Indy’s Art Galleries
Collected Wisdom: A guide to the city’s best art galleries, artists, and collectors.
Nearly half of Indy’s art galleries are new in the last few years. If IDADA was still a thing the last time you made it to an opening, maybe it’s time to brush up on the scene. Here, you’ll find the best places to buy now, aficionados sharing their favorite pieces, and the Instagram feeds of local artists worth stalking. Ready to hang with the creative types?
After a 20-year legal career defending prisoners on death row, Rhonda Long-Sharp decided to pursue a very different passion: modern art. She opened the Long-Sharp Gallery in 2005, selling works (mostly signed prints) by Picasso, Warhol, Haring, Calder, Lichtenstein, and Indiana from her house. A few years ago, she brought that expertise to the Conrad Hotel, where the gallery now has a permanent home. To complement the high-profile names, the business also curates a growing roster of regional, national, and international artists: Gino Miles, Amy Kirchner, and Russell Young, to name a few. Depending on the artist, a piece can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $1,000,000. But don’t let sticker shock keep you from this downtown gallery. The enthusiasm the owner and her staff have for art is pretty infectious. “I totally believe you cannot sell work that you don’t love,” says Rhonda’s daughter and gallery director, Nicole Sharp. She explains that for each piece the gallery acquires, they conduct market research. What was going on in the artist’s life at the time this painting was created? What was going on in the world? “Research is paramount,” Sharp says. “Anytime you can give context to a work, that’s a positive.” 1 N. Illinois St., Ste. A, 866-370-1601
If you’re looking for the best Indy-based artists, this is the place to go. You’ll find ceramics by Andrew Perry Davis and Lesley Baker, both of whom have taught at the Herron School of Art and Design. Quincy Owens, Kipp Normand, and Susan Brewer have also displayed their work at Gallery 924, a fixture downtown since 2010. Its mission? Provide professional development and resource opportunities for mid-career artists. “During the recession, we had this mass exodus of galleries,” says Shannon Linker, gallery director. “We at the Arts Council of Indianapolis started thinking, What can we do? We have to help artists sell their work.” Today, the nonprofit gallery hosts a variety of solo and group shows, including TINY. That annual December show features 6” x 6” x 6” pieces selling for as little as $10. (Outside of that event, depending on the artist and work, pieces can go for as much as $6,000.) Although Gallery 924 operates on only a $5,000-a-year budget, it’s raising the bar in Indianapolis. “That’s our goal,” says Linker. “To do the things the artists need us to do. To show them the best practice of working with a gallery.” 924 N. Pennsylvania St., 317-631-3301
Joanna Taft likes to boast that the Harrison Center, where she’s the executive director, is “the most diverse place in Indianapolis.” With 36 artist studios and five galleries, the former church building on the Old Northside is certainly a place for an eclectic art experience. Here you’ll find, among others, Kyle Ragsdale, Courtland Blade, and Alicia Zanoni creating and selling their paintings. Prices start as low as $25 and go as high as $10,000, so there’s something for everyone. Some of the Pacers buy here, but you’ll find a broad range of patrons—high school students to empty nesters, people with graduate degrees and people with no degrees. Taft says the Harrison is a place for “emerging patrons,” meaning people who like art but may be intimidated by the commercial gallery arts scene. “What brings us all together is a desire for community and feeling connected,” she says. “We find that through the beauty of art, relationships are built here.” 1505 N. Delaware St., 317-396-3886
Evan Lurie Gallery
The owner of this Arts & Design District anchor describes his gallery as the edgiest in town. “It’s not that we intentionally try to be edgy,” Lurie says. “It’s just that the art tends to have a more provocative narrative.” Many of the artists he represents are international, though some work regionally and nationally. “I sell art that will engage the viewer so it’s more of a centerpiece to a collection as opposed to something to go over a couch,” he says. Among the artists he features are surrealist Jorge Santos (Portugal), abstract painter Francisco Valverde (Mexico), and X-ray photographer Nick Veasey (England). Local favorites include Susan Brewer and William Denton Ray, and prices range from less than $1,500 to $15,000. Indiana collectors frequent Lurie’s gallery and even follow him to shows in Aspen and Miami. “It’s an addiction, art,” he says. “When you start collecting and you understand the artists’ motivations, people just want to be around it.” 30 W. Main St., Carmel, 317-844-8400
10th West Gallery
