Back in 2013, a 4-story-high, 40-year-old mural on 32 N. Delaware St. caught the eye of Richard McCoy, director of Landmark Columbus. The once bright geometric designs of this once bright mural were wearing thin and faded. McCoy, nonetheless, soon understood that there was a rich history behind it connecting to the story of public art in Indianapolis.
The “Untitled” mural was painted by Austrian artist Roland Hobart in 1973. Hobart currently lives in Bloomington, IN. in an assisted living facility.
The story of how Hobart came to paint that wall is also a chapter in the revitalization of the Indy downtown under then-mayor Richard Lugar. The upcoming exhibition at UIndy: Public Art in Indy: Roland Hobart and a New Era in the City, curated by McCoy, explores the work of Hobart and other artists involved in this history, opening at UIndy Jan. 19.
“I had an intern at Butler work with me and we researched it,” says McCoy. “We found Roland in Bloomington and got to know him and then he donated his collection to the University of Indianapolis which also has the mayoral archives.”
Hobart won the opportunity to paint the mural through a competition entitled Urban Walls. The contest was inspired by an exhibition by the same name held at the Herron School of Art and Design, an exhibition that Richard Lugar’s staff happened to see.
Other works by Hobart will be available to view such as his five sesquicentennial prints. And there are works by other artists invoked, and commented on, in this exhibition.
Milton Glaser’s 1975 mural “Color Fuses” at the Minton-Capehart Federal Building, a work that was refurbished in 2012, is highlighted. Also highlighted is James McQuiston’s 1976 mural “The Runners” on 11 S. Meridian St. Such works are milestones in the history of public art pre-2012 Super Bowl, when almost overnight, 46 murals sprung up in Indianapolis (as part of the 46 for 46 Murals project sponsored by the Arts Council of Indianapolis).
The exhibit opens Jan. 19. A related symposium on Feb. 5 entitled Building Vibrant Cities through Art will also take place at UIndy which Hobart himself plans on attending.
Public Art in Indy
Jan 19 – Feb 12
Roland Hobart and a New Era in the City
Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center Gallery at UIndy, 1400 East Hanna Avenue
Feb. 5, 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Building Vibrant Cities Through Art
Free, but registration required.