its early years, but now I do. When asked to create a body of work inspired by the King Park neighborhoods, I was excited because I drive through this part of town all the time and am naturally drawn to all the historic homes that sit in these neighborhoods . . . I grabbed my camera and took to the streets.” Some of his resulting paintings feature the oldest homes in the neighborhood superimposed over 1855 plat maps of the area; others depict vibrantly-colored infill homes alongside available (empty) lots, offering a visual invitation for new neighbors. In other parts of our building, a local art professor and several of his students exhibited new work, one of our assemblage artists fashioned local found objects into “Trash, Tools & Delusions of Grandeur,” and hundreds listened to a team of writers who’ve moved away from Indianapolis share their stories of “coming home.” More than 1000 people attended despite the record cold temperatures and a winter storm forecast.


We continue to enjoy the growth of our place-based singer-songwriter initiatives. This month, we hired a local artist to repurpose a former pipe organ loft, creating a 54-square-foot mini recording studio that has come to be known as the “Sound Cave.” The Sound Cave, taking full advantage of its 13-foot high ceilings, is built out with a lofted bed, desk and recording equipment. With the build-out 90% completed, we began a four-month pilot program for our first 48-hour internship program. Our vision is to host amateur and professional bloggers, singer-songwriters and video producers for 48-hour residencies, with the purpose of discovering and sharing the King Park story. This month, two Chattanoogans spent the weekend discovering this neighborhood. They ate in our restaurants, sledded on the interstate embankments with neighborhood kids, and interviewed dozens of residents, culminating in the production of two blogs/videos. In reflecting on the experience, one said, “My desire to concentrate on the places of the city came from my own sentimentality. Ambience has always been important to me, and hearing a person’s philosophy of place is my favorite conversation topic. Obviously, places can be important for any number of reasons ranging from good memories to favorite foods. If a place is important to a person, I see that as an external embodiment of something within that person. Even if the person did not create the particular place, by valuing that location, the location itself becomes an expression of that person. Through this personal approach to places, I believed I would be able to get an idea of the identity of Indianapolis.”


Recent Wins
1. We received a $15,000 Fair Housing Grant to put interactive, accessible public art sculpture in the neighborhood. This installation, which will bring vibrancy and beauty to underserved King Park, will include audio featuring the voices of residents sharing their hopes and dreams for their neighborhood.

2. Community partners launched two new websites this month, which will have great impact on this neighborhood. First, the Kennedy King Memorial Initiative site, which celebrates the lives of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., and hopes to be an “an international destination for people seeking to promote Civil Rights all over the world.” Second, the long awaited Renew Indianapolis site was launched. This site serves as a clearinghouse for abandoned and blighted property in the city, helping find new homeowners and city residents to reclaim these properties.

3. A new vintage store, Queen Bee Vintage, opened in the historic apartment building and commercial area across the street from us.

4. This week, the New York Times listed Indianapolis as one of the “52 Places to Go in 2014.” Our projects complement the revitalization of our city that has given Indianapolis a unique image and garnered international attention.

5. We partnered with King Park Area Development Corporation and Slane Capital to apply for Community Development Block Grant funding for both an art and nature park and a business incubator along the Monon bike trail. The business incubator is relocating from a suburban county and is bringing 10 executive level jobs with plans to add 25-30 new jobs by 2018 (technology, design, and business development).


Our city was shut down for five days with 10-12” of snow. Many of the streets in our neighborhood were never plowed. Businesses were closed so alternative community started forming: urban sledding (sledding on interstate hills), cross country skiing, snowman competitions, snow sculptures, and many videos allowed people to enjoy community in a slow and beautiful space. Even minor “adverse situations” can bring people together and help create a sense of place.