City Gallery

Harrison Center for the Arts

Funding Received: 2013
Indianapolis, IN
Funding Period: 1 year and 5 months
December 18, 2013

Every December First Friday, we host our annual color-themed show. A winter storm warning didn’t deter over 1000 visitors from coming out to see artwork by more than 100 local artists in our “Grey Gardens” show. Visitors warmed up with soup from local food co-op, Pogue’s Run Grocer, while shopping for Christmas presents from local artisans at the INDIEana Handicraft Exchange, buying art from our 35 studio artists who were open for business, and mingling in our four galleries. In the City Gallery, new neighborhood-based work by Jed Dorsey virtually flew off the walls. Buzz about the show started in the morning with over 50% of the work sold by the end of the night.


One of the ways we see public perception of our neighborhood changing is in the number of new schools and school expansions coming to our neighborhood. The King Park area is finally being seen as a place where children can thrive, with schools of such high quality that students are coming from both inside and outside the neighborhood to study here, a message we are looking to promote. Our billboard, featuring a painting of students who live in this neighborhood walking to their local high school, has prompted a community conversation about reclaiming more billboards in the area. Public attention has included social media traffic, a great article on We are City, an Indianapolis-based e-zine for city lovers and an upcoming article in Urban Times. Adding to the great schools (like the Oaks Academy and Herron High School) started by neighbors, Phalen Leadership Academy opened just a few blocks north of us this year, and the Indianapolis Academy of Excellence, a newly chartered elementary school, just purchased an abandoned King Park building to open next fall. Because their administrators specifically wanted to welcome students to and from this neighborhood, they chose to use the City Gallery as a base for strategic planning and setting up meetings with prospective parents.


We have continued to explore how music can help create a sense of place, as well. The Young Songwriter’s Guild has over 40 members, now. Two student participants are writing a song for our February 2014 art show, a unique partnership with Indianapolis’s new professional soccer team. One of our summer singer-songwriter interns’ work was so well received, that he is writing 5 more neighborhood ballads, which were completed this month. In order to expand our place-based music focus even more, we are currently working to raise funds to build out our “sound cave,” a 48 square foot space with a 15-foot ceiling built to house organ pipes when the gallery was a chapel. The “sound cave” will become a weekend live/work recording studio/loft, complete with bunk bed, work station, and built-in equipment and instrument storage to host monthly 48-hour songwriting residencies beginning in January 2014.


This month, Velocity, the 5-year, strategic action plan for Downtown Indianapolis, was finally unveiled. Public art and neighborhood identity figure prominently in the plan, but the number one concern of downtown neighbors was improving transit, particularly increasing the bikeability and walkability of urban neighborhoods. We have been partnering with King Park Area Development Corporation (KPADC) to help create a Bicycle Boulevard to connect commuters using the Monon Trail, through our Kennedy King Park and residential streets to the hospital complex West of our neighborhood. In December, new bike racks and bus stops were installed in front of our building and several more throughout the neighborhood. We are again partnering with KPADC to request CDBG money for PUP stops and bike racks in the many areas where there is still need. PUP (People for Urban Progress), an Indianapolis based non-profit that “rescue[s] discarded materials, redesigning them for public benefit,” salvaged the bright orange stadium seating from abandoned Bush Stadium to place at public bus stops.

Recent Wins
1. Within the few blocks comprising this neighborhood, one new school opened, a second received a charter and purchased a building, a third is in negotiations for an expansion into the neighborhood, and a fourth received a $2 million donation to renovate part of its historic campus. Excellent new schools show that people are seeing this neighborhood as a good place for families (a change in public perception).

2. New artistic bus stops and bike racks being placed throughout the neighborhood encourage use of public transit and increase vitality.

3. Over 100 artists (record number) submitted work for our Grey Gardens show. Our venue is considered an asset for artists and patrons alike.

Placemaking is all about the local. But seeing and celebrating other neighborhoods’ good work opens our eyes to new ways to celebrate the areas we have given up on in our own place.