A neighborhood that is in the artery of Indy will soon have a transfusion of artwork, community placemaking and innovation. The 5x5 competition allows five finalists to present for five minutes with five slides in the hopes of winning $10,000 to turn their projects into a reality. The condition is it must be based around the 38th and Illinois Street neighborhood and based around the idea of "#LOVEat38th."
"I was thinking about Indianapolis as the crossroads of America," says Kyle Ragsdale, local artist and one of the five finalists. "That little corner is kind of a crossroads — Butler students going through there to go downtown, Meridian Kessler moms maybe going to the Children's Museum, people on their way to the fair. A lot of people go through that intersection."
We spoke with the five finalists to see what they are planning.
Steve Mannheimer, Sounds Above
"Pedestrians will hear unexpected sounds coming from the rooftop of a nearby business or institutional building," says Steve Mannheimer.
The sound installation will be a culmination of recordings made from sounds already in the neighborhood (with a focus on the sounds of building materials like hammering or sawing) and metaphoric interpretations. (Mannheimer gave the example of ascending piano glissandos.) Passersby will hear the audeme fade in and out from nearby business rooftops.
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He hopes for the project to move to new neighborhoods after a few months.
"The overall experience will broadly build a sense that the local business community, beyond its existence as bricks and mortar offering goods and services, also exists in our imagination as an evolving set of intangible, sometimes even metaphoric ideas and emotions," says Mannheimer.
Charles Stanton, Music Unites:
Connecting Communities with Neighborhood Activation
Charles Stanton, president and CEO of Classical Music Indy, has been working through his project plan for the last year. Classical Music Indy regularly pays professional musicians to come into schools and senior centers to play for small groups and lead discussions after. One key focus for Stanton is making sure the musicians are connecting to the community. For example, if the area is predominantly Hispanic, they want to make sure the musician speaks Spanish or are of Hispanic origin.
"We are curating all of the music and musicians to be relevant to the community," says Stanton.
The problem, he says, is that a classical music program takes place between four walls. They needed something that was a visual representation of the conversations. Their pitch will also include filling vacant windows with light, sound and visual instillations.
"We are wanting to activate the communities and beautify," says Stanton. "And frankly we want to show people that someone is paying attention and that someone cares. That's really the goal. And using music as the vehicle for this positive social change ... Vacancy leaves people feeling, "gosh not only do I not have neighbors around me who are active, businesses are running away ... being able to fill those vacancies with something visual is important.
The musicians will discuss what the instillations should look like with community members and create visual representations of each performance and discussion. Having a direct point of access through the windows is key to the program's success.
Stefan Eicher, 38th & Shine
Creating history is no small task, but Stefan Eicher hopes to do it with metal nitrates, chlorates, or perchlorates — sparklers to be exact. He plans to have the community break a world record for most sparklers lit at once. Right now the current record is 1,070; they hope to have 1,100 lit in Tarkington Park on the night of May 7.
"We realize that these records get broken quite regularly and pretty easily," says Eicher. "It's less of the actual record, it's more that this community achieved this thing collectively."
Shawn Causey & Mark Daniell,
"We both live near the area and would love to see new life breathed into the neglected 1930s. Concord building on the corner of 38th and Illinois Streets," says Shawn Causey.
The two hope to build large scale color changing light installations that will either wrap the exterior corner or emanate from the interior of that building. The two hope to literally build a beacon of change.
"This color expression invites the viewer to bring a fresh awareness to the space," says Causey. "It is a poetic riff on the meaning of place — vitality, hope, emerging potential. The artwork provides the community with a new art encounter in a familiar place."
Kyle Ragsdale & Marcia Jones, Bling
"My thought was to bring some bling," says Kyle Ragsdale, curator for the Harrison Center for the Arts. Ragsdale hopes that "bling" will be a visual representation of dreaming. He and Marica Jones plan to use the outside of the former flower shop on 38th Street as a mixed media canvas. The bottom half will have portraits painted by Ragsdale while the top will be covered in a tapestry of sequins and shimmering material woven by Jones. The faces portrayed will be people who live in the area.
"Something like this that can look exciting and bright can make someone's walk from the bus stop a little bit more hopeful," says Ragsdale.
One of the faces will be Jones. Ragsdale included an anecdote in his proposal about when her car was stolen this winter. Several weeks after the theft she was riding past a gas station when she saw her car out front. She leapt out of the car and started yelling, 'That's my car. You stole my car.' The people who had stolen turned on their heels and ran away. She was able to get her car back that day.
"I just felt like her tenacity and her resilience is kind of — actually I think part of the mural will be her dreaming — I think part of that resilience is what the project is kind of about, dreaming of a better life," says Ragsdale.
Editor's note: The neighborhood above is NUVO's home. We are committed to playing a strong role in developing and cultivating it for the better. Shine on, Indy.