Tony Quintana and Maria Behringer, co-directors of 10th West Gallery in the Stutz Building, call their space “two-sided, both physically and exhibition-wise.” They use one side to exhibit regional artists who have never shown in Indy or have a strong following in their hometown. They find those by digging on social media and doing regional studio visits. “Instagram has been a player for us lately,” Behringer says (see p. 70). On the other side, Quintana says, are “artists we see in Indianapolis who we believe in.” Some of those you’ll find in the year-old gallery include abstract painter/collagist Mary Lou Dooley Waller; Philip Campbell, who was among the winners of the 2018 Christel DeHaan Artist of Distinction Award; and John Ross, a chainsaw artist who carves on wood. Prices range from $200 to $10,000, meaning 10th West sells to both local and regional collectors. Thanks to their location, the owners also see students from the nearby Herron School of Art and Design occasionally. So they keep their eyes open for the next generation of talent. 212 W. 10th St., 317-605-7893
After 20 years as assistant director of the venerable Ruschman Art Gallery and five years running her own place in Michigan, Telene Edington opened her Indy gallery last April with the goal of making art as accessible as possible. “I don’t think you should feel like you have to walk in and make some astute remark about art,” she says. “Just look at it. Enjoy it. And then you can understand how it adds to your life.” She sells to curious people who like original work, as well as longtime customers who collect regional art. (One well-known Colts player is a client.) Edington represents a number of mid-career artists, and the plan is to present six month-long shows a year featuring artists such as Nicholas Silk (a landscape artist from Bermuda), printmaker and painter Dorothy Alig, and former Herron School of Art and Design sculpture instructor Stacey Holloway. Depending on the artist, prices can be as high as $5,000, but Edington says she likes to stay more in the $600–$1,000 range. “I make it pretty easy for anyone who wants to buy art,” she says. 1495 N. Harding St., 317-590-6513
Magdalena Gallery of Arts
When painter Magdalena Hoyos-Segovia moved to Indiana from Brazil—her husband, Fernando, took a job with Dow AgroSciences—someone suggested that she buy a building in Carmel rather than lease gallery space. Her location in the Arts & Design District serves as her studio, a space for art classes, and a gallery where she displays artists such as Tom Towhey, an abstract painter from Cincinnati; Kendall and Marisabel (K&M), two emerging artists who paint abstract landscapes; and, of course, her own work, which she describes as “human gestures that evoke emotions that in turn uplift the human spirit.” The common threads in their work are vibrant color and accessible prices. Art in her gallery runs from $45 for a print to up to $6,000 for an original piece. “I want a gallery that is accessible,” Hoyos-Segovia says. The gallery’s customers often are Carmelites redoing their homes, but she has sold K&M’s work to far-flung collectors and several of Towhey’s pieces to Eli Lilly and Company. 27 E. Main St., Carmel, 317-844-0005
This gallery has history on its side. Started in 1925, the Hoosier Salon is perhaps best known for its annual exhibition at the Indiana State Museum that attracts thousands of visitors looking for paintings by local artists. The rest of the year, it operates a great gallery in Carmel’s Arts & Design District. There, you can find work by portraitist Wyatt LeGrand and landscape painters David Seward and Justin Vining, as well as some sculptures and glass pieces. Work can sell for $100 for a 4-inch-by-6-inch painting all the way up to a few thousand dollars for a 30-by-40. American United Life executive Jerry Semler and retired Eli Lilly CEO John Lechleiter are among its patrons. The Hoosier Salon tends to attract serious collectors, but you’ll also see families walking through during Carmel’s Meet Me on Main. “We’re trying to get them hooked on the value of buying real art,” says gallery manager Michael Sinon. “Something that has value and meaning, and that can sustain an actual living, working artist.” 22 N. Rangeline Rd., Carmel, 317-669-6052
A back-porch conversation led to the creation of Gallery Forty-Two, which Curt Hunter now co-manages with his brother. The two grew up with art-collecting parents who acquired 42 East Washington Street several years ago. After restoring and revitalizing the pre-Civil War structure, the family opened their fine-art gallery, which Hunter describes as “sculpture-heavy.” Work can sell for as much as $40,000, though Hunter says the average price for paintings is around $4,000. A typical client is an affluent, avid art collector—someone with enough disposable income to purchase an original Salvador Dalí. The two-floor, 3,000-square-foot gallery also showcases work by Boban Ilic (a Serbian sculptor), James Fiorentino (an American watercolorist specializing in sports imagery), and Indiana native Gabriel Lehman. “[Gabriel] is a newer artist and has a real whimsical style,” says Hunter. “We had a couple from Boston who really loved his work. They wanted to know if they could commission him for a piece. That was one of the first art sales for him.” 42 E. Washington St., 317-822-4242
You may not have been inside this downtown gem, but you’ve certainly been past it. The 3,500-square-foot gallery sits just south of Monument Circle, on the second floor of the historic Kahn Building. Inside is a vast collection of art from Ghana, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. “About 80 percent of our art is from different parts of Africa,” says gallery manager Dexter During. Each piece—be it a sculpture or a painting—is vibrant and evocative. Something that may stop you in your tracks. For During, it’s Brothers with Totem by Amos Supuni. “I like it because it’s a sculpted piece that looks like a fish on one side, but a man on the other,” he says. Supuni isn’t the only sculptor Kuaba features. The gallery represents more than a dozen artists who specialize in sculpting, wood-carving, and painting, including Dominic Benhura and El Anatsui. You can also find colorful paintings by Kofi and Nyornuwofia Agorsor, pointillist canvases by Betty Acquah, and impressionist work from Indy’s own Marianne Glick. Price-wise, the art ranges from $60 all the way up to $30,000. 1 N. Meridian St., 2nd Floor, 317-955-8405
Eckert & Ross Fine Art
Jim Ross doesn’t face the same resistance to his collection that some contemporary dealers do. As the co-owner (with Lisa Eckert) of Eckert & Ross Fine Art, he’s always meeting people interested in historic Indiana art. “The state has a rich art tradition,” Ross says, citing the Hoosier Group. “They were Impressionists who studied in Europe and came back to start a regional school of painting.” Some of them—T.C. Steele, William Forsyth, J. Ottis Adams, and Otto Stark—make up the core of the E&R collection, which also features work by John Michael Carter and Fred Doloresco. “We specialize in antique artists, so it can be hard for living ones,” says Ross. Customers include history buffs and a couple of Fortune 500 CEOs. The gallery draws new collectors occasionally, but with prices in the $5,000 to $25,000 range, it’s not the site of many impulse purchases. 5627 N. Illinois St., 317-255-4561
Artists To Follow
Instagram is a great way to keep track of artists you want to collect. Here, nine locals worth following.
Instagram handle: dataplancowboy
Medium: Oil on canvas
Where to buy: Harrison Center
Constance Edwards Scopelitis
Instagram handle: constanceart
Medium: Oil on linen
Where to buy: Constance Art, 1060 N. Capitol Ave., 317-414-1925
Instagram handle: kyleragsdale
Medium: Oil on canvas
Where to buy: Hoosier Salon
Instagram handle: emmaoverman
Medium: Acrylic on wood
Where to buy: Harrison Center
My Favorite Piece
Raginae Laughlin, Piano instructor
Laughlin has a personal connection to the subject of her favorite untitled work by Constance edwards Scopelitis: She’s her daughter Chloe, at age 5. The little girl flies through a Van Gogh–esque sky, wearing a crown. Laughlin keeps it in her piano room, where she says it sparks a feeling of wonder in her youngest students. “Children love that particular piece because it’s very whimsical,” she says.
Kristen Parmelee, Owner of Parmelee Consulting Group, Inc.
Parmelee bought Children at the Tide Pools by Indiana-born painter Lois Main Templeton in 2017, but she first crossed paths with the artist in 1996. “From the day I met her, I wanted to own one of her paintings,” Parmelee says. She and her husband chose the piece from Templeton’s Indianapolis studio, which she shared with artist Phil O’Malley. Templeton died last November.
Richard Hartley, Photographer and graphic designer
You might expect a shutterbug who collects to favor photos, but Hartley’s favorite work is a painting: Still Life Black 1 by local artist Amy Kirchner. He purchased it in 2017 and placed it in his home’s front foyer, where he sees it every day on the way in. “Just looking at it relaxes me,” he says. “It brings me a nice, peaceful demeanor.”
Jeremy Efroymson, Vice president of the Efroymson Family Fund
For a lover of contemporary art such as Efroymson, this untitled piece by Alfred Hair looks like an unusual choice. But Hair was the founder of a group of African-American artists called the Highwaymen. Based out of Fort Pierce, Florida, they started painting in the 1950s, when galleries wouldn’t show their work. So they sold paintings from a car on the side of the road, earning them the name. “We had a show of their work at iMOCA a few years ago, and I loved it,” Efroymson says. “I usually like artwork with an interesting story attached to it.”
Keith Norwalk and Steve Hamilton, President of Crown Hill Cemetery and CFO of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
Norwalk (left) and his partner, Hamilton (right), purchased Building a Religion after visiting the Stutz Building studio of its creator, Constance Edwards Scopelitis. “We enjoy both the distinct and subtle imagery in the painting that each person can interpret differently,” Hamilton says. “For us, it really tells a story.”
Heather Willey, Partner at Barnes & Thornburg
Willey has collected art for two decades, and boasts around 20 large pieces plus “tons” of smaller works. But her favorite was also her first—a painting called Peacock Tree by Indiana artist April Willy. She picked it up at the Penrod Arts Fair, and displays it in her foyer. “It’s the first piece of serious art I ever bought, which may be why it’s so special to me,” Willey says. “It was the foundation of my collection.”