Book Smart: Butler University's Irwin Library Turns 50
Irwin Library isn’t nearly as famous as it should be. Here’s a crash course on the unheralded landmark, which hits the half-century mark this month.
Asian-art scholar and curator Britta Erickson explains that, for many years, Ai worked with found objects—a photo he took of his head after an instance of police brutality, for example, or a pile of porcelain crabs that represents the Chinese government’s efforts to bring him into the fold.
The laws of nature dictate that the fainter the light source, the longer the shadow. Given his brief career and long-ago death, Dean’s light should have been all but extinguished by now. But in Fairmount his shadow looms large, his name and image a currency to be traded. The Rebel Rebel gift shop and the Giant Bar & Grill and the Boulevard of Broken Dreams scene painted on the side of the antiques mall distinguish Fairmount from other Grant County map dots like Jonesboro and Gas City and Swayzee.
Even now, on off-duty drives through downtown, some of them will seek another route, any other route, to avoid the shadow of the nine-story building at Meridian and Vermont streets. For most of the city, the Indianapolis Athletic Club is an elegant landmark from an earlier time, an old-boy haven where Democratic Party elites once hosted parties and presidents. But for firefighters who crouched in its halls 20 years ago, it is still an imposing reminder of one of the Indianapolis Fire Department’s darkest nights.
“As all of us change, this place stays the same. Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to get in here. And one of the first times I bartended, my grandfather was sitting at the end of the bar watching everything I did. Which was intimidating. I just wish he could see me back there now.”