The pre-history of Primary Colours dates from 1998, when a couple veterans on the local art scene, Jeff Martin and Fred Shields, first hatched the idea of connecting local artists with the community at large in new, innovative ways. But Primary Colours is timing this week's 10th anniversary celebration to 2002, when the organization established itself as a 501(c)(3) non-profit with all the fixings.
Allotropy, an art-and-music party held through 2008 in abandoned spaces throughout the city, was Primary Colours' flagship event in the early years. Art vs. Art, likely the world's only painting competition featuring chainsaws, and Installation Nation, which features installations housed in metal shipping containers, were introduced later in the decade and continue to be held annually or semi-annually.
It's a measure of Primary Colours' success that the organization is no longer a unique force on the Indy scene. Events like Oranje and TURF (IDADA's art installation pavilion mounted during the Super Bowl) demonstrate that it's almost become the norm to present art in an unconventional, interactive manner. As such, the braintrust behind Primary Colours is changing up its tactics a little in order to better aid local artists in their work. Shannan Spence, board president at Primary Colours, told us more.
Shannan Spence: Today, with the success of First Friday and with so many more opportunities for local artists, we see artists needing more support in handling the business side of being a professional artist. While we still love putting on annual events like Installation Nation and Art vs. Art, we also want to help provide artists with practical resources such as finding an accountant to help with their taxes or a copywriter who can help with web content. We've had a long-time partnership with Arts Council of Indianapolis, conducting free artist workshops that address these topics and more. So we're hoping to expand in this area and become a resource for artists. With the recent launch of our new website, we have a dedicated page for artist resources that we will continue to develop as we receive feedback from local artists.
NUVO: What else is next for Primary Colours?
Spence: We moved into the Murphy building about a year ago, so the gallery is still a relatively new initiative for us. With the Primary Gallery, we have six shows a year and hope to continue to showcase some really amazing artists. We're constantly challenging ourselves to stay relevant and asking artists how we can help them be more successful. We conducted two workshops last year to get a pulse on how artists could be better served in this city. We received some really great feedback that will continue to help us shape our events and programs. One of the small things we started doing is holding a closing reception for each of our shows. This usually takes place on the 3rd Friday of the month, and it's a great opportunity for people to see the show, chat with the artist and hang out with us for a bit. We love putting on events like Art vs. Art, Installation Nation and Toys. As long as artists still enjoy participating and people still have a great time at our shows, we will continue our labor of love!