Whether it’s transforming a barbed-wire fence into a web of lace or flooding the sidewalks with soundscapes, Ed Woodham’s Art in Odd Places (AiOP) project has freaked out Manhattan for nearly a decade now, presenting exactly what its name suggests at an annual festival. As word of those efforts spread, satellite AiOP events began to sprout throughout the country and beyond, from Australia to Greensboro, North Carolina. But the idea never made its way to the Midwest—until now.
Intrigued by AiOP’s potential, Big Car executive director Jim Walker decided to bring it to downtown Indy, partnering with the Arts Council of Indianapolis, Classical Music Indy, and the Indianapolis Museum of Art to do so. On October 17 and 18, artists from several disciplines will enliven Market Street from the City Market to Monument Circle, giving passersby a fresh perspective at the inaugural Indianapolis AiOP Festival. One work, Memories Not Yet Remembered by Terry Hardy, will simulate an excavation site as the artist digs up jars containing secrets from his life.
“Ideally, people will stop because they see something that breaks them out of the monotony of day-to-day,” says Classical Music Indy president Charles Stanton. “The festival intends to gently shake people up, to make them think about their surroundings more.”
After receiving proposals from across the country, the Indy event’s curatorial team picked projects they felt would uniquely suit Market Street. The first of many guidelines given to artists encouraged the active use of the public space, as opposed to a static mural or sculpture. “It’s no longer enough to just create something for people to stare at,” says Big Car program director Anne Laker. “I think art is a two-way street, and so is AiOP.”
Big Car already has had some success with community-building events—it helps organize TEDxIndianapolis and the neighborhood-versus-neighborhood amateur soccer tournament Indy City Futbol. And the gallery intends to focus more on creative placemaking efforts like AiOP going forward. With the festival’s future likely depending on the city’s response to Year 1, the curatorial team’s ultimate goal for it is to create buzz. So expect a few outrageous surprises.
“I hope we can give thousands of people a moment of wonder, contemplation, and joy,” says Scott Stulen, curator of audience experiences at the IMA. “This will be a success if we can get people to view art and their city in a new way.”