Some of these destinations aren’t ever going to win a Best Of Award, but I like spending time in them anyway. Sometimes it’s the normal everyday places/spaces that inspire me artistically — sometimes it’s the more unusual ones. In any case, I have a hard time being inspired on an empty stomach.
Best sculptures to take you to the uncanny valley — “Beautiful Riff”
These are the three almost life-size sculptures by Seward Johnson depicting men playing jazz. You can find them outside the Palladium at the Center of the Performing Arts in Carmel. There’s just something about these sculptures that’s slightly off. Maybe there’s something about the ability of painted bronze to convey the fluidity of music, and of men playing jazz.
Best Waffle House to which to ponder the novels of Kurt Vonnegut — 2621 S. LYNDHURST DR.
This would have to be the Waffle House right off the Sam Jones Expressway, near the airport. The restaurant — and the surrounding area — might remind you of the scenery depicted in Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Breakfast of Champions. (Don’t bother trying to find Wheaties, the actual Breakfast of Champions, on their menu.) I keep expecting KV himself to pop up here, when I’m eating my BLT and drinking my coffee, complaining that he’s both unstuck in place and in time.
Best artspace that resembles a David Lynch movie set — Circle City Industrial Complex
CCIC, which was used as an airplane engine testing facility during WWII, takes this award hands down. Usually there’s a featured artist every First Friday in the Schwitzer Gallery, and there’s a plethora of studios where some of Indy’s best artists are doing their thing. But if you take a wrong turn in this vast complex, you might find yourself in a vacant space straight out of Inland Empire (2006).
Best architecture to curb panic attacks — Central Library
The six-story glass and steel-framed addition to the 100-year old Central Library, designed by Evans Woollen, was completed in 2007. Sitting and having a (decaf) coffee in the atrium of this magnificent structure, watching the sunlight gleam on the glass, might just be the ticket — temporarily at least — to slowing down the racing thoughts of an anxious mind.
Best high concept bar to make an entrance like Anastasia Steele — Plat 99 Mixology Lounge
What Fifty Shades of Grey’s Anastasia wants, we all want. I’m not talking about wanting to be be dominated: I’m talking about love, poise, respect and confidence. And when we’ve got it, we want to flaunt it. There’s no better way of flaunting it than drinking a chic cocktail at Plat 99 under the jellyfish lights designed by Jorge Pardo. (If you have time, also check out Heeseop Yoon’s brilliant “Connecting the Lines” murals at the adjacent iMOCA at CityWay gallery up through Dec. 31). And when we’re feeling the alcohol kick in like a horse’s hoof to the cranium, we want to shed our clothes faster than fall leaves in a late-season tornado with our new BFF(s). Wait, what was the category again?
Best place to imagine that you're in Inception — Carmel City Center
The winner here is the multi-use development known as Carmel City Center, with its elevated terraces, its superlative vista of the Palladium and the Hubbard & Cravens where you can sit on the patio drinking cappuccino and pretend to talk to Leonardo DiCaprio while the (dream) universe explodes around you.
Best gravesite with a view — James Whitcomb Riley Tomb
Riley is Indy’s native son, but that doesn’t mean I can stomach the stuffy stuff he wrote for adults. It’s like breathing in dust in an old Victorian antechamber that hasn’t been aired out in 100 years. But I have to give credit where credit is due. He did inspire a cookbook named after him, after all, and you can’t beat the recipe for James Whitcomb Riley Jellycake. (Let’s face it: nobody’s gonna write a cookbook entitled after John Ashbery.) The site of his tomb, on the highest hill in Indy at Crown Hill Cemetery, has a superb view of the downtown skyline. It’s also a great place to picnic.
Best time portal to throw your cat into, and, after five minutes, get her back with 11 kittens — Parking lot 96th St.
It’s right there at the parking lot just north of 96th St. and the Monon Trail, in the shadow of the water fountain.