A fully functioning hot tub, mixed media canvases and a large scale video depicting a nude woman squirming uncomfortably have all made their appearance at iMOCA at one point or another. Meanwhile, the Hoosier Salon's subject matter is often known for pastoral Brown County landscapes and covered bridges. So what happens when you let them go head to head?
Hoosier Salon vs. iMOCA will pit sculptures and paintings from the respective memberships against each other in a one-weekend only exhibition.
This exhibition was the brainchild of Richard Anderson, gallery manager at the Carmel Hoosier Salon Gallery. Anderson wanted his member artists to use this show as an opportunity to explore new media, new ideas, and new ways of making art.
"I want you to go play," Anderson says, approximating what he told them. "That's it. If you want to experiment with, 'I wonder what it's like to put yarn on canvas and then to paint a landscape on top of it,' go for it. If you want to experiment with 'Can I paint with toilet paper,' go for it. I want you to play, literally play, because our artists have got a skill set that is amazing."
When Anderson approached iMOCA Executive Director Paula Katz with this idea, she was all for it, and made space in Murphy location available, but seemed aware that this competition might not be to everyone's taste.
"It's a very cheeky — not meant to offend anyone — but a way to encourage his participants to be able to express themselves in a way that maybe they hadn't previously or to push their own limits," says Katz. "We just shaped some of the boundaries of how we'd do it."
Each iMOCA iNSIDER and Hoosier Salon member were allowed to submit one piece within a 30" size limit.
Anderson and Katz, who are both new to their positions, also had some out-of-the-box ideas, particularly about increasing membership and buy-in in their respective organizations.
"With iMOCA we had just launched our new iNSIDERS program and I wanted to include an annual exhibition as part of the benefit that people could participate in so it just kind of worked perfectly," says Katz.
"We're putting together some fun little prize packages," says Katz. "Just something fun to celebrate those people who were really enjoyed the most by the public. For me it's less 'iMOCA got less votes than Hoosier Salon' or vice versa, it's just to add a playful twist to the show."
But might this voting structure be more about how many friends a particular artist corrals rather than a reliable measure of whose work is most enjoyed by the public?
"I can comment that it is a 'friend' and 'fund' raising strategy," says Katz, when asked about the pay to play aspect of the voting. "Truthfully, it's a very low donation to participate in a fun event and support deserving arts organizations. The hope is that people will join us as members, not simply purchase ballots."
Likewise, Anderson is exploring new opportunities for Hoosier Salon artists in terms of displaying their work in new venues and contexts (outside the 91st Annual Hoosier Salon that opened July 30 in the Indiana History Center, or the Hoosier Salon's two Indiana galleries). Anderson says that he is also trying to create new opportunities in terms of professional development with the idea of using the spacious Carmel gallery for seminars on topics like finding the right frame or marketing strategies for artists. But Anderson is also trying not only to shake things up in the Hoosier Salon, but in the Indy art scene as a whole.
"I'm so tired of compartmentalized sections in Indianapolis and in Carmel and in Greenwood and in Speedway," he says. "Because we all fall under one word ... art. So let's act it. The people who are associated with this group or that group, we want you to show that you do art."
Indy-born Genna Pianki, who has shown her work in numerous venues in the city, will be showing work as a Hoosier Salon member.
"This competition interested me greatly because the public gets to vote," she says. "I paint to share my images with people so, while a juror may like my work, it's only one person who places the awards typically. This competition is ultimately decided by public votes and is surely to be an interesting outcome."
One iMOCA iNSIDER showing her work at this event happens to be Marna Shopoff, MFA graduate of Herron, and Stutz Resident Artist for 2014-2015.
"iMOCA is known to promote exhibitions that bring contemporary art/artists to the Indianapolis community and when I found out about this one-weekend competition, I couldn't pass it up," she says.
Exhibit: Hoosier Salon vs. iMOCA
When: Aug. 7-9
Wwhere: iMOCA (Murphy), 1043 Virginia Ave.
Hours: Friday 5-11 p.m., Saturday: 12-7 p.m., Sunday: 12-5 p.m.
Ballots: Cast votes for your favorite artwork. iMOCA iNSIDERS will receive ballots based on membership level. Hoosier Salon members will receive one ballot. $5 Additional ballots, $10 Non-member ballots