On April 21, the day Prince died, I drove downtown to the Goodwill offices to see an installation by artist Danielle Riede entitled Stories Unknown.
(Riede was one of the artists not to miss this IDADA First Friday
: she’s part of the Asphaltum Art Exhibit
celebrating the 100th running of the Indy 500 at the Circle City Industrial Complex (CCIC). The Stutz Gallery also had a show of race-themed artwork by Indy artists as well as race memorabilia while Big Car's Tube Factory opened its inaugural exhibition with The People's 500.
And if that weren't enough, the Arts Council of Indianapolis was giving away free posters at Gallery 924 and at the Harrison Center that highlighted and celebrated its commissioning of 33 local artists to make their own unique Welcome Race Fans
works of art.)
It was raining heavily that day, the day Prince died, and later that afternoon WTTS - 93.3 FM broadcasting out of Bloomington - played the entire Purple Rain album which seemed odd…. I don’t recall ever hearing them play Prince before. But, hey, I don’t want to be too cynical here. It was a nice gesture.
It felt weird going to the corporate offices to check out the opening for an art installation. (Full disclosure: in addition to writing for NUVO as a freelancer, I work as a Team Leader for a northwest side Indy Goodwill retail store.)
The installation consisted of 50-odd drapes tied from floor to ceiling in this former cafeteria space. These drapes were sewn or knotted together from heterogeneous textiles gleaned from Goodwill Outlets. As I walked in, I saw two sets of people that I see exclusively on very different occasions, on both sides of this permeable membrane of an installation.
Among the dozens of people gathered there, I spotted a very pregnant Paula Katz – the Executive Director of the Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art – seated off in the corner of the room. I also spotted a mixing and mingling Kent Kramer, the President/CEO of Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana.
This installation - not-so-incidentally- was jointly sponsored by iMOCA
and the Goodwill Industries Foundation of Central Indiana. It was geared to shedding insight on Goodwill's mission of generating income - and opportunity - from recycled materials.
I wanted to check out the installation, of course, but I also wanted to grab a quote or two from Danielle Riede on her work for the First Friday show at the CCIC.
But first I made the rounds. When I walked up to Kent Kramer, the woman he was talking to looked at the sticker on my shirt with my name on it. Then she looked at me, and said, “Don’t I know you?”
I said, “Well maybe you’re a Goodwill shopper, or maybe you’ve seen me out on First Fridays covering openings for NUVO, I dunno….”
This woman happened to be Megan Jefferson, the grant writer for the small Indy-based nonprofit, Department of Public Words. As Goodwill CEO Kent Kramer looked on, perhaps a little perplexed – and as I wondered whether it was such a good idea to admit that I was moonlighting to my boss of bosses – we figured out that I had actually interviewed Megan (by phone) for a NUVO feature running in late January entitled Couples Doing it in Public: Art.
Megan and her husband were doing it in public on last February'a First Friday exhibition at the Harrison Center for the Arts.
Eventually I got around to talking to Riede about her upcoming work as part of the group exhibit at the CCIC.
“I’m going to be showing some of the paintings from my Wingspan series which is a new series… connected to intuitive movement,” she said. “I’m thinking of my own arms as my wingspan and the limitations of my body and scale in relationship to the work. Also when I’m approaching the paintings, I don’t have an idea of what they’re going to look like. I just have initially the movement and then I’ll pick some colors and I practice the movement, the gesture, before I go up to the painting…”
Riede is getting back to painting, she says, after having worked with repurposed materials since 2003. Her work at Asphaltum, will reflect this shifting of gears.
As far as the theme of this CCIC exhibition is concerned, the 100th running of the Indy 500, it’s a theme that Riede – who just moved to the CCIC this summer – is somewhat acquainted with.
“I went to the Indy 500 for the first time last year," she told me. "I was blown away by the speed and the cars and I felt like I was experiencing a video game. And it was shocking to me as someone who had never experienced that before.”
We came back to the theme of her “Stories Unknown” work. I told her that the work reminded me of displays that I'd seen of Tibetan prayer flags in various books and films. Such flags are often found in mountain passes in the Himalayas, and are used to bless the surroundings.
Riede said that idea of prayer flags had, in fact, occurred to her during the composition of the work. But also relevant to the work were the many conversations that she had had with Goodwill employees as she prepared the installation.
And again the strangeness of the day came back to me, this bizarre merging of my Goodwill and my arts writing worlds. I thought of prayer flags uniting earth and sky; I thought of the the cycling and recycling of materials through the Goodwill system, and finally, I thought of the cycling and recycling of human bodies and human souls, wherever they wind up in the end.
Or maybe there no end to it all. Maybe it's one big giant cycle. After our trip to the big Goodwill Outlet store in the sky, as it were, maybe we come back in some different form.
But I hadn’t come to this opening to wax philosophical. I had a task at hand.
And I had an idea that I wanted to try on Riede.
"I might write something in my blog along the lines of 'This artist is ready to spread her wings…'” I told Riede, riffing on the title of her work, "Wingspan."
She told me that was hokey, and that she’d prefer me not to use that.
“Well, I guess that I’m just a sucker for a cheap metaphor,” I said.
Click here for a map and complete list of IDADA member exhibitions.