"Happening or happenstance?
Envisioning a trendy magnet for art lovers, Carmel’s Mayor Jim Brainard has used the vehicle of public-private partnerships to transform Carmel’s Old Town. The recent opening of the Evan Lurie Gallery of Fine Art on 30 W. Main St. will perhaps be seen as a milestone in this transformation. Attracting Lurie and the gallery that bears his name to Old Town was a Brainard initiative — one designed to lure other trendy galleries and restaurants to the district.
This past month hasn’t been an entirely smooth one for the gallery. On Oct. 28, the public-private partnership that floated the Lurie building came under the scrutiny of The Indianapolis Star in a front-page article. Then, just as it seemed that Brainard’s electoral win put the kibosh on this controversy, local philanthropist Jeremy Efroymson abandoned his effort to locate the Midwest Museum of Contemporary Art (MiCo) in the second story of the Lurie Building (or anywhere else in Carmel, for that matter).
When I asked Lurie about this, he seemed sanguine about the affair, saying that there will be other museums — most likely in other buildings — in Old Town. But Steve Meyers, co-owner of the Carmel business Accent Details, doesn’t see this happening within the next two years. The loss of MiCo was significant, he said, because of the synergy that the pairing with Lurie could have generated.
As for Evan Lurie himself, this former stuntman/actor turned entrepreneur has an impressive stable of international artists exclusive to his galleries (he also co-owns a gallery in Miami). Lurie said of his taste, “I tend to gravitate towards more contemporary surrealism, contemporary abstract work … I tend to like a little bit of a heavier subject matter. The European artists tend to have … a darker palette and [I like] the … vibrant colors of Latin American work as well.”
When asked if Carmel was ready for such work, Lurie said, “I think Indianapolis as a whole is ready … I’ve had a number of Europeans here that have relocated because of their companies and a lot of East Coast and West Coast people that have relocated here and those people are looking to find what they would find in some of those major art markets and I think its time we accommodate that because they’re ready to buy it.”
Nov. 17, the Lurie Gallery participated in the Inaugural Gallery Walk organized by the Carmel Arts & Design District Association. That night, all the galleries along Main Street appeared to be receiving foot traffic. The Lurie Gallery was packed with revelers and so was The World’s Smallest Children’s Art Gallery several doors down. Steve Meyers, watching over the gallery, registered 150 people visiting within a 90-minute period.
“I haven’t seen this kind of foot traffic in Old Town in the two years that I’ve lived here,” I told him.
“Ever,” he corrected me.