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“We don’t want to be too official,” says John Clark of Big Car Gallery with a hint of the Trickster in his voice. The Trickster shows up in the stories of aboriginal peoples. He’s a character that keeps everyone on their toes and paying attention to what’s happening around them — which, as it happens, describes Big Car.

A year and a half ago Clark, along with a handful of creative kindred spirits, founded Big Car as a gallery and artists’ collective on the second floor of the Murphy Arts Center in Fountain Square. It take Clark and his colleagues long to establish Big Car as a multi-faceted arts enterprise with a hand in a variety of activities across a range of different media with a decided enthusiasm for things surreal, avant-garde, and do-it-yourself. Big Car has sponsored concerts, film showings, performance art, gallery exhibitions and site-specific happenings. In the process, they have also tapped into a growing local audience for adventurous work.

Big Car’s seeming gift for finding creative opportunities was almost too much of a good thing. At any rate, the collective’s core group found itself taking on more than it could handle by itself. At the end of the summer, Big Car adopted a new organizational chart, including a 40-member advisory board. “The more we take on, the more people we need to pitch in,” says Clark. “That’s how we had to adjust after being at it for a year and a half. It’s practical, but it’s also more fun when there are other people involved. It can be a little more festive.”

That sense of the festive has carried over to Big Car’s management of the annual Masterpiece in a Day happening, a broad-based neighborhood festival that brings artists in a variety of disciplines to Fountain Square in order to create works of art on the spot. “Masterpiece in a Day embodies the whole idea of having various disciplines involved in having something happen right now,” Clark says. “People making it happen. That’s Fountain Square.” (See next week’s issue for more on Masterpiece in a Day.)

But Masterpiece in a Day is just the beginning of what Big Car is up to. BC recently established a partnership with independent record label Standard Recording, which should enrich the Big Car concert schedule. Then there’s the new series of monthly poetry readings called “Prompted,” which prompts writers to create new work on a variety of themes – October will be dedicated to “Scary Objects.”

Big Car is also collaborating with the Indiana Film Society on a Fall Film series and has combined a blood drive with live music for the Bloody Sundays concert series.

“From the beginning, the idea was to get different people involved,” says Clark. “I think that goes back to the surrealists and another of our heroes, the Beatles. They had so much energy and imagination. We feel like we’re part of something that’s growing. It’s coming into its own and it’s nice to be in on that and a part of it.”

Clark notes that Big Car’s gallery schedule is now booked well in advance with shows ranging from an exhibition of outsider art from around the country in October to a one-woman show by last year’s winner of the Masterpiece in a Day competition, Sarah Zuckerman. “It’s pretty wacky sometimes,” he chuckles, “but we manage and thrive.”

For more information about Big Car, call 339-0911, or got to www.bigcar.org.  

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