City Gallery

Harrison Center for the Arts

Funding Received: 2013
Indianapolis, IN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
August 20, 2014

The City Gallery featured the work of several new artists, celebrating the King Park neighborhoods, in the past three months. In May, we showed Elizabeth Guipe Hall, whose encaustic works layered traditional beeswax with old photographs made from turn-of-the-century negative plates found in the attic of a neighborhood home. In June, Chad Campbell’s upcycled assemblages (made from wood, telephone wire, and other found objects salvaged from demolition and building sites in our neighborhood) told our neighborhood’s story. Our July show celebrates our newest “porch party” initiative with a collection of paintings of several of our neighbors hosting neighborhood front porch gatherings alongside handcrafted porch swings made by a local furniture designer and macrame planters.

The “porch party” initiative has been one of our biggest successes to date. In May and June, in an effort to activate our neighborhood streets, we asked City Gallery ambassadors in our immediate neighborhood to consider inviting people who live near them over for a front porch gathering. Over thirty households hosted parties that month. On the fourth of July, coinciding with our First Friday gallery opening, the City Gallery hosted our own porch party on our street-fronting patio. People gathered before the fireworks to mingle on the porch, have snow cones and other party fare, and see our newest show. We asked urban neighborhood residents to host their own party on July 13 for a record setting “City-wide porch party.” Over 120 households signed up to host and many more participated rogue style. These inspiring pictures and stories are being shared throughout the city.

This summer, we also have several new interns working with us, creating place-based work that celebrates this area of the city. Asa, an artist in residence from Brooklyn, NY, is an accomplished videographer who is capturing our neighborhood stories on video, as well as training two neighborhood high school students who will continue the work when he is gone. Jason and “Big Mike” are writing a “hip hop history of King Park,” creating a rap a week celebrating the positive changes in this neighborhood. Emmett explores the people and places in this part of the city and blogs about his experience, creating both fresh social media content and a stockpile of stories to share over the coming months. All of the work that is being generated will be posted on our website and can also be found on facebook, vimeo and soundcloud.

Paul Smallman, Music Fellow with the Harrison Center for the Arts Paul Smallman, Music Fellow with the Harrison Center for the Arts[/caption]

Our partner organization, the neighborhood community development organization, has been without an executive director for most of the past year. We had hoped to spend this year leveraging our artistic programming to come alongside and augment what they were doing in the neighborhood. At their request, we shifted our focus to creating new and highlighting current assets in the neighborhood, so that when they were able to move forward people would have a more positive view of the neighborhood. This month, they were able to hire an Executive Director, who is excited to be partnering with us in King Park. We’re looking forward to continuing to grow this neighborhood together.

Photo of vendors at the Independent Music + Art Festival Photo of vendors at the Independent Music + Art Festival[/caption]

Recent Wins
1. We hosted our Independent Music + Art Festival on June 14, a huge all day affair of food, music (12 bands), the Indieana Handicraft Exchange (over 100 artisans and crafters), and our open galleries and studios. Two high school interns worked all year on this project, writing grants, convening an advisory committee, booking bands, budgeting, and planning. The event, attended by over 7500 people, was a huge success.

2. The porch party initiative received great press across the city. From our local online arts magazine to an online history magazine to the city paper. We launched the idea with a new billboard (of a neighborhood porch party) and have loved seeing the stories and pictures that people have sent to us. We hope to continue and expand this in the future.

3. The economic corridor through the heart of this neighborhood has seen exploding revitalization and investment in the past three months, reinventing itself under the former historic name “Tinker Street.” A new foodie hub, Tinker Flats, a 3 million dollar development in a long abandoned building on our street is underway thanks to over $1 million dollars in CDBG grant money. We’ve been thrilled to be working with the developers on this project (link). An adjacent abandoned building has been purchased for development of new apartments and retail space bringing another $8 million in investment to the neighborhood (link). Tinker Coffee, a new coffee roaster and tasting room, has plans to open in September, and a prominent local restaurateur has purchased two abandoned buildings to open “Tinker Street,” a new fine dining restaurant for the neighborhood this fall and another restaurant next year.

4. We led place-based tours for over 500 high school students this summer. These tours help students understand what our neighborhood’s story is and how they are a part of it. These students now have an appreciation for why so many new businesses are adopting the name Tinker Street.

Insight/Provocation for the field
The porch party initiative required little investment from us (aside from marketing) but was so powerful. Our neighbors were inspired by the idea and took it up themselves. Are there other faster, cheaper, smarter ways we can encourage neighbors to be outside, visible, activating their own streets?