Big Car artists are taking over the Circle with a helluva lot of creativity 

We got to chat with some of the local artists who are transforming the space into more than a park.

click to enlarge Indy, it's time we let go of our precious cars and embraced something green. Look, people really do like it more than the extra 30 seconds it took to drive around the Circle. - BIG CAR
  • Indy, it's time we let go of our precious cars and embraced something green. Look, people really do like it more than the extra 30 seconds it took to drive around the Circle.
  • Big Car

You know all of the green furniture around the circle these days? It is part of Big Car's project Spark, a creative placemaking experiment funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, City of Indianapolis and Central Indiana Community Foundation. Behind the booths, games and projects there are local artists who are out working every single day. We decided to chat with them about their experiences so far. Visit for daily events and their Flickr page for photos from downtown.

click to enlarge Duncan Kissinger - BIG CAR
  • Duncan Kissinger
  • Big Car
Musician John Flannelly

... on Mellow Mondays.

The idea: Experimental ambient music to be present at each show. "Hour-long sets are long for most people," says Flannelly. "So it really makes them stretch their wings."

Who: Duncan Kissinger performed recently. He chose to use five fans with microphones in front of them and had the audio lines going through a mixer.

Why it matters: "There are a lot of passersby who may or may not be famillar with it. There can be a lot of reactions. There is the opportunity to expose people to something they wouldn't normally get from Downtown Indianapolis. It's a nice opportunity to put experimental music in people's faces whether they want it or not."

click to enlarge Stephen Giles - BIG CAR
  • Stephen Giles
  • Big Car
Stephen Giles

... of Know No Stranger on sitting in the Listening Booth.

The idea: To have a table where people can sit and speak without judgment or necessary interruption.

Shocking Moments: "It's surprising how much people desire to be heard," says Giles. "You know a lot of times when we are talking to each other as people we are just waiting for our turns to talk. But in this I am really trying hard to listen to people and what they have to say. ... It's kind of like a secular confessional."

click to enlarge Megan Hart - EMILY TAYLOR
  • Megan Hart
  • Emily Taylor
Megan Hart

... art teacher at the Indianapolis Art Center and IPS on the As You Wish booth that is open on Wednesdays.

The idea: "It's a chance for people to have their wish granted for them in the interpretation of the artist," says Hart. Passersby can sit down and tell artists what their one wish would be. They then use pipe cleaners, paper and anything else available to them to make a mini representation of it and gift it to the wisher.

The requests: "This time I've had: a loving family, giraffe, sports car, pizza and private jet," says Hart. She has also been asked for a million dollars. She cut up yarn, put it in a bag and labeled it "one million doll hairs."

Your thoughts on public art: "I think of art as a way of interacting and looking at the world. You don't have to be able to draw anything to be able to think in the way that an artist does. That way of thinking can help you appreciate something, especially the mundane things... thinking as an artist can make your experience of a place more meaningful."

click to enlarge Erin Cohenour with co-actor. - BIG CAR
  • Erin Cohenour with co-actor.
  • Big Car

Erin Cohenour

... on being a Indiana Historical Society historical actor and one of the three roaming historical characters who walk around the circle on Thursdays.

Who is your character: First Lady Esther Ray, the wife of the fourth governor of Indiana. "This was long before the monument was there," says Cohenour. "They had thought about the city and planned to put the governor's mansion on the circle. They never really consulted Mrs. Ray, and when the house was completed it was just a disaster. There was no kitchen, the floor plan was terrible, it was damp, it was unhygienic. And furthermore she just didn't want her washing to be hung out on Monday morning for all the city to see. So she refused to live there. That's why a governor has never lived on the circle.

Why be on the Circle: "Indianapolis' history is so long, our bicentennial is next year, so there was almost a hundred years before the monument was there, where there were still really cool things going on in the Circle."

click to enlarge Chris Dance - SUBMITTED
  • Chris Dance
  • Submitted
Figurative sculptor Chris Dance

... on the booth Forensic Friends that's open on Saturdays.

The idea: An artist draws a portrait based only on verbal descriptions.

What is unique about the experience: "People get to realize that they know a person and they recognize them, but having to describe someone visually is a whole other language," says Dance. "It's fun for me too. It's like they are the artist but they are using my hand. ... But to see people engage in that activity of really studying a person and getting to know that act of being an artist. Even if it's just the act of seeing, you know. That's been the best part for me, seeing people light up and see how special the people in their lives are."

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About The Author

Emily Taylor

Emily Taylor

Emily is the arts editor at NUVO, where she covers everything from visual art to comedy. In fact she is probably at a theater production right now. Before joining the ranks here, she worked for Indianapolis Monthly and Gannett. You can find her thoughts about Indy scattered throughout the NUVO arts section and... more

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