City Gallery

Harrison Center for the Arts

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

By Pam Allee

A lot of exciting things happened in King Park this month. We received funding from the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana to commission accessible public art sculptures for a beautiful new low-income housing complex. By using QR code technology, the sculptures play recordings of the hopes and dreams residents have for their neighborhood. This installation builds on work commissioned by the housing developers for the community center, created by our artists, telling the stories of place. The sculptures came through another funding source, which also brought another partner into this collaboration. On April 5, we hosted an unveiling of the sculptures for the community and a celebratory lunch for the residents of the complex. There was enough extra food to invite neighbors, local high school students, and community volunteers who were working to clean and beautify the neighborhood through the Great Indy Cleanup, “a city-wide springtime event where neighborhoods across Indianapolis organize neighborhood cleanup efforts in public green spaces, streets, alleys and waterways.”

4-2014 THREAD exhibit4-2014 THREAD exhibit2

The night before was our monthly First Friday gallery opening. The City Gallery featured work documenting the hair and hairstyles of King Park neighbors. This exhibit, created especially to celebrate our neighborhood, will be included in “THREAD: a love letter to Indianapolis,” a website and book devoted to sharing the stories that connect us to each other, forming the fabric of our community. In our Harrison Gallery, local Grammy-nominated musician Stuart Hyatt created an enormous visual and sound installation based on his walking 20 miles of Washington Street (the Old National Road, which bisects the center of Indianapolis), recording the ambient sounds and conversations with people he met along the way.

4-2014 Indy Sound Map

Our local online cultural magazine “We are City” included this promo in its weekly recommendations:

“Stuart is mapping with sound, walking around Indy with a field recorder, adding geo-tags to each of the recordings. He's not done yet; Indy is a big city. But this Friday night at the Harrison Center, you can hear his take on East Washington Street. He'll also have sounds from his upcoming album FIELD WORKS . . . .”

You can read more about it here and listen to an interview from NUVO too!

4-2014 Indy Sound Map2

April 4 also marked the 46th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Robert F. Kennedy’s famous speech announcing the news, which was given in our King Park neighborhood, was inspiring, gracious, and unifying. Notably, Indianapolis was the only major city that did not experience rioting that night. A memorial was held in the Kennedy-King Park at the center of the neighborhood and featured a local eighth grader who recited Robert Kennedy’s 6-minute speech for the crowd that gathered to commemorate the occasion.

One of our artists also created a new painting for the billboard we have in the center of our neighborhood. This painting celebrates neighborhood schools—past and present, which help us understand our story of place. Read more in our weekly blog.

In beginning our foray into public art, we have had to research issues concerning right-of-way, utility clearance, and particularly accessibility. Codes and standards for outdoor accessibility are difficult to find, lengthy and often unclear, and we’ve found no single source for information. We researched across the Internet, made lots of phone calls and met with several people; in the end, we relied on the advice of experts in our community for what would be appropriate. We are so grateful for our broader relationships in the city.

Recent Wins

-- A retiring One America CEO donated $500,000 to Wheeler Mission, our local homeless shelter, and $500,000 to a local elementary school serving our neighborhood children in a holistic way.

-- Affordable housing developer TWG Development LLC was awarded $836,756 in credits, as well as $450,000 in additional state funding to help finance its $9.6 million project to convert a vacant building at 1352 N. Illinois St. into 63 affordable senior-housing units.

-- Another new apartment complex (23 market rate and 11 affordable units) is slated for construction on a vacant lot in the neighborhood. The developer cited several new businesses and schools in the area as impetus for his construction saying, “Lincoln Square Restaurant & Pancake House and Teas Me Cafe & Gifts have opened in the neighborhood along with charter schools Phalen Leadership Academy and Carpe Diem.”

-- National blog,, ranked Indianapolis #3 in its list of the nation’s top 10 downtowns. In addition to raving about our great neighborhoods, the blog cited one of the assets as the Harrison Center Independent Music + Art Festival.

Even we have been surprised by the power of music and visual art to spur economic development. We are adding artisan food to our artistic mediums, having grown in our understanding of the necessity of engaging all the senses in creative placemaking. A festive schedule of neighborhood porch parties is on the agenda for community building this summer